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Banned, "Dirty Water" and Punk: Interview with the Standells

Thursday, May 15: 4:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Standells' "Dirty Water" banned in Boston.

With songs like "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White," "Why Pick on Me" and "Riot on the Sunset Strip," the Standells brand of cranked-up garage rock in the 60s earned them a reputation as among the godfathers of punk rock. The fact their music has been covered by the likes of Aerosmith, Minor Threat, Bruce Springsteen and U2 – not too mention a litany of punk acts emerging in 1977 – illustrates that their knack for punchy hooks has engendered them to musicians and fans alike.

With an instantly recognizable-and easy to play-guitar intro, "Dirty Water" became a garage band staple in 1966. Onetime Four Preps member Ed Cobb wrote the song, but the Los Angeles–based Standells version recorded in a  garage studio in southern California turned it into a growling classic. Once squeaky-clean, the Standells went proto-punk in a bid to glom onto the bad-boy image of British groups like the Rolling Stones and the Animals. Drummer/vocalist Dick Dodd (a former Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer) sneered his way through this tale of unrequited lust and of vitriol aimed at Boston. That city retaliated by banning "Dirty Water," which didn't hurt sales. The canny Standells went on to ...


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