The Sex Pistols, a rock group from the late 1970s, are often credited with spearheading the British punk movement. Their music—raw and played on inexpensive equipment—became the cornerstone of punk rock.
While they stood alone as true originals, many bands have since tapped into that same energy and forged their paths within the punk rock genre.
This blog post takes you on a musical journey highlighting 13 incredible bands like the Sex Pistols. Dive into this article to discover these bands that carry the torch of punk rock forward in their own unique ways.
1. The Clash
The English rock band The Clash was formed in 1976 in London. Along with the Sex Pistols, they were instrumental in the original wave of British punk rock.
Known as “the only band that matters,” their music broke punk boundaries, blending reggae, rockabilly, and blues, making them one of their era’s most musically adventurous bands.
Their breakthrough album London Calling and hits like “Should I Stay or Should I Go” have left a lasting impression on the music landscape. Despite disbanding in 1985, their influence reverberates through the music world.
Their impact was so profound that, in 2003, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and were even included in Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list.
As one of the pioneers in punk rock, The Ramones significantly impacted the music scene during their time. Originating from New York, this proto-punk band drew most of their inspiration from British artists such as Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones.
With chart-topping hits like “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Sedated,” they ignited a spark that set off an explosion in the punk rock genre. This wave brought forth iconic groups like Sex Pistols and The Clash.
However, despite their instrumental role in shaping punk rock, the band decided to stop playing after touring nonstop for three decades. Their legacy, however, lives on today as countless modern artists pay homage to these punk rock trailblazers.
3. The Jam
When discussing punk and mod culture in Britain, one of the bands that immediately come to mind is The Jam. They emerged from the initial wave of British punk rock in 1977, together with the Clash, the Buzzcocks, and—you guessed it!—the Sex Pistols.
Their music resonated with many, resulting in 18 consecutive Top 40 hits in the UK, including their debut single “In the City” and chart-topping hits “Going Underground” and “Town Called Malice.”
Despite their success, The Jam disbanded after five years due to singer-guitarist Paul Weller’s desire to explore new musical directions. While the band members have had strained relationships since their split, their music continues to inspire fans and musicians alike.
4. The Stranglers
Next up, The Stranglers was an English punk rock band formed in 1974 in Guildford, Surrey. Unlike Sex Pistols and The Clash, they initially didn’t follow the standard punk template but instead embraced influences from other genres like pub rock and prog-rock.
In 1976, The Stranglers played over 200 gigs—more than any other bands, including The Sex Pistols or The Clash. Their energetic performances gained their attention on the underground music scene and a devoted following.
If you’re interested in exploring The Stranglers’ discography, check out “All Day and All of the Night,” “Golden Brown,” “Strange Little Girl,” and “No More Heroes.”
5. The Buzzcocks
Emerging from the gritty, revolutionary punk scene of the 1970s, The Buzzcocks carved a niche for themselves with their unique blend of raw energy and melodic hooks. They became synonymous with a sound that was as rebellious as it was catchy.
The band was formed after the late singer-songwriter/guitarist Pete Shelley and singer-songwriter Howard Devoto saw the Sex Pistols perform, which inspired them to create their own punk sound. They even organized a gig in Manchester featuring the Pistols, marking a significant moment in punk rock history.
Despite the unfortunate passing of Shelley in 2018, The Buzzcocks’ legacy lives on, their music still echoing the thrilling buzz of punk’s golden age.
6. Public Image Ltd
After the Sex Pistols broke up in 1978, their lead vocalist John Lydon formed Public Image Ltd (often shortened to PiL). The band’s music blended elements of punk rock with post-punk and experimental sounds.
Their first album, Public Image: First Issue, was released that year and showcased their unique sound.
PiL underwent various lineup changes over the years, but one of its key members was guitarist Keith Levene. He played an important role in shaping the band’s sound and helping to write many of their songs.
Some notable albums from PiL include Metal Box (1979), which featured a collection of tracks that had been previously released as singles, and This is What You Want…This Is What You Get (1984), which produced hit songs like “Bad Life” and “Rise.”
7. The Damned
A major player in the British punk scene, like the Sex Pistols, is The Damned, who formed in 1976. They have the distinction of being the first British punk band to release a record, to have a hit single, and to tour America.
Sharing both stages and tours with fellow British punk icons The Clash and Sex Pistols, The Damned played at various European music festivals before eventually making their way to the United States.
These days, The Damned continues to make music and perform. Their latest album, Darkadelic, was released in 2023 and features 12 new songs!
8. The Stooges
Our next band is The Stooges, a.k.a. Iggy and the Stooges. They were a rock band formed in 1967 by the iconic singer Iggy Pop. He was joined by Dave Alexander (bass) and the brothers Ron (guitar) and Scott Asheton (drums).
The Stooges’ sound was heavy, raw, and confrontational, which made them stand out during the psychedelic haze of the late ’60s. They are often considered one of the pioneering bands in the development of punk rock and alternative rock.
One of their most notable albums is Raw Power, their third studio album that has been described as one of the cornerstones of hard rock. Despite breaking up in 1974, the Stooges reunited in 2003 and continued to perform until 2016.
9. Stiff Little Fingers
Another band that was heavily influenced by the Sex Pistols is Stiff Little Fingers, a punk rock band hailing from Belfast, Ireland. Formed in 1977 during the second wave of UK punk, the band has been going strong, releasing new music over the years and continuing to tour.
Their music often reflected the violence and chaos of their homeland during the Troubles, making them one of the few punk bands to directly address serious political issues.
With powerful songs like “Suspect Device” and “Alternative Ulster,” they quickly gained a dedicated fanbase within the punk scene.
10. Generation X
Formed in 1976 by guitarist Billy Idol, Generation X was one of the first punk rock bands to emerge from the UK music scene. The Sex Pistols heavily influenced Idol, but his band had a different approach to punk than their contemporaries.
Though they were active during the heyday of punk in the late ’70s, their sound often leaned more towards the power-pop and new wave genres, which set them apart from many of their punk peers.
The band broke up in 1981 after Chrysalis Records dropped their contract. However, their legacy lives on through the successful solo career of Billy Idol and their influence on subsequent generations of punk and alternative rock bands.
11. New York Dolls
Next up is New York Dolls, a glam rock band that emerged from the New York underground music scene in the early ’70s. They blended hard rock, punk, and theatrical elements to create a sound and style that was all their own.
Their music had a lasting impact on many bands that followed them, including influential acts such as The Ramones and The Sex Pistols.
The New York Dolls’ first two albums, New York Dolls and Too Much Too Soon, are considered classic examples of the glam rock genre. Their third album, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, released several years apart in 2006, demonstrated that they still had plenty to offer as a band even decades later.
12. The Adverts
Formed just a year after The Sex Pistols is the British punk rock band The Adverts. They were recognized as one of the first punk bands to enjoy chart success in the UK, making a significant impact on the British punk rock scene during their tenure.
One of their most famous songs is “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes,” which tells the story of a man who donates his eyes to science after he’s executed by firing squad. Other notables are “Bored Teenagers” and “One Chord Wonders.”
The band’s final gig took place at Slough College on October 27, 1979. This came shortly after the death of their manager Michael Dempsey, which contributed to the band’s breakup.
13. The Dead Boys
Lastly, The Dead Boys was a punk rock band from Cleveland, Ohio. They formed in 1976 and were often compared to the Sex Pistols for their aggressive style and unique fashion sense.
Their music was characterized by its high level of violence, nihilism, and raw energy, which escalated punk rock to extreme new levels.
Despite their short-lived career—ending in 1979—The Dead Boys’ contribution to the punk rock movement cannot be overstated, as it inspired countless musicians who followed in their footsteps.
With a sound all its own and an unapologetic attitude toward life, The Dead Boy’s legacy remains highly relevant today among fans looking for true rock-and-roll grittiness.
Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like The Sex Pistols
There you have it, amazing bands that have echoed the raw and explosive energy of the Sex Pistols. We hope that this list has helped you discover new additions to your punk rock playlist.
However, with so many punk rock bands that have emerged over the decades, this list is far from complete. Let us know who we’ve missed, and we’ll add them here!