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Virtual content for Local Music U Want: Northeast Ohio Punk and New Wave.

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With the Library & Archives reading room currently closed to the public, visitors can now virtually view our onsite exhibit, Local Music U Want: Northeast Ohio Punk and New Wave!

Northeast Ohio has a gritty authenticity, or “Rust Belt chic,” characterized by unique and diverse neighborhoods scattered throughout a changing post-industrial landscape. Northeast Ohio music reflects this aesthetic -- demonstrating the resiliency of the people who choose to live and create here. In the economic downturn of the 1970s, when local hubs of manufacturing began to shrink, punk music was a perfect outlet for young Northeast Ohioans trying to find and express themselves in places that ultimately defined the “Rust Belt.” Unlike other music scenes in the U.S., Northeast Ohio punk and new wave primarily flew under the radar, allowing it to evolve into something more avant-garde and exploratory.


In the mid-1970s, Cleveland competed with New York City and London as the birthplace of punk. Influenced by a scene that supported protopunk bands like the Velvet Underground, Cleveland’s bands played a fundamental role in the development of the American punk sound. Short-lived bands the Mirrors, electric eels, and Rocket from the Tombs were highly influential, spawning later punk bands, like Pere Ubu, Dead Boys, and the Styrenes. Rolling Stone’s David Fricke said of Rocket from the Tombs: “No one else in American rock, underground or over, was writing and playing songs this hard and graphic about being fucked over and fighting mad.”

Dead Boys

Formed in 1975 from the breakup of protopunk rockers Rocket from the Tombs, Dead Boys were among the first wave of punk and was known as one of the rowdiest and most violent groups of the era. Young Loud and Snotty was one of two studio albums released by vocalist Stiv Bators, lead guitarist Cheetah Chrome, rhythm guitarist Jimmy Zero, bassist Jeff Magnum, and drummer Johnny Blitz.

Dead Boys photo by Dave Treat

Dead Boys, Cleveland, 1977
Photograph by Dave Treat
Dave Treat Photographs of Dead Boys

Dead Boys photo by Dave Treat

Stiv Bators and Johnny Blitz of Dead Boys, Cleveland, 1977
Photograph by Dave Treat
Dave Treat Photographs of Dead Boys

Dead Boys photo by Dave Treat  Young Loud and Snotty album cover

Dead Boys, Cleveland, 1977
This photograph served as inspiration for the cover of Young Loud and Snotty.
Photographs by Dave Treat
Dave Treat Photographs of Dead Boys

Pere Ubu

Pere Ubu is the other band that formed out of the ashes of Rocket from the Tombs. While David Thomas has been the only constant member of Pere Ubu, members have included Peter Laughner, Tim Wright, Scott Krauss, Allen Ravenstine, and Wayne Kramer, among others. Ubu’s “avant-garage” style has proven influential to musicians from progressive rock to new wave.

Pere Ubu press release

Pere Ubu, Enigma Records Press Release, 1988
Craig Bobby Collection of Publicity Materials

Pere Ubu photo by Deborah Treblitz

Pere Ubu, 1988
Photo by Deborah Treblitz
Craig Bobby Collection of Publicity Materials

The Styrenes

The Styrenes are a protopunk band that formed in 1975 from members of some of the first Cleveland protopunk bands: the electric eels and the Mirrors. The Pagans spanned both the first wave of punk and the postpunk era, with members that went on to form other bands influential to the Cleveland scene, including the Droogs, Cobra Verde, and the Cramps. During the 1990s, the Pagans’ Mike Hudson sang for the Styrenes.

It's Artastic Review notes

Chicago Tribune It's Artastic review

 Styrenes press release

Styrenes, It’s Artastic! Review Notes, 1991
Written by Greg Kot


Chicago Tribune, December 19, 1991
“Styrenes, It’s Artastic!”


Styrenes, It’s Artastic!, Homestead Records Press Release, c. 1991
Greg Kot Collection

Pagans poster

Pagans / Styrenes / Money at WHK Auditorium, 1979
Cleveland, Ohio
Mike Metoff Pagans Poster

The New Salem Witch Hunters & Death of Samantha

More indie garage rock in style than punk, the New Salem Witch Hunters and Death of Samantha frequently played with local punk bands because of their emphasis on original tunes and their manic stage shows, better suited to the hardcore punk audience. Musician Dave Swanson has played with both groups. According to Thurston Moore, writing in the liner notes to If Memory Serves Us Well: "When Sonic Youth first played Cleveland way back in the mid 80s it was at some biker bar that John Petkovic booked and he had his band Death of Samantha open up. I gotta say I was unprepared for the mania this kid brought to the stage.”

New Salem Witch Hunters / Death of Samantha flyer

New Salem Witch Hunters / Death of Samantha Poster, 1992
Cleveland, Ohio
Marky Ray Collection

Cleveland Music Group Cassette Sampler, 1991
Marky Ray Collection

Lepers photo

Jane Scott Papers

WRUW presents flyer

WRUW presents...Human Switchboard / Clocks / Wombats / Modern Art Studio / Desperate Energy / Monte Carmont and What 4 Flyer
Kent, Ohio
Marky Ray Collection


For a few short years in the late 1970s, Akron was known as the “Liverpool of the Midwest.” When Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh was asked what Akron was like, he responded, “Oh, it’s a factory town, overcast, gray ... it rains a lot—it’s a lot like Liverpool.” Rather than comparing the gritty, industrial characters of the cities, some music journalists took this to mean that Akron had a music scene comparable to that of Liverpool in the 1960s. Agents flocked to the area expecting to sign the next big new wave or punk band. Bands, such as Devo, Tin Huey, the Bizarros, and the Waitresses signed major record deals, while London label, Stiff Records, put out The Akron Compilation album.


Devo took their name from the concept of “De-evolution,” the brainchild of Kent State students and band founders Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh. De-evolution posited the regression, rather than evolution, of mankind, as evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society, and proven—at least as far as witness Casale was concerned—by the Ohio National Guard shootings of protesting Kent State students on May 4, 1970. The band broke through to the mainstream in 1980 with their album Freedom of Choice and the popular MTV video for “Whip It.”

Devo photo

Greg Kot Collection

Newspaper photocopy, Devo

Devo, 1980
East Baton Rouge Parish Library Advocate Historical Archive Photographs and Clippings

Devo press release

Devo, Enigma Records Press Release
Craig Bobby Collection of Publicity Materials

The Waitresses

The Waitresses were formed in 1978 as a fictional new wave band by Akron musician and songwriter, Chris Butler. The Waitresses became a full-fledged band in 1980 with the addition of singer Patty Donahue, jazz saxophonist Mars Williams, drummer Billy Ficca, keyboardist Dan Klayman, and bassist Tracy Wormworth. They recorded two albums, Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? and Bruiseology, before splitting in 1984.

Waitresses promotional guest checks

Waitresses, Guest Check
Chris Butler Papers

Waitresses contact sheet

Photo by Jonathan Postal
Chris Butler Papers

Waitresses sticker

Waitresses Sticker
Chris Butler Papers

Christmas wrapping handwritten lyrics page 1  Christmas wrapping handwritten lyrics page 2

A Christmas Record LP cover
"Christmas Wrapping"
Written by Chris Butler
Recorded by the Waitresses
Released on the album A Christmas Record, 1982
Chris Butler Papers

Waitresses contact sheet

Waitresses, 1981
Photo by Mark M. Mullen
Chris Butler Papers

Tin Huey

Tin Huey is a new wave band from Akron formed in the mid-1970s. Influenced by Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, their arty punk-pop style is infused with free jazz. Although the line-up has changed, members have included bass guitarist Mark Price, guitarist Michael Aylward, drummer Stuart Austin, saxophonist Ralph Carney, and guitarist Chris Butler.

Tin Huey sticker

Tin Huey Sticker
Chris Butler Papers

Tin Huey flyer

Tin Huey Flyer
Akron, Ohio
Chris Butler Papers

15 60 75 (The Numbers Band)

Led by guitarist and lead vocalist Robert Kidney, the lineup over the years for 15 60 75 (The Numbers Band) has included Chris Butler of Tin Huey and the Waitresses, Gerald Casale of Devo, and Terry Hynde (brother of the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde), with occasional support by David Thomas of Pere Ubu. The band’s music contains a spectrum of musical genres, rhythms, and moods, and has been compared to the J. Geils Band, Sun Ra, Captain Beefheart, and King Crimson.

Numbers Band flyer

15 60 75 The Numbers Band Program, 2005
Chris Butler Papers

Iggy Morningstar flyer

Tribute to Iggy Morningstar featuring Snot Rite / Kill the Hippies Flyer, 2014
Kent, Ohio
Marky Ray Collection

Testube cassettezine C  Testube Cassettezine C

testube cassettezine D  testube cassettezine D

testube cassettezine F

testube cassettezine F

Testube Cassettezine C, 1984
Testube Cassettezine D
Testube Cassettezine F, 1986
Marky Ray Collection

National Archives NHPRCThe National Archives grants program, carried out through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), awarded a two-year grant to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to fund the accessibility of the institution's historically important music resources. Included in the grant project are a number of collections related to NEO Sound, the Rock Hall’s local music preservation initiative, the contents of which are included in this exhibit.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame | Library & Archives
2809 Woodland Avenue | Cleveland, OH 44115 | 216.515.1956 |