While the world was dancing the hustle and singing along with ABBA, little groups of rebels, some calling themselves the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, and the Clash, were shaking things up in their respective regions with something they called rock and roll, but the rock writers called "punk rock."
Punk rock was the antithesis of all that was popular. It was fast, stripped-down, machine gun music that stormed in, shot up the place and left just as suddenly. The songs were usually brief and had confrontational, provoking lyrics. The music took on the themes of establishment, politics, hopelessness, and angst so common in the grunge music that would come along about 15 years later, but it made it sound like these people wanted to change the world.
In 1977, punk rock went nationwide in England, although it had already sneaked into the United States via The Ramones' first album in 1975. The music stayed somewhat in the background in the U.S. for several more years, whereas in Britain, it became almost mainstream. When The Clash released London Calling in 1979, they had enjoyed a couple of years of fame in Great Britain, and their Combat Rock album of 1982, with "Rock The Casbah," made it to the charts in the U.S.
Most punk bands didn't go very far, but the ones that did, such as the aforementioned three groups, had a huge impact on the music of their times. Disco died once punk really came into town, and the stage was set for the New Wave bands of the early 1980s.
Looking at the genre decades later, a rock historian can see many musical trends in their infancy. The garage-band sounds of punk influenced grunge, while the experimental side influenced bands like Duran Duran to take some chances with instrumentation. Women in punk roused a new wave of girl groups — even bands like Courtney Love's Hole, or Babes in Toyland.
Some punk rock even sounds a little tame these days, considering the death metal and speed metal that have come after it. There were dozens of punk groups that realized only regional fame, but they changed the tastes of listeners who were tired of slick, sunny, over-produced pop.