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Punk Icons Then and Now: 10 Legends Revisited

Nearly four decades after the creation of punk rock, many of the genre’s iconic stars are still going strong. Some continue rocking with the bands that first made them famous, while others are soldiering on with new groups or venturing into non-musical creative pursuits. How have your favorite punk rockers fared over the years? As you stroll (or scroll) through our Punk Icons Then and Now gallery, salute the worthy and gob on the has-beens — then holler in the comments section if we forgot any key figures.

Then: Johnny Rotten was the anarchy-inducing frontman of the Sex Pistols.

Johnny Rotten
Graham Wood, Hulton Archive

Now: John Lydon has grabbed his share of filthy lucre on the reunion circuit, shilled for butter and appeared on reality TV. Cultural commando or total sellout? You decide!

Johnny Rotten
Ian Gavan, Getty Images

Then: Iggy Pop was the lean, mean singing machine fronting Motor City proto-punks the Stooges.

Iggy Pop
Jack Robinson, Getty Images

These days, Iggy is sinewy as ever and once again leading the Stooges, who just released a new album, ‘Ready to Die.’

Iggy Pop
Matt Roberts, Getty Images

Then: Shaggy-haired and shirtless Henry Rollins was the ornery frontman of Black Flag.

Henry Rollins
Frank Mullen, Getty Images

Now: The punk legends are on the comeback trail, but not with Rollins. Maybe the shirt-rocking spoken-word maven’s too busy with his National Geographic show, ‘Snake Underworld With Henry Rollins.’

Henry Rollins
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Then: Jello Biafra fronted anti-corporate crusaders the Dead Kennedys.

Jello Biafra
Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

Despite no longer leading the Kennedys, Jello continues to make records and rake muck. In 2000, he ran for president, but his ‘Let’s Lynch the Landlord’ platform didn’t play in the heartland.

Jello Biafra
Karl Walter, Getty Images

Then: Punk priestess Patti Smith ruled downtown New York with the Patti Smith Group.

Patti Smith
Tom Hill, Getty Images

Now: Patti is a National Book Award-winning author — check out her heartbreaking memoir ‘Just Kids’ — who still knows how to rock. Her 11th album, ‘Banga,’ dropped in 2012.

Patti Smith
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Then: Debbie Harry was the blonde bombshell fronting New Wave greats Blondie.

Debbie Harry
Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

After splitting in 1982, Blondie reunited in 1996. A decade later, they sashayed into the Rock Hall of fame, and in 2011, they reaffirmed their relevance with ‘Panic of Girls.’

Debbie Harry
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Then: As lead guitarist for the Clash, Mick Jones helped lead the rock revolution with The Only Band That Matters.

Mick Jones
Denis O’Regan, Hulton Archive

With the Clash long gone and stints Big Audio Dynamite and Gorillaz behind him, Jonesy is free to jam with the Wallflowers, whose 2012 album ‘Glad All Over’ he helped to Clashify.

Mick Jones
Karl Walter, Getty Images

Then: Television founder Richard Hell quit that band to rock with the Heartbreakers and help define the ‘Blank Generation’ with the Voivods before leaving music for good.

Richard Hell
Lisa Haun, Michael Ochs Archives

Now focused solely on the written word, Hell recently published the excellent memoir ‘I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp.’

Richard Hell
Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images

Then: As the founding drummer of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone gave punk its signature beat.

Tommy Ramone
Richard McCaffrey, Getty Images

Now: The last living original Ramone, Tommy has teamed with friend Claudia Tienan to form the folk-bluegrass duo Uncle Monk.

Tommy Ramone Claudia Tienan
Karl Walter, Getty Images

Then: The other H.R. — not the muscle-bound Black Flag frontman but the singer for Bad Brains — helped invent hardcore as we know it.

H.R.
Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

Bad Brains returned in 2012 with ‘Into the Future.’ Despite the forward-looking title, they’re still mixing punk and dub like they did back in the day.

H.R.
Scott Gries, Getty Images

Next:'90s Rock Stars Then and Now

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