Punk Prom and the Dicks’ Debut

This Week in Texas Music History a half-demented Austin prom introduces the world to the Dicks.

The Dicks Debut at Punk Prom

Jason Mellard

On May 16, 1980, the band the Dicks made their performance debut as part of the Punk Prom at Austin’s Armadillo World Headquarters.

The capital’s emerging punk bands had tended to stick to their own venues like Raul’s near UT rather than the country-rock temple of the Armadillo, but they had appeared with touring acts there before. The Skunks opened for the Ramones and Terminal Mind for Iggy Pop, but 1980’s Punk Prom was the first bill comprised entirely of local punk bands at the iconic Armadillo World Headquarters. 

The spring of 1980 was a time of transition. The Armadillo was in its final year of operation, but before the stage that had seen Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, and Count Basie darkened, it hosted this full-on punk prom. In reconstructed and tattered formal dress, the Big Boys, the Next, Reactors, and Sharon Tate’s Baby performed, plus a new band with a big future, the Dicks, fronted by an agitated purple and pink-mohawked vocalist, Gary Floyd. 

Punk Prom at Armadillo World Promotional Poster

Floyd, a gay man fronting a punk band in Texas, helped ignite a queer punk revolution. While their debut performance was only a few weeks after the band had formed, the Dicks’ sound was forged and hatched a new wave of Austin punk. Gary Floyd’s lyrical attacks against police brutality, homophobia, and other injustices were brash and unfiltered, while Glen Taylor’s acidic guitar and the rhythm section of Pat Deason and Buxf Parrot laid blueprints for the emerging hardcore punk sound. 

Gary Floyd amidst the Punks

Floyd told writer David Ensminger that Austin punk “had nothing to do with the Sex Pistols or the Ramones. It had to do with your own personal life changing.” In the first half of the 1980s, the Dicks made that clear, energizing a politicized punk scene with representation for all.

Sources: 

Pat Blashill, Texas is the Reason: The Mavericks of Lone Star Punk. New York: Bazillion Points, 2020. 

David Ensminger with Gary Floyd, I Said That, Volume 1: The Dicks. Left of the Dial Books, 2017.

Raoul Hernandez. “Saturday Night at the Bookstore—Gary Floyd: Once a Dick, Always a Dick,” Austin Chronicle, May 12, 2000. https://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2000-05-12/77163/

John Slate in Laurie E. Jasinski, Gary Hartman, Casey Monahan, and Ann T. Smith, eds. The Handbook of Texas Music. Second Edition. Denton, TX: Texas State Historical Association, 2012.

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