Skinhead History by Ben from KC

The skinhead cult is a way of life. For someone to claim himself or herself
a skinhead is simply a claim to dedication to the cream of the working class
crop. However, it takes a certain breed of character, not just any joe on
the job, to make what is pridefully known as a skinhead. Skinhead is not
about colour, race, religion, national origin, or anything of the sort. It
is a brotherhood of individuals who share the same passions in what we call
being a skinhead. Let me explain....


In the fifties and sixties, there were two main subcultures that mainly
contributed to the coming about of what was to be known as "skinheads". In
working class britain, youths who listened to the latest "modern" music of
the day including soul, reggae, and ska, wore the sharpest, smartest
clothes, and endulged in a fixation with motor scooters (vespas,
lambrettas), were known as "mods". The mods were typically white kids who
had a keen sense of style and working class roots and values. At the same
time, in Jamaica, "rudeboys" were gaining in recognition. Rudeboys were
youth ganster type Jamaicans who dressed in suits, listened to reggae-ska,
and were notorious for there no-nonsense attitude in handling anyone who got
in their way. Reggae was a rage that reached far beyond Jamaica, and was
becoming very popular in Britain, mainly by the mods. By the mid to late
60's, many reggae artists migrated to Britain to take advantage of the
prosperous market amongst the white working class kids there.


With the new clash of subcultures in britain, black and white unity was
inevitable. The white kids copied their rudeboy heroes in dress and
attitude, yet kept certain aspects of the mod identy. A newer group of
individuals arose out of the urban working class kids who were looking for a
tougher image than the mods were representing, yet still just as stylish.
These kids were the first skinheads. With shorter cropped hair than the
mods(for convenience in street fights) and passions that included football,
reggae, and working class values, skinheads were the perfect hybrid of the
two groups. A skinhead did not take shit from anyone, they stood firm on
their stance on racial unity and working class pride.

THE 70's

After the strong birth of skinheads which was and still is said to have been
at it's peak in 1969, reggae started to diminish though not completely
dying. Skinheads stilll existed but saw adversity in the decline of
culture. Skins true to there roots stayed strong to there beliefs. In
Britain, national pride was always a value of skinheads. As always is the
case, there were a few individuals who lost touch with the roots of unity
and displaced there national pride with racial prejudice. White supremacist
groups such as the National Front started to see these impressionable youths
as perfect subjects to prey upon for recruiting. Those who were weak and
not aware of there roots looked to these groups as something to identify
with and the skinhead cult was to be tainted unforgivably. Punk Rock was
coming into existence at the time as well. Some of the first punk rock
music which was street music originally was popular amongst punks and skins
equally. Street punk soon gained the label "Oi!" by Gary Bushell. Though
Oi! was supposed to be non-political unity based music, there were still
individuals who exploited it and used it as a tool for whatever alterior
motives they had. True punks and skins overlooked these groups and stayed
strong with the values of unity. White supremacist groups such as NF and
the British Movement invaded the skinhead cult and raped the cult of its
identity. These racist individuals may have called themselves skinheads, but
they were nothing more than "boneheads" to those who knew better. Politics
had taken it's toll on the skinhead cult and things were to never be the
same, but the spirit of '69 stayed true in the hearts of real skinheads.
Just as the original skins of the sixties, "oi boys" or "bootboys" were the
foundation of the cult and were to keep the flame alive.

THE 80's

With the intolerance for the boneheads arose a group started in the UK brought to the UK by
Roddy Moreno of the Oi! band The Oppressed, called S.H.A.R.P.(skin heads
against racial prejudice). S.H.A.R.P. skins were militant in their
anti-racist motives to smash out boneheads and keep traditional roots alive
in the cult. Now that the cult had flourished with new passions such as Oi!
music, hardcore(started for the most part in the U.S.) and other skinehead
traditions, they felt that they had more to defend and preserve. The cult
was tarnished with politics, and indifference, and it soon became necessary
not only to claim skinhead, but to also put an identifier on what TYPE of
skinhead you were. Although those who knew the truth knew that there was
only one kind of skinhead, the name was thrown around like a common label.
True skins faced much oppression as the boneheads got more recognition in
the media for their negative newsworthy actions and beliefs. The name
skinhead became synonymous with "nazi" to the outside world who had only
media lies to base their oppinions on. Skinheads had become crucified by
society and the "crucified skinhead" image became a popular claim of the
true skins and at times seemed to be all they had to hold onto.

THE 90's

Although S.H.A.R.P. had positive intentions originally, it became just
another word. Soon any slob who was against racial prejudice, would just
get a haircut and call themselves a SHARP. True skins didn't want these
individuals who had no clue as to what the cult was truely about and only
looked at skinhead as being a racism fighting machine, to be assiociated
with them. However, a new breed of young stormtroopers who may have not
been around in the old days, but gained knowledge of the cult and strongly
identified with its values and traditions, arose out of the ashes of the
spirit of '69. These new kids, knew where the roots were and started a
skinhead resurrection. Not wanting to make a claim other than just
skinhead, they labeled themselves simply "traditional skinhead". Despite
musical idiocy occuring such as new "3rd wave" ska and trashy corporate
"punk rock", trad skins kept strong with their passions for Oi!, reggae, and
traditional ska. The new breed of skins today may not be the original
forefathers of the cult, but there is a strong skinhead presence today that
has kept the faith and thus skinheads will never die.


Although most all trads agree that a non-political stance is necessary in
being a skinhead, many true skins felt that there was an untolerable
presence of "fencewalkers" amongst the ranks. Some "trads" seemed to think
that being indifferent to boneheads or even compasionate, was an acceptable
stance on the racism issue. True skins no that is not so. To quote the
traditional American Oi! band Patriot "...a true skinhead don't judge by
your colour, only what you do and say...". The strong anti-racist beliefs
are what true traditionalist share and try to represent at all costs. The

back to the main page