marquee london in 1979

Pere Ubu performing at the Marquee, London, in 1979. Photograph: Ray Stevenson/Rex Features

Cleveland’s early punk pioneers: from cultural vacuum to creative explosion

Pere Ubu and Devo are the new wave bands most closely associated with Ohio. But they were only part of a much wider – and equally originalRecorded in the practice space of the electric eelsin late May 1975, Agitated would remain unheard for more than three years: in Ohio, where the band came from, there was no local music industry that would countenance something so hostile. In any case, the eels – lower case in honour of the poetee cummings – were on the point of splitting up even as they recorded the song through, as founder member John D Morton remembers: “Violence, lack of support. Once at a gig, an audience member said: ‘You guys are wrong!’ Not, 'You guys stink!’ or 'I don’t like your music.’” Predicting the mood and the musical extremity ofpunk, two years ahead of time, Agitated bypassed 1976 and 1977 entirely. When it was eventually released on a single in late 1978, it slotted right in with the lo-fi, experimental aesthetic of the time. Indeed, that was the year when a whole range of Ohio music was revealed to British audiences, with spring tours and albums by Devo and Pere Ubu, the June release of the Stiff Records’ The Akron Compilation, and the first Pretenders 45 by former Akron resident Chrissie Hynde. – punk scene