At the start of 1977 the US punk scene was almost exclusively centred on the East Coast in general, and New York in particular. But things were slowly beginning to stir on the West Coast.
The Avengers formed in San Francisco early in 1977 and fell apart two years later. But they were there when history was made, as the opening act for what would become the last gig by The Sex Pistols in January 1978.
I still remember their debut single We Are The One as if it was yesterday, with its manifesto of individualism. And their singer Penelope Houston was one of the pioneering woman of American punk.
Inspired by her love of Lou Reed and Patti Smith, she put the band together when she arrived from Seattle to study at San Francisco Art Institute.
Houston found a fellow fan in drummer Danny Furious and talked an old friend, guitarist Greg Ingraham, into joining them from his home in Orange County.
In June The Avengers played their first show, opening for the Nuns at San Francisco’s pioneering punk venue the Mabuhay Gardens. In August they completed their classic line-up when Jimmy Wisley joined the band as bassist (replacing Jonathan Postal, who went on to form the Readymades).
At the time there were only a few clubs in San Francisco and Los Angeles for punk bands but the LA label Dangerhouse Records put out their three=song EP, featuring We Are The One, Car Crash and I Believe In Me.
Having struck up a friendship with Steve Jones after that fateful Winterland Ballroom show, the former Pistol produced a session for them that produced another EP.
But they had broken up by the time it came out in the summer of ’79 and Houston went on to become an acoustic folkie, while Wisley became a longtime member of Chris Isaak’s backing group.
Since then their demos and live recordings have been unearthed for release and Houston and Ingraham reunited to re-record some tracks, and even played a handful of live dates in the late 1990s as The Scavengers.