1973, Detroit…. Three black brothers started playing loud music! Punk was born?

Although the Punk scene is diverse and has bled into many genres in recent years its roots are certainly seen as white. Back then there were not that many known black musicians interested in the hard rock scene!

BUT where there is one story there is always another. What if I told you one of the absolute forerunners of Punk were three black brothers from Detroit, independently forging a punk sound long before it had a name!

1971 brothers Bobby (bass, vocals), David (guitar), and Dannis (drums) Hackney formed a funk band. However after seeing the Who in concert and influence from Alice Cooper guitarist David convinced the trio to push towards hard rock and change their name to Death, a controversial choice but David wanted to put a positive spin on a negative word.

Three black guys with screaming guitars and vocals in a black Detroit neighborhood were probably seen as more of an annoyance back then but their vision was ahead of it’s time and they were forming a sound that broke boundaries.


As one of the many protopunk bands they were forgotten when refusal to change their name meant that the record label halted their album recording. However they self released and their sounds found themselves into the underground rock scene.

As the band split in 1977 around the time Punk was shaping they themselves had no idea of the influence the had made.

Their EP was given it’s proper release in 2009, sadly after David’s death from lung cancer. This is when their story started to be heard in the mainstream.

An extraordinary tale. Learn the full story and hear their awesome music in the documentary “A Band Called Death”. The trailer can be seen below.


PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.