Richard Hell

~ Person


Ex-member of Television, formed Richard Hell & the Voidoids. Later left music to concentrate on writing novels and poetry. Malcolm McLaren based the Sex Pistols' look on Richard Hell's torn clothing and spiked hair.

Annotation last modified on 2005-03-30 12:54 UTC.


Richard Hell (born Richard Lester Meyers) is an American singer, songwriter, bass guitarist, and writer.

Richard Hell was an innovator of punk music and fashion. He was one of the first to spike his hair and wear torn, cut and drawn-on shirts, often held together with safety pins. Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols, has credited Hell as a source of inspiration for the Sex Pistols' look and attitude, as well as the safety-pin and graphics accessorized clothing that McLaren sold in his London shop, Sex. Hell was in several important, early punk bands, including Neon Boys, Television, and The Heartbreakers, after which he formed Richard Hell & The Voidoids. Their 1977 album Blank Generation influenced many other punk bands. Its title song was named "One of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock" by music writers in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listing and is ranked as one of the all-time Top 10 punk songs by a 2006 poll of original British punk figures, as reported in the Rough Guide to Punk.

Since the late 1980s, Hell has devoted himself primarily to writing, publishing two novels and several other books. He was the film critic for BlackBook magazine from 2004 to 2006.

  1. ^ "Kentucky born Richard Hell deserves credit (or blame) for originating much of the punk imagery and style associated with the London scene" --The New Rolling Stone Album Guide by Nathan Brackett, Simon and Schuster (2004), p 373. "He [Richard Hell] even gave an artistic spin to his torn shirt and cropped hair look, soon to be imported to England as the emblem of punk." --Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club: Popular Music and the Avant-Garde By Bernard Gendron, University of Chicago Press (2002), p. 252. Extensive documentation of Hell's ripped and drawn-on and safety-pinned clothing, spiky short hair, and "punk" musical style as it existed in 1974–1975 (one-two years before English punk existed), with descriptions of Hell by Debby Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, and Richard Lloyd of Television as well as the book's author --From the Velvets to the Voidoids by Clinton Heylin, Penguin Books (1993), pp. 120–125.
  2. ^ "I came back to England determined. I had these images I came back with, it was like Marco Polo or Walter Raleigh. I brought back the image of this distressed, strange thing called Richard Hell. And this phrase, 'the blank generation'. [...] Richard Hell was a definite, 100 percent inspiration, and, in fact, I remember telling the Sex Pistols, 'Write a song like Blank Generation, but write your own bloody version, and their own version was 'Pretty Vacant'." --Malcolm McLaren in an interview in Please Kill Me, the Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, Grove Press (1996), p. 199.
  3. ^ [1] Archived May 13, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ These British punk-scene figures were as follows: Glen Matlock, original Sex Pistols bassist and composer of most of their music; Mark Perry, founder and editor of the first British punk fanzine, Sniffin' Glue, as well as founder of punk group Alternative TV; Geoff Travis, founder of Rough Trade, the main British punk record shop and early label; and Kris Needs, editor of ZigZag magazine and its famous Rock Family Trees. "Blank Generation" was the only American song listed by all four polled.
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Album + Compilation

Year Title RatingReleases
1984 R.I.P. 2
2002 Time 1


Year Title RatingReleases
1976 Another World 1


Year Title RatingReleases
1992 3 New Songs 2

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