The Damned

With punk's history having entered a new millennium, the impact of the band initially judged "the least likely to" seems to grow ever more each day. The Ramones hold deserved pride of place for kick-starting the whole thing, while the Sex Pistols -- and to a lesser extent, the Clash -- helped take it to an even more notorious level, serving as role models for many young bands to this day. But arguably just as important and memorable were the Damned, London contemporaries of the Pistols and Clash that made their own mark from the start. Eschewing political posing, ill-fitting outside rhetoric, and simply doing the same thing over and over again, the group -- which lacked anything like a stable lineup -- took punk's simplicity and promise as a starting point and ran with it. The end result, at the group's finest: a series of inspired, ambitious albums and amazing live shows combining full-on rock energy, a stylish sense of performance, and humorous deadpan cool. Not necessarily what anyone would have thought when Ray Burns and Chris Millar met in 1974, when both ended up working backstage at the Croydon Fairfield Hall.