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1.
a hard-to-classify group of bands and performers who laid the foundation for and inspired punk rock's development in the mid-1970s. These acts sported tough guy looks, rebellious attitudes, the longest hair in the neighborhood, sometimes simple 3-chord arrangements and/or feedback and garage band aesthetics. Some of these acts were called "punk rock" by critics in the late 60s and early 70s. That label later was applied to later bands of the mid-70s, starting with the Ramones. Elvis Presley may be the original "proto-punk" rocker. He wore denim and leather, wore his hair long for the 50s, swiveled his hips provacatively, rode motorcycles, sneered when he sang, and more. The term "proto-punk" wasn't used until after punk itself came into its own.
by Starpunk November 19, 2006
 
2.
A largely uncharacterizable group of musicians in the late 60's and early 70's who pioneered punk ideas. Contained many bands with many different sounds.
The Stooges, Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, and even the Who are proto-punk
by punkx017 August 09, 2003
 
3.
Retrospective term to describe music that influenced what would be coined as punk rock. It tended to be somewhat more aggressive than its contemporaries and often had anti-authoritarian themes.Such music included, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, bands on the Nuggets compilation, The Sonics, The Seeds, The Monks, Patti Smith, The Dictators, New York Dolls, MC5, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, Neu!, etc. Not all influences of punk rock bands can be called protopunk. For example, Crass was influenced by experimentalist compser, John Cage, but nobody would call him a protopunk artist.
Iggy Pop got his start in a protopunk band called The Stooges.
by Perry Sim June 28, 2009