Finding inspiration in the righteous anger of punk rock and the socially conscious folk tradition of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg was the leading figure of the anti-folk movement of the ’80s. He is a grassroots, left-wing singer-songwriter, whose lyrics often reflect his political stance. His music blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs, with lyrics that mostly span political or romantic themes.
After playing in punk bands in London, Bragg ended up joining the British Army, but left after completing his basic training to return to his music career. Throughout the ’80s, he managed to chart consistently in Britain, yet he only gathered a cult following in America, which could be due to the fact that he sang about distinctly British subject matter, both politically and socially. As well as a back catalogue of solo albums, Bragg has several releases with bands The Blokes and Wilco.
He has supported many campaigns over the years, including the 1984 miners’ strike and Charter88 – a pressure group that pushed for a reform of the political system in the UK, the 2015 Labour party leadership election and voiced his support for Remain in the 2016 EU referendum.