Oi! is a sub-genre of punk music that sought to return punk to a working-class 'street level' following. It began in the latter part of 1977, fusing the styles of early punk bands such as the Clash and the Ramones with early British rock like the Rolling Stones and The Who, and was seen as promoting unity between punks and skinheads. Originally, the style was called "street-punk" or "reality-punk"; it wasn't until the early 1980s that the movement was labeled "Oi!" by music journalist Gary Bushell.
The original Oi! bands included Cock Sparrer, the Cockney Rejects, Angelic Upstarts, Slaughter and the Dogs, Skrewdriver, the Lurkers, and Sham 69. They were followed by the Business, the Last Resort, the 4Skins, Combat 84, Infa-Riot, and others.
Because many skinheads were recruited by racist organizations such as the National Front, some histories of rock music dismiss all Oi! as racist. However, none of the original streetpunk bands were particularly racist. One possible exception is Skrewdriver. The band's early material is usually considered classic Oi!, but by the mid-1980s Skrewdriver was leading a small neo-Nazi rock scene, although apart from lead singer Ian Stuart Donaldson, the band had a different line up from that of the late 1970s. Their music was recognizably Oi!, but they sought to distance themselves from punk in general, preferring the term "R.A.C." ("Rock Against Communism"). Members of the earlier incarnation of Skrewdriver have stated that they do not wish to be associated with Donaldson's later version.
Oi! also became associated with right wing politics following the events of July 4 1981 at the Hamborough Tavern in Southall, London, when a concert by the bands the Business, the Last Resort and the 4-Skins was followed by violent clashes between the predominantly white audience and the local Asian population. However it is worth recording that in the aftermath many Oi! bands were not slow to condemn racism in all it's forms, as well as categorically denying any association with fascism.
At about this time, the Oi! movement began to lose momentum in the U.K., but Oi! scenes were forming elsewhere in Europe, Japan, and North America. In the mid-1990s, a revival of interest in Oi! music began, with new bands emerging and older bands receiving more recognition. With this revival came a further concerted effort to distance Oi! from racism.
Recent Oi! bands include the Templars, the Wretched Ones, Those Unknown, the Lager Lads, and Oxymoron.