When the Sex Pistols played Dallas in 1978, Sid Vicious told journalist, John Blake that he was “frightened about playing” the city.
“They killed Kennedy there and everybody had warned us that the people are crazy.
“I think there’s a real danger that this is the town where I am going to be blown away.”
Vicious knew how to give good copy, but his “narcissistic attitude” was beginning to piss-off some of his fellow band members. They wanted him to play the songs, rather than plying the star.
As this was the Pistols first tour of America, their US record label, Warner Brothers, was keen to ensure the band’s success—which meant getting as much merchandise out as possible.
In December 1977, Ted Cohen of Artist Development at Warners wrote the following letter putting forward his sales pitch for the Pistols to WEA reps in Texas.
30 December 1977
Bob Finer &
1909 Herford Dr.
Irving, TX 75062
Dear Bob & Paul,
On January 10, Warner Bros. recording artists, The Sex Pistols, will be appearing at the Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas. This will be the Pistols first appearance in your area. It is imperative that this appearance be supported to the fullest extent possible, as we are currently attempting to firmly establish Punk/New Wave music as a viable and saleable commodity.
The Sex Pistols are the “ground breakers” of a new musical “turf”. In England they have a following that has manifested itself in both a musical and social lifestyle. They are controversial, they are raw, and they illicit a response from audiences not seen since the early days of the Rolling Stones.
Enough hype; the Pistols can and will be a major act for Warner Bros., but not without your cooperation and support. There are various merchandising aids which will be sent to you under separate cover. Please take full advantage of these materials by obtaining high visibility, window and in-store display space.
I will be in contact with you very soon to discuss marketing and promotional ideas concerning this appearance. Thanks in advance for your help and cooperation.
cc: Lewis, Nagel, Scott, Regehr, Dennis Young, Gerrity, Thyret, NY Publicity, Merlis, Johnston.
How much promotion the Pistols actually required is difficult to gauge as their reputation preceded them in a big way. Just read the copy for this ad for their Longhorn appearance that aired on Dallas Radio in January 1978:
“They said no one could be more bizarre than Alice Cooper, or more destructive than Kiss…They have not seen the Sex Pistols.
“Tuesday night, Stone City Attractions presents live, the Sex Pistols.
“Banned in their own home country….England’s Sex Pistols, denied admittance to the United States…the Sex Pistols bring the new wave to the Metroplex this Tuesday night, in the Longhorn Ballroom.
“They said it couldn’t happen, but it happens Tuesday night: the Sex Pistols, live.”
As was becoming apparent, a Sex Pistols concert was no longer about the music, but the chaos that ensued. London’s Evening Standard reported the Pistols appearance as “Girl fan punches Vicious on nose”:
Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious were both punched in the face by girl fans as the Sex Pistols performed today deep in the heart of Texas.
Blood poured from Vicious’s face as he was hit on the nose.
Instead of stopping the show the bass player rubbed blood over his face and chest so that he looked like a demented cannibal.
The girl who hit him was 20-year-old Los Angeles student, Lamar St. John.
She said: “I drove thousands of miles to see this show with other friends from L.A. I know Sid likes to get a positive reaction from an audience so I gave him one.
“I hit him as hard as I could in the face. I wanted to make his nose bleed.”
After the attack Vicious spat blood in the faces of Lamar and her friends, but they merely spat back.
According to the paper, the audience also gave Vicious a “positive” reaction, when he shouted:
“You lot are all faggots.”
Or perhaps it was:
“All cowboys are queer!”
The audience threw “tomatoes, beer cans, bottles, lighted cigarettes and other rubbish at the band.” Vicious had to be dragged away, as he reportedly tried to attack people in the audience.
Although he contributed next to nothing musically, Sid knew he was stealing Johnny Rotten’s limelight, which was more important to him at that point.
Outside a SWAT were prepped and ready to quash any riotous behavior.
After a blistering version of “Anarchy in the U.S.A.,” the band left the stage, and, surprisingly, the crowd yelled for more.
As the band reappeared for an encore, Sid showed the audience an obscene gesture and Steve yelled, “You must be mad to want more of us!”
In the middle of “No Fun,” Steve confronted a heckler by throwing a couple punches and jabbing him with the headstock of his guitar.
The next morning, the Dallas newspaper read: “Most of the people last night came to see the people who came to see the Sex Pistols.”
And here’s what happened the night The Sex Pistols played the Longhorn Ballroom on Tuesday, January 10, 1978.
H/T If Charlie Parker was a gunslinger