In 1978, at a time after the end of the Sex Pistols, but before Public Image Ltd. was formed, John Lydon gave an actual friendly interview to Janet Street-Porter. Cheerful, not at all rotten Mr. Lydon—seen here looking even more Dickensian than usual in a top hat he says he purchased at Disneyland—discusses how he’d like to see Malcolm McClaren dead, how he made no money whatsoever from the Sex Pistols and he touches ever so briefly on his recent trip to Jamaica, where he’d been scouting reggae talent (and meeting some musical heroes) for Richard Branson’s Virgin Records.
Lydon also reminds us that tickets for the USA Sex Pistols tour cost two bucks!
Via Dorian Cope’s always interesting On This Deity website, we find that today is the thirty-fourth anniversary of the Sex Pistols expletive-filled appearance on the Today program, December 1, 1976:
Today we recall the bizarre events of thirty-four years ago, in which television presenter Bill Grundy – clearly ill-prepared for the motley posse sat before him, and possibly himself quite drunk – half-wittedly and quite inadvertently handed to the already notorious Sex Pistols the kind of extraordinary media opportunity that was beyond even the wildest dreams of their Machiavellian manager, Malcolm McLaren. Goading the Pistols mercilessly and without good reason, Grundy then appeared genuinely shocked when the lawless (and law-breaking) Steve Jones – resplendent in Vivienne Westwood’s highly inappropriate ‘tits’ t-shirt – unleashed such a barrage of ‘fucks’ and ‘fuckers’ that this merely regional early evening TV news programme catapulted the Sex Pistols onto the national stage. Nobody outside London even saw it. What did they actually say? Overnight, the Sex Pistols legend grew enormous.
Within months, Grundy would be relegated to presenting a book programme on the radio; while the Today programme was cancelled soon after. With hindsight, it’s easy to say that the Sex Pistols were opportunists. But what an opportunity it was that the fool Bill Grundy had handed them. Indeed, we may now even feel pity for this hapless, smarmy half-cut oaf whose destiny it was to be cut down brutally by the fearless and flashing curses of Steve “Never Mind the Bollocks” Jones.
The clip below was put together from various sources. You always see a snippet of this appearance in every single documentary about punk, but never the full thing seen on British television that fateful day. Note future Banshees, Steven Severin and a white-tressed (and flirty) Siouxsie Sioux onstage with the group.
For your weekend viewing pleasure: The complete final Sex Pistols show at Bill Graham’s Winterland, in San Francisco, 1978. For years all I’d ever seen was the B&W Target Video-shot version of this show, then this improved color version popped up on a quasi-legit Chinese DVD about ten or so years ago. Everyone always rags on their supposed shitty last performance… au contraire, folks, they’re incendiary here.
After this show, the supernova that was the Pistols was no more. Say what you will about John Lydon’s later career, in his youth, the man changed the face of music twice, first with the Sex Pistols and later with Public Image, Ltd. Who else can something like that be said about? Miles Davis is the only person who comes to mind.
I’ve seen and heard of some pretty out there tribute bands in my day. For instance, there was a lisping Elvis impersonator who (literally) sang for his supper in a fast food place. He was quite good, but when he sang “Suspicious Minds” the folks eating at the tables near him got their food sprayed with spittle. (As we watched him sing, Lux and Ivy from the Cramps walked past the place and waved to him).
Then there were the fake Beatles I tried to hire for an event who came with their own Linda and Yoko in tow, who fawned all over their personal “Lennon” and “McCartney”—they even had a manager named Brian whose only qualification seemed to be that he was from Liverpool. And named “Brian.” They kept asking me if I knew of any labels that might want to give them a record contract (“No” I told them, honestly).
I also saw a Velvet Underground tribute band in Tokyo, complete with Nico (although Moe Tucker was played by a boy!).
But one band that seemed immune to the tribute band treatment was John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd. Until now, that is! A group formerly making the rounds in the UK doing a Sex Pistols tribute act decided to think outside the (metal) box and do a PiL panto as well, morphing in the process from The Sex Pistols Experience to Public Imitation Ltd.!!!
As someone who saw the original PiL line-up (post Jah Wobble, but with Keith Levene and Martin Adkins) in 1983—a life-changing experience for me as a teen (I decided then and there to not go to college)—I was expecting the worst, but this guy can actually do a better Lydon in 2010 than Lydon himself can, take a look:
In this news clip from the Dallas ABC news affiliate we see the borderline hysterical coverage of The Sex Pistols gig at cowboy dancehall The Longhorn.
I love the marquee with ‘The Sex Pistols’ hovering over Merle Haggard’s name. That would have been one hell of a double bill.
It’s amusing to hear people complain that they had to pay $3.50 to see what was in effect a historic piece of music history. The date was January 10, 1978.
Texas punk band The Nervebreakers opened for The Pistols that night and recently re-united to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their once-in-a-lifetime gig. I’ve included some video footage of them playing in Dallas last year.
See footage of the Pistols Longhorn show and a recent Dallas performance by The Nervebreakers after the jump…
The Devil went down to King’s Road where he found a redheaded boy named Johnny and the Devil said to Johnny, “I am the Devil, dance with me.” And Johnny stared at the Devil and screeched, “I am an Antichrist!” And before the Devil knew what hit him, Johnny destroyed him!
Ah, Avengers! Led by art student Penelope Houston, the San Francisco-based band opened, of course, for The Sex Pistols during that final, disastrous show at Winterland. And, yeah, maybe his band was imploding, but Steve Jones liked what he saw. The Pistols guitarist went on to produce the band’s first EP, which, IMO sounds far more ferocious than their still glorious (and still out-of-print) full-length, Avengers.
The clarity of the following clips—both of them, gulp, 32-years-old—is absolutely astounding. I’m assuming the first one’s from SF, but the second one takes place at LA’s legendary Masque. Click play, watch, repeat!
A horse-drawn carriage led the coffin of Malcolm McLaren through the streets of London today. The coffin was black and spray-painted, “Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die,” the name, at one point, of the former Sex Pistols manager’s King’s Road clothing shop.
In celebration of the impresario’s life, McLaren’s son (and Agent Provocateur founder), Joseph Corré, urged people to enjoy a midday moment of mayhem: “Put on your favourite records and let it RIP!” I’ll be playing this.
When I moved to Los Angeles from New York in 1991, one of the first things I noticed right off the bat (besides the 99 Cents Only stores, the vast number of strip malls and the LA Weekly ads for butt cheek implants) was how great L.A. radio was. Notice I wrote was... as in past tense.
Cut to 2009 and the radio landscape in the City of Angels is getting kinda lame. If you’re not into the far right talk of Dr. Laura, the all reggaeton, all the time stations or Britney Spears, you’re pretty much out of luck these days. When Indie 103.1 morphed into the Latin format of El Gato earlier this year, it really felt like the final nail in the coffin for L.A. rock radio. High-profile rock DJs like Henry Rollins and Sex Pistol Steve Jones were cut adrift from their loyal listening audiences and there was sadness in the streets.
But now rock fans, rejoice, for Jonesy is back! Jonesy’s Jukebox is operational again, but this time on the Internet, streaming live for one hour a day on the www.iamrogue.com website run by producer Ryan Kavanaugh.
Now L.A.‘s finest DJ can spin for the rest of the world. I, for one, certainly will be listening.
Below: Young Mr. Jones and some of his mates swearing on live television in 1976:
I recently surfed into some old Public Image videos and it all seemed obvious suddenly: Johnny Rotten was Elizabeth’s court jester. I mean, watch that video and tell me he wouldn’t have been a court jester 600 years ago, or wasn’t in the 70s and 80s.
That made sense to me. It says a lot about cultures, and how they don’t change?
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