A year on from the release of The Sex Pistols first single “Anarchy in the U.K.” and their infamous appearance on the Today show, Steve Jones and Paul Cook gave their first interview to Australian television.
Lest we forget, it was Jones, more than Johnny Rotten or Sid Vicious, who launched the Pistols into the headlines with his stream of abuse at TV presenter Bill Grundy, and certainly without Cook’s disciplined drums and Jones’ era-defining guitar (together with Glen Matlock‘s bass) and their song-writing talents Never Mind the Bollocks would have been a much lesser album.
In this interview from 1977, Jones and Cook talk about the Pistols’ back history, records, and their appearance on the Today show:
Jones: If someone wants an argument, you give them an argument back, don’t ya? He started it. He said, “Go on, you got another 5 seconds.”
Cook: What did you say, Steve?
Jones: I fucking gave him a load of abuse. He asked for, didn’t he? It was pretty funny. It’s like, you know, they put all that on the front-fucking-page for all that. Just for swearing on television. Stupid.
Cook: We forgot about the whole thing, a couple of hours after, we didn’t expect nothing to happen from it.
Malcolm McLaren unleashed the greatest revolution of the last quarter of the 20th century. This was in part because McLaren was really a shop-keeper, a haberdasher, a boutique owner who knew his market and, most importantly, knew how to sell product to the masses.
Unfortunately, when it came to music, the talent was more than just product, and McLaren regularly mis-used and manipulated the musical talent (New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Adam and The Ants/Bow-Wow-Wow) for his own personal gain. It was the behavior of a man who couldn’t and didn’t trust anyone—perhaps because (as he claimed) he had been abandoned by his mother—an act of betrayal he never forgave. There is the story of how years later, McLaren was have said to have traveled on a London Underground train, only to find his mother in the same carriage. The pair sat opposite each other, with neither acknowledging the other’s presence, and each alighting at their separate stops.
McLaren was bewitching, relentless and always on the make. But for all his scams and incredible machinations, little is really known about the man himself. He re-wrote his biography so many times it is almost impossible to know what is the truth. He also carefully edited out those who had helped his success, and fabricated wonderful, picaresque tales of misadventure—-for example, the time he failed to have Nancy Spungen kidnapped, in a bid to remove her insidious influence over Sid Vicious.
In essence, Malcolm’s greatest talent was his own self-promotion—his unique role as a cultural PR man, who changed history. If there is anything to be learned from his particular type of genius, it is to make headlines out of even the worst situation. On his deathbed, Mclaren’s last words were said to have been: “Free Leonard Peltier.” As he had done in his life, McLaren had once again grabbed hold of someone else’s notoriety.
A few days before he fatally overdosed on some particularly strong heroin, Sid Vicious wrote what appears to be a suicide note. Sid’s mother, Anne Beverley, found it in the pocket of his jeans after his death. The note makes one wonder whether or not Vicious knew exactly what he was doing when he injected that smack into his arm.
We had a death pact. Please bury me next to my baby. Bury me in my black leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots.
Somewhat lurid New York cable access interview with a booger-flicking Sid Vicious and a quite talkative Nancy Spungen from 1978. Also on hand are Dead Boy Stiv Bators and his then-girlfriend, Cynthia Ross, of the all-female Canadian punk group, B Girls.
I never got the whole Sid Vicious “icon” thing. I always look askance at a kid wearing a Sid Vicious tee-shirt, especially ones where Sid is pictured sporting a tee-shirt with a swastika. What a role model. He’s one step above G.G. Allin, if you ask me. An icon of stupidity, heroin addiction and… murder?
Nancy’s assertion that Sid is a feminist around the 10.40 mark is kind of ironic, all things considered, as she was dead less than a month later. When a female caller flirts with Sid, she gets her dukes up: “You better keep your fucking hands off him, dearie, or I’ll kill you!”
And what’s with her fake English accent? Christ, look at these two. Who would want them around?
Who Killed Bill? is a Sex Pistols for Dummies, bargain-bin video, consisting of a mixed collection of original archive news stories (mainly culled from London Weekend Television) and documentary footage, which tells the rise, demise, and return of the legendary band. It’s worth watching for the first fifty minutes or so, before the film veers off into a section on Vivienne Westwood’s fashion, then returning for the Filthy Lucre tour of 1996, and then beyond.
As it’s all original TV archive, there are some classic moments, including the early Janet Street-Porter interviews with the Pistols, and then with Lydon after his spilt, as well as coverage of the public’s fury for the band, and one disgruntled councillor who riffs off a long list of adjectives to describe his distaste for Punk Rock, before finishing with:
“Most of these groups would be improved by sudden death.”
There is also sections on Sid and Nancy the tragic couple and Alex Cox’s film. What’s quite startling is how The Pistols all look so young, and Lydon comes across as a shy, tense, nervous individual who seems ill at ease with his celebrity, describing its affects:
“It ain’t the person who changes, it’s people’s attitude towards them.”
Sadly, no classic tracks, just bogus lift muzak interpretations of a rhythmic Punk guitar. And the Bill of the title is, of course, Bill Grundy, he of the infamous launch-pad, “Filth and Fury” interview.
A revealing interview with Sid Vicious conducted by Judy Vermorel in August, 1977. In it Vicious rails against “grown-ups” and “grown-up attitudes”, TV host Hughie Green, insincerity, and why “the general public are scum” (his opinion about “99% of the shit” out on the street).
Vicious sounds incredibly young, perhaps because he was, and claims he “doesn’t like anything particularly” and that, “Nobody has to do anything”. There is some interesting thoughts on Russ Meyer’s plans for a Sex Pistols’ movie, which Sid dismisses as a “cheap attempt to get money.”
At the end, he rails against Malcolm McLaren, slightly incredulous to the information that Johnny Rotten and Paul Cook thought McLaren was the fifth member of the Pistols:
The band has never been dependent on Malcolm, that fucking toss-bag. I hate him..I’d smash his face in…I depend on him for exactly nothing. Do you know, all I ever got out of him was, I think, £15 in all the time I’ve known the fucking bastard. And a T-shirt, he gave me a free T-shirt, once, years ago. Once he gave me a fiver, and I stole a tenner off him, a little while ago, and that’s all. I hate him.
..But he’s all right. I couldn’t think of anyone else I could tolerate.
This is the interview where Vicious famously made an eerie prediction:
“I shall die when I am round-about twenty-four, I expect, if not sooner. And why my friend will die soon.”
His friend was “that girl” Nancy Spungen, who can be heard in the background of this interview.
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
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