The Origins of the Sex Pistols.
The Origins of the The Strand
1975 - 1976
Kutie Jones and his SEX PISTOLS
Johnny Rotten (b January 31, 1956)
Steve Jones (b September 3, 1955)
Glen Matlock (b August 27, 1956)
Paul Cook (b July 20, 1956)
Actually, we're not into music... we're into chaos."
Steve Jones, February 1976
Steve Jones - vocals
Wally Nightingale - guitar
Jimmy Mackin - organ
Steve Hayes - bass (replaced by Glen Matlock)
Paul Cook - drums
"Paul was in my class at school; Steve was in the lower class. There were twelve hundred kids there; it was a hard school. I started to try to get a group together. I had a guitar and an amplifier, a Les Paul copy. After I left school, I started to hang around with them, 'cos I liked Steve. He was funny and things happened around him. He would make them happen.
None of the others would have formed a group. Paul was heavily into an apprenticeship as an electrician. Steve was going to be a petty criminal, as simple as that. Stephen Hayes just ended up being a punk, a weak personality. I was the only one who could play."
Jones, Nightingale, and Cook
"The biggest thing that got the ball rolling was that Wally's dad was an electrician and he got this contract to work on what is now Riverside Studios in Hammersmith: it was an old BBC studio and he had to strip out what wasn't needed. He got a set of keys cut, and it's got this acoustic room in it which was one of the best in Europe, so we started rehearsing there. Paul worked in Watney's in Mortlake, so we had this bar set up. It was like Aladdin's Cave. There was all this equipment, which had been stolen, lying around."
"We played Rod Stewart covers like "It's All Over Now," "Twisting the Night Away," and Small Faces stuff like "All Or Nothing" or "Sha-La-La-La-Lee." We pumped it out, but Steve wasn't a good singer. He really wanted to be like Rod Stewart, but there was something holding him back.
Steve was playing guitar behind my back. I was too naive to think he wanted my position in the group. Malcolm was there, and they just said, "You're not in the group any more." It was very hard, I was so gutted that I didn't say anything. I even went for a drink with them that evening. As far as they were concerned, it was no reaction."
"Rotten looked really interesting, there was something about him that magnetized you to him. He had all this punk stuff on, the safety pins and everything. He was wild looking. His brothers were boot boys. So he came down and I really didn't like him at all, because of his attitude. He seemed like a real prick."
"I'd go to King's Road just to annoy people: it was necessary then. Long hair was everywhere. What was there to do then? There was Soul boys and Roxy Music kind of clothes: all that was naff, very weedy and not going anywhere. People were very stiff and boring. I was bored with everything.
Bernie Rhodes spotted me wearing my "I Hate Pink Floyd" T-shirt and asked me to come back that night to meet Malcolm, Steve, and Paul in the Roebuck pub on King's Road. Malcolm asked me if I wanted to be in a band. I thought they must be joking. It seemed very cynical, and that really pissed off Steve. He was a bit thick, and he couldn't make out what I was talking about. When the pub closed, it was Bernie who finally broke in and said, "Well, let's go back to the shop and see if you can mime or sing to a few songs." I couldn't sing a note. The only song I could cope with was Alice Cooper's "Eighteen." I just gyrated like a belly dancer. Malcolm thought, Yes, he's the one. Paul thought it was a joke and couldn't have cared less. Steve was really annoyed because he instantly hated me. It was one of the most bizarre meetings I ever had, and I never wanted to go through that kind of nonsense ever again."
"I had an eye, and my eye saw Rotten's ability to create an image around himself. It was a gut feeling. I knew he had something, just as I knew Jones had something. We had one rehearsal, and none of them showed up because they thought Rotten was a c***. Right there, first day. They never liked him. I liked Jones. I quite liked Cook, but to me he was a bit boring. I brought Matlock into the group as an anchor of normality. Rotten was just an arrogant little s*** who thought he knew everything.
What brought us all together first was that we hated what was on TV. Rotten thought being mindless was a good pose. As soon as I got that sense, that he was terrified of being in a group, of having to announce himself, I knew there was a star there. I knew people would see that vulnerability and go for it, and they did."
St. Martin's School of Art, London
November 6, 1975
"Glen Matlock attended St. Martin's College, and he set up our first gig there in November of 1975. We rehearsed across the road and wheeled all the equipment down Charing Cross Road about six in the afternoon. We set up and played for twenty minutes. Total chaos. None of us knew what we were doing. We were very nervous and all over the place. We played "No Lip," "Satellite," "Substitute," "Seventeen," and "What'cha Gonna Do About It." It must have been a terrible racket, because someone pulled the plug on us, there was a big fight.
We were still learning our trade. People yelled at us to get off because they wanted their Bazooka Joe. We nearly had a fight with them. They thought we were an oddity because of our attitudes. We weren't being nice. That was the main difference between us and them."
"It was f***ing wild. I was so nervous I took a mandrax. When we started playing the mandrax was hitting me and I cranked the amp up. It was a 100-watt amp in a little room with no stage and it was great. Everyone was looking at us. It seemed like millions of people at the time. You could tell there was a buzz."
"For their first ever gig, the Sex Pistols were support group to the band I was in, Bazooka Joe. I'll never forget it. They came in as a gang: they looked like they couldn't give a f*** about anybody. John had baggy pinstripe trousers with braces and a ripped-up T-shirt saying "Pink Floyd" with "I Hate" over it. Jonesy was tiny, he looked like a young Pete Townshend. Matlock had paint-spattered trousers and a woman's pink leather top. Paul Cook looked like Rod Stewart, like a little Mod really.
I watched them play: Malcolm was at the front, orchestrating them, telling them where to stand. Viv was there. There weren't many there, maybe a dozen or so people - Jordan, Michael Collins, Andy Czezowski. They did "Substitute," and "What'cha Gonna Do About It" with the lyrics changed: "I want you to know that I hate you baby." Then John lost interest. He'd eat sweets, pull them out and suck them and just spit them out. He just looked at the audience, glazed.
There were no guitar solos, it was just simple songs. They did five and that was it: goodnight. The rest of my band hated them because they thought they couldn't play: in fact somebody said as much to Glen and he said, "So what?" But I thought they were very tight. It was only John who hadn't learned how to make the voice last, but over a fifteen-minute burst, he was very clear. At the end, Rotten slagged off Bazooka Joe as being a bunch of f***ing c***s, and our guitarist Danny Kleinman leapt from the front row and pinned John against the back wall: he made him apologize.
The impression they left on me was total. They had a certain attitude I'd never seen: they had bollocks and they had very expensive equipment and it didn't look like it belonged to them. They had that look in their eyes that said, "We're going to be massive." I stood there transfixed. When Danny jumped John, I didn't jump in to help him. I left Bazooka Joe the next day. I came out of that gig thinking, "I'm tired of Teddy Boys," and it seemed to me that the Sex Pistols were playing simple songs that I could play. I just wanted to go away and form my own band."
Rotten and Cook
"There was not one single hand clap. The college audience had never seen anything like it. They couldn't connect with where we were coming from because our stance was so anti-pop, so anti-everything that had gone on before. Adam may look back on it all rather sweetly by saying he split up his band after seeing us play, but the reality was that he was very bitter and annoyed with us - as indeed most bands were that played with us. Adam Ant's band was furiously jealous because they spent so much time sewing up those silly silver jackets. I didn't care. We didn't do it to be loved."
"Whether they were good or not was irrelevant. I wanted to be excited and they filled a spot."
"A Day Without Love," Love Affair
"All Or Nothing," "Hey Girl," "My Mind's Eye," "Sha La La La Lee," "Understanding," "What'cha Gonna Do About It?," Small Faces
"Everybody thought I was vile and loathsome because I wouldn't do covers or Small Faces songs. We did a few good songs, we really mutilated them, but you have to start somewhere."
"Don't Gimme No Lip Child," Dave Berry
"'No Lip' is a Dave Berry cover that was totally changed. It's a jumpy uptight pop ditty. Berry was a crooner who fancied himself as a sex symbol. It was Glen's idea to do it."
"Holy Cow," Lee Dorsey
"I'm Not Like Everybody Else," The Kinks
"Johnny B. Goode," Chuck Berry
Live at Hertfordshire College of Art & Design, St. Albans
February 19, 1976
"No Fun," The Stooges
"We made up our version on the spot. I aksed Steve to learn the riff, which he did very quickly. Paul filled in, and it went on from there. I hummed and hawed around the words because I didn't quite know them."
"Psychotic Reaction," Count Five
"Roadrunner," Jonathan Richman / The Modern Lovers
"Slow Death," Flamin' Groovies
"(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," The Monkees
"We were actually plumbing the depths here. There wasn't a lot of songs out there that you could connect yourself with. We just wanted straight rock songs. I was interested in the mod energy. We had to begin somewhere, and that was as good a place as any to start."
"Substitute," "I'm a Boy," The Who
"Through My Eyes," The Creation
Cook and Jones
"Scarface," "Younger Generation," "Kill Me Today," "Raising Rabbits," "Concrete Youth," "Go Now," "I'm Happy," "Old Fashioned"
"I Did You No Wrong"
"'Did You No Wrong' was one of the only songs that came along before John joined. We were just learning still."
"Lazy Sod" (aka "Seventeen")
"This was around the time Steve Jones was learning to read and write. I remember laughing at Steve's original words. I couldn't read the original set of lyrics, and Steve couldn't remember them. Everything was misspelled.
It was about being young, having nothing to do, and going through the typical emotions that every seventeen-year-old goes through. You're lazy, you don't see any future, and you really don't care. You give up before you even begin. Everybody goes through that period."
"We're Pretty Vacant"
"Malcolm had not long come back from the States with these posters, one was for Television, with Richard Hell in the band. It had all these great songs in it, "Blank Generation," "Venus De Milo," and that's where we got the idea for 'Pretty Vacant.'"
"Glen reckons the original riff was influenced by Abba's "SOS." I can't see how he worked that out. John changed the lyrics again here. It's about being young and hanging around being vacant."
"It was one of the earliest songs that John and Glen worked on together. It was the friction in the band that made it work well."
"I Wanna Be Me"
"We used to work on these songs together in our rehearsal studio on Denmark Street, a famous musical area in London. It was just an old shack out the back of Tin Pan Alley. We'd be there every night rehearsing and writing songs."
"We used to play in the satellite towns around London. We had to hire a van, and there was no chance of any hotels. It was just trundle off up there, then trundle back the same night. There wouldn't be a lot of change left over. It's the story of the traveling nonsense and picking up enough money to survive for a day or two. We had to do it. But in a way, that's what built the Sex Pistols' crowd."
"The idea was put to Steve - the guitar hero of the band, who couldn't come up with any riffs at all that particular evening - to put something together using an A, B, C, and D chord sequence. As the song progressed, it got better. The cynicism of the title and the chords being A, B, C, D is still there."
"'Submission' had a classic riff that's been done millions of times before. We slowed it down, we made it more subversive."
"'New York' was originally Steve's riff, and John came up with the lyrics to wind up Malcolm. There's still a lot of talk that New York started the punk scene and we ripped them off. People think we were influenced by it. We weren't. The track was ultimately a put-down of that scene."
"This originally came from a Steve Jones riff. It would work this way: one night someone would have an idea, and then everyone else would just build around it until it was done."
Live at the El Paradise Strip Club
April 4, 1976
April 3, 1976
"In April, the Sex Pistols played the Nashville for the first time, supporting us. I walked out onstage while they were doing their soundcheck, and I heard Malcolm going to John, "Do you want those kind of shoes that Steve's got or the kind that Paul's got? What sort of sweater do you want?" And I thought, "Blimey, they've got a manager, and he's offering them clothes!" The rest of my group didn't think much of all this, but I sat out in the audience. Lydon was really thin. He pulled out his snot rag and blew into it and he went, "If you hadn't guessed already, we're the Sex Pistols," and they blasted into "Substitute."
They did "Steppin' Stone" which we did, but they were light years ahead of us. The difference was, we played "Route 66" to the drunks at the bar, going "Please like us." But here was this quartet who were standing there going, "We don't give a toss what you think, you pricks, this is what we like to play and this is the way we're gonna play it." They were from another century, it took my head off. They honestly didn't give a s***. The audience were shocked."
"You should," someone informed me after the Sex Pistols' act at London's Nashville Rooms on Saturday, "come and see them tomorrow night. They'll be even worse."
It was an earnest and sincere recommendation for, you have to understand, the whole contrived and misguided ethic of "they're so bad they're great" has, with the Sex Pistols - a recently much-vaunted four-piece band of total incompetents from West London - been taken to unprecedented levels.
Their dreadfully inept attempts to zero in on the kind of viciously blank intensity previously epitomized by the Stooges was rather endearing at first: the predictably moronic vocalist ("go on - pick yer nose," a fan encouraged him at one point) was cheerfully idiotic, and the lead guitarist, another surrogate punk suffering a surfeit of Sterling Morrison, played with a determined disregard for taste or intelligence.
The novelty of this retarded spectacle was, however, soon erased by their tiresome repetition of punk cliches. They do as much for music as World War II did for the cause of peace. I hope we shall hear no more of them.
Allan Jones, Melody Maker
April 23, 1976
"When I first saw the Sex Pistols at the Nashville Rooms, I remember coming away from the show with a million questions in my head. I'd just seen something unlike anything I'd ever seen before."
"If you want an audience, start a fight."
"I'm standing at the back and watching them. I knew some of the songs, like "No Feelings" and "I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone." They're not being very good. It was in the middle of "Pretty Vacant." All of a sudden Vivienne [Westwood] is slapping this girl's face. She's right in the front row slapping this girl; her boyfriend has been standing six feet away and he just comes barrelling over and grabs Vivienne and starts to hit her. I don't know whether Malcolm had watched the whole thing, or whether he just saw some guy trying to bash up his girl, but the next thing you saw was a clear image of this guy ten feet across the front of the stage with Malcolm a foot behind him with his fist flying out - a classic photograph.
John, with this look of glee, immediately dived off the front of the stage and started throwing punches. Steve came forward and started trying to pull them apart. It was complete chaos but they went on to finish. Vivienne said to Caroline [Coon] afterwards that she was bored, the Sex Pistols were boring, she decided to liven things up. So she slapped this girl for no reason, just did it. It was extremely electrifying. Up until that point, it was just another date."
"That fight at the Nashville: that's when all the publicity got hold of it and the violence started creeping in. I don't know what caused that, except I think everybody was ready to go and we were the catalyst. People just wanted to go mad, but we didn't instigate it."
April 29, 1976
"We played under the pretext of hiring the club for a private party. That was a good gig because we had our own sound system. It was so much better when we had control of the situation. We could set the gig up and use it for our own end. We would have monitors that worked. We were relaxed and playing well by this stage, and the crowd really liked us. The gigs we could organize ourselves always turned out to be the best shows."
"There was an argument between Paul and me. I don't know what we were arguing about, but we were really yelling and screaming at each other. Then the curtain went up, and we stopped fighting and went on with it. That gig was particularly bad. When the curtain went down, I went over to Malcolm and said, "I quit. I've had enough." I had no money. I had nowhere to live. The money from gigs did go for expenses, there just wasn't enough of it.
Sometimes these clubs would be full and the bars would do very well. We would just go in, play, then leave. I had to go home on the f***ing subway with half the audience - not the big star trip I had in mind. Seriously, it was damned f***ing dangerous to be doing s*** like that with our reputations. I would have thought a cab or a lift home would not have been an impossibility"
leaping into the audience and the others kicking the monitors about.
In the light of what the Pistols consider the Hot Rods' overreaction to the incident, the group insist they did little damage to anything that wasn't theirs. They've also written a song on the matter.
I think the photos speak for the particular violence of the 100 Club gig, but the band and the Nashville seemed to enjoy each other. Allan Jones of Melody Maker described it: "Their dreadfully inept attempts to zero in on the kind of viciously blank intensity previously epitomized by the Stooges was rather endearing at first... The guitarist, another surrogate punk suffering from a surfeit of Sterling Morrison, played with a determined disregard for taste and intelligence." Taste. Intelligence. "Who's Sterling Morrison?" asked Steve.
When last heard of he was a university professor in Santa Fe.
"Oh, that's alright then. What's "surrogate" mean?"
They are going to play the Nashville again, but their problem, apart from finding it impossible to find a band they're compatible with musically, is that it's still not the right environment.
Live at Chelsea School of Art
December 5, 1975
Malcolm decided early that France would understand much better and envisioned a couple of weeks or more in Paris. The French promoter saw the Marquee gig, and fired with visions of Gene Vincent and Vince Taylor has booked them across France and Switzerland for May. Meanwhile, El Paradise...
If things work out, Malcolm will obtain the old UFO premises. Apart from the difficulty of finding the landlords, the police arrived about 2 a.m. the first night, what with the noise of the steel rolling door going up and down all the time as people left, and it's not really the right thing to have Arrows spreadeagled against the wall being frisked as a nightcap to the evening's frivolities.
Basically, what Malcolm wants is a rumbling, anarchic, noisy energetic rock scene, the likes of which haven't been seen in this country since the mid 1960s. Any comparisons with New York rock/club scene are briskly brushed aside.
"Maybe it's because they're so close to the media, but they're all so scared by them. I used to talk to Lisa Robinson and David Johansen would pull me into the toilet and say, "Don't you know who you're talking to? Don't say those things!" My God, if you worry about what you say to her...
"The trouble with the Dolls was that their hype was so much bigger than they were, They really had an opportunity to change it all around, but instead of ignoring all that bulls*** about signing up with a company and a big advance, they got sucked in.
"They get dazzled by the process. Every time the Ramones have a picture of them published it lessens their mystique. There's no mystery about the New York scene. Pretty soon Richard Hell is going to leave the Heartbreakers and Sire Records will dangle a contract in front of him and he knows it won't help and won't do any good but he'll sign it because it's what's expected of him.
"The thing to do is just ignore all that. No-one came to sign up the Stones, no-one wanted to know. But when they saw a lot of bands sounding like that with a huge following they had to sign them. Create a scene and a lot of bands - because people want to hear it - and they'll have to sign them even though they don't understand it.
"The trouble with the pubs is that they're free, and people come for that reason. If you're at a Sex Pistols gig you wanted to go, because you spent money to get in. I opened the shop because I wanted people to make a certain statement and they wore my clothes. The Sex Pistols are another extension of that."
As for what the band think of comparisons...
"The New York scene has absolutely nothing to do with us," sneers John.
"It's a total waste of time. All anyone talks about is the image. No-one's ever mentioned the music."
But there's a remote connection with the aesthetic and their seeming to try and get on with the future.
"I like that word, 'remote'," he says real blankly.
(Is he always like this? "No. He was rather polite tonight.")
Steve and Paul deliver the fatal blows.
"They're not like us. They all have long hair."
"Yeah, Anglophiles with Brian Jones mop heads."
So there they sit, waiting for a scene to build up around them, for the appearance of bands they can play with. They look rather glum at the prospect, and when you consider it, we can at least go and see the Sex Pistols.
"Yeah," sighs Steve. "I wish I could see us."
by John Ingham
First recording session
"I saw them at the 100 Club the first time they were there. Chrissie Hynde took me. I thought they were great. There was hardly anybody there. They'd frighten audiences away in those days. There'd be 20 people in the club at the beginning and about two by the time they finished playing. They used to have fights on stage and Rotten would be constantly running off stage. They were definitely what the business needed and I couldn't understand why people in the same business as me couldn't see it.
When they started getting some notoriety and nobody had really heard them, I would meet people from the London musical press in clubs. They knew that Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood were making my clothes, and they would say, "Are you also getting involved with that terrible group that they've got, the Sex Pistols?" And I was like, "Well, everybody to their own opinion but where did you hear them?" "Oh, we haven't heard them but we know they're terrible." So I thought this was a classic injustice which could be easily rectified if they got taken into the studio so that people could hear them properly."
Rotten and Matlock
"I decided on the songs. I knew I didn't want to go in and just have total anarchy. I knew enough about presenting something to a record companies to know that they wanted three songs usually. So I went to a couple of rehearsals at their place in Denmark Street and got them to go through their whole repertoire and I took notes, and I chose the three best songs that I thought they had at the time."
The Chris Spedding Session
May 15, 1976
Produced by Chris Spedding
Recorded at Majestic Studios
Tracks: "Problems," "Pretty Vacant," "No Feelings"
"I'd used the studio when I did the Here Come the Warm Jets album with Eno. And we got the same engineer, Derek Chandler. I got them to go in there ten o'clock in the morning, I got there about quarter to eleven, they were all set up. We started recording about eleven, about one o'clock we finished, and I mixed them. I was out of there by four or five o'clock. There was two guitar overdubs, that was about it. I faded "Pretty Vacant" in, I thought that'd be a cute idea. I said I'd bring my bass amp and my guitar amp. That's about the nearest I got to playing with them.
I asked them to do a rehearsal for me and I switched on the recorder. So they thought they were doing a rehearsal and they were actually doing their first take... I never really got them to hear themselves back and get all nervous about it until they'd more or less finished. They were more or less first takes, first time in the studio.
I'm quite proud of the Sex Pistols demos, especially when compared to their other later recordings. On my demos you can hear everything quite clearly - the bass and drums are really audible plus you can actually hear what the rhythm and lead guitars are doing.
Part of why McLaren and the Pistols didn't like my demo was that because I like R&B, I highlighted their rhythm tracks with a big bass drum and bass sound, particularly because Matlock had some intensely played bass runs. They wanted a guitar soup. I think that whenever you've got an interesting rhythm section like that, a band sounds like they can actually play, and since that was the whole point of my demo - to prove they could play - that's what I pushed. When you have a guitar soup, which is what the demo they recorded later sounds like, you have to face the fact that someone's trying to cover up the fact that they can't play. And that's what McLaren wanted people to think that they couldn't play, that was just an idea, a way of making all this anarchy stuff happen.
The only overdubs are the two guitar solos, of course, by Steve Jones. The reason the first note is so long on the "Problems" solo is that Steve Jones was so surprised at the sound and sustain he got out of my amp that he almost forgot to play!"
Cook, Jones, Matlock, Spedding, and Rotten
"I remember hearing the Spedding demos and not liking them, sorry Chris, 'cause it was like a RAK drum sound... it reminded me of Suzie Quatro."
"We did the demo session at Majestic Studios, a cinema converted into a 24-track studio just off Clapham High Road near the common. I used Spedding's amp as my bass amp and that was the closest he came to playing with the Pistols while I was around. As always in the studio, things went slower than expected and the time went so quickly that we ran out of money before we got round to mixing what we'd recorded, which was three songs.
When I got home to Greenford, my mum said, Where have you been all day? I told her I'd been recording in the studio and suddenly she got all interested and asked to hear what I'd done. So I played her the unmixed tape I'd brought home with me. "Oooo," she said, "I like the first one, it sounds just like The Shadows." That was 'Pretty Vacant.'"
"I played the tape to somebody at RAK records and their A&R guy went to [EMI A&R man] Nick Mobbs and said, "Look what Chris Spedding's come up with." Mobbs said, 'I wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole. They're terrible.'"
"Chris Spedding gave them a confidence they hadn't had. After he produced their first demo tape, he said they had the most expressive guitar lines he'd heard in two decades of working in rock 'n' roll."
November 1975 - June 1976
11/6/75 -- St. Martin's School of Art, London
11/7/75 -- Central School of Art & Design, Holborn
11/?/75 -- Hertfordshire College of Art & Design, St. Albans
"Around Halloween, a band just turned up and played St. Albans Art School. We didn't know who they were. We hardly even bothered watching them, but we were dancing because they were terrible. We thought they were a piss-take of a sixties group. They were very slow, very amateurish."
11/21/75 -- Westfield College, London
11/28/75 -- Queen Elizabeth College, Kensington, London
12/5/75 -- Chelsea School of Art, London
"There was a little buzz about Malcolm's group, so he contacted a lot of people and invited them to Chelsea. Roger Armstrong and I went and we thought they were great, because there was so much energy. They were disorganized but powerful. People didn't know what to make of them: there was no definite reference point."
12/9/75 -- Ravensbourne College of Art, Bromley
"It was Saturday night and there was nothing to do. We went to Ravensbourne College: there was a band on called Fogg, but we didn't go to see them. I got there and saw Malcolm; I'd seen him in the shop and I thought, "Wow, what's he doing here?" Then the Sex Pistols came on and I was the only person clapping. All the students were going mad, shouting and crap. The group were awful, but it was visually really brilliant. You could tell what they were trying to do with the sound."
12/?/75 -- North East London Polytechnic?
12/?/75 -- City of London Polytechnic?
1/23/76 -- Watford College, Watford
Live at Hertfordshire College of Art & Design, St. Albans
February 19, 1976
2/12/76 -- Marquee Club, London (supporting Eddie and the Hot Rods)
"Moronic... a musical experience with the emphasis on experience."
Neil Spencer, New Musical Express
"The Marquee Club gig was a lot of nervous energy. They thought it would be a good idea to put the Pistols on the bill because they thought we had something in common."
"The band were all over the place. Rotten said, "I've always wanted to watch this group play." He just walked offstage with this long microphone lead and sat in the audience. He threw Jordan across the floor, threw chairs about. They smashed Eddie and the Hot Rods' equipment."
"Since we never had our own stage monitors, we had to rely on others for their equipment, and if they bugger you about, that's the end for you. If you can't hear what you're doing, you're f***ed. When it came to the actual gig, somehow the monitors were turned off. I call that industrial sabotage or a major mistake and didn't take kindly to it. That's when things started to go sadly wrong for Eddie and the Hot Rods. I put a mike stand through one of their monitors."
"The real problem was that it was the first time Johnny had heard his voice properly, and he didn't like it. While we kept on playing, he took a pencil and stabbed it through all the speaker cones in the PA."
"I was there for NME, but the place was half-empty. The Pistols looked completely unique. Big mohair sweaters and spiky hair - absolutely nobody looked like that. People were shouting abuse, but what was novel was that the band screamed right back. Musically, they were raw, exciting and charismatic. When I spoke to them afterwards they gave me that famous quote, "We're not into music, we're into chaos," which had obviously been primed by Malcolm, and they faithfully trotted it out."
2/14/76 -- Butler's Wharf, Tower Bridge, London
"Malcolm asked if I knew of anywhere down by the river, because he said he had these boys - he called them 'the boys' - he wanted to launch somewhere: somewhere interesting. And an Andrew Logan party was interesting. It was the thing to do then."
"John Lydon was on three trips of acid and God knows how many grams of speed. He had got so out of it. They were doing this version of "No Fun," kept doing it over and over. Lydon got it in his head to start smashing the equipment, flying around with this mike stand, throwing things around. It wasn't aimed at the audience, they didn't matter. Lydon was in this state; it was obviously drug-induced, but he clearly wanted to get completely out of himself. He wanted to go straight into the eye of the hurricane, and the group was backing him up."
"The Sex Pistols started up, and they didn't know what hit them. Andrew was freaking out, actually, because it was like anarchy had been transported into his little paradise. And he hadn't realised what was going on there.
Someone from New Musical Express arrived and Malcolm came rushing up to me and said, "Jords... the enemy is here! They've actually turned up. We've got to do something that will create a scuffle, a story." And I said, "Well, what?" And he said, "Well, why don't you go up there and take your clothes off?" I said, "Oh, come on, Malcolm." And he said, "No, I'm serious."
He was so excited, desperate to get some scam going, but I was determined, and I told him no. And he bugged me again, so I finally told him that if John pulls me onstage, if John takes my clothes off, I'll do it.
But John wasn't very... brave. John liked things to be set up for him, wasn't very good at instigating it, so Malcolm had a word with him - hands signals and stuff - and in the middle of Iggy Pop's "No Fun," John broke all the zips on my leotard, which was a real piss-off. I was so fed up about that, I just took the back off it and went zoom."
2/19/76 -- Hertfordshire College of Art & Design, St. Albans
2/20/76 -- Bucks College of Higher Education, High Wycombe
"They weren't booked or invited. They just arrived and said they were the support band, set up their gear and played. I thought they were great so I found out who their manager was and he came down the 100 Club to see me the following week. I began to book them consistently, whereas other promoters and venues wouldn't have anything to do with them."
"We did a High Wycombe gig opening for Screaming Lord Sutch. That was one of the funniest gigs ever, seeing that fool come out of his coffin. We were all at the back of the hall in fits. They got upset because they said we'd broken some of their equipment. They wouldn't give us a sound check or any space on stage to put up a drum kit."
"The microphone which Rotten was using suddenly went dead, and you couldn't hear what he was singing. He was aware of this and suddenly got incredibly embarassed. He got hold of the microphone and smashed it to the ground, jumping on it. The PA guys and roadies swarmed on stage from every direction. Big Jim, Steve's mate, was there, very pissed, and as they came on stage, he was holding them back. The audience was wondering what was going on."
"There were all these louts who really couldn't relate to the Sex Pistols at all. They were very disappointed. They were sitting along the front of the stage as Johnny crept along the front of the stage and tousled their hair. One of their mates from the back came running and picked Johnny up and threw him on the floor. The Sex Pistols' friends started piling in and - this was during "No Fun" - there was this throng of thrashing people. Johnny crept back onstage and finished the number. It also ended the show. This terrible DJ came on and said, 'Oh, yer in the NME, they say we're not into music, we're into chaos, and I think we know what they mean, har har.'"
"John would stand at the edge of the stage and mess up the people's hair in the audience. It's lucky he didn't get killed because he wouldn't back down. It would get frightening. There were fights at all of the gigs. John used to instigate them."
"I don't know what we did right. Everyone was going apes*** after the Sutch gig."
2/21/76 -- Welwyn, Garden City
3/25/76 -- Hertfordshire College of Art & Design, St. Albans
3/30/76 -- The 100 Club, London
"John was out of his box. He always used to have quite a bit to drink before we went on anyway. This night I don't know what he was on, but it sounded abysmal. He was singing the right words but to the wrong songs."
"John was just fed up with it, and he started to leave. He walked up the stairs and waited for a bus to go home. Mind you, there wasn't many people there. That was part of the reason that John was fed up, because everybody there had seen them before. Malcolm shouted, "You get back on that stage or you're over." John did, finished the set and even did a couple of encores."
"While they were playing, Johnny kept picking up his mike stand, over his shoulder, trying to spear Glen Matlock. There was always this tension that he was trying to do grievous bodily harm to Matlock onstage.
He not only left the stage, he left the club. And Malcolm McLaren went running out into the street to try and retrieve him.
Meanwhile, onstage, the band were so frustrated. Steve Jones couldn't handle it, and he ripped his guitar strings off with one hand. So then Rotten came back in and, when he realized that Steve had ripped the strings off his guitar and couldn't play anymore, Rotten leapt back onstage and went, "OK, what's next?" This is 15 minutes since he'd left. So it looked like Steve's fault they couldn't carry on."
4/3/76 -- The Nashville, Kensington, London
4/4/76 -- El Paradise Strip Club, Soho, London
"It had a stage the size of a Punch-and-Judy show and a few f***ing filthy seats. The whole place smelled like a s***hole, but we thought it looked good, as it had this terrific entrance with these huge nude women in gilt frames."
"The El Paradise strip club was a shady scene - fat, ugly chicks stripping. Malcolm put that together. There were strippers actually working before we went on, and then after we finished, they started stripping again."
"It was a terrible place to play because it was so small and so loud. We ended up breaking up a few things. These Maltese blokes who ran the club turned up. It was such a s***hole, they were worried we were going to wreck it."
"We had about 10 people inside watching us. I burned myself really bad. I stumbled and fell on the lights that were normally anchored above but were on the ground. I couldn't see what I was doing, and I stumbled and hit them on my side. I still have a huge welt from it."
"There's a stage which couldn't have been more than ten feet wide and four feet deep with a mirror behind it. All the early Pistols crowd were there: Jordan, Kate Crockford, Viv Albertine, a strange assortment of people.
"John's got this red sweater on and it's ripped. His hair is up, and he's wearing old Ben Franklin glasses. I liked him immediately. The group looked funny and I found myself laughing a lot. John was going, "You'd better like what I'm doing, otherwise I'm wasting my time." All the songs sounded similar, but they were clearly different. Some songs were clearly good, and the others were over quickly. You couldn't intellectualize the band. You couldn't analyze it. I got the sense that something was going on here, that this was something to follow, a movement."
4/23/76 -- The Nashville, Kensington, London
4/29/76 -- The Nashville, Kensington, London
Live at the Babalu Disco, London
May 5, 1976
5/5/76 -- The Babalu Disco, London
"We advertised it on Capital Radio for three weeks before, so we thought it would be teeming, but there was only about 11 people there, including the band. Still, I reckon it was about the best concert we ever did."
5/6/76 -- North East London Polytechnic?
5/11/76 -- The 100 Club, London
"The gigs at the 100 Club were good because they were regular gigs. All these other bands would start up because it was a place for punk bands. We relied on it each week as a regular place. I suppose that's what actually started the punk movement going."
5/18/76 -- The 100 Club, London
"The 100 Club was half-empty, and the audience was still mixed between kids in flared denims and long hair, and a smattering of do-it-yourself punk types, looking a bit like extras from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. After the support band, Krakatoa, there was a huge gap before the Pistols came on. They didn't tune up, and Rotten's first words were "Who's gonna buy me a drink then?" The next few minutes completely overturned everything I'd ever understood about entertainment values in the music business. They shambled on, played diabolical covers of oldies like "Watcha Gonna Do 'Bout It." It was totally anti-showbiz and anti-musical, very negative, with these overtones of violence. After about 15 minutes, I couldn't take it any longer. I had to leave, but it changed my life. As I was walking out I knew something was going on and I'd have to get to grips with it."
5/19/76 -- Nothallerton, North Yorkshire
5/20/76 -- Penthouse, Scarborough
"I remember Scarborough because we were told that the local casuals were going to come and duff us up. They threw a few glasses, and of course there was no security. I remember standing on stage and challenging them, but they wouldn't come up to the stage."
5/21/76 -- The Crypt, Town Hall, Middlesborough (supporting the Doctors of Madness)
"The Doctors of Madness gave us a hard time so, to get them back, while they were onstage, Steve nicked some money from their clothes in the dressing room, and did a huge green gob of spit in one of their stack-heeled boots."
"They already had a reputation as trouble-makers, but we liked the idea of having a bunch of reprobates supporting us. They turned up with virtually no gear and assumed they could borrow ours, and they were generally very surly.
After our set, our violin player, Urban Blitz, went to get some of his money out of his pocket and noticed 12 pounds missing, by which time the Pistols had scarpered."
5/22/76 -- Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln
5/25/76 -- The 100 Club, London
5/30/76 -- Reading University, Art Department
6/4/76 -- Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester
"Being northern, we didn't know how to react. People were very rigid. There was a support group from Blackburn, and their hair swept off the stage. People were unwilling to respond to the Sex Pistols. The audience was very slim. The Sex Pistols still had slightly capped sleeves, and flares were not entirely taboo at that point; their jeans were somewhere in the middle. I liked them, but they seemed like a clued-in singer and three patched musicians."
I didn't know what the f*** was going on until they played "Steppin' Stone." Then it was clear that they were deeply and fabulously exciting, but this was so early in their development that Steve Jones was still wearing a boiler suit and windmilling his arms around in an imitation of Pete Townshend. I went back to Granada and told my producer, Chris Pye, that we absolutely had to have them on the show [So It Goes]."
6/15/76 -- The 100 Club, London
6/17/76 -- Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London
6/29/76 -- The 100 Club, London
Live at the 100 Club, London
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the artwork would like to thank Jeremy Frey, for allowing me to use the above information from his site 'Welcome to the Rodeo'.
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