The Sex Pistols was consistently, and all at once, a rebellious, controversial, and influential British punk rock band. Their music and performances never failed to generate noise, and their debut stage was no exception.
The Sex Pistols were formed in 1975 with John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) joining Steve Jones, Glenn Matlock, and Paul Cook from an earlier band called The Strand. Rotten was recruited reportedly either by The Strand’s manager, artist, clothes designer, and boutique owner Malcolm McLaren or his friend Bernard Rhodes, getting accepted into the group after regaling them with a performance of Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen” to the amusement of the entire band. It was noted that Rotten had never sung prior.
The first gig of the then newly-organized Sex Pistols was held on this day 38 years ago at the St. Martin’s College in London, an art school where Matlock was studying at the time. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find neither photos nor video clips of this event, and had to rely only on several written reports online.
The Sex Pistols played as a support group for another band called Bazooka Joe. Their setlist included covers of The Who’s “Substitute,” The Small Faces’ “Whatcha Gonna Do About It,” Dave Berry’s “(Don’t You Give Me) No Lip,” and The Monkees’ “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone.” Citing “observers,” a part of the Wikipedia entry on the band stated that they were “unexceptional musically aside from being extremely loud” during that particular performance.
Reports vary as to how long the Sex Pistols were able to perform before someone (one source said it was members of Bazooka Joe who got mad seeing their amps and drums being “trashed” by the band, another claimed it was then St. Martin’s Student Union President Jeremy Diggle) literally pulled the plug on them. The Guardian said they only performed one song, The Rolling Stone claimed they were onstage for close to 10 minutes, while The Telegraph placed it 20 minutes before they were kicked out of the stage. In any case, it was a short but certainly memorable gig, with Wikipedia even asserting, “A brief physical altercation between members of the two bands took place on stage” when they stopped performing.
In 2005, a by-invitation-only event to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Sex Pistols’ gig was held at St. Martin’s. Matlock himself graced the affair and unveiled a blue plaque stating, “First Gig Sex Pistols November 6th 1975 ‘Unplugged’”. The plaque was designed and made by potter Douglas Fitch and graphic designer Mike Endicott.
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