Friday, January 13, 2006

Feel Like You Been Cheated?


On January 13, 1978, my friends and I were making our last minute plans for driving up to San Francisco from Los Angeles to see the Sex Pistols at Winterland the following day, January 14 - an important date in punk rock history.

Quite frankly, this tour ruled our social life and all our plans. I had friends who traveled across the country to see them. We knew this was going to be the event of the year, of the decade and the event of many people's short lives to date. Why and how? Nothing had shaken up the culture as much as the Sex Pistols did.

It was drizzling rain when we drove up. I had my camera under my shirt, to keep it dry, and it looked like I was pregnant, so no one bothered to search me. I was wearing an off-white heavy cotton middy top - that's the proper fashion name for the kind of shirts that sailors wear, the loose-fitting ones with the big square back collar. Of course, my wearing of that style was inspired by the music video for the Rolling Stones "Its Only Rock n Roll." Those soap bubbles still make me laugh.

Two local bands opened the show, The Nuns and The Avengers. They were both great and it was exciting that people you knew were becoming part of rock n roll history, simply being on that bill. Then the Pistols came on. They played a sloppy set and before you knew it, it was over. Yeah, I heard Johnny Rotten say "Feel like you've been cheated?"

No one had any idea that it would be the last show this particular foursome would ever play.

After the music was over, thanks to the cult celebrity status of one of our growing group (Sal Maida, then with Milk n Cookies, but with a prior stint in Roxy Music), we simply all waltzed backstage and hung out with the Nuns, Avengers and Pistols. There was one of those great big industrial popcorn poppers like you see in movie theatres, and it was popping corn and melting butter. You could help yourself (promoter Bill Graham, notoriously cheap on many fronts, was also at the same time incredibly hospitable), and the bands did help themselves and there was melted butter all over the floor and people were slipping and sliding all over the place. Johnny Rotten stepped on a butter slick and went careening across the floor bumping into people along the way, including me. To my surprise, he was as polite as could be, "I'm so sorry to have rammed into you."

No problem, John!

Again, following Sal's lead, we sauntered over to the Miyako Hotel, which is the place in San Francisco where bands stay. Still to this day! He must have had the cult celebrity glow about him, because there was security at the hotel, but we cruised right on in. I can't recall the details of the after show party, but I remember a lot of people giving Steve Jones grief over his red jacket, reminiscent of the red hunting jackets the Kinks used to wear onstage. In fact, Pleasant and I continued this taunting once the band had come down to LA to enjoy some Southern California sun a few days later.

Paul Cook and Johnny Rotten even attended a Mumps gig. I went to take some pictures of them at the show, but it was way too dark and I was NOT going to use a flash. Just take my word for it: Pistols saw the Mumps. Lance was over the moon!

Los Angeles was kind to the Sex Pistols. Rotten and Jones stayed here...in fact, Steve Jones is still here and he has the best ever radio show hosted by a musician in this nation. Jonesy's Jukebox
on Indie 103 in Los Angeles, or online at www.indie1031.fm .

Why don't you spend the weekend celebrating the Pistols by giving their "Never Mind the Bollocks" a spin. There's really nothing like it. A classic. And now they're gonna be in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Amazing...

1 comment:

Dave Swanson said...

The Sex Pistols were amazing and those singles and that album still kill 30 years later. No one before or since has delivered the kind of venomous attitude that Rotten did with his vocals. Sure Iggy and Jagger had it in spades, but that snarl and snear was Johnny's own. Perfect that they only made one album too. How do you top that one? I hope that if Rotten/Lydon shows up for the Rock Hall inductions, he plays his role to the hilt. Lord knows those Rock Hall ceremonies could use some excitement! And...how cool you mention Milk-N-Cookies! They were great and that album is an undiscovered pop classic (recently reissued on cd!)