Friday, July 20, 2012

Belinda Witnesses The Last Gasp Of The Sex Pistols (Live And In Person)

Or so she claims. The Sex Pistols' final concert in San Francisco on January 14, 1978 is one of those shows, like Woodstock, that more people claim to have seen than could have possibly been there. Another such gig, the Sex Pistols' July 20, 1976 concert at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester, was supposedly attended by Morrissey, Mark E. Smith, future members of Joy Division, and future members of the Buzzcocks. I think even nine year old Noel Gallagher was playing pinball in the back.

And so it is that perhaps just as many West coast punks claim to have been "there" to witness the Sex Pistols implode in front of their very eyes. Some forward-thinking individual brought a video camera, and I just discovered that the entire concert is on YouTube, so at this point I probably have as valid a claim to having "attended" as anybody. OK fine, I'm sure Belinda is telling the truth, but even she seems to have taken someone else's word for it:
Word spread that the Sex Pistols were going to play at the Winterland Ballroom on January 14 in San Francisco ... I went up with Theresa and a group that included Connie and others. She recalls us checking into a Chinatown hotel, trashing the room, and then being unable to find another place to stay, all of which is likely true. I just don't remember any of it. I was probably on acid.
Well there you go.
It was a miracle the Sex Pistols even made it onto the stage after a three-week tour across the southern U.S. that filled the underground with talk of new highs and lows of self-destructive behavior. It was all part of their larger-than-life reputation, which, in a way, transcended anything they played that night, though as I recall, the show we saw was brilliant.
I still get goose bumps when I picture Sid Vicious poised at the edge of the stage, in his leather pants, billowy white shirt, and black vest, grasping the microphone with both hands. I remember his hair sticking straight up and the violent way he thrashed through the band's songs. By the end of the night, he was shirtless, and his skinny white torso was full of gashes that were dripping with blood, while Johnny Rotten was kneeling on stage, chanting, "This is no fun. This is no fun."
No fun indeed. After telling the audience, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" Rotten left the stage and, as it turned out, the band.

The Sex Pistols may have flamed out, but their legacy lived on. Some of the well-known bands that may not have existed without direct inspiration from these depraved anarchists: The Clash, The Damned, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Adam & The Ants, The Cure, U2, and ...

... the Go-Go's?

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