….first ever magazine cover courtesy of Melody Maker, feature by Caroline Coon.
It wasn’t that easy to find the text for this story, however, I found it on Big Figure Promotions Facebook page here
Here’s the original feature…..
Parade Of The Punks
Caroline Coon, Melody Maker, 2 October 1976
THE 600-STRONG line, which last Monday straggled across two blocks outside London’s 100 Club in Oxford Street, waiting for the Punk Rock Festival to start, was indisputable evidence that a new decade in rock is about to begin.
Two 18-year-olds from Salisbury were at the head of the queue. “I’ve been WAITING for something to identify with,” says Gareth, hopping up and down “There’s been nothing for years. I just want to be involved.”
Michelle and Bruno are both 16. Their hair is short and neat. Their shirts and ties, leopardskin jackets, stiletto heels, pointed toes and dramatic make-up is variously-repeated down the line.
“These are the best bands around,” says Michelle, already a seasoned fan. “They’re playing the music of the people.”
Isn’t it all rather aggressive? “That’s a load of rubbish. The violence is part of the music. It’s not going to have any psychological side-effects.”
Over the last eight months a generation of rock fans have quietly developed an extraordinary sense of belonging together. Excited by the new (to them anyway) blast of energy in the music played by bands like the Sex Pistols, Eddie and the Hotrods (although these particular bands have little time for each other, many of their fans love them both) and most of the others on the Punk Rock Festival bill, they are creating a new cultural identity for themselves.
They have their own clothes, language, “in” jokes and fanzines. There is both healthy cameraderie and competitiveness.
The established bands share their equipment and rehearsal space, and most of the established musicians are encouraging friends to form bands of their own. Even apart from the 30 musicians actually playing in the festival, the audience is seething with new talent.
Tim, Pete, George and Bill, all 17, are from North London and Southend. “We listen to everything from Weather Report to MC5,” says schoolboy Tim. “But we come here to pick up tips. Our band’s called 1919 Alteria Motive Five, ’cause there’s four of us, see.”
Johnny Moped is there, looking to find musicians for his band the Morons. Chaotic Bass is on the loose. Fat Steve of the Babes says he’s rehearsing. Fourteen-year-old Rodger Bullen, a Rat Scabies protege, has just joined Eater.
The creative buzz, the feel that something is “happening,” is infectious. There is a continual stream of criticism and rude abuse poured over each other’s favourite enterprises, but having and giving back that kind of attention is part of the fun. “Do It Yourself” could be the motto down at the 100 Club. Everyone wants to get in on the act. Everyone can.
For the Subway Sect, it’s their first-ever gig. There’s Vic Goddard (19) and Paul Myers (bass). Paul Smith (18) has played for five weeks, and Robert Miller (lead guitar) for three months. They are familiar faces, having been in the audience at many Pistols gigs.
It’s been tough for them to find rehearsal rooms, but after a weekend at the Clash’s spacious studio their set is debut-ready.
They stalk purposefully on stage and, without looking at the audience, start a lengthy, foot-finding warm up. Already they look like they belong together.
“We’re the, er, Subway (pause) Sect,” announces Vic, turning at last to face the sea of people before him. And, with an abrasive kick, their first number, ‘No Love’, voices the expectancy within the club.
“Love is not what we need. We’re part of the U.K.,” sings Vic, his voice medium-pitched and clear. They are unashamedly inspired, by the Pistols. Vic stands before the mike, both arms stretched behind his head, just like Rotten used to.
Halfway through the set he thrusts his left hand deep into his trouser pockets and stuffs his mouth with little pieces of something – like pills or nuts. That’s original.
Their sound is a grind of frantic, jagged discords which, whether by chance or design, mostly resolve into acceptable patterns of unadorned simplicity. Paul and Robert, standing each side of Vic, their faces screwed up with intensity, flash- their fingers across their guitars as fast as white lightning.
Drummer Paul, though, seems to float his drum-sticks through the air. He chews gum and pounds away with the studied suavity of a young rating on his first day of home leave.
They’re all dressed in underground grey jerseys and casual grey trousers. The effect is utilitarian and bland. It suits their nail-sinking rhythms and doomy lyrics.
“Everyone’s a prostitute and everyone’s in prison,” are words caught from one number. “Nobody’s scared,” “seen it all before,” “beautiful plastic” are some more. And then, in one of the last numbers, “we’re splitting. The end. Take hold of your life. There’s something you’ve got to prove.”
At the bar, where all through the festival record company P.R.’s, executives, T.V. and radio personalities, musicians, the press and punk scene regulars swap opinions on “form” like Jockey Club stewards, feelings are mixed. Great! Terrible!
But Debbie (15) from Bromley gets it right. In the last two months her hair has been mauve, yellow and raspberry pink. “They’re good! There, I said it,” she confesses. “They’re good!”
Suzi And The Banshees: It’s never the same at a Pistols gig nowadays (in London, anyway) if what is known as the “Bromley Contingent” isn’t there. This inseparable unit is Steve (21). Bill (22) and Simon (19) – he sells hot dogs off a mobile stand during the day – raspberry-haired Debbie and Suzi herself.
They first heard the Pistols at their local tech. in January and they’ve been faithful followers ever since. They made the trip to Paris, in a ropey old car, to see their heroes’ first overseas performance, and Suzi, shocking in her semi-nudity, got punched on the nose.
She is nothing if not magnificent. Her short hair, which she sweeps in great waves over her head, is streaked with red, like flames. She’ll wear black plastic non-existent bras, one mesh and one rubber stocking, and suspender belts (various), all covered by a polka-dotted, transparent plastic mac.
Over the weeks the Bromley Contingent’s parade of inventive dress (it’s rarely the same two weeks running) has set the fashion pace of the scene. It was only a matter of time before they took their street theatre to the stage.
Apart from Suzi, it wasn’t decided who would actually end up doing the festival until the day. Everyone thought though that they’d carry out their much advertised plan to sing ‘Goldfinger’.
It was not to be. At the last moment, in an orgy of rock iconoclasm, they decided on ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ spiced with “the most ridiculous rock songs ever written.”
Two-tone Steve (his hair is black on top, white at the sides) was on the bass he picked up for the first time the night before. Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten’s friend and inventor of the Pogo dance, was on drums. He had one rehearsal. And a mature gent called Marco was the lead guitarist.
The prayer begins. It’s a wild improvisation, a public jam, a bizarre stage fantasy acted out for real. The sound is what you’d expect from, er, novices.
But Sid, with miraculous command, starts his minimal thud and the beat doesn’t fluctuate from the start to the finish of the, er, set. Against this knobby sound, Suzi, with the grace of a redeemed ghoul, rifles the senses with an unnerving, screeching recital of ‘Twist And Shout’ and ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’. Sid’s smile flickers. Marco, his guitar feeding back, rolls up his sleeves, and Two-tone Steve two-tones.
The audience, enjoying the band’s nerve and audacity, eggs them on, gets bored, has a laugh, and then wonders how much more it can take. Twenty minutes later, on a nod from Marco, Sid just stops.
The enthusiastic cheering is just recognition of their success. If the punk rock scene has anything to offer then it’s the opportunity for anyone who wants to get up and experience the reality of their wildest, stage-struck dreams. The bar-flys are horrified.
“God, it was awful,” says Howard Thompson, an A&R man from Island. But Suzi is not interested in contracts.
The ending was a mistake,” she says. “I thought we’d go on until they pulled us off.”
The Clash: “They’re great!” shouted a bespectacled youth halfway through this band’s set. “I used to listen to Yes and Genesis.” At last, after three months’ intensive, rehearsal and three gigs, the Clash hit close to lop form. We see just a glimpse of their very considerable potential.
They have reduced their line-up. Rhythm guitarist Keith Levine is off forming a new band. This has left Joe Strummer (lead vocals and guitar), Mick Jones (lead guitar) and Paul Simenon (bass) more room to move.
They pitched like rockets, powering through their first number, ‘White Riot’. The audience is instantly approving. The band is fast, tough and lyrical, and they’ve mastered the way of dove-tailing Joe’s mellow approach with Mick’s spiky aggression.
They blaze through ‘London’s Burning’. Terry Chimes (drums) breaks up his solid bass drum surge with hi-hat splashes. The sound, though disciplined, is bursting forth.
They play 11 of the 18 songs in their repertoire, including ‘I’m So Bored With You’, ‘Protex Blues’ (with Mick on lead vocals), ‘Deadly Serious’, ‘Denigh’ and ‘Janie Jones’ – about a man thinking of her – and they end the set with ‘1977’.
Later, I asked Paul Simenon, who has only played bass for six months, how he felt about the set. “I’ve got to get better. I’m never content. I know I can do a lot with the bass. Most of them stand still like John Entwhistle. I want to move around and give the audience a good time. And give myself a good time, too.”
Joe Strummer, whose last band was the now fabled 101’ers, has played with very experienced musicians. What was it like with someone like Paul? “It’s really great,” he said. “When a musician knows all his oats it gets boring. It’s not exciting for them, and they start playing for playing’s sake, and the emotion disappears.
The Clash are a fine, visionary rock band with a wild style. I’ve seen them four times now, they’ve never played the same set. Their humour and spontaneity is uncontrived and, now that they’ve settled into their new line-up, they’ll be a cornerstone for the developing punk rock scene.
The Sex Pistols: The atmosphere in the club is feverish and high-pitched. This band is what everyone’s been waiting for. Not everyone, however, is happy about the Pistols’ growing success and notoriety. The private party is over; the band are public property. It had to happen.
But with mixed feelings the band’s nucleus of fans are holding their breath as their champions start their steady climb. Will the businessmen spoil them – that’s the anxious question?
Already the band has changed – especially Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones. Once Rotten would poke his pretty mug into any camera lens. Now he’s likely to sweep his arms across his face with an Ava Gardner gesture of exclusivity.
Jones, once the brooding loner unsure of his sex appeal, is now exuding a confidence which guarantees exotic women. Glen Matlock and Paul Cook, perhaps because they’ve been less “visible,” have yet to zip into their rock-star mantles.
But, if the band are more detached from their audience than they used to be, it’s for self-protection. Their fanatical following is growing fast. Fans follow them all over the country. They are the unquestioned stars of the Punk Rock Festival and, as they step onstage, they are greeted with lung-bursting cheers.
“We’ve got another underground at last,” shouts an ecstatic youth, almost in tears. “I’ve waited seven years for this.”
Over the nine months the Pistols have played together, Rotten has developed his stage presence beyond the realms even his most ardent fans imagined.
You can read more here
Looking for Sex Pistols vinyl, CDs, memorabilia and more? Visit the Sex Pistols Collectors Store at eil.com
The original article says ‘punk rock – crucial or phoney?’ – That still applies now doesn’t it?