“I’ve always said, I thought the Sex Pistols was more Music Hall than anything else – because I think that really, more truths are said in humour than any other form.” – John Lydon (lead vocalist of the Sex Pistols)
“The Sex Pistols was a part of my life. Just a small part.” – Steve Jones (guitarist of the Sex Pistols)
This is a story (mostly my very stretched imagination) about how a band named the Sex Pistols really affected my life, and still does, to this day.
It was mid-1977. I was a college student. I had very long hair. Just like all the other guys did.
The FM radio was filled with lame rock bands like the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner and Journey or disco music. Real rock and roll was long gone; Kiss and Aerosmith started doing ballads. I thought it should be against the law for heavy metal bands to do ballads. It sucked.
In my car, I had a dozen cassette tapes. Ten of them were David Bowie and the other two were T-Rex. I couldn’t really stand listening to anything else. Except a few radio shows I really liked. (I wrote about some of those shows here: The White Stripes Jack White and Me (A True Story) (robot55.jp/blog/jack-white-and-me-a-true-story/)
One day, bored (and stoned) as usual, I came home from college. And turned on the TV. There I saw a news report about a sick new rock and roll craze that was sweeping England; it was the punk rock craze.
It was freaky: kids with short spiky orange colored hair and girls and guys holding dog leashes and collars on their boyfriends and girlfriends – who dressed in similar black leather attire with a tinge of fashionable Nazi regalia.
I thought it was way cool.
As the announcer kept telling the viewers that this was a “sick and twisted trend” in UK music, I watched and thought, “This is great!”
Later I would go to the local record shop and ask for “Punk Rock.” The clerk, with a confused face, scowled and looked at me and said, “What’s that?” I told him it was a new kind of music that was popular in England and he pointed me to the import section. I didn’t know what I was looking for exactly; I only knew these people had short and messy hair. I filed through the imports and then came upon the Damned’s first album (the one where pumpkin pie is smeared all over their faces.) I turned the album over and look at the back and saw some of the guys I had seen on TV: One was dressed as Dracula, another was wearing a waitresses uniform.
This is it! I bought the record and took it home. From the first listen, I was hooked!
On November 1st, 1977, I went to Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and bought the first Sex Pistols album. November 1st is my birthday! What a great birthday present! I liked the Sex Pistols even more than the Damned!
I became a hard core punk rock fan. From then on, that’s all I listened to. I would go on to be a member in a one-hit wonder punk band and that was a turning point in my life.
To make a long story short, Punk Rock had changed my life and it set me up (for good or bad) as a person who wants to have fun doing what I like and to generally reject mass-consumerism and Pop-Music.
Fast forward many years later and, in 1996, the Sex Pistols who had broken up in 1977, had reunited and came to Japan. I had a chance (invitation) to go see them and perhaps interview them, but I didn’t. Just like my band, the punk movement of 1977 ~ 1980 was a great memory. I wanted to keep it that way. I wasn’t interested in seeing my past heroes as middle-aged fat punks.
I guess I should have gone, though.
A few years ago, Glen Matlock, the original bass guitarist for the Sex Pistols would come and tour Japan. He came to my radio station. I did go meet him then. I took my photo with him. See?
I asked Glen Matlock that same day if he would allow us to make a promo video for his song, “Yeah Right.” He said, “OK!” So, with no planning and no pre-shooting planning meeting at the show, we shot this video. It was made taking video at his rehearsal and then shots of the live performance:
It was great fun and I’m glad I got to finally meet one of my heroes, Glen Matlock. Making his video was a dream come true.
Several months after that, famous photographer Sheila Rock came to Japan. Sheila Rock was the wife of famous music photographer, Chris Rock, and Sheila spent her youth taking photos of early UK punk greats like Generation X, the Clash and the Sex Pistols. Even though Johnny Rotten didn’t attend her event, I did, and I sat and talked with her and she even took my photo for me! I wrote about that in Sex Pistols, Clash, Gen X, Sheila Rock and Why We Sometimes Make Videos for Free! (robot55.jp/blog/sex-pistols-clash-gen-x-sheila-rock-and-why-we-sometimes-make-videos-for-free/) I think there’s a photo of me taken by the famous Sheila rock at that link, so please check it out.
Like I said, the Sex Pistols have greatly influenced my life even to this very day!
They taught me that it’s OK to be an individual and to not follow the crowds. They also taught me that in life, sometimes hype is bigger than reality.
I’ve used that idea and concept all my life since then. It has helped me greatly all my life.
Steve Jones said (quote at the top of this page): “The Sex Pistols was a part of my life. Just a small part.”
But, for me, the Sex Pistols were, and still are, a big part of my life.
Actually, if you want to read a really true story of how I made successful ventures into the music business in Japan, by using ideas – hype and marketing techniques I learned from the Sex Pistols, please refer to: My Very Own Rock & Roll Swindle! How I Scammed the Music Business in Japan! (modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.jp/2012/04/my-very-own-rock-roll-swindle-how-i.html)
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