It was a snowy December morning in 1976: I collected the Daily Mirror from the doormat at our bungalow in Tangmere, West Sussex, and saw that they had splashed words and pictures of Johnny Rotten, Glen Matlock, Paul Cook and Steve Jones on the cover. Punk had landed. I read with some amusement (not imagining what an effect this music would have on the next few years of my life and beyond) of a man kicking his TV set in when he heard Steve Jones utter the immortal words: ‘You dirty bastard…you dirty fucker..what a fucking rotter’. This is what actually happened:
Bill Grundy disappeared into the ether, the Pistols blagged their way through three record companies, and music culture was changed forever.
Then there was Peel. Anarchy In The U.K. was hardly played by Radio 1, yet John found a place for it (since he was after the watershed). ‘I seem to remember a slight disappointment with it in that it seemed vaguely reminiscent of that kind of New York Dolls area…in a sense, it was a bit too long for a start [3 min 32 seconds], it was longer than I’d imagined it was going to be…nevertheless, I knew it was a record that was considerably better than other things that were being offered to play at the time‘. (Peeling Back The Years, 1987). It made FF 1978-80 #1 every year, 1981 #2, All-Time FF 1982 #1, and #4 in the 2000 All-Time FF. It seems almost grandiose and orchestral now, seeming to announce ‘We are here’ with swathes of crashing guitar and wonderfully inexpert drumming. Over it all, Rotten proclaims the new breed, ‘Don’t know what I want, but I know how to get it, wanna destroy’ against a backdrop of the way we lived: ‘just another country, another council tenancy’.
The press pretended to be outraged, but you got the feeling the media were loving it all really. Which is exactly what they (the band) wanted.
In a shameless piece of self-publicity, the original is followed by my own stab at it during a 2001 karaoke, recorded by my mate Bruce during Sound City’s roadshow.
Buy: Sex Pistols, Never Mind The Bollocks