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How the Sex Pistols saved Christmas …

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, December 25th, 2013 - 13 comments
Categories: uk politics, youtube - Tags:

In 1977 the Huddersfield fire fighters were in the midst of a bitter strike and families had been without an income for some time.  Christmas was looking bleak.

But the Sex Pistols stepped in and played a legendary benefit gig for the families.  It was organised surreptitiously because they were afraid that the authorities would shut it down.  At the time they were hated by the authorities and they were on an MI5 black list.  They had been banned by many authorities from using civic facilities.  They laid on presents and cake for everyone and from then on there were a bunch of very young but passionate Sex Pistols fans based in Huddersfield.

As described by a young attendee Jeez Scott:

Johnny Rotten came out in a straw hat and they had a cake with Sex Pistols written on it, the size of a car bonnet. He started cutting it up but it soon degenerated into a food fight. He was covered head to foot. It was fantastic. I took a photo of Steve Jones, who did a rock’n’roll-type pose. I took one of Sid and he asked, “Do you want to put Nancy [Spungen] in as well?”

Eventually the Pistols came onstage. I think they only played about six songs. I remember they did “Bodies,” but omitted the swear words because of the children. Steve Jones’s guitar sounded very raw and exciting. During “Holidays in the Sun,” Rotten held out the mic and people were shouting out their names, but because I was probably the only punk there I tried to shout the lyrics: “Cheap dialogue/ Cheap essential scenery.”

The gig itself was great. Sid had his leather jacket open and was hammering the bass. They were really on form and I was a bit overcome, really. I’d taken my album along but I was so excited talking to the Pistols, I forgot to get it signed. Sid was the easiest to talk to because he was like one of us, like a kid. I asked him what he was doing next and he said they were going to America. I’d like to think I said, “Don’t go, it’ll all go pear-shaped,” but I didn’t. Within a few weeks the band had split, Sid had been remanded for murdering Nancy and then he died. I wore a black tie with a Sex Pistols badge on it for a year in mourning.

Here is one of the videos about the occasion.  Enjoy …

13 comments on “How the Sex Pistols saved Christmas …”

  1. karol 1

    Thanks, micky. What a piece of history. I was in London at that time. The sex pistols and the strike were all part of a great left wing energy that seemed to present hope for the future. Then cam Thatcherism.

    Pity about what happened to the pistols. Worse for the mining communities and manufacturing base in the UK.

    Time for a revival of such communal energy! But also with a renewed and realistic sense of an alternative way forward.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      It was an interesting time Karol and the Sex Pistols were a real cultural event. I remember Malcolm McLaren saying that it (formation of the Sex Pistols) was all basically a piss take but they miscalculated because Johnny Rotton turned out to be quite talented. And it looks like he had a heart as well …

  2. MrSmith 2

    I was a skinned up angry youth around this time and what a time we had, people used to cross the street to avoid you because of the way you looked, the general public were in a state of shock, we’ve seen nothing like this since and I feel sorry for the kids these days where is the rebellion against the vanilla flavored society we live in, maybe just around the corner I hope.

    Another couple of Sex Pistols tracks.

    Pretty Vacant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6GDdKrQ8EI

    And with a royal visit around the corner “God Save the Queen” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtUH2YSFlVU

    • karol 2.1

      Ha! I recall a drafted bleak basement room under a pub near Kings Cross in London – Prince Albert, I think (heh! Those names!). A women’s disco there with an assorted bunch of lesbians, bis and/or feminists – some with the spiky punk hair dos and clothes – pogoing and shouting out the lyrics,

      “We’re so pretty, oh so pretty …. vayacaaaant!”

      • RedLogix 2.1.1

        It all rather passed me by at the time; probably I had my head more in the Southern Alps than a bleak basement.

        But on reflection – consider the how the protest line that runs direct from Sex Pistols to Pussy Riot may prove that revolt against dreary is not over.

        • karol 2.1.1.1

          The sex Pistols and the original 1970s punks were more than a “revolt against the dreary” – it was a DIY revolt where you didn’t need expensive consumer items or polished performances privileged by the studio-based recording industry – many who could only play 3 guitar chords got up on stage in some low rent dives to shout out their rebellion.

          But pretty quickly the initiative got co-opted by the corporate music industry – so expensive punk clothes with built in safety pins became fashion items sold back to young people.

  3. Dazzer 3

    It must be the spirit of goodwill to all … I think I am safe to post on this topic.

    If I may be afforded a slight digression, the other legacy of the Sex Pistols was perhaps more significant. The authorities tried to ban the album because of the supposedly offence caused by the use of the word bollocks. Ironic how times have changed.

    For those old enough to remember, the Sex Pistols case was successfully argued by a lawyer who wrote the Rumpole of the Bailey books. The courts were far from fans of the Pistols but they couldn’t argue against the use of common language that had been around for centuries.

    In a parallel universe, I always found in interesting that the Dead Kennedy’s had their own freedom of speech issue in the mid 1980s. As I understand it, the support from the mainstream music industry was underwhelming to say the least. The trial ended with a hung jury (ironically given the issue at hand, it could have been a well hung jury :)).

    So regardless of the political sentiments, I think the legacy of both the Sex Pistols and indeed the short term flame of punk has been in my opinion significantly undervalued.

    Thanks for the memories Mickey

  4. Awesome, thanks for posting this. Of course, the tabloid scum getting Pistols gigs scrapped across the UK at the time would have been well chuffed at the thought of striking workers’ kids going without presents at Christmas.

  5. Te Reo Putake 5

    Nice post, MS. Punk’s not Dead!

    Worth noting that UK firefighters and police admin staff are currently on strike:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/thousands-of-police-staff-set-to-join-firefighters-in-new-years-eve-strike-9024417.html

    And on a similar tip, the last time Strummer and Jones played together was at a benefit gig for striking firefighters.

  6. fambo 6

    The Sex Pistols still great after all these years. I would argue that they were the only 100 percent pure punk band amongst there peers. Everyone else jumped ship from rock bands (which i love as well), after hearing them live including Joe Strummer and Chrisie Hynde. Interestingly, their influence on Neil Young added a punk edge to the evolution of Americana. Hopefully they will not suffer the same fate as Led Zep and the Rolling Stones – played to death.

  7. Tracey 7

    How many people do you think are fans today who never “got them”?

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