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Hello, EMI. Goodbye, A and M.
March 16, 2007 4:33 AM   Subscribe

That ain't bad for two weeks work and 75,000 pounds. On this day in 1977, after being with the label for just six days, punk pioneers The Sex Pistols were fired from A&M Records due to pressure from other label artists and its Los Angeles head office. 25,000 copies of ‘God Save The Queen’ were pressed and the band made £75,000 ($127,500) from the deal, thus cementing the legend of the Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. Under pressure by Conservative MP Robert Adley among others due to their outrageous behavior - specifically, their notorious performance on ITV Today with Bill Grundy - EMI had dumped the band in January. Also appearing on television with Grundy and the Pistols that day were members of the Bromley Contingent: Siouxsie Sioux and Steve Severin, who later formed Siouxsie and the Banshees.
posted by psmealey (60 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
i used to have this dog that didn't mind loud music ... hendrix, sex pistols, r e m, whatever, he didn't mind it at all, even if was blasting on a rather good stereo system

whenever i'd play siouxsie and the banshees, his ears would start shaking and he'd give me a mournful, horrified look

he hated how she sang
posted by pyramid termite at 5:05 AM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I know, let's have an argument about what's punk and what's not! That'll be a shitload of fucking fun! You bighair poseur cunts, you.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:08 AM on March 16, 2007


(asskicking post, by the way -- an anniversary worth celebrating!)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:13 AM on March 16, 2007


Nice post.
posted by spacely_sprocket at 5:18 AM on March 16, 2007


I tell you it was all a frame
they only did it 'cos of fame
posted by caddis at 5:23 AM on March 16, 2007


Good god, I'm old. The Pistols happened thirty years ago? Nice post, it's hard to remember how controversial those folks were back then.
posted by octothorpe at 5:28 AM on March 16, 2007


Where's Bill Grundy now?
posted by mds35 at 5:43 AM on March 16, 2007


Brings back memories of the chatter in the 6th form common room at my semi posh London girls' school on a Monday morning around that time..."And then I woke up after the party and Sid Vicious was sticking a needle into this girl - Nancy's - bum...yuck!!"...

We then all tottered - stupidly suitably impressed - into double English. Lit or whatever.

"Nancy" turned out to be Nancy Spungen. The speaker is now a blameless matron in Germany. One feels so ancient!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 5:47 AM on March 16, 2007


Just four years earlier, on this day in 1973, David Cassidy (then starring as Keith Partridge in the 1970-1974 TV series "The Partridge Family") played the first of six sold out shows at the Empire Pool, Wembley.

The English music scene in the 70s was so, like, cutting edge.
posted by three blind mice at 6:24 AM on March 16, 2007


Metafilter: dirty fucking rotters
posted by jonp72 at 6:30 AM on March 16, 2007


Awesome post. Of course it's about the Sex Pistols so how could it not be? I've spent a shit-load of time on YouTube looking at old video, new video, basically anything I could get my hands on and they never cease to amaze and confound me. Back in 1977 and on, I never had access to them aside from their music which was fine but I missed all the visuals growing up with them. There's also an hour-long avi floating around out there of one of their concerts in the US (The Longhorn ballroom in Texas) that is a almost a complete disaster. Sid's bass is unplugged for a large part of the show. He falls down a couple times, get his mouth bashed in when someone kicks the mic-stand while he's singing but they keep playing, snarling and spitting. God, you could tell then, that they were about to implode but it sure was exciting to watch.

Sorry to sound like such a fanboy. Thanks for the post.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:44 AM on March 16, 2007


Here's the first of a 7 part video on the making of Nevermind The Bullocks. Some great footage of the original engineer remixing the master tracks where Steve Jones had to play the bass parts as well.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:48 AM on March 16, 2007


Steve Jones has a radio show out here in L.A...he had Johnny on a couple of months ago, and it was the first time I've ever heard him give an interview without the trademark snear in his voice. I'm sure they're not the best of friends, but it was cool to hear two legendary punks relax a little and share some of their memories.
posted by malocchio at 6:54 AM on March 16, 2007


Nevermind The Bullocks?

Is that the great "lost" Wurzels album?
posted by the cuban at 7:13 AM on March 16, 2007


Some great footage of the original engineer remixing the master tracks where Steve Jones had to play the bass parts as well.

Glen Matlock played bass on the album, and he's very good. Steve Jones played bass in the studio after Glen left and Sid Vicious joined the band. Because Sid couldn't play.

It's possible I suppose that Jones might have done some of the bass tracks on Never Mind the Bollocks but it's not the traditional telling.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:13 AM on March 16, 2007


You made my day. Oops, I meant piss off mate.
posted by goml at 7:25 AM on March 16, 2007


Mayor Curley "It's possible I suppose that Jones might have done some of the bass tracks on Never Mind the Bollocks but it's not the traditional telling."

Yeah its possible since the engineer states in the video that Steve Jones played some of the bass tracks.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:41 AM on March 16, 2007


Yeah its possible since the engineer states in the video that Steve Jones played some of the bass tracks.

I don't have time to watch the whole video and will probably never remember to do it. Did Glen Matlock leave before the album was finished?
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:44 AM on March 16, 2007


Mayor Curley - I believe he did (sorry, I can't re-watch it at work right now, damn). Chris Thomas and the engineer said that Steve Jones had impeccable rhythm and just played the root note over the chord/s. When you hear the outtakes, it sounds lovely.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:49 AM on March 16, 2007


The Sex Pistols were a big influence on me when I was just a misfit teen. You can imagine my utter disillusionment when flipping through the channels one day, I happened to catch Johnny Rotten whining like a little schoolboy on Judge Judy.
posted by Otis at 7:50 AM on March 16, 2007


mds35 - "Where is Bill Grundy now?"

In the ground: "The broadcast wrecked his television career. His presenting slot on What the Papers Say in the early 1980s was his last on national British television although he continued to present on BBC North West on such shows as "Sweet And Sour" and "The Lancashire Lads" into the mid-80s. He also appeared as an interviewer in ITV's adaptation of "A Kind of Loving" in 1982. Grundy died of a heart attack on 9 February 1993 at the age of 69."
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:55 AM on March 16, 2007


"I happened to catch Johnny Rotten whining like a little schoolboy on Judge Judy....."

Oh, bliss, Otis!

"Judge Judy understands 'no'" sayeth the ever-so-reasonable Johnny by way of summary!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:04 AM on March 16, 2007


On March 16, 1977, £75,000 would have translated to $128,947.50. (based on $1.7193/£)
I'm just sayin'.
$1,447.50 buys a lot of extra angst.
posted by medium format at 8:08 AM on March 16, 2007


I suspect John Lydon might be one of the most misunderstood people in history. Sure, he looks demonic, and sometimes acts that way too, but I think he's mellowed with age into quite a decent guy. He made rice pudding for the fellow celebs when he went on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!

I wouldn't hire him as a child minder, though.
posted by humblepigeon at 8:12 AM on March 16, 2007


I suspect John Lydon might be one of the most misunderstood people in history

I suspect that that's exactly the way he wants it.

He's such a funny character. In all the early Pistols live footage I'd seen, bad teeth, bad skin, emaciated frame, robotic movements, and generally nasty demeanor, his stage presence was mesmerizing. I was 10 years old when all this hype was blowing up around them, but even back then, there was something heroic to me about them.

I never quite understood why he wanted Sid in the band. I knew that he despised Glen Matlock, but Sid was totally useless as a musician and a complete liability at shows and on the road. I have a suspicion that the very act of putting him in the band was a form of performance art. Just to introduce additional chaos and see what was either created or destroyed by it.
posted by psmealey at 8:19 AM on March 16, 2007


"Indie" pop-folk band Artichoke recently released their recording of Never Mind the Bollocks. IMHO, it's fantastic.
posted by Dr-Baa at 8:25 AM on March 16, 2007


I love it when stuff like this crops up. It reminds people that punk (and its cute little sister "new wave") was not an 80's event. So much seminal music was being made and recorded by the mid-70's...Sex Pistols...Ramones...Talking Heads...Devo...Elvis Costello...the list goes on.

I have a playlist on my iPod called "What I did in highschool". It always weirds my kids out when so much punk starts playing. I guess they expected a bunch of ELO or Zeppelin or something.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:32 AM on March 16, 2007


the very act of putting him in the band was a form of performance art. Just to introduce additional chaos and see what was either created or destroyed by it.

most assuredly
posted by caddis at 8:39 AM on March 16, 2007


Sid was a friend of Lydon's, so if putting Sid in the band to watch him self-destruct was his aim, it was a pretty asshole-ish thing to do, and completely contrary to the remorse for Sid's sad fate he openly displays in The Filth and the Fury.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:11 AM on March 16, 2007


I did a freelance job for a design agency years ago, and there was a cable tv pilot I had to design a poster for... I'll be DAMNED if I can't find it on google or imdb ANYWHERE. I had to watch the first 2 episodes of the show but it never got picked up. I believe it starred Frank Whaley as a guy who was down on his luck and either suicidal or about to die, and it went into a bunch of really bizarre directions... but here's the catch: Johnny Rotten played the Devil. Seriously.

I think I went to about 4 or 5 P.I.L. shows in the day so I got a much bigger kick out of watching him act than most people did, I think. Man, I wish I could find it online & link to it.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:15 AM on March 16, 2007


I didn't mean watch Sid self-destruct, card cheat... I meant to watch the band self-destruct.
posted by psmealey at 9:16 AM on March 16, 2007


I'm particularly partial to the cover versions by Los Punkrockers.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:18 AM on March 16, 2007


This:
putting him in the band was a form of performance art...to introduce additional chaos and see what was either created or destroyed by it

doesn't equal this:

putting Sid in the band to watch him self-destruct
posted by Bearman at 9:18 AM on March 16, 2007


There was an article on the making of Never Mind the Bollocks recently in Mojo magazine which gave the distinct impression that Steve Jones did all the guitar, including all the bass parts, for the album.
posted by vbfg at 9:18 AM on March 16, 2007


get pissed destroy ..of to the pub top post
posted by baker dave at 9:25 AM on March 16, 2007


"Where's Bill Grundy Now?" was a track on the excellent Television Personalities' ep, "Part Time Punks." Can't find an audio file at the moment :-(
posted by carter at 9:36 AM on March 16, 2007


malocchio,

Steves guests today on his radio show are Iggy Pop and Paul Simenon.

If anyone is interested i have recordings of the days that , individually , Lydon, Cook, Matlock , Mclaren and Chris Spedding were on his show just chatting about the PIstols etc. The Spedding one is fun as they keep playing up the rumor that Spedding played all of the guitar parts. The Scabies show was also interesting for the recollections re the Pistols, Damned, Clash tour.
posted by stuartmm at 10:06 AM on March 16, 2007


punk's the ploy
posted by Elmore at 10:12 AM on March 16, 2007


This dovetails nicely with the book I'm currently re-reading, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. I've been listening to groups like the Stooges, Television, and the Heartbreakers nonstop for the last several days as result.

Also, the Los Angeles link above is a nice shout out to one of my all-time favorites.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 10:33 AM on March 16, 2007


Nice post. My ipod must have known it was the anniversary, because it played 3 Sex Pistols songs on shuffle this morning.
posted by scody at 10:34 AM on March 16, 2007


Also, the Los Angeles link above is a nice shout out to one of my all-time favorites.

I was wondering when someone was going to comment on that. I threw that in there as a non-sequitir. Probably in my top 5 favorite bands of all time, as well.
posted by psmealey at 10:49 AM on March 16, 2007


KevinSkomsvold, that documentary is great if just for the re-mixing of the album. Thanks, I never would have caught it otherwise.

I wish they could do that for every album I loved. Figuring out the layered tracks and studio tricks is a fetish of mine.
posted by Brainy at 10:50 AM on March 16, 2007


.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:51 AM on March 16, 2007


I'm with you on loving the X shoutout, btw. One of the most kickass lineups I ever went to see was Firehose/Jerry Lee Lewis/X & the Knitters at the Universal Ampitheatre. Exene was like 13 months pregnant at the time. Loved them.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:54 AM on March 16, 2007


KevinSkomsvold, I was referring to the song.
posted by mds35 at 11:06 AM on March 16, 2007


lol punk rock
posted by keswick at 11:45 AM on March 16, 2007


A not too bad concert video of Siouxsie doing my favorite Banshees tune, Carcass.

It makes me a little sad when I think about how wimpy and lightweight New Wave bands became as the early 80s advance to the mid 80s. I can think of few sub-genres I like better than the jagged, stark early 80s stuff from Gang of Four, Killing Joke, Banshees, the Cure, Joy Division, etc.
posted by psmealey at 12:18 PM on March 16, 2007


I just got the feeling I've been cheated...
posted by jokeefe at 12:56 PM on March 16, 2007


The older I get, the more these dudes grow on me. I was more into the Clash, or the Plugz type sound. But I always liked Lydon. And I saw the making of doc on vh1c (they are showing the whole Ultimate Albums series - Lou Reed's Transformer is on this week) and damn if he wasn't right about the guitar playing mentioned above.

Sid always bugged me though. All pose. If I need to idolize a junkie, I'll stick with Jonny Thunders.
posted by vronsky at 1:45 PM on March 16, 2007


I was always partial to the Pistols. My sister bought Bollocks for me on the sly when we were walking a record store in St. Mark's Place when I was 12 years old (in 1979). My mother confiscated it two days later. I got by on taping a neighbor's version. It changed my whole world... which up to that point was dominated by Led Zeppelin and ACDC.

The Clash's reggae influenced stuff was always lost on me, a kid growing up in the whitest of whitebread suburbs. I didn't come upon them and start to like them until college.

One thing that amused me was seeing some interview with Joe Strummer a long time ago (don't remember which documentary it come from). He copped to slagging the Pistols back in the day, calling them poseurs, etc, but that it was in itself a pose. He came clean and admitted they were the best live band he ever saw.
posted by psmealey at 1:58 PM on March 16, 2007


It changed my whole world... which up to that point was dominated by Led Zeppelin and ACDC.

yes, but there's something that bugs me

play "god save the queen" ... then play "communication breakdown"

it's just about the same riff - only led zeppelin played it faster and nastier

food for thought ...
posted by pyramid termite at 2:04 PM on March 16, 2007


it's a good point, termite, but to the mind of a 12 year old in 1977, it was from a completely different planet.
posted by psmealey at 2:05 PM on March 16, 2007


er, 19771979
posted by psmealey at 2:08 PM on March 16, 2007


Brainy writes "KevinSkomsvold, that documentary is great if just for the re-mixing of the album. Thanks, I never would have caught it otherwise.

"I wish they could do that for every album I loved. Figuring out the layered tracks and studio tricks is a fetish of mine."



Yeah, it's like opening a Time Capsule isn't it?

Here is a cool MeFi post on the making of Steely Dan's "Peg" where they analyze the various different solos that were done.

There's also a stunning segment in the documentary "Tom Dowd and the Language of Music" where he isolates Duane Allman and Eric Clapton's soloing on "Layla." If you have OnDemand, the documentary is free or you can get the DVD.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:17 PM on March 16, 2007


Ah, I was wondering how long it would take before the inevitable "Clash vs. Pistols" debate would rear its ugly head. It's like Beatles v. Stones; you can like them both, but at the end of the day you're either a Clash Person or a Pistols Person.

I'm a member of Team Strummer, but this is a great post. Nicely done.
posted by Rangeboy at 2:22 PM on March 16, 2007


pyramid termite writes "just about the same riff - only led zeppelin played it faster and nastier -- food for thought ..."

Ha! I was just about to leave a comment to the effect of "tsk, tsk - kids these days!" but then I did a little Googling and thought the better of it. I would agree with you, almost but then then I remember hearing "Bodies" for the very first time when I was 15 and nearly dropping a load in my drawers. Zep never had that effect on me.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:24 PM on March 16, 2007


but to the mind of a 12 year old in 1977, it was from a completely different planet.

i was 20 in 77, and yeah, it hit me that way too ... in fact, it took me years to realize the two riffs were similar

Zep never had that effect on me.

they were a revelation for their time, too

but that could be said for a lot of bands of that time ... and of the punk era, too
posted by pyramid termite at 2:32 PM on March 16, 2007


I love it when stuff like this crops up. It reminds people that punk was not an 80's event.

There are people who think punk was an 80's event?
posted by Martin E. at 2:47 PM on March 16, 2007


PT - re your first comment. I'm your dog.
posted by vronsky at 3:19 PM on March 16, 2007


NO
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:25 PM on March 16, 2007


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