Building a following

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Building a following

Post  Cristy990 on Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:15 pm

The Saint Martins gig was followed by other performances at colleges and art schools around London. The Sex Pistols' core group of followers—including Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin and Billy Idol, who would go on to form bands of their own—came to be known as the Bromley Contingent, after the neighbourhood several were from.[38] Their cutting-edge fashion, much of it supplied by Sex, ignited a trend that was adopted by the new fans the band attracted.[39] McLaren and Westwood saw the incipient London punk movement as a vehicle for more than just couture. They were both captivated by the May 1968 radical uprising in Paris, particularly by the ideology and agitations of the Situationists, as well as the anarchist thought of Buenaventura Durruti and others.[40] These interests were shared with Jamie Reid, an old friend of McLaren's who began producing publicity material for the Sex Pistols in spring 1976.[41] (The cut-up lettering employed to create the classic Sex Pistols logo and many subsequent designs for the band was actually introduced by McLaren's friend Helen Wellington-Lloyd.)[42] "We used to talk to John [Lydon] a lot about the Situationists," Reid later said. "The Sex Pistols seemed the perfect vehicle to communicate ideas directly to people who weren't getting the message from left-wing politics."[43] McLaren was also arranging for the band's first photo sessions.[44] As described by music historian Jon Savage, "With his green hair, hunched stance and ragged look, [Lydon] looked like a cross between Uriah Heep and Richard Hell."[45]

The first Sex Pistols gig to attract broader attention was as a supporting act for Eddie and the Hot Rods, a leading pub rock group, at the Marquee on 12 February 1976. Rotten "was now really pushing the barriers of performance, walking off stage, sitting with the audience, throwing Jordan across the dancefloor and chucking chairs around, before smashing some of Eddie and the Hot Rods' gear."[46] The band's first review appeared in the NME, accompanied by a brief interview in which Steve Jones declared, "Actually we're not into music. We're into chaos."[47] Among those who read the article were two students at the Bolton Institute of Technology, Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley, who headed down to London in search of the Sex Pistols. After chatting with McLaren at Sex, they saw the band at a couple of late February gigs.[48] The two friends immediately began organizing their own Pistols-style group, the Buzzcocks. As Devoto later put it, "My life changed the moment that I saw the Sex Pistols."[49]

The Pistols were soon playing other important venues, debuting at Oxford Street's 100 Club on 30 March.[50] On 3 April, they played for the first time at the Nashville, supporting The 101ers. The pub rock group's lead singer, Joe Strummer, saw the Pistols for the first time that night—and recognized punk rock as the future.[51] A return gig at the Nashville on 23 April demonstrated the band's growing musical competence, but by all accounts lacked a spark. Westwood provided that by instigating a fight with another audience member; McLaren and Rotten were soon involved in the melee.[52] Cook later said, "That fight at the Nashville: that's when all the publicity got hold of it and the violence started creeping in.... I think everybody was ready to go and we were the catalyst."[53] The Pistols were soon banned from both the Nashville and the Marquee.[54]

On 23 April, as well, the debut album by the leading punk rock band in the New York scene, the Ramones, was released. Though it is regarded as seminal to the growth of punk rock in England and elsewhere, Lydon has repeatedly rejected any suggestion that it influenced the Sex Pistols: "[The Ramones] were all long-haired and of no interest to me. I didn't like their image, what they stood for, or anything about them";[55] "They were hilarious but you can only go so far with 'duh-dur-dur-duh'. I've heard it. Next. Move on."[56] On 11 May, the Pistols began a four-week-long Tuesday night residency at the 100 Club.[57] They devoted the rest of the month to touring small cities and towns in the north of England and recording demos in London with producer and recording artist Chris Spedding.[57][58] The following month they played their first gig in Manchester, arranged by Devoto and Shelley. The Sex Pistols' 4 June performance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall set off a punk rock boom in the city.[59][60]
The Sex Pistols in performance at the 100 Club, 1976. On the right: Steve Jones (foreground) and Johnny Rotten (background).

On 4 July and 6 July, respectively, two newly formed London punk rock acts, The Clash—with Strummer as lead vocalist—and The Damned, made their live debuts opening for the Sex Pistols. On their off night in between, the Pistols (despite Lydon's later professed disdain) showed up for a Ramones gig at Dingwalls, like virtually everyone else at the heart of the London punk scene.[61] During a return Manchester engagement, 20 July, the Pistols premiered a new song, "Anarchy in the U.K.", reflecting elements of the radical ideologies to which Rotten was being exposed. According to Jon Savage, "there seems little doubt that Lydon was fed material by Vivienne Westwood and Jamie Reid, which he then converted into his own lyric."[62] "Anarchy in the U.K." was among the seven originals recorded in another demo session that month, this one overseen by the band's sound engineer, Dave Goodman.[63] McLaren organized a major event for 29 August at the Screen on the Green in London's Islington district: the Buzzcocks and The Clash opened for the Sex Pistols in punk's "first metropolitan test of strength".[64] Three days later, the band were in Manchester to tape what would be their first television appearance, for Tony Wilson's So It Goes. Scheduled to perform just one song, "Anarchy in the U.K.", the band ran straight through another two numbers as pandemonium broke out in the control room.[65]

The Sex Pistols played their first concert outside Britain on 3 September, at the opening of the Chalet du Lac disco in Paris. The Bromley Contingent accompanied them, with Siouxsie Sioux's swastika armband causing a stir.[66] The following day, the So It Goes performance aired; the audience heard "Anarchy in the U.K." introduced with a shout of "Get off your arse!"[66][67] On 13 September, the Pistols began a tour of Britain.[68] A week later, back in London, they headlined the opening night of the 100 Club Punk Special. Organized by McLaren (for whom the word "festival" had too much of a hippie connotation), the event was "considered the moment that was the catalyst for the years to come."[69] Belying the common perception that punk bands couldn't play their instruments, contemporary music press reviews, later critical assessments of concert recordings, and testimonials by fellow musicians indicate that the Pistols had developed into a tight, ferocious live band.[70] As Rotten tested out wild vocalization styles, the instrumentalists experimented "with overload, feedback and distortion...pushing their equipment to the limit".[71]
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Cristy990

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