Politics Magazine

Sex Pistols US Tour 1978: The Last Rock and Roll Band on the Last Rock and Roll Tour

Posted on the 20 March 2018 by Calvinthedog

Sex Pistols at the Longhorn Ballroom, Dallas, Texas, 1878.

How is that these shows were played a full forty years ago?!

Wow! That’s one of the most exhilarating performances I have ever seen. For the whole 37 minutes, they never stop cheering once. Too much man, too much!

Johnny Rotten is actually in top form; he’s better here than he was just starting out. It’s barely even rock and roll anymore. It’s shading off into pure performance art.

Notice the crowd is cheering wildly all the way through the song. I’ve been to more concerts than I can count, and you almost never see that at a show – a crowd roaring with raucous cheer from the beginning to the end of a song. Notice that the crowd doesn’t stop cheering when the song ends and they are already cheering before the song begins. I wish I could have seen one of those shows, but they only came to San Francisco. I knew some punks in LA who actually bought plane tickets to fly up to Frisco to see the Pistols.

The band deliberately booked shows at rowdy redneck dives in the South and Southwest. They were trying to book in the places where they would be hated the most and would provoke the strongest reaction. Johnny Rotten played his part. He would start out the shows in Texas by screaming, “You cowboys are a bunch of faggots!” After that it was on, of course.

Sex Pistols at Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1978.

People who went to this show said every punk from 90 miles around was at that show.

Check out the Jesus Freaks with the 1970’s long hair. I used to have hair exactly like that. We think it’s corny now, but women and girls went nuts over long hair like that. Mine was a head full of curls and females of all ages were always going into trances, saying, “I love your hair..” and rubbing their hands through it. Young, hyper-religious, often long-haired former hippie super-Christians were called “Jesus freaks” back then. Nobody really hated them, but we thought they were a bit of a drag. They were mostly male. There were not many Jesus freak chicks, thank God.

The Jesus freaks outside this show are insisting that the Pistols are from the Devil and they are playing the Devil’s music. This is interspersed with wild shots from the show. Looking at Rotten on stage, you can’t help but wonder if the Jesus freaks were right about this band.

The punks vastly outnumbered the cowboys at every concert. The punks were mostly happy, even overjoyed and good-natured at all of these shows. There was very little fighting or violence among them. Why should there have been. They  should have been happy. They got to see the Sex Pistols!

Sex Pistols at Randy’s Rodeo, San Antonio, Texas, 1978.

The problem with this San Antonio show was that a bunch of idiot cowboy rednecks showed up just to hate the band and cause trouble. The shit-kicking rednecks were booing, yelling, throwing stuff and trying to incite the band to violence all through the show. You can see at the end of this song that Sid Vicious hits one of the rednecks in the head with his guitar! The redneck deserved it as he was trying to start a fight with Sid. Be careful what you wish for, rednecks! Sid also hit another redneck with his guitar when the cowboy tried to climb on stage. Then a redneck threw a half bottle of beer that blew up on Sid’s bass! Sid picked up the broken bottle and slashed his chest with it!

That’s punk rock, dammit!

After that, the rednecks calmed down and backed off. Rednecks love to fight with dangerous people, but nobody wants to fight a crazy dangerous person.

I’ve seen testimonies by people who were at these shows. They typically go like this: “My friends and I saw this concert. It was incredible. None of us were ever the same after that…” There are things called peak experiences in life. This must have been one of them.

This song “New York” is very misunderstood. It is usually parsed as the Sex Pistols attacking the New York Dolls because they hated the Dolls. Not so. The Dolls were a bit influence on the Pistols. You can draw a straight line from the Dolls to the Pistols, with the Heartbreakers bridging the gap. In fact, the song was about the Japanese tour where McLaren had the Dolls dress up in patent red leather outfits and perform under a Communist flag. The tour was a failure and many British punks at the time thought it was a sellout. The song is the Pistols attacking the Dolls for this sellout tour.

An imitation from New York
You’re made in Japan from cheese and chalk
You’re hippy tarts hero
‘Cause you put on a bad show,
you put on a bad show
Oh don’t it show

Still out on those pills
Oh do you remember
You think it’s swell playing Max’s Kansas
You’re looking bored and you’re acting flash
With nothing in your gut
You better keep yer mouth shut
You better keep yer mouth shut
In a rut

Still out on those pills
Do the sambo
Four years on you still look the same
I think about time
You changed your brain
You’re just a pile of shit
You’re coming to this
Ya poor little faggot
You’re sealed with a kiss
Kiss me

Think it’s swell playing in Japan
When everybody knows Japan is a dishpan
You’re just a pile of shit
You’re coming to this
You poor little faggot
You’re sealed with a kiss

Still out on those pills
Cheap thrills
Anadins Aspros anything
You’re condemned to eternal bullshit

You’re sealed with a kiss
Kiss me
A kiss a kiss
You’re sealed with a kiss
A looking for a kiss
You’re coming to this
I want to kiss
You do just about anything
Oh kiss this
Eh boy


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