On 1 December 1976, the Sex Pistols made their first TV appearance on Bill Grundy’s Today. After minimal preamble they branded the irate Grundy a ‘fucking rotter’ and admitted they’d spent their entire £40,000 record contract ‘down the boozer’.
This was the third time in British TV history that ‘fuck’ had been uttered live on air. The nation was shocked, Grundy was suspended, and punk rock entered the nation’s consciousness.
Two weeks after the incident, the Observer Magazine met the band in Caerphilly’s old Castle Cinema, where they were taking refuge from an angry mob of Labour councillors and Pentecostal chapel members waiting for them with torches in the car park.
Staring out of the window at the torches outside, the band, our writer notes, look ‘victimised’. ‘Rock’n’roll is a violent music,’ explains band manager Malcolm McLaren, ‘but violence is kids being out of work on the streets with nothing to do – that’s a society being violent.’
This is a view echoed by two local punks, who had come to see the Pistols: ‘They face the realities of life,’ says Jill. ‘They understand people on the dole and they play specially for us. We feel closer to them than to people like Rod Stewart.’
When our reporter remarks on the pair’s swastika-adorned garms, Josie simply shrugs and replies: ‘We don’t follow fascism or anything like that. We just like the gear.’
As the Pistols played their gig the opening number would confirm the worst fears of the Caerphilly car park: ‘God save the Queen, she ain’t no human being…’
The record company cancelled the band’s contract after a spitting and vomit-related incident on the way to Heathrow airport.
But, rebellious to the end, Johnny Rotten and his band refused to quit – for the sake of generations to come: ‘We’re now bankrupt, but if we give up, no new band will get a chance to play again.’ Long live rock’n’roll, eh?