All together now: “Rrrrright…. nowwww… Hahahaaaa!”
One night in late November 1976 I was at the Marquee Club watching a short fat Frenchman called Little Bob who played amphetamine-fuelled RnB when Malcolm McLaren walked in with a bag under his arm.
He wandered through the audience and whenever he spotted someone he recognised he would reach into the bag and hand them a 7-inch vinyl record, fresh from the pressing plant.
I was lucky enough that the recipients of a free copy of one of the landmark singles in music history included my college friend Adrian Thrills (né O’Dolan). And me.
The record was, of course, Anarchy In The UK by The Sex Pistols, and those of us who had been following the band for most of the year had been eagerly awaiting it for some time. I couldn’t wait to get home and play it.
I wasn’t disappointed. Actually, I kinda was.
Somehow, through no fault of their own (but due mostly to Malcolm), the mythology around the Pistols had built so much that by then that, compared to the confrontational experience of seeing them play live, it came as a slight disappointment.
When you stripped away the hype and expectation, Anarchy demonstrated that beneath all that they were really just a rock band with a guitarist and a bass guitarist and a drummer and a singer.
Not that you’d have known it when, a few days later, they appeared on TV for the first time.
The presenter, a clearly inebriated Bill Grundy, didn’t disguise his contempt for these youngsters with their funny clothes and funny hair, mocking them sarcastically – and trying it on with Siouxsie Sioux.
They responded, not unreasonably, with a few choice expletives, albeit of the kind probably being uttered at that very moment in living rooms around the country.
The next day – December 2 – they were on the front page of every tabloid paper and McLaren had achieved his aim of making them the most controversial band in Britain.
Notorious, yes, but far from the most popular… Anarchy never made it any higher up the singles chart than a lowly no.38 and, as a direct result of their reputation as troublemakers, the Pistols were dropped by their label, EMI, a month later.
As for Little Bob and his band, Little Bob Story, they had a great song called Riot In Toulouse but never had a hit single of any kind. But Bob is still alive and he played a key role in one of my favourite films of recent years, Le Havre, by the great Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki.