This month, 47 years ago, Bernard Rhodes, one of the design contributors for Let It Rock boutique (owned by Malcolm McLaren & Vivienne Westwood, before they founded SEX), spotted nineteen-year-old John Lydon wearing “I Hate Pink Floyd” t-shirt. Lydon was then asked to come to a nearby pub in the evening to meet Steve Jones and Paul Cook. This would become one of the most significant moments in punk rock history.
According to Jones, “He came in with green hair. I thought he had a really interesting face. I liked his look. He had his ‘I Hate Pink Floyd’ t-shirt on, and it was held together with safety pins. John had something special, but when he started talking he was a real arsehole—but smart.” When the pub closed, the group moved on to SEX, where Lydon, who had given little thought to singing, was convinced to improvise along to Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen” on the shop jukebox. Though the performance drove the band members to laughter, McLaren convinced them to start rehearsing with Lydon.
The other reasons Lydon was asked to join the band, as described by Glen Matlock: “Everyone had long hair then, even the milkman, so what we used to do was if someone had short hair we would stop them in the street and ask them if they fancied themselves as a singer.” For instance, Midge Ure (Rich Kids, Ultravox), claims to have been approached by McLaren, but to have refused the offer. With the search going nowhere, McLaren made several calls to New York to Richard Hell, who also turned down the invitation.
Lydon later rechristened “Johnny Rotten by Jones, apparently because of his bad teeth. The band also settled on a name. After considering such as Le Bomb, Subterraneans, the Damned, Beyond, Teenage Novel, Kid Gladlove, they decided on Sex Pistols. Sex Pistols’ first gig was at Saint Martins College in London on 6 November 1975.
• Read also CHAOS TO COUTURE: SAFETY PIN, PADLOCK, PUNK ROCK.
Sources: Wikipedia, NME, Far Out, Vintage Everyday.