Jan. 14, 1978, Winterland, San Francisco, Calif.

Ed Ward: I was in a period of deep poverty when the Sex Pistols tour came to San Francisco, and although I desperately wanted to go to the Winterland show, I just couldn't afford it. I'd been told repeatedly that there was no guest list, but a friend at Warner's saved the day. I went to the window, said I was on the guest list, was told there was no guest list, and said, "Yes, but I'm on it." And I was. With a backstage pass stamped on my hand, at that.

Punk rock was most definitely a fashion statement for slumming suburbanites in San Francisco; you'd go to the Mabuhay Gardens to see the local punk bands, and the kids' parents would be waiting in Volvos and Mercedes after the show. This audience was no different. There was a guy in a wheelchair, wearing a football helmet, using the chair to ram people at high speed, and when security finally caught him, he jumped straight out of the chair and started to run.

The opening acts sucked. There were the Avengers with Penelope Houston, who were dull, and that overrated bunch of theatre students the Dead Kennedys, who one had to endure much too often in those days. The Pistols, though, were amazing. I barely remember much of it because my main memory is of the energy that surged through the crowd. At one point, someone threw a proper British brolly onstage, and Johnny opened it and posed. He also meticulously picked up the coins people were throwing. They roared through a short set, and then Johnny said those famous words: "Ever get the feelingx you've been cheated?"

Now, I'd meant to go back to my house and change my clothes for this show, but business had kept me in the city, and to my embarrassment, I was wearing a promo "Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band" bomber jacket.

After the show, I figured I'd be safer with it backstage and also figured some of my media friends would be there, so I showed my stamp to the guard and walked backstage. I didn't see anyone I recognized for a while, but this guy walked up to me and stuck a finger in my chest.

"Ere," he said, and I suddenly recognized Steve Jones, the band's guitarist. "You loike Bob Seger, then?"

I looked him straight in the eye -- this was, after all, exactly what I'd feared, only worse -- and said, "Hey, it was free, and I like that."

He laughed.

"Roight. Where's the beer?"

Just as I was about to answer "in your dressing room," this nucleus of people, all with their arms around each other, lurched into view: Malcolm McLaren, Johnny Rotten, and Sid Vicious.

"Steve," barked McLaren. "Come on."

"See ya," said Jones, and went to join them behind a closed door. And that was the end of the Sex Pistols.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle