Styles & Forms | Punk | The Second Wave (1977) | Key Events


The Sex Pistols Get The Bullet

On 6 January 1977 EMI Records terminated its contract with The Sex Pistols, saying it was unable to promote the group’s records ‘in view of the adverse publicity generated over the past two months’. The media furore over the Pistols’ TV appearance six weeks earlier had barely abated and now politicians were weighing in as the nation’s moral guardians. Conservative MP for Christchurch and Lymington, Robert Adley, had written to EMI managing director Sir John Reed suggesting that a company of EMI’s reputation should ‘forgo the doubtful privilege of sponsoring trash like The Sex Pistols’. However, the band got to keep their £40,000 advance.

Second Serving For The Ramones

Just eight months after their first album, during which time they’d spread the word across North America and the UK, The Ramones unveiled more of the same on Leave Home. Once again they rattled through 14 songs in less than half an hour, although the success of the first album meant they got a bigger production budget. It allowed the band to refine their sound and smooth out a few rough edges, but otherwise the format stayed much the same, with songs about freaks (‘Pinhead’), misogyny (‘Glad To See You Go’) and substance abuse (‘Carbona Not Glue’). In fact the last track was withdrawn in America after complaints.

The Clash Sign Up

While The Sex Pistols were generating all the headlines, it was The Clash that the record companies were really interested in signing. Although they’d played fewer than 30 gigs by the beginning of 1977, they were more focussed and more rehearsed, and in late January they signed to CBS after a bidding war with Polydor Records, who had also battled with EMI to sign The Pistols. They received an advance of £100,000, an unprecedented amount at the time, but they had to pay all their recording and artwork expenses from this sum and there were other clauses in the contract that would later cost them dear.

Fanzines Keep The Faith

Needless to say, The Clash were accused of selling out by many in the punk scene. The editor of UK fanzine Sniffin’ Glue, Mark P, declared that ‘Punk died the day The Clash signed to CBS’. Bank clerk Mark P had started Sniffin’ Glue as a Xeroxed fanzine, selling 50 copies of the first issue. That soon grew to around 15,000 copies but Mark never deviated from his DIY punk ethic. Another fanzine, Sideburns, produced one of punk’s great iconic images in its January 1977 issue with an illustration of three guitar chord shapes captioned, ‘This is a chord, this is another chord, this is a third. Now form a band.’

Buzzcocks Scratch The Itch

At least Buzzcocks stayed true to punk’s DIY ethic. Borrowing £500 from families and friends, they recorded and pressed up 1,000 copies of an EP called Spiral Scratch. Produced by Martin Hannett (who would become a leading producer over...

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