Styles & Forms | Punk | The Second Wave (1978) | Key Events


The Sex Pistols Head South

At the beginning of January 1978 The Sex Pistols flew out to Atlanta, Georgia, for a series of dates in the American South. It all unravelled at Randy’s Rodeo in San Antonio on 8 January in front of 2,000 rowdy Texans: Sid Vicious was suffering from heroin withdrawal and behaving aggressively; Rotten’s T-shirt depicting two homosexual cowboys was not received well; and Steve Jones and Paul Cook struggled to hold the show together against a barrage of food and plastic cups. Over the next three shows in Baton Rouge, Dallas and Tulsa the band effectively disintegrated as Vicious’s behaviour worsened – he had scrawled ‘Gimme a fix’ across his chest and was picking fights at every opportunity.

Finale For The Pistols

What could have been The Sex Pistols’ first proper American show at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom on 14 January in front of 5,000 people, including a sizeable punk contingent, was instead an incoherent, dispirited shambles. Sid Vicious was barely conscious, Johnny Rotten was alert but deliberately uninvolved, while Steve Jones and Paul Cook just couldn’t be bothered. There was no musical spirit between them. At the end of the encore, appropriately a cover of The Stooges’ ‘No Fun’, Rotten glared at the audience and snarled ‘Ever had the feeling you’ve been cheated?’ before walking off. For him it was all over.

The Pistols Fade Into Farce

It was Johnny Rotten who announced the band’s demise after he’d flown to New York and before he realized he didn’t have enough money to get back to Britain. Sid Vicious had also flown to New York to get detox treatment in hospital. Seemingly oblivious to the realities around him, Malcolm McLaren was making it up as he went along, flying Steve Jones and Paul Cook down to Rio de Janeiro to goof around with fugitive British train robber Ronald Biggs, luring Vicious to Paris to film a barrel-scraping version of ‘My Way’, all of which would turn up on the aptly named Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle movie.


The Adverts Cross The Red Sea

They may have progressed from simplistic ‘One Chord Wonders’ to the more complex ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’, but The Adverts never lost sight of their basic, distinctive style on their first album, Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts, released in February 1978. TV Smith had a melodic snarl that made his lyrics stand out and his songs encompassed teen anthems like ‘Bored Teenagers’ and ‘No Time To Be 21’ along with broader, socially aware songs like ‘Bombsite Boys’. They knew how to make their musical limitations work for them, as bassist and punk dreamboat Gaye Advert powerfully displayed on ‘Safety In Numbers’. Guitarist Howard Pickup kept his solos short and sharp and drummer Laurie Driver could handle a range of tempos. Green Day are just one band to acknowledge the influence of that album.

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