No one can deny Malcolm is a great storyteller, and while he should sometimes have had his poetic license endorsed, this version of what happened does pretty much tally with the occasional fragments I can remember. I should add to anyone reading this out loud that he also did a pretty good impression of Vivienne—you can still hear it if you look the interview up on YouTube.
Cook, Matlock, whoever else you could grab and put in the band. I was going to stand in the shop every day and watch people come in, and various individuals were auditioned as a result. I sat at the bar talking to a few of the local characters—fashion victims, drug victims—and let you get on with it. I gave it to John and told him to stand at the end of the shop. He was somewhat embarrassed and vulnerable and strange. I laughed because I thought it was really funny and brilliant.
You went along with it. Either way, then he was pissed off and he stayed at home … eventually we convinced him to come back to the band on the basis that you were going to get very serious and rehearse with him. Tam Paton, the very sleazy geezer who managed the Rollers, got done for being a nonce a few years later, although he got off another set of charges when the rhythm guitarist Pat McGlynn accused him of rape.
Fast- forward again back to us talking on my radio show. Cheat Sheet A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know and nothing you don't. You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason. The John she was talking about came into the shop a few weeks later. He wanted to join the group from the beginning—he said he could play the saxophone.
He was one of those guys who just have something. He always looked fantastic, too. That set all the other elements off—his excellent bone structure. And a lot of the stuff that would later become the punk uniform, he did seem to do first. Either way, it was a great look.
Americans claiming they started everything would get quite tedious as punk went on. The New York guys were definitely up to something, but it was different to what we were doing.
And I remember us hearing the Ramones album for the first time when we were already rehearsing. Back to the other John, though. It was just the way he behaved at the audition that got on my wick. On top of the fact that it was my band and he was coming into it from the outside, John was probably a bit intimidated by me being physically stronger.
I think they were possibly a bit too similar, and Rotten probably sussed him out early on as a bit of a bullshitter—which of course Malcolm was, but you know what they say: However different their music might be, all bands are basically the fucking same. The personalities involved and the reasons for the tensions between them never seem to change.
For me, in the Pistols, it was Cookie. It gets to them after a while, the same way it does with goalkeepers in football. If we were going to take that vibe out into the world, we needed to find a place our music could call home in the same way.
Our first couple of attempts at finding rehearsal spaces were never going to fit that bill. First there was some hippie dump south of the river in Rotherhithe that Rotten has never stopped moaning about us not turning up to.
Then there was the Rose and Crown in Wandsworth, just a pub that some chancer was pretending was a rehearsal studio. Everything about that place was depressing: It was awful and I hated it.
Excerpted from Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol by Steve Jones. Steve Jones was born in West London in He founded the Sex Pistols in with Paul Cook and Wally Nightingale and was their guitarist until the band broke up in He is a musician, record producer, and actor.