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Remembering The Bollocks: Sex Pistols week in SA

Photo: NANCY GRAY, License: N/A

NANCY GRAY

Sid Vicious before the fight

Photo: , License: N/A

Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones listening to unidentified man


Aging aficionados and young punks were in a bit of a hurry for the holidays to be done and over with. Right around the calendar corner, they were ready to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the infamous Sex Pistols' performance at Randy's Rodeo in San Antonio. Organizers were kicking out the jams, and there were two complementary events planned. Now, it's finally happening.

"It's going to be a lot more than just a punk rock show," said veteran scenester and cowpunk Hickoids singer Jeff Smith, whose band will run through the Sex Pistols' playlist from that night in January 8, 1978.

First, the "We're So Pretty: The Sex Pistols in San Antonio" exhibit opens Friday at the South Texas Popular Culture Center (aka Tex Pop and located at 1017 E. Mulberry). The museum has assembled photographs from the actual gig, posters for coeval punk shows, and related miscellanea, as well as the original Pistols-at-Randy's PR package. The following day, a 10-band tribute mounts two stages for The Filth & The Flautas festival, the name being a South Texas twist on the Sex Pistols documentary The Filth and the Fury. Artists will hail from a range of styles including proto-punk garage bands, punkabilly, conjunto- punk, and other label-bending genres.

In an October interview with the Current, singer Johnny "Rotten" Lydon recalled with equanimity his band's Texas splashdown at Randy's Rodeo.

"I remember it being a wonderful gig and a brilliant relationship with an audience that had very little understanding of us, and I remember the only people that misbehaved and didn't understand how great that gig was, was the British press who turned up just deliberately to write rubbish and create friction."

But creating friction was the raison d'être of the Sex Pistols. The entire tour amounted to a mischievouspromo stunt orchestrated by provocateur-producer Malcolm McLaren, who skipped over New York and other U.S. cities with nascent punk scenes and instead booked the controversial Brits to perform in venues throughout the South, primarily in country bars, to maximize the shock and awe of culture clash.

In San Antonio, Randy's redneck regulars, curious rockers, and a handful of early-adapter punks mixed unnaturally in the venue. Rotten sported a lewd T-shirt depicting two cowboys having sex and taunted the crowd; garbage rained upon the band members; bassist Sid Vicious, with the words "Gimme a fix" carved on his chest, ultimately chopped his guitar into a hostile node in the audience and clipped someone's skull.

"We heard this Sex Pistols band was coming to San Antonio, and they played this thing called punk rock, all of which was very new and we were curious about it," said Javier Padilla, who was 24 at the time. "It was a very weird crowd, all of these people with safety pins in their ears and noses, and Randy's was a weird place for it. But we had a great time and even now it is still fun to look back on."

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