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Steve Hayes First Ever Interview
Conducted by Phil Singleton

Steve ‘Hayesie’ Hayes was there at the birth of the Sex Pistols. In fact he was there before. A school friend of Paul Cook and Steve Jones, Hayesie, along with Jimmy Macken and Wally Nightingale, would form a band, The Strand, in 1972.

This is the first time Steve has ever spoken about his involvement in this embryonic group that developed ultimately into the Sex Pistols.

Steve HayesThanks Steve for having this chat...

I could have written so much of the Sex Pistols history stuff that’s not in any books or magazines and will never be, unless I put pen to paper. If that happened there would be some people saying to themselves, ‘I hope Hayesie has forgotten about what I did that time’. I would like to let people know that James Macken played a big part in getting the whole thing started and Warwick Nightingale was 100% the person who started the band and also taught Steve Jones to play guitar. For all that and a lot more input, he got kicked out of the band.

How long had you been friends with Steve, Paul and Wally, and how did you get to know them?

Me and Jimmy Macken were friends with Steve Jones and Paul Cook from the age of 10 years old. The four of us were at school together (Christopher Wren, Shepherd’s Bush). Paul was in my class, Warwick Nightingale was at our school but we didn’t really have a lot to do with him at all then. It was always us four; Jones, Cook, Macken and Hayes, always together, and after school we did everything together. I’ve known Cook and Jones over 55 years. I was very close with Steve. Jonesy’s mum had moved from Shepherd’s Bush to Battersea, south London. Jonesy never told me why, but at the age of 15 he came and lived at my mum’s house with us. My mum treated him like a son. Jonesy stayed with us for over 5 years, I don’t think Steve had ever lived as part of a family before, he shared a bedroom with my older brother. Jonesy confided in my mum, he told her everything and could always rely on her. I don’t know why he hasn’t given her any recognition in his book.

How did The Strand come together?

This is a long story but I’ll try to shorten it. Basically, we met Warwick Nightingale in the Red Cliff Hotel, a pub in Earl’s Court, on New Year's Eve and we ended up goin’ to his mum and dad’s house on Hemlock Road. We were all into the same bands such as Bowie, Roxy Music, and the big one for us all was The Faces. Anyway, Wally had never seen The Faces live and we had every time they played in London and we never ever paid for a ticket. So the following year, we took Wally to see The Faces when they played Wembley (October 1972), and we got back stage, I mean we were in their dressing room, anyway that’s another story! But the day after that gig we met at Wally’s house, the 5 of us, Cook, Jones, Macken, Nightingale and me. We were talking about the gig last night and Wally picks up an old acoustic Spanish guitar and starts strumming it. I have to say many stories have been said in books that they were there when it all started. The spark for the Sex Pistols and whose idea it was that day was Wally in his front room on Hemlock Road. Wally said we can start a band, it’s not hard. Out of the 5 of us it was Wally who said it, he had the idea. No one knew that day what it would come to.

[The five lads took up the following instruments: Cook on drums, Jones on lead vocals, Wally on guitar, Macken on organ, and Hayesie on bass]. Had you ever played bass before The Strand?

No, I hadn’t done any bass playing, none of us including Paul, Steve, and Jim had anything to do with music apart from listening to it, only Wally knew his way around the guitar.

You may have been short of musical ability but you had an array of high end equipment on which to learn. Was all the band’s equipment stuff that Steve had nicked?

There’s so much I could tell you about this. The people involved in getting the equipment played a massive part in starting this whole thing. Steve could never have got the amount of equipment we had on his own. Even now Sex Pistols fans have no idea how much stuff we had. Many people would probably call me a liar but I was part of it and saw how much we had. It was mainly myself and Jonesy that got the bulk of it together, Jim Macken and Paul were there sometimes. The first thing we had was a £40 Les Paul used copy, Wally bought this. Steve, Paul, Macken and me, got 2 Fender combo amps and a full Marshall amp and stack from a shop in Chelsea. Jonesy and me robbed a guitar shop, we got Les Pauls, Stratocasters, Gibsons, we took a black Telecaster outta the shop window on Shaftesbury Avenue in the West End. There’s pictures of it somewhere with Nick Kent using it at the rehearsals in the old BBC studios in Hammersmith. I could go on and on, it’s unbelievable the stuff we had.

Everybody knows about the David Bowie / Ziggy Stardust concert at the Hammersmith Odeon, the stuff that got robbed. That was Steve and me, we had been getting into the place since we were kids, firstly to watch films. There’s been a lot of bollocks said about what happened, this is the true account. The security guard was asleep, snoring, sitting in the front row. We took no instruments, there were none left on stage, just a guitar stand which we took. We did take most of the drum kit. Just think, this security guard is asleep and there’s me and Jonesy on stage dismantling a fucking drum kit on the stage! Not only did we take the kit, we went and found the cases for the drums. We took the cymbals and stands, the mics, the mic stands, leads, guitar pedals, we had so much stuff Steve went out and nicked a mini van! It took us 2 trips with it all taken back to Wally’s at Hemlock Road. Sorry David Bowie!

Where did you rehearse?

For about 10-12 months from the start we practised alone at home and we would all meet at Wally’s mum and dad’s house in Hemlock Road, which was our practice place really. He would teach me on the bass and we would play together there.

What songs did you play, any originals?

At that time we were all still learning to play, so just known stuff really.

Steve was the singer, how did he do?

Steve was the singer for a while at the start, he was ok but if you knew Steve like I do it was easy to see he wasn’t at all comfortable being the front man.

By 1974 you’d left the band...

I didn’t leave the band, I was politely and in very shaken voices asked to leave, none of them had the bollocks to ask me to bring my amp and bass guitar back. It had been going on for a few weeks. At the time there was a lot of dodgy things goin’ on, we had nicked a lot of gear and none of us really knew the value of it except for our manager at that time, Wally Nightingale’s dad, and he hadn’t long come outta prison. We all knew bits were goin’ missing, recording equipment, mics, stuff that we now know would’ve cost over a £1000 at the time. No one said anything but me, so I got asked to leave. Remember this was way before Malcolm McLaren or John Lydon were involved.

Did you continue as a musician or did it end with The Strand?

I stopped playing music when I went, but as I said, Cook and Jones were my friends so I was still involved with them and with the whole day to day music thing. Paul, Steve and Jimmy Macken were the only real friends I had. When Steve lived at my mum’s we did everything together, we got nicked and ended up in prison together, that’s how it was. I didn’t see Steve after he left for America but I stayed close friends with Paul for over 40 years.

You remained friends, so I assume you saw the Sex Pistols play?

Many times, I took seeing them for granted. I was with Steve or Paul most days. I remember me, Jim Macken, and Nils Stevenson seeing the Pistols at their first gig at St. Martins Art College, we watched as some tiny, skinny, scruffy fucker wheeled in the band's equipment that we had nicked.

What were your feelings about the success Steve and Paul had with the Pistols?

Their success didn’t mean much to me, people change as time goes on. I thought I had been used and my family had been used by Steve - my idea of friendship wasn’t his. There’s so much I could say about what he has done, some of it could lead to police involvement, it’s the same with Paul. I used to meet people and sort things for him let’s say, but I did it as he was my friend but I got dropped when things got bad for him.

How does it feel to have played a part in the genesis of the Sex Pistols?

The early days were the best. I wish the Sex Pistols had lasted longer, we were young, trusted each other. I’m glad I was there and was involved starting it off.

Any final thoughts?

Rest in peace Jimmy Macken and Wally Nightingale.

Thanks to Steve Hayes for sharing his memories, and thanks also to Kev Harris for making this interview possible.

Wally Nightingale attends Manchester Sex Pistols Convention 1988 >

Interview July 2023  ©Phil Singleton / 2023
©Steve Hayes 2023. Thanks Kev 'Wolverhampton' Harris

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God Save The Sex Pistols /  ©Phil Singleton / 2023

God Save the Sex Pistols

God Save The Sex Pistols ©Phil Singleton /