& Memories by Ray Sferra
|I was a big Pistols fan starting in 1977. I
first heard them on local radio station that was known mostly for news.
A song was played as a sort of curiosity as an example of this new punk
rock thing. Pretty sure it was Holidays in the Sun. Thought it was ok.
I first saw them on TV on a show called "Variety 77" to the best of my
recollection. It was hosted by Marilyn McCoo. The Pistols were shown
performing GTSQ outside in the daytime. I have never been able to find
that footage anywhere. At that point I was hooked. Bought the U.S.
album and later added all the singles.
Followed what I
could through magazines and the local music weekly, Scene Magazine.
Knew the basics of the breakup, etc. So by April, 1980 I was primed to
see Johnny. I now had a car and was able to drive to Cleveland from
Akron, about an hour. But I wanted to make sure everything went well
since I had never been to the Agora. There were two shows there the
same week, John Cale on the 28th and Rachel Sweet (from Akron) on the
29th. I decided to go to John Cale. I knew very little of him, only
seeing his name while flipping through the record bins looking for
Clash records. He was pretty good. I'll always remember the show for
the altered "Ready for War". The Iran hostage thing had begun in Nov.
1979 and tensions were running high. The lyrics were altered to reflect
the situation with Iran. To this day one of the most charged
performances I have ever seen.
So two days later I
was ready to go to Cleveland again and knew how to get there and out.
Brought a friend, stayed mostly in the middle of the venue until after
the opener, Hammer Damage. I thought I better get closer because people
started to migrate towards the front. I wiggled my way up close and we
were packed in like sardines. After what seemed like forever to my
19-year old mind the lights were turned out and people started to
The band took the stage in the dark and then the lights
came on and they launched into Careering. I was thrilled to be so close
to Johnny Rotten! I think I knew that Keith Levene was the guitarist
and was originally with The Clash. I really don't remember any female
stage rushers like the review says (see cutting below). No one could
rush the stage. It wasn't possible being so tightly packed. There was
some abuse thrown Johnny's way, not so much coming back. I don't know
if anyone threw a full beer can. Johnny did say something to the effect
like "I don't care if you all die".
I was holding the
brown microphone cord for sometime and I was thinking, "Johnny Rotten
is singing through a cord I'm holding in my hand!" At some point he
threw out a handful or two of PIL buttons. I got one and still have it
to this day (pictured right). That was cool but not as cool as nabbing
a Johnny Ramone guitar pick later in my concert going career. Still
have that too!
My tape has seven
songs on it with the seventh song cut part way. It would have been very
difficult to change the tape under the circumstances and may have been
seen by security anyway. I didn't want to get thrown out and lose my
tape and camera. Pretty sure there was an eighth song played. There was
no encore. I think they may have left earlier than planned. I remember
Keith smiling and raising his guitar as he walked off.
It was quite an
experience for me seeing a show so close up. I was to do it many more
times in the coming years.
Review, Photos, Ticket, Button & Cutting © Ray Sferra / www.sex-pistols.net 2019
The Sex Pistols ©2019 Phil Singleton / www.sex-pistols.net
All rights reserved. Not to be
reproduced without permission.