NME, 16th June 1979

Transcribed (and additional info) by Karsten Roekens

© 1979 NME


Danny Baker goes on the PiS with PiL: The Odd Combo

NME, 16th June 1979 © unknownWhat time is it? It feels like five in the morning but it must be a lot later. Ugh, Jesus, I must be inside my own mouth with the way I feel, and it's wall to wall carpeting in there, I can tell you.

And that sun is particularly evil. Water, I've got to have a drop of water. Bleeech - it tastes like silky sterilized milk and has been stirred up that lurking film of stale lager at the back of my gums.

This headache woke me up and right now I'd sign anything so long as I could drift back to sleep. 'sno good, I better get up 'fore I throw up. I wonder what time it is?

Lying on my back I breathe in real slow and out real fast, my eyes open enough just to see the end of my nose and ration the light. A dozy yawn pops the little muscles behind my ears and they crack like boots in iced snow. From my knees to the upper chest my innards feel full of warm goop, a sickly ocean of flat alcohol that is lapping in bigger and bigger waves at the base of my throat.

But I flatly refuse to go through the big spit ceremony. The exertion would cause a blackout, I know it. Leaning over on one tired elbow I chance a glance at the usual wreckage of my bedroom floor.

Knackers. I must've knocked the cup of water over when I attempted to put it down without visually coordinating the operation. It's seeping on to the dusty cover of The Jacksons' 'Shake Your Body' 45, but right now I couldn't give a toss. Know what I mean?

Laboriously shifting my stare a couple of feet, I spot the governor of my ailment, the Typhoid Mary of the step-out set, gloating at my inevitable ruin. It's a can of Red Stripe lager and next to it is a half pint Dimple mug with an inch of headless stagnant beer floating disarmed and dead at the bottom. Slowly my top lip curls and my teeth clamp. Rolling over, flat out again, I expel a tremendous sigh.

"Aaaaoooorgghhhh...no, no, no..."

So what conclusions had I arrived at that made me dislike Public Image? Well, on the strength of their debut LP I had them down as the premier example of 'the King's new clothes' in action. A drab, overblown, directionless slice of liberty-taking made possible by one band member's reputation.

I wriggled at the theories and respect that album afforded. 'Turning Rock'n'Roll inside out' was a common claim on its behalf - while I would lash out on behalf of square one commonsense, lumping it along with Siouxsie and the Banshees and all the rest of the growing trend(y) babble for new music.

It galled me to watch people vote for them and scramble for their product/gigs all before they proved anything - a moronic 'name' acceptance that I thought Punk and the Sex Pistols had quashed once and for all.

Plus, all that talk about them being difficult, moody and reclusive gave me the roaring hump and  I certainly wouldn't stoke some artists' indulgent egos by interpreting all that as charisma. Sod'em, let'em get on with their own little games.

So, plomp, I get tossed into the silence breaker. Public Image will speak to the NME, I hear floating round the office. And sure enough, Virgin Records ring confirmation of this just one hour to spare at the end of the preceding working day to the interview. They rationalize the shaky coordination with:

"We'd have given you more notice, but you know what they're like..."

Fabulous! Can't wait! Armed with hints like "heavy guys" and "watch out for Jah Wobble, he's a psycho who carried an axe about" I begin winding myself up for the ruction. Rotten? Just a burned out superstar. Wobble? The pubs are full of tooled-up geezers. Why, I could write this thing before we meet! I'll give 'em 'product of your society'. I'll give'em LP. The way I was geared up it seemed the rest of the globe thought 'grudge' was just something to park your car in.


I remember being in Hurrah's club in New York. Some band had just left the stage after telling us how up the chute the rest of the galaxy was, and from the selection of music the DJ played, I figured his IQ would make a pit pony seem like president of The Brains Trust.

Then, as one po-faced strain faded, a devastating 'thump thump' of bass and drums lifted the air to undeniably danceable heights.

Like most of the evening's fuel, this thump was British and something told me that this fearsome stomp was part of my collection back home.

But what was it? Under the white lights I pulled one of my colleagues to the rim of the floor. Faking as though disgusted with myself for not immediately recognizing this gem, I bade him refresh my memory.

"It's Public Image", he bellowed to be heard, "it's 'Annalisa' from the album. Remember? You sold it ages ago..." Flashing a pathetic phony "Did I?" look, I felt too guilty to continue this twist. Lord, but it sounded great, wild and proud. Too bad I didn't like them.

Bang on time the cab drew up outside Virgin HQ in Portobello Road, West London. I knew they wouldn't be there yet - what with their public image and all. Inside, one of the press people strode over.

"Hi, if you just hold on we'll get it together. They're all somewhere in the building."

I set up the cassette and prepared the preliminaries. A couple of seconds later in strolled Keith Levene and new drummer Richard Dudanski, followed by the chap who, for argument's sake, we'll just call John.

He spoke first.

"You're not what I expected", he offered in that flat patter, and then, having checked my what I like to think of as dapper togs, "Huh. I see they've kitted you out for the occasion." Perhaps he expected a white suit and red shirt with Bee Gees badges.

Anyway, setting down a bulging carrier bag of cans of lager, John wearily plonks himself behind a desk. Wobble, I learn, is on his way. Also present is Jeanette who, along with the mysterious Dave, comprise the PIL outfit. Despite all, this boy looks at Johnny and respects him a lot.

But now to business.

Baker: ''It seems you've been mysteriously quiet, what's been doing?''

Levene: "Well, we've been living at the studio, really."

Lydon: "Just because we're not full of publicity don't mean we're not alive.''

NME, 16th June 1979 © unknownLevene: "We're doing the second album and things. Hopefully it can be out around the end of July, and the single will be at the end of June. If we had it our way we would put out lots of singles."

Baker: ''But it's your contract, right?''

Levene: "Mainly."

Baker: ''Were you disappointed at the reaction to the LP?''

Lydon: "Not really. It takes time and people are stupid."

Baker: ''What do you mean, people are stupid?''

Lydon: "I mean journalists are stupid."

Here we go. We're both starting to fall into character. The fur rises on the back of my neck and we lock.
Baker: ''Is that what all journalists are?''

Lydon: "I think they're creepy, spineless parasites."

Baker: ''What're you talking about?''

Lydon: "Name me one that has got integrity?"

Baker: (calmly) ''I have.''

Lydon: "Well, show me your work and I'll tell you."

Baker: ''Yeah, but I don't need you to.''

Lydon: "So prove me wrong."

Surprisingly, the awful sterile plastic tension that being thrown into a room to talk to strangers obviously produces, is lessened by this early clash. The old bastard is just putting out feelers, and he knows it. He's best at handling a feedback of hatred, probably enjoys it, and is renowned for winding up wallys.

Baker: ''You don't often do this kind of thing - with Virgin as middle man - so how come you're all in line today?''

Lydon: "When they said it was you we thought 'here comes a slagging', and that's why we did it."

Levene: "We don't deal with Virgin unless we have to. They contact us and we say yes or no. Not many bands have much of a say in it. It's all arranged by managers or producers, and they jump to it... makes me ill."

Lydon: "You're speeding."

He's wrong, I always talk like me jaw's on a fan-belt.

Baker: ''Have you any respect for, excuse me, Joe Public?''

Lydon: (now loosening a little) "Total respect for Joe..."

Levene: "Joe Public, yeah. Groups, no. I hate people who like to think that they're not Joe Public, think they're someone special. It's like he said when he was in the Pistols. The worst people are star trippers, and we meet them all the time! Well, we're certainly no elite or any of that bollocks."

Baker: ''Do you go out much?'' (General grimacing) ''To gigs and that, I mean.''

Lydon: "Why? What for?"

Levene: "People seem to have more money than sense at the moment."

Lydon: "I've said it before, I'll say it again. Rock'n'Roll is stone dead. It's had it. How much more twelve bar dun-dun-der-dun can you jumble up? But it won't change until a few more people stop patronizing it."

Baker: ''Are there any rock bands you like?''

Lydon: (pauses) "Nope."

Baker: ''Well, do you just reckon rock is dead, or all popular music?''

Lydon: "Oh no, only rock. I still love reggae and I quite like a lot of disco music. I mean you can dance to those, right? That's the most essential thing about us - you can dance to us."

Baker: ''I saw you at the ZigZag do the other night [1], watching Doll By Doll smash up that guitar.''

Lydon: "Weren't they dreadful? That's what I mean. I was there to see The Psychedelic Furs, who didn't show up."

Levene: "You couldn't smash one of my guitars up. They're solid metal. Mainly for smashing up bouncers at the Rainbow. You should underline that - I hate bouncers! And I hate being led to my seat by a torch, real police state stuff, know what I mean?"

Lydon: (indignant) "Here, how come when we played the Rainbow nobody mentions that we take out all the seats?"

Levene: "Somebody like Jimmy Pursey could get great use out of that. I hate Jimmy Pursey. You can underline that a million times."

Lydon: "I certainly don't have to perform at being working class. There's so much made of it, as if the more dumb you are the more glorious you become. That's why Pursey is so well-liked, because he plays his role for everyone. It's so easy to manipulate, it fits into a nice little clichéd bracket - no threat. It's once you break that apart you become a worry to them."

Baker: ''Aren't you a symbol of the working class, John?''

Lydon: "What?! Symbol of the working... huh. Sex symbol." (laughs)

It was about here that the day began. On my tape we all began to rabbit about trivia. I realized that it wasn't PIL that I disliked but the awful pseudo types who had championed them. A brand of characters the group has long been wary of. I was asked what I thought of the album and I told them I didn't like it.

Lydon: "Well, that's all you need. That's all you need to say."

I ask again how they'd reacted to its feedback. And this time:

NME, 16th June 1979 © unknownLydon: "There can be no argument as to what it's about, because every track is so very obvious. That was the big criticism of 'Religion', that it was so obvious. Well, I'm ever so sorry, but I've always been totally obvious and you'll have to excuse me for not being an intellectual, I'm afraid. Being obvious is a thing that everyone wants to avoid like the plague, it seems. Look at someone like Bob Dylan. I can't be any other way and  never could be. It was always other people who mistook it for a sign of intellect. Ha ha!"

Baker: ''But what's all this reputation for being overly moody?''

Lydon: "Oh, that's true. But a lot of the time it's just wanting privacy. Privacy is essential, and if that causes me to look like an upstart then yeah, I'm an upstart. I mean, when I go boozing in a pub like everyone else, I want to do it happily and not be pestered. I hate signing autographs, that's embarrassing. Then there's the physical pestering, which ain't that pleasant."

Levene: "Which is why we're all trained in Kung Fu."

Baker: ''Y'what?''

Levene: "Yeah, it's standard in this band. Y'have to be."

Lydon: "Like me in the last lot (Pistols), all that sort of political manipulation. Well, no more. From now on if I get hurt it's because of a situation I've created, and not some pseudo arsehole sitting in an office somewhere."

Baker: ''Do you get on with each other?''

Lydon: "You should've been there last night!'' (laughter) ''In that way we're just as fucked up as everyone else. In all ways we're just as fucked up as everyone else. We have bad fights that maybe shouldn't go on, but do. You've not met Dave. He's a most unpleasant chap."

Baker: ''How do you handle the record company?''

Lydon: "Well, obviously you need them to get the stuff released and, OK, so the bigger the company the bigger the problems, but also the wider the outlet. That's only sensible. Wide distribution of your product."

Does that sound cold? Does it sound unforgivable from your favourite action man. Listen, John Lydon has been there. He knows what it's worth to mouth your favourite rebel slogans. He knows that if you want someone to play pretend at ripping up the nation there are a hundred pisspot outfits only too willing to let you hear what you wanna hear, while keeping both eyes on the company reaction.

Lenny Bruce once did a bit about a police commissioner who publicly reprimanded for his force of brutality - and once the cameras had gone told them: "Listen you guys, I'm sorry if I got a bit shitty with ya there, but understand it keeps everybody happy. I'll say a whole lot of things, but you know it's bullshit, so as long as you keep kickin' them in the ass and doin' what you're paid for we're all happy, OK?"

That's how rock rebellion will wind up. John Lydon went through his rebel phase under the microscope and in double-quick time. He's made his mistakes and had his laughs, and this time he knows the score even if we don't recognize the character. That's what irks most of his critics - they can't identify.

Back at Virgin Records, half past five had rolled around - so had Wobble - and we crossed to the pub.

I can't hear anything, it must still be early. A mammoth effort and I'm sitting up. God, is anyone dead in this wreck? No wonder I found a welcome in Johnny Rotten's eyes. There was a sty in one of them, too. I pull the topsheet around my shoulders and in one swift movement both feet are on the floor - straight in the wet. Up. Head still weighty and wavy I cakewalk over the assault course of record sleeves, beer cans, shoes and junk.

Focussing on nothing and chattering like a channel swimmer though it's not cold,
I make my way down the hall and push open the living room door.

The leaden stale perfume of cigars, beer and sleep is into my nostrils like drowning in sand. On the floor a contoured blanket gives way to a sprouting of black/brown hair at the very top. On the settee a similar sheet covers all but a crossed pair of crossed feet. Nothing stirs. It's a quarter to twelve!

Here, I remember one of the neighbours knocking at one time last night...

In the pub, that bolts having just been slid off, we are four. John Lydon, who has changed little since his last NME feature, drummer Richard  with his suit, pound-note voice and crop that'd cause havoc in a bowling alley, and the famed man of fireman habits, Wobble.

Keith Levene is of slight build, a bit like Billy Casper in 'Kes', but Wobble is more demanding. His thrusting East End patter is the spearpoint to a forceful, though amiable, onslaught. Not a big bloke, but you wouldn't take liberties. He's the most open member, a pox on the fright mongers.

On the second round, another leg of the interview begins.

Lydon: "I want people to understand that we're a band, right, and the enigma of my past keeps creeping in all the time, and it's hard for them to have to keep accepting that.'' (adopts Alan Whicker voice)''How does it feel to be Rotten? Y'know?"

Baker: ''But inevitably. How did you react when Sid Vicious died?''

Lydon: "I was fucking annoyed. I'd seen the way his old dear and Malcolm carved him up, er, that whole scene whereby they got him out of prison to record a few tracks. He had no fucking hope.

Now I was willing to get a lawyer and go over to New York and sort out his problem, but Sid's old dear wouldn't talk to me 'cos Malcolm had told her not to, and it went on like that.
Now, I've known Sid's old dear as long as I've known Sid, but when she came over here - y'now for those benefits [2] - I wasn't even asked. I didn't even know she was in the country.
It wasn't a shock when he was killed, and I know who I blame though I'm not gonna be so stupid as to say it. But it was pretty obvious he was given a hot shot. Is that what they call it when they lace it up with everything from arsenic to boot polish? He was a fool. Fell for it."

Baker: ''How does it feel to walk past shops and see the Sid The Hero industry?''

Lydon: "Honestly, I know damn well he'd feel as sick as I feel about it. That... bullshit. Look, you have to look at the public who buy all that junk, that crap. There's your animals, your jungle. They say blame the makers, but they created the buying market, they must create a demand for it all."

''It must get right up your back when you see that, as far as the umpteen per cent of the population is concerned, you are still the figurehead of the 'Sid Is Dead' T-shirt brigade.''

Lydon: "Right, even though Malcolm's doing his best to stop that! I proved to be an embarrassment to Malcolm, cos I stopped his, er, commercial gamblings. That's why I had to go. That's why I had to be replaced."

Baker: ''What's the feeling between you now?''

Lydon: "Between Malcolm and me? Let's just say that if Malcolm breathes it's too much for me to stomach. Let's just say that."

Baker: ''Does it all interfere with the band now?''

Lydon: "Well, it is boring, it is the past. You don't have to relive your schooldays everyday, do you? And to me now it's just redundant shite. I don't need it."

Baker: ''Do you feel any affection for those days?''

Lydon: "I feel very proud of myself for having escaped. And I feel very sorry for Paul and Steve who still haven't got two 'appence worth of sense to knock between the two of them. The only other thing is that I hate having all my old quotes held against me, and it turns out that most of 'em were someone else's anyway. All the better ones get attributed to someone else. That bands only future was it's demise - now there's a quote! If I'd got my way all that 'it's gotta be rock, man' attitude would've gone and it would've been more like this band."

Baker: ''Have you sorted out your drumming things now?''

NME, 16th June 1979 © unknownDudanski: "Keith just rang me up and said, y'know... anyway, on the first meeting with them I had my drum kit nicked from out the car."

Lydon: "He was just desperately short of money to buy a wig or something."

Dudanski: "Before that I was in a band called Bank Of Dresden [3], and before that I was in The 101ers."

Baker: ''How have you adjusted to stardom, Wobble?''

Wobble: "Whatcha talkin' about. I've always been a star! Always. They've always torn my clothes off in the street. No, I can't stand it, tell the truth. I tell ya, all that punk achieved was a load of crap. I still get people coming up to me and ask if I'm really Jah Wobble! They must've missed the whole point really. Especially since a lot of the time they only do it to get near John, y'know?"

Baker: ''Have you always played bass?''

Wobble: "I'm just a natural musician, really. I just have to pick something up and I can play it. Honestly."

Lydon: "I think I'm gonna be sick."

Wobble: "Leave it out, John, I can play loads o'stuff, you know that."

Wobble turns out to be a diamond. He's quick, self-deflating and honest. I ask John what he finds to write about now. He answers in an L.A. whine.

Lydon: "Well, man, y'know, houses in the country, my E-type Jag, stuff like that."

The new Public Image single will be 'Death Disco', and not, as somewhat hopefully reported in another paper, 'Death To Disco'. In fact Wobble believes disco music to be the closest sound to what PIL are doing. Certainly, and believe me, I'd have no bones about stating otherwise were it the case, 'Death Disco' has one of the most powerful backlines to be heard this side of Chic. It fair knifes along, with John howling "See it through my eeyyyyyeeessss" over the whole ferocious affair.

The reverse features the following lyric: "This could be heaven / Shallow spreads of ordered lawns / I like the illusion of privacy / The careful trees blending so perfectly / Bland planned idle luxury / A caviar of silent dignity".

So distorted and bent do those words become that I got lost a dozen times trying to follow it all.

Wobble: "See, the way we work is all done on the spot. It takes time, but sooner or later we'll all agree on some bass line or other and just work over and around it. I love that bass sound you get when it just becomes too much to hear and can actually be felt in your bones. I love mixing stuff around. I must have about 50 different mixes of 'Fodderstompf' at home."

Wobble, 20, still lives with his parents in Whitechapel, East London, until somewhere as good can be sorted out.

Lydon: "If we get what sounds like the right pattern, we won't stop and jot it down or discuss it or write poetry around it, we'll just get on and keep working it out until we know it's the one."

"Something like 'Fodderstompf', well, you can hear the words are just on the spot, all that about going for a cigarette and that. The main bit about 'we only wanted to be loved' was... well, we sort of guessed the reaction to the LP and thought that statement would be a liberty, I s'pose. Alright, so you can say it's indulgent and all that, but you can dance to it and realize how funny that song is. Because it is funny, and not heavy like people said. It don't have to be so straight faced, does it?"

Lydon: "We did stress that the LP would be a little different.'' (laughs) ''Even though a load of people that bought it did so because of the, uh, Seks Piztolz. Well, so they won't check us again, because it wasn't because of our publicity that they may have been hoodwinked. We don't do that. There again, if anyone thinks the second album will be 'Album One, part two', well they're mugs again. We don't do that either.

We could sell millions I'm sure, if we packaged ourselves right. We'd be rolling in it. I'll tell you something. On that first single it was promoted with £2000 of our money and four of Virgin's. Yet look at the good old Ronald Biggs fiasco. There was 25 grand to blow on that. That's how it operates, how anything operates. It will do so long as people buy records because of a cardboard cut-out in the corner."

Baker: ''But you've done 'Top Of The Pops'. Isn't that a bit of a cut-out in the corner?''

Lydon: "Well, originally I had these ever so grand ideas about 'Oh, we won't go on there, let's do our own video', ha ha ha, real smartarse. But when you get the bill for doing that, that's when you discover that the show ain't so bad at all. Those kids who watch it, I mean, they couldn't care less if you're on video or in the studio, so there's no point in getting all smart."

Baker: ''You had an incident when you pulled out of Mickie Most's 'Revolver' show, right?''

Lydon: "We just decided we were being set up. So we set ourselves up a little holiday on the day of recording, that's all."

Baker: ''Isn't there anyone who screams at you down the phone?''

Lydon: "We just don't answer our phone! I remember Most said that we were finished as far as TV was concerned, but we were on 'Top Of The Pops' the next week. And then on 'Saturday Night People' the following week."

Baker: ''Do you still watch as much television as is rumoured?''

NME, 16th June 1979 © unknownLydon: "Oh, I love it. I'm absolutely addicted to it. Everything. If we ever go, like, to America, with its 24 hours a day, that'll be me finished. Just senility."

Wobble: "The best programme has gotta be 'The Cedar Tree'. The war'll start in that show one day, it's been rumoured for years."

"Yeah, 'tis good. Here, did you see that programme about soccer hooliganism? [4] What a fucking show that was. You had Alan Hardaker, the President of the FA or whatever he is, and he's on there saying how pleased he is that the violence is on the terraces, because he'd rather it there than outside Buckingham Palace. He actually said he was glad to let it go on there! I tell ya, it don't matter what colour you dye your hair and how good your leather jacket, nothing terrorizes this country like football fans. That's your anarchy. Was you around when the Scots fans were down here? [5] They were given the city, old bill stood aside. Jesus."

Let it now be noted that John 'The Filth and The Fury' Rotten is a fanatic for, bejazuz, The Arsenal.

Wobble: "Talkin' about that football programme, we was on it. Just briefly they had a shot of the crowd comin' out of a Chelsea-Arsenal match, and we was in it, straight up."

There then followed a lengthy gasbag on our national pastime until, touching on U.S. football, I wondered whether Public Image ever craved Stateside success.

Lydon: "We're not The Clash. We're not deesperate! Actually thereby hangs a tale which I shall tell you. No, you tell'im, Wob."

Wobble: (in heavy business US tones) ''Well, like man, The Clash wanted us to support them, man, on a string of US dates, y'know, because they told us the States was where it's at man. [6] Y'know, help us, man. But we found out that the guy who arranged the tour didn't want to know unless the deal included us, and they didn't tell us that, though we knew anyway -''

Lydon and Wobble: ''So we told'em NO!'' (hard laughter)

Wobble: ''They just thrill some lonely kid in the suburbs - social workers' band.''

Lydon: ''All those 'troops out' type sweeping statements are just drivel. There's enough trouble in this shitty town without those clowns trying for publicity out of their depth. And look at Jimmy Pursey joining up with Steve and Paul. That's so desperate. Just like the Speakeasy jamming era. I mean criticise me for what you want, but I'll deliver the goods - rightly or wrongly by you. I'll never cling on to 'Oh, let's link arms for the old days.'''

Baker: ''C'mon! It's your fault. You started it!''

NME, 16th June 1979 © unknownLydon: ''Don't you think I have sleepless nights over it! No, I opened the gate but I refuse to stand trial for the deluge that followed. I said it was there for anyone to grab and use, not, y'know, go out and record tenth rate versions of our records. But what do you do about it. I've always thought that the kids up in Scotland had a bit more suss though - I don't mean groups like The Skids, I mean your fans. In Scotland they judge you fairly on the night and fuck your reputation. They know it's garbage and they use it right. All that publicity that gets so easily smeared around in London like a load of smegma, they won't wanna know it.''

Baker: ''Who do you think PIL's audience is?''

Wobble: ''I'll tell ya, and I'm not being cute or nothing, but I've got a lot of time for the Stan and Hilda Ogdens of this world, me included. They're good people who won't be beaten, really survivors.''

Lydon: ''Yeah, I can identify with the Ogdens. They're great.''

Baker: ''Are you into rock music?''

Lydon: ''No, no. I got into rock music 'cos I thought 'Haha, what a great laugh', but then it stopped being that and I walked out on it.''

Baker: ''Can you treat this as a hobby?''

Wobble: ''Definitely not. This is a job to me. This is work.''

Lydon: ''We care very much what we do. We're all very serious people in this, but of course we wouldn't be doing this unless there was fun involved. You can't. But let me say again, PIL is a four piece band of which I am part. It's gonna take time. The Pistols were a wanky bunch of turds who took the piss out of rock music, gloriously. Now it's finished, or should be. I think disco is the closest to what I'm into at the moment, and when you listen to it, you can break both reggae, the rockers, down to boom boom boom, which is what disco is.''

Baker: ''Here Wobble, do you just not shave or are you growing a beard?''

Wobble: ''Well, it's something I don't like to talk about. I'm entitled to some privacy, I feel. But while we're talking about it, my new single is called 'Dan MacArthur'. I played everything on it, produced it, organized the cover and promotion myself, and it's the best dance record in ages.''

It was decided that a night down to the Albany in Deptford to catch The Raincoats would be perfectly in order. [7] So we piled into Wobble's car and in a cloud of burning fuel we were away. Now, to say Wobble drives a little recklessly is to be polite. By the time we got to John's home the car's tyres were so shredded that, had we knocked someone over, they would have received 20 lashes before hitting the tarmac.

NME, 16th June 1979 © unknownThe legendary Lydon home is grand enough outside, though inside it becomes functional, sparse and a tad dingy. John cranks Linval Thompson into louder than life and dances in the half light. All that preconceived poppycock I had loaded myself with causes a wash of embarrassment over me, and I remember Chris Salewicz's line about John being just a bloke, just a bloke. You can trust this group, even rely on them, but don't ask them to play your requests. That's what they ask of you.

Under his blanket Wobble stirs. Through eyes trying to adjust to daylight he squints and makes his bearings. ''Alright? Wassa time? Owh fack...''

Unable to make the decision to get fully wide-eyed, John still pokes out like a pavement corpse. Hands rubbing the back of his neck, Wobble passes himself match fit again.

''Anyone fancy one over the road?'' he offers.

There comes a stretched voice from the comatose kid.

''Wobble, after last night I would die...''

Stopping but briefly for one in the Old Kent Road, Lydon, Wobble and myself arrive at the Albany. John shows his trepidation about entering the packed house, I don't think all those gags about superstardom and clothes-ripping seems all that funny as he enters the darkened stage area. Immediately a sea of swooning zipper trippers gush around, throwing arms round his shoulders, asking for him to sign shirts and running off to tell others ''Johnny Rotten's in the club!''

One berk with a mouth like a clown's pocket shouts ''Fuckin' Popstar!!'' and stands looking as mean/nervous as possible. By now PIL's singer is looking shaken though he keeps a sickly smile all round and signs the various articles jammed about him.

Two blokes, well-oiled, raise their cans of Heineken and terrace holler 'Anarchy in the U.K.' as though he will at once make them a trio. Various shapes of punkette cruise him in a more dignified fashion, occasionally allowing ''Alright, Johnny?'' to fall from their shakey lips, others making it clear that given the chance they'd show him more sex than a policeman's torch.

Soon the pandemonium gives way to a staring calm and it was possible to observe The Raincoats.

The Raincoats are so bad tonight that everytime a waiter drops a tray we'd all get up and dance. As it happens the assembly love them and Wobble thinks they are ''alright''. I die so many times during their set that in India they think I'm the fourth prophet.

Inexplicably, on coming out of the Albany we journeyed right across London to Kilburn on the promise of an all-night off licence. Then it was away back again to my flat where the lure of video had been too much for Lydon's square eyeballs to refuse.

NME, 16th June 1979 © unknownIt was now that this turnabout day became hazy. I recall stopping at a chip shop where John told the bloke behind the ramp that he only eats chips that will make him feel bloated, queazyand sick afterwards. That was their function.

I remember he and Wobble digging the Jacksons on tape and guffawing at Billy Idol doing 'Valley Of The Dolls'. I recollect Mick - one of my flatmates and good Irish lad - going through his collection of Irish LPs with Lydon and the pair chorusing to 'The Wearing Of The Green' and 'Let Mr. Maguire Sit Down'. The neighbours came up and my eyelids went down, the day and my most satisfying meeting with a pop group to date over.

Then I was a carping, cynical disbeliever, ready to make news with a showdown. Now I'm a fan, an unreserved reporter, and I hope they get a hit single. I don't know what else I can tell you, apart from you're safe to put your faith in the PIL. But then again, I'm biased.

They left about half past twelve.

[1] 'ZigZag' magazine 10th anniversary night at The Venue, London (31.5.1979), The Psychedelic Furs
supported by SPG, Merger and Doll By Doll
{2] 'Sid Vicious Defence Fund Night' at Music Machine, London (19.12.1978), The Clash supported by The Slits, The Innocents and Phil Rambow
[3] Bank Of Dresden played their farewell gig at The Moonlight Club, London (13.4.1979)
[4] most probably "We Were The Champions" (BBC 2), transmitted on 1.6.1979
[5] England v. Scotland (4.6.1977)
[6] on 16.5.1979 Caroline Coon was fired being The Clash's manager while trying to organize a US tour for the end of June 1979. The tour didn't happen.
[7] Kleenex, supported by The Raincoats and Spizzenergi, played the Albany Empire on 5.6.1979


Picture Credits: (Top to Bottom)
NME, 16th June 1979 © unknown
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