When Jesus danced with the Sex Pistols
If you are of a London gig-goer of a certain (getting on to be advanced) age you will remember “Jesus”, an enthusiastic audience member at many musical events in the capital from the 60s to the late 70s.
Jesus was notable because a) he was personable and b) would often discard his clothes as he energetically idiot-danced stage-front. Jesus liked to frolic with abandon, more often than not exposing much, or even all of his rail-thin body.
Some remember him from The Marquee and UFO in the 60s. According to DJ Jeff Dexter, Jesus’s real name is Clive Jellett. He won his nickname at one of the Hyde Park free concerts of that period; it could have been the Stones In The Park. In Tony Palmer’s film, there’s Jesus freaking out in the crowd footage as Mick Jagger flounces in his Mr Fish man-dress. And apparently he and Magic Michael performed naked on the pyramid stage at the 1971 Glastonbury Fayre.
Jesus sported a distinctive bowl cut with a mullet-style back bit, easily spottable as he threw shapes at the Camden Roundhouse on Sundays (£1.50, five bands, 3pm-11pm, brownies, quiche and mint tea).
In my personal experience, Jesus frugged along to Ian Dury & The Kilburns at The Hope & Anchor (“This one’s called Pam’s Moods. It’s for all the girls who hang around the toilets…”), jived with the elderly rioting Teds at Chuck Berry at The Rainbow and, no doubt because of his dedication towards gig-going, appeared among the tiny crowds at some of the earliest punk gigs.
It was rumoured that Jesus curtailed his incessant concert attendance after being bashed up by new wave no-marks, but not before I encountered him at the Ramones/Flamin’ Groovies and Patti Smith/Stranglers shows at the Roundhouse in 1976.
In terms of sheer cred Jesus beats all-comers by gracing one of the Sex Pistols gigs at the Nashville in the April of that year in a t-shirt onto which he had scrawled a punk-style slogan. Zelig-like, there’s a photo of him dancing enthusiastically with Johnny Rotten and Chrissie Hynde in the late Nils Stevenson’s book Vacant.
Such was Jesus’ ubiquity that the NME carried a full-page interview with him in 1975. He announced he was sick of overblown stadium rock and that his favourite record was Bachman Turner Overdrive’s You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.
And great to hear he’s still going: Jesus is featured on Brian Nevill’s excellent Facebook Ladbroke Grove group page, where a post has a pic of him looking fab in a purple one piece at a recent Gong gig.
Visit the Ladbroke Grove FB page here.