Paul Gorman is…

Sex Pistols: The very first media mention

//From a review of the Queen Elizabeth College All Night Christmas Ball by Kate Phillips, New Musical Express, December 27, 1975.//

This is something of an exclusive.

Not published in the 36 years since appearing in the issue of the New Musical Express dated December 27, 1975, this is the very first media mention of the Sex Pistols (just seven weeks after their live debut).

These sentences were written by NME staffer Kate Phillips in her review of the All Night Christmas Ball on November 27 1975 at Queen Elizabeth College (then in Campden Hill, Kensington, west London).

The Ball had occasioned the fifth appearance by the Pistols, somewhere down a bill dominated by such mid-70s London live stalwarts as Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Mike Absolom and Slack Alice.

I recall exactly when + where I first read this, on Christmas Eve afternoon with friends on the top deck of a 31 bus traveling through Westbourne Grove. The previous Friday we had been at a dance at Chelsea College Of Art (then in Manresa Street off the King’s Road), where talk had focused on the Pistols’ gig there the week before.

This first slice of media coverage has not featured in any of the many histories of punk and the Pistols. Received opinion has it that the band didn’t make it to print until the February 1976 review by Neil Spencer, so I made sure there was at least one reference to Phillips’ prescient words in my music press history In Their Own Write.

Phillips was accompanied to the Queen Elizabeth College event by her partner and NME assistant editor, the late Tony Tyler (who was also with Spencer at the February 76 gig at The Marquee).

In the “On The Town” section on page 27, it was tucked beneath the lead review by Chris Salewicz of a Birmingham gig by the briefly popular hard-rock outfit Mr Big (headlined: “A yob in a support band is something to be.”).

Phillips started her column-and-a-bit thus:

“I was there for six hours and I can hardly remember a thing. It must have been a great party. Looking back it was meeting the Sex Pistols that started my downfall…”

She also wrote:

“I was soon in no condition to meet the rugger student who reeled over to our little island of determined hipness.

‘Why is your hair so short?’ he burbled. ‘I mean are you in a gwoop or something?’

I warmed to the man. He had taken me for a Sex Pistol!

A jig band came on. The students broke into the Gay Gordons.

‘What a monstrosity,’ muttered a Sex Pistol gloomily.”

Criticised that day on the bus by my then-girlfriend for my absorption in the music paper, I packed the issue away but kept hold of it, understanding even then that halfway down page 27 of that week’s NME, Phillips and Tyler had stumbled across the future.

RIP Tony Tyler, a thoroughly decent fellow.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Author: / Published: Apr 13th, 2011 / Category: 430 King's Road, Chelsea, In Their Own Write / Comments: 7

7 Responses to “Sex Pistols: The very first media mention”

  1. Steve E,
    on Apr 13th, 2011
    @ 6:56 pm

    Nice one Paul.

    You can just imagine the loathing that swelled inside Johnny having to witness such jolly japes..

    For any Pistols afficianados out there, keep your eyes on eBay.

    A large archive is slowly being put up for auction:

  2. Paul Gorman
    on Apr 13th, 2011
    @ 7:17 pm

    Always thought the “monstrosity” quote could have come from no other.

    So what have you got (maybe this is for offline)? If you like could do an interview/send some images and I’ll run a piece with backstory…

  3. Steve E,
    on Apr 13th, 2011
    @ 7:30 pm

    Wish it was mine!

    In fact, it’s some chap called Jon **** . Phil Singleton is showcasing each item over at before they’re sold.

    I’ve got a list of what’s on offer if you’re interested.

  4. Paul Gorman
    on Apr 13th, 2011
    @ 7:36 pm

    Oh I see. Send us a link.

  5. Jamie H
    on May 3rd, 2011
    @ 8:01 pm

    Anyone know any details of a Malcolm McLaren feature/interview in the magazine Street Life from (I think 1975)?

    I’m guessing it focussed on SEX rather than the Sex Pistols.

  6. Paul Gorman
    on May 4th, 2011
    @ 9:24 am

    Hello Jamie
    You’re right; that piece – by Rick Sky – was about SEX and didn’t include a mention of the Pistols.

  7. ‘Don’t look over your shoulder, but the Sex Pistols are coming’: 40th anniversary of their first review « Paul Gorman is…
    on Feb 12th, 2016
    @ 11:09 am

    […] When I interviewed Spencer for my music press history In Their Own Write in 2001, he told me that he had been alerted to the Pistols’ existence by the NME’s Tony Tyler, who had encountered them at the tail end of the previous year at a dance at Queen Elizabeth College. In fact the late Tyler’s partner and fellow NME contributor Kate Phillips had given the group their first media mention, as I have previously noted here. […]

Leave a Reply