David J Hughes recalls his time as a bouncer for a new band on the scene called the Sex Pistols
In 1976, I was a student at the Leeds School of Architecture. To anchor that year architecturally, think Lasdun’s National Theatre or perhaps – for the influence it had on my future – Hertzberger’s Framework for Care.
That winter, I took lucrative employment as a ticket collector at the student union of the nearby polytechnic at £2 a shift. On 1 December, oblivious to the future potential of this position, I watched Bill Grundy’s infamous TV interview with the recently formed Sex Pistols, which reverberated around the country and announced the official arrival of punk.
Along with The Clash, The Damned and Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers (a New York Dolls splinter group), the Sex Pistols were headlining the upcoming and ill-fated Anarchy UK tour.
Monday 6 December was scheduled for our union. I rolled up in the early evening only to find myself in a security briefing surrounded by bouncers twice my size. Looking around for someone to explain my misplacement, it soon became clear that I had a new job description for the night – and an extra pound note for my trouble.
A refectory table, turned on its side with the legs against the stage, was our barrier
For the Pistols, I stood between the stage and the audience. A refectory table, turned on its side with the legs against the stage, was our barrier – great protection from the endless shower of spittle coming from all sides!
Very few of the 500 who attended that night were punks. I remember Marc Almond (he of Tainted Love) was there along with, unprecedentedly, more than 90 journalists. There was one payphone in a hood outside the hall, and my lasting impression was the long orderly queue of reporters lining up afterwards to file their reports, among them a trilby-wearing hack from a Huddersfield paper, angrily posting his article before handing the phone to a rather sophisticated woman representing the New York Times.
The following week was a Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson gig. No need for my new-found doorman skills – then or ever again.
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