Punk's progenitors were kicking off their first tour since the group's implosion at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom in January , when Rotten crouched down onstage at show's end and whispered into the microphone, "Ever feel like you've been cheated? Please buy our merchandise. Green Day, it should be noted, is just one of the many young bands that have benefited from the punk revival, though less literally than Rancid, punk's Sha Na Na with Lars Frederiksen in the Bowser role.
And that, it turns out, is the prime motivation for the aptly named "Filthy Lucre Tour" recording reviewed on this page that brings the Sex Pistols to the Patriot Center on Tuesday, just as it will bring the Monkees to town later this month, and Kiss in October. As the tour title suggests, there's no hidden agenda, no irony: The Sex Pistols are not here to revive the spirit of '77 but simply to catch up on some paydays.
To ensure financial payback, the Sex Pistols have -- like Kiss-in-makeup -- reunited their original lineup: Rotten born Lydon, then Rotten ''78, then Lydon ''96, then Rotten '? They may not be younger than springtime, but they are younger than the Rolling Stones. The late, unlamented Sid Vicious replaced Matlock in after the original bassist was booted according to legend, for liking the Beatles; according to Matlock, for despising Rotten's clumsy rhyming of "anarchist" and "Antichrist".
Since Vicious never wrote a Pistols song or played bass particularly well, it's safe to assume that the Sex Pistols would not have bothered even to tell him about this 20th-anniversary tour.
As Rotten put it at the London news conference announcing the reunion, "Sid was a coat hanger taking up space onstage. Apprised of the reunion, Vicious's mother said he was probably spinning in his grave. That Sid had been cremated was apparently something she had forgotten, which is surprising since she spilled him at Heathrow Airport while bringing him home.
Since the Sex Pistols once screamed "No future! In fact, one of the Pistols' immediate progeny, Siouxsie and the Banshees, recently announced it was breaking up to protest the current mood of nostalgia surrounding punk. Siouxsie Sioux Susan Dallion had been in the audience during the Pistols' earliest shows in and might well have changed music history had she held on to the drummer who backed her at her very first gig -- a pre-Pistols Sid Vicious, who was apparently an even worse drummer than bassist.
Siouxsie has a point: Punk is suddenly chic. It did not destroy the music business -- it simply gave it one more trend to recycle at the appropriate time see also lounge, glitter, disco. One of the most striking commercials glutting television during the Olympics has been Nike's extreme-sports celebration, which uses "Search and Destroy," a searing slice of proto-punk aggression by an unidentified Iggy Pop.
The book is built out of interviews with participants and observers, including Richard Hell and Patti Smith. In a dust-jacket blurb, Norman Mailer calls it "a raunchy gossip-fest.
Patti Smith, the godmother of punk, has come out of retirement with a new album, "Gone Again. Her debut, "Horses," featured a cover portrait by her renegade pal Robert Mapplethorpe. Now Johnny Rotten, Mr. Antichrist, has made a new, punked-up version of "Route 66" for a recent Mountain Dew commercial. That's right, Mountain Dew. The official soda pop of anarchists? Punk reeked of danger in its prime, all safety pins and razors.
But in retrospect, it was as much the shock of the new as the shock of the extreme. Twenty years earlier, rock-and-roll provoked the same reaction and 10 years later, so would gangsta rap. With their foul mouths, outrageous attitude and Rotten penchant for pithy quotes, the Sex Pistols were perfectly calibrated for their time.
The initial media fuss came after they cussed at the host's urging during a live midday TV talk show in London. Maybe Sid Vicious did the right thing by burning out. By the time the Pistols embarked on their first, last and only American tour in , it was his image, attitude and behavior that seemed to dominate all coverage.
People came less to hear the Sex Pistols' musical deconstruction than to see Vicious's physical self-destruction, which peaked with the by-then-ex-Pistol's suicide by heroin in February of , shortly after being released on bail for murdering his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. The Sex Pistols are now in Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, albeit unofficially some of Rotten's scribbled lyrics are on display in the museum's punk exhibit, "Blank Generation".
Though the hall of fame has had some strange omissions, the Pistols should be indicted, er, inducted in Groups become eligible 25 years after their first commercial release -- even if it turns out to be as crassly uncommercial as.