Forty years since the Sex Pistols performed at St Albans college

Sex Pistols - Glen Matlock and Johnny Rotten, St Albans. Feb 1976  Photo by Ray Stevenson/REX/Shutterstock (581295gx)

Sex Pistols - Glen Matlock and Johnny Rotten, St Albans. Feb 1976 Photo by Ray Stevenson/REX/Shutterstock (581295gx)

Copyright (c) 1976 Rex Features. No use without permission.

Forty years since the punk genre stormed onto the music scene also marks four decades since the Sex Pistols performed at a college in St Albans.

Sex Pistols - Johnny Rotten, St Albans. Feb 1976, Photo by Ray Stevenson/REX/Shutterstock (581295et)Sex Pistols - Johnny Rotten, St Albans. Feb 1976, Photo by Ray Stevenson/REX/Shutterstock (581295et)

The band, then made up of front man John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, Glen Matlock, Steve Jones, and Paul Cook, performed two gigs at the former Hertfordshire College of Art in Hatfield Road, St Albans.

The college, now Alban City School, hosted the newly formed band on two Saturday nights - February 19 and March 25 1976.

The Pistols, who have been credited with initiating the punk movement, had performed just 10 gigs and only attracted a crowd of about 50 people.

The group performed at numerous colleges in the early stages of their career. Bassist Glen Matlock, who was a student at Central St Martins at the time, told the Herts Advertiser: “They were the only places that would have us.”

Photo by Ray Stevenson/REX/Shutterstock (581295eo) Sex Pistols - Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones St Albans. Feb1976Photo by Ray Stevenson/REX/Shutterstock (581295eo) Sex Pistols - Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones St Albans. Feb1976

The band soon made a name for themselves. Glen, who was replaced by Sid Vicious in early 1977, continued: “We were a bit different and the kids that were looking for something different tended to gravitate towards us.”

The early gigs proved an important learning curve for the band. Glen said: “We saw what went down well with the audience, it was a way of trying out what worked. They were a good opportunity for us to practice in public.”

When speaking about his memories of the St Albans gig, Glen said: “I don’t remember it very well, it was 40 years ago but I do have some sort of warm feeling about it. Those early shows were very important for the band. Thanks for having us St Albans.”

Andy Neill, a St Albans based music journalist and writer, said of the gigs: “It’s amazing in retrospect that The Sex Pistols played not once but twice at St Albans Art College 40 years ago.

“They were still practically unheard of outside a select London clique yet within a short year, they would be Public Enemy No. 1 in Britain thanks to them swearing on a teatime news show and being dropped from their record label EMI as a result.”

Have you any memorabilia or photos featuring major music artists playing in St Albans? We’d love to include it in a future feature. Contact 
Sophie Crockett at sophie.crockett@hertsad.co.uk with details.

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