The Pistols burnt up in a blaze of scandal, sensation and tragedy. Rotten quit to form Public Image Ltd., the band carried on wretchedly without him, with Sid Vicious eventually landing up and shooting up in New York with Nancy Spungen, for whose murder he was eventually charged.
Gone: Without Rotten, The Pistols recorded ‘ The Biggest Blow’ a “Punk Prayer”, featuring the vocal talents of Great Train Robber Ronald Biggs. This crappy, lamentable exercise in puerile sleaze confirmed that when Rotten left the Pistols he took the band’s brains with him.
Album of the year: This Year’s Model – Elvis Costello
Single of the year: Hong Kong Garden – Siouxsie & The Banshees
Band/artist of the year: Elvis Costello
1978 belonged to: The Bee Gees – ‘Night Fever’ uber alles
Key event of the year: Johnny Rotten announcing the split-up of the Pistols onstage in San Francisco with the words ‘Ever had the feeling you’ve been cheated?” Punk now took an a tamer, though more articulate form. Elvis Costello, The Adverts, The Jam et al were all welcomed into the charts, while the ripped swastika T-shirts of ’76 were displaced by a far more politicised sensibility. Groups like The Clash were regulars at Rock Against Racism events, in cahoots with the Anti-Nazi League, formed to counter the growing influence of the far right in Britain. Margaret Thatcher’s comments about Britain’s being “swamped by an alien culture” hadn’t helped, nor had David Bowie‘s idiotic flirtations with far-right politics, nor Eric Clapton‘s berkish support for anti-immigration Tory MP Enoch Powell. Sham 69 recorded ‘The Kids Are United’. As one of their fans put it, “If the hippies don’t like that they can fuck off.”
To many, punk seemed a flash in the pan like The Bay City Rollers. It was predicted that the late Seventies would be remembered as the disco era, with the massive success of Saturday Night Fever. John Travolta also scored hugely in the musical Grease. However, Rotten‘s new group, Public Image Ltd., Wire and Siouxsie & The Banshees, hinted at new, musical post-punk possibilities.