It’s hard to imagine now, but back in 1978, punk rockers the Sex Pistols were public enemies in both the States and their native United Kingdom.
In a sense, the public’s revulsion made sense, since the quartet — frontman Johnny Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones, bassist Sid Vicious and drummer Paul Cook — specialized in antagonism. Their songs were both musically and lyrically aggressive (see the riot-fomenting ‘Anarchy In the U.K.’ and blasphemous-toward-royalty ‘God Save the Queen’), and so were the band’s antics, whether it was dropping profanities on live television or heckling fans from the stage.
On January 14, 1978, in San Francisco, in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,000 people, the band played. The show eventually ended with a cover of the Stooges’ ‘No Fun,’ which featured Rotten darkly muttering the chorus like a cranky grandfather for most of the song.
But six-and-a-half minutes in, Rotten, sitting down and staring blankly at the audience as the music staggered to a stop around him, laughed brattily and said, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? Good night.” With a sneer and a mic drop, he left the stage, closing the chapter of the original band.