Bill Grundy’s cock-up didn’t just turn punk from a tiny fad into an international force overnight — he accidentally offered viewers a glimpse into England’s sleazy, sex-mad broadcasting culture, decades before Operation Yewtree…
What marked the segment as a cultural turning point was the resulting upside-down fallout:
The Sex Pistols’ only real album is now considered one of the best of all time. In 2006 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — against their wishes.
It was veteran broadcaster Grundy whose career was ruined overnight, for goading guitarist Steve Jones into cursing on live TV before the “watershed.”
Today, viewers would be far more incensed by that (unremarked upon) Nazi armband worn by one of the Bromley Contingent in the back row.
(That symbol was the juvenile “satanic pentagram” of punk, not a badge of ideology. The sizable number of Jewish punk “elders” — from Malcolm McLaren and The Clash’s Mick Jones to Lou Reed and the ill-fated Nancy Spungeon — has been well-documented in The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s.)
But most of all, viewers today would be calling for Grundy’s dismissal for doing something — and this is, at long last, the point — that no one, not even the “shocked and appalled” British “red tabs” — considered particularly creepy at the time:
Flirting with a teenaged girl…
This video is awfully impressive for something that was produced in only a few days, in response to Margaret Thatcher’s death. Seriously, if The Clash pastiche “Hey Policeman!” had actual lyrics, you could probably pawn it off as a discarded track from the Keith Levene era. (One of Paul’s?)
Alas, the video only watchable if you’re in the United States, or if, like me, you use the ProxTube plugin.
It was hard for me to decide which real “history of punk” type clips to include in the article. Here’s one that didn’t make it. (Obvious content — and slightly overripe narration — warning.)
PS: Strange new respect for… Dr. Feelgood?