Rhino Factoids: S.P.O.T.S. (Sex Pistols On Tour Secretly)
37 years ago today, the Sex Pistols embarked on a brief set of dates around the UK, but because of the amount of infamy they’d already accumulated during the course of their career, the band decided it’d be in their best interest to be booked at venues under fake names, resulting in what has come to be known as the S.P.O.T.S. tour, an acronym which stands for Sex Pistols On Tour Secretly.
In an interview included within Sex Pistols: The Inside Story, by Fred & Judy Vermorel, Paul Cook was asked to explain the thinking behind doing the secret gigs.
“Well, we decided to do these gigs, like, just for one, ‘cause we want to play anyway, and we hadn’t played in England for such a long time,” said Cook. “And we couldn’t publicize them, ‘cause if we did, some councilor might just come and say, ‘Right, you’re not playing here,’ we they have done and they can do, for any stupid reason. So we decided to go to each individual promoter ourselves, who owned their private clubs and who could put us on without having to ask someone else, and told them to keep it secret. But we knew enough word would get out that people would know we were playing – which they did. So it weren’t totally unfair on the fans anyway, ‘cause most of them who wanted to see us come to see us. And all the places were packed out, so enough word got ‘round for people to know we were playing.”
There was a minor freak-out when the plans for the secret gigs somehow made their way onto the front page of Melody Maker, but it turned out to be a tempest in a teacup, thankfully, as the magazine hadn’t actually managed to get any of the dates or venues right. The Sex Pistols ultimately did six dates on the so-called S.P.O.T.S. tour, being billed differently in each of the half-dozen locations: Lafayette Club, Wolverhampton (S.P.O.T.S.); Outlook Club, Doncaster (Tax Exiles); Penthouse, Scarborough (Special Guest); Rock Garden, Middlesborough (Acne Rabble); Woods Centre, Plymouth (The Hamsters), and Winter Gardens, Penzance (A Mystery Band of International Repute). If nothing else, the brief jaunt helped get Sid Vicious out and about as the band’s bassist, even if his limited playing ability proved evident.
Over at Vintagerock’s Weblog, you can at least get a feel for what the Scarborough show was like. Here’s an excerpt:
“The atmosphere was electric and the Pistols were incredible. Sid was new to the band, and was just learning to play bass, but he looked great; just the part. John was amazing, sneering and snarling, hanging off his mike stand and at times covered in spit from the crowd. Steve Jones was the ultimate rock guitar hero, all swagger in his leather jeans, and Paul Cook was smashing away at his drums. And they were loud, and fast. We braved it in the scrum down the front for some of the set, but I eventually bottled it and took up a vantage point at the back, standing on a chair. Too much spitting and pogoing down the front for my liking.”
Amazingly, at this point the band’s lone full-length studio offering, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, had yet to be released, but if you go over to read the rest of the write-up on the performance, it sounds like they played virtually all of it…and if you’re anything like us, then you’re suddenly finding yourself with a hankering to go listen to that album yourself, so allow us to provide you with the opportunity to do so.