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by Michele Corgnoli
The history of music is full of people like Pete Best, thrown out of The Beatles in exchange for Ringo Starr, just before they took off for stardom; and somewhat less famous the story of Ian Stewart, amongst the founders of the Rolling Stones but dismissed by director Andrew Loog Oldham because he didn’t fit the band’s image, or putting it other words… too ugly.
In the collective imagination of teenagers and middle-aged former teens alike, the icon of the Sex Pistols is, of course, the beautiful and damned Sid Vicious. His photo still graces posters and t-shirts, and many are the legends surrounding around him and his death. There is no doubt , however , that if Vicious has a place in the history of costume , it’s Glen Matlock who must pass as the bassist of the legendary punk band (and not only).
Matlock met a good crowd on September 20th at the Palazzo delle Laudi in Sansepolcro, for the first part of ‘Third Time’; a cycle of meetings with personalities with their stories to tell , which was kicked off by the English bassist. He talked about his departure from the group right about the time when he was about to reach the pinnacle of fame in media terms, largely due to a lack of empathy with Jonny Rotten and exacerbated by the preference of the ‘grey emminence’ , Malcolm Mc Laren.
From a strictly musical point of view, however, he was essential to the groups’success, telling the ‘Third Time’ audience, (and thereby confirming numerous biographies and musical histories), that he co-wrote a good part of the Pistol’s repertoire, including the now classic ‘Anarchy in the UK’, ‘God Save The Queen’ and ‘Pretty Vacant’.
Glen Matlock is a rocker who defies easy categorisation. “I left the Sex Pistols before punk became stereotyped and clichéd out of all recognition”. In ‘Rich Kids’, along with Midge Ure, he winked at the new wave. Then he collaborated with Iggy Pop, Johnny Thunders and many others, including his replacement Sid Vicious, of whom he says, “People thought we were bitter enemies, which just wasn’t true, so we came up with the idea of organising a concert together to prove that we were on good terms.”
As regards his relationship with Johnny Rotten, maybe worth more than a thousand words was Glen’s face when, after the gig, one of the many fans who’d brought records to be signed inadvertently offered him one by PIL, (one of Rotten’s bands), and he responded with a smile worthy of the Mona Lisa and gave a very British refusal. Punk will never die.
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