Steve Jones with Michael Azerrad At The Strand Bookstore, Tuesday, January 17, 2017, Reviewed
I was told that once I moved to New York, I’d see the same people at the endless punk rock-themed events. Last night was that vibe too, but believe me, I was none of the cool kids in the late ’70s. The closest I can claim is that I was in England in 1977, free-falling through school, with the Jubilee Year raging all around me while the furor over the Sex Pistols was at fever pitch.
It’s good to see Jonesy alive.
From thief to junkie to alcoholic, Steve Jones is a survivor and the 12-step program saved his life. From my view, it is a tool and we save our own lives. As junkies well know, your life is simplified to a “daily mission,” as Steve put it, and so as a thief throughout his entire young life, he was well set up for the instant gratification of life as a heroin addict. He talked about the relief that alcohol brought. Alcohol got him to that same place without the daily gauntlet of copping so his alcoholism eventually took on monstrous proportions. Steve struggled with ADHD and as a fellow traveler in that realm, I understand why he talks about it now. The “H” may be mellowed somewhat but the ADD has not. “If it wasn’t for speed, there’d be no Sex Pistols.” Speed (Ritalin) is now the common drug to control ADHD. Glen Matlock showed him “fancy chords” and Steve’s “lack of ability and speed” make for his own unique sound.
Michael Azerrad led Jonesy down the road of Sex Pistols lore: John wearing his “I hate Pink Floyd” T-shirt at Malcolm McClaren’s shop when auditioning for the Sex Pistols, the Bill Grundy story, etc. At that point Jonesy interjected, “Everyone knows these stories.” But Steve admits that the Bill Grundy incident changed everything. A couple of swear words on that British talk show defined his time in the Sex Pistols as “before Grundy and after.”
It is good to know that Steve now looks fondly upon his bandmates. His friendship with Paul Cook (“Cookie”) goes back to when they were 10 years old and they still talk all the time.
He has no beef with Glen Matlock or the memory of Sid. When Azerrad asked him what he thought when John Lydon wrote in his own autobiography that “Steve was baffled by me,” Steve laughed. “Baffled? I was annoyed.”
“John was great. Had a great look, a great face. He was way more intelligent than I was.”
Steve Jones wonders at times why they hadn’t been U2 or the Stones, cranking it out decades later but he accepts with grace that Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols changed everything.
And you know what? One album was just right.