#18: It Really Is A Myth
Fancy debunking a couple of myths?
Ok, let’s get started with an easy one.
The good people at the BBC are currently proclaiming the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who, the most overhyped piece of low budget camp bollocks in the history of television. Except of course it isn’t anywhere near that landmark.
Dr. Who hasn’t been on TV for 50 years. It started in 1963, before man had landed on the moon or Star Trek had paved the way for television Sci-Fi. It managed to hoodwink enough idiots into believing that an arch nemesis that couldn’t negotiate a flight of fucking stairs was scary or suspenseful for a surprisingly long time. Despite the emergence of Star Wars showing what genuinely imaginative Sci-Fi could look like it managed to limp along until 1989, when enough people woke up to the fact it was crap and it was cancelled.
And there it would have stayed, until Russell Davies made some really good telly and was rewarded with the chance to essentially do what he liked and get it on air. After a hiatus of 16 years it burst back onto our screens in 2005, somehow managing to convince enough berks that every threat of world domination begins with aliens landing in Cardiff (when everyone knows all that gets invaded is gullible stunners’ drawers in Chippy Lane, right kids?).
So, the myth is 50 years; the fact is 26+13=39 years. This is 39 years too many. The fucking mechanical dog should have told you that. Come on people.
On 4 June 1976, the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester was the venue for a concert. Now ordinarily this wouldn’t be much of a story. The lesser hall hosted a myriad of bands down the years, some good, some not, until it closed. (It’s a Radisson hotel now culture vultures). The differences with this one were twofold.
Firstly, and possibly more importantly, it was a show by the Sex Pistols at the start of the punk rock movement, and turned out to be witnessed by an audience that would change the musical landscape of Britain for good. According to the legions of lying Manc chancers with stories about it it also appears to have defied the laws of physics.
It is reckoned you could get maybe 150 people into this venue. Many of the thousands who have claimed to have been there are lying though, because most actually researched and respected accounts of the night settle on an attendance of between 35 and 40.
So who was actually there that night, and what makes it so special?
Well one of the confirmed attendees was Morrissey, who went on to form The Smiths, turn into a recruiting sergeant for UKIP and wind up the mugs at the NME and lots of pompous broadsheet music journalists wonderfully. Two founder members of The Buzzcocks organised the gig. Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner, two lads from Lower Broughton, saw the show and went out the next day and bought guitars at Mazel Radio, and formed Joy Division; Mark E Smith was there who went on to form The Fall; Paul Morley was in attendance as well, who went on to become a writer and wrote about the scene for the NME and was a driving force behind ZTT records and the early career of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Plus apparently Mick Hucknall from Simply Red was there, and was presumably inspired to form his punk band The Frantic Elevators, so there you go.
So if this place was so small, and the concert so poorly attended, how come so many people have been able to claim that they were there and not get called out on it?
Well part of the answer lies in the film 24 Hour Party People, which features a recreation of the concert. Unfortunately it shows a much bigger crowd than could ever have been there. The scene works in terms of a dramatization, but falls down in terms of reality because of the amount of extras needed to make it look like what audiences expect a concert (even a poorly attended one)looks like. Of course, once that scenario emerged everyone could point at the screen and claim “I was there” and no one could contradict them. Scour the internet and accounts abound from all corners of the world, and almost all of them are cobblers.
The reason the scene is also a problem is because it implies that that was the night that Tony Wilson began hatching plans to build his empire. In fact there was ANOTHER Pistols gig six weeks later at the same venue. This one was actually sold out, and is in fact the one being recreated in the film. This was the night where the Hacienda came from, where Factory Records came from; white people getting ripped to the tits suddenly had a soundtrack to dance to, and yadda yadda yadda some great music and a load of bleepy rubbish as well.
Because of the fact that British popular music went through a paradigm shift which can be directly linked back to that night it became a very attractive tale for posers and tragic wannabes to try and insert themselves into, but the fact is only about 35 people are actually telling the truth. (Maybe the rest were in the Tardis, being scared by a beer barrel on wheels with a sink plunger stuck on the fucking side?)
Next time; more crap.