The Sex Pistols’ last show ever, the Winterland Ballroom.
Susanna Hoffs: January 14, 1978—I was a college student at the University of California, at Berkeley, and three days shy of turning 19. My brother John and I stood in line in the pouring rain for five hours to get in. Once inside, we focused on surviving the mad crush of people. The Winterland Ballroom was iconic. The Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead had played there. Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz, featuring The Band, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, was filmed there. As a lover of 1960s and ’70s folk, pop and rock music, I was keenly aware of the storied history of that space.
And then here were the Sex Pistols. Their sound was raw and driving, yet there was a beautiful shimmer to all of that distortion, their own version of the Wall of Sound. I had no idea that night, that I would be seeing the last ever Sex Pistols show, but I was acutely aware I was witnessing an important cultural moment.
The next time I went to Winterland, it was to see Patti Smith. Both concerts inspired and fueled me. I walked away thinking, if you want to do something creative desperately enough, don’t wait for someone to give you permission to do it. Give yourself permission. And I suppose I did.
Susanna Hoffs Didn’t Feel Cheated by the Pistols: Susanna Hoffs’ Bright Lights album is out now.
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