BLOG RHYS MWYN – People’s Collection Wales, Sex Pistols @ Caerffili Dec 1976

Following on from the recently aired Julian Temple Sex Pistols at Christmas film, which aired on BBC4 26th December 2013, a piece has appeared on the wonderful Link2Wales website which looks back at another equally infamous Pistols gig; Sex Pistols @ Caerffili Dec 1976 – the gig provided some wonderful footage of protestors outside the venue singing hymns and an equally infamous speech from the local Councillor.

Within this following piece Coun Davies reflects on his actions that night…hats off to Mr Davies for having the guts to publically apologies “I very much regret trying to stop young people from enjoying their music, and I apologise profusely for my actions. No one has the right to stop young people “putting on the agony, putting on the style”, as the song goes.

BLOG RHYS MWYN – People’s Collection Wales, Sex Pistols @ Caerffili Dec 1976
Written by Rhys Mwyn

Picturess at Caerphilly gig taken by Dave Smitham – Check out his Collection
First published 28th Dec 2013 at Link2Wales

I have just written a piece for my Herald Gymraeg column (January 1st) on the fact the ‘People’s Collection’ website have just published a piece on Councillor Ray Davies, the man who tried to ban the Sex Pistols from playing the Castle Cinema in Caerffili during the Anarchy Tour December 1976.

The difficulty with the Herald column is that the readership want history / archaeology – not Pop Culture and in a way I have to respect that. I was lecturing in Ysgol Goronwy Owen, Benllech, just before Christmas to over 60 people, who were all over 60, and although I was introduced as an “ex-Punk” and member of Anhrefn, you could tell from the introduction that the majority of them were aware of the Herald column.

Usually the audiences at lectures just laugh about the punk stuff – they are unlikely to have ever attended an Anhrefn gig, and it’s rare that the Chair for the evening does not slip in something about Anhrefn during their introduction – they have done their research! I am usually there to talk about archaeology, occasionally I do lectures about writing, but I am never asked to lecture about ‘Punk Rock in a Welsh Context’ or ‘The effects of Thatcher on Welsh Music’, or whatever….

My point in the Herald was that we need to look at the Caerffili concert in terms of Social History. There is no doubt that for many Welsh people watching ‘The Great Rock’n Roll Swindle’ that the Caerffili footage is amongst the most interesting thing in that film. The fact there were more people outside the gig protesting and singing carols than there were inside watching the Pistols. Only in Wales. But fascinating in terms of Social History – that’s the point.

There were some kids in the audience who had already tuned in to Punk, some were dressed up for the part, but the real interest for this piece is the social context, the Methodism and the conservatism of the socialist working classes at the tail end of 1976, the Valley’s culture, the state of the Country in those gloomy, dark depressing times of 3 day weeks, strikes and that’s before Thatcher had even started !

Councillor Ray Davies has since changed his mind on his stance – this is what is up on the People’s Collection, this is the stuff of history, this is fascinating and almost tinged with sadness as Davies regrets his actions of December 1976. Read it HERE

In fact, Davies et all, do the Pistols a massive favour. They give the Pistols the ‘outlaw’ image McLaren craved for so desperately. They give Rotten and Jones the opportunity for great quotes “we’re inside and warm, they’re outside and cold” and they gave Julian Temple brilliant footage. The Caerffili gig would have been soooo “boring” (Punk word) if it had gone ahead without incident.

My point is that the People’s Collection is a great resource, a very democratic source – where Welsh history is dealt with without the selective editing that so sadly and badly affects the Welsh Media. We really do need to claim and re-claim bits of our history and it’s quite funny that Caerffili Heritage have seen the value of promoting the fact that the Pistols visited their town. Not many towns in Wales can make that claim.


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