London, early 1976. Oxford Street is a sea of long hair and flared jeans; prog rock prevails. But Ron Watts, the 100 Club’s “rock night” manager, has witnessed the impromptu and chaotic gigs at High Wycombe College of Art. He invites the Sex Pistols to start a residency in central London, and over the next eighteen months, everything changes.
Unlike many writers, Phil Strongman was actually at the 100 Club punk festival in September 1976 and witnessed punk’s violent and dramatic rise. After tracing its underground roots in New York and Detroit, Strongman shows how the Sex Pistols and the Clash, along with their confreres, took rock ’n’ roll closer to the edge than any band before them. But after the outrage over the Pistols’ legendary outburst on Bill Grundy’s TV show catapulted the band into the center of a press feeding frenzy, it was swiftly eclipsed by the blossoming of a new movement in time for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Punk had traveled from the underground to the mainstream in the space of six months.
Based on new interviews with Malcolm McLaren, Jah Wobble, Glen Matlock, Roadent, and many more, Strongman vividly re-creates the punk eruption and charts its spread across Britain and to the West Coast of the United States. Thirty years after its inception, UK punk has found its definitive account in Pretty Vacant.