Archive for Sex Pistols

A Treasure Trove of Houston – and Texas – Rock History

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on November 20, 2012 by 30daysout

Rockin’ Houston is one of the best rock photography web sites ever.

You probably have a favorite place where you have seen many or most of your rock shows – a venue, or even a city. We were lucky to grow up in or near Houston – ever since the 1950s, the city has been a host for the greatest acts in rock history.

For example: when Paul McCartney played in Houston’s Minute Maid Park last week, he did not mention the times he’s played Houston before. It was his sixth visit to the Bayou City – the first was in 1965, at the Sam Houston Coliseum with that other band of his (not Wings). How many cities can say they once hosted the Beatles? So you see, rock fans in Houston consider themselves very privileged indeed.

Now along comes a new web site,, that celebrates Houston’s glorious rock history. Consisting of thousands of photographs taken by rock fans and professionals alike, the site brings to life the heyday of places like the Texas Opry House, Liberty Hall, the Houston Music Hall and other local rock meccas. There are shots from the Astrodome, the old Summit (now Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church), even some choice pics from other Texas cities (Sex Pistols at Randy’s Rodeo in San Antonio, 1978? Check.).

One of the many shots you’ll find on was created by Bruce Kessler, who shot photos at virtually every Houston rock concert since the early 1970s. He started as a fan who simply bought a ticket and took photos from his seat, but as he became more proficient he was able to gain closer access from local promoters. Soon Kessler was the official photographer for the Agora Ballroom and later, the house photographer for the Summit. He also went to work as a staff photog for Pace Concerts, which eventually got bought out by SFX then Clear Channel and so on.

Kessler hung up his cameras in 2005 but he eventually was asked to catalog and inventory the archives of fellow Houston photographers Larry Lent, Ray Fetterman and James Townsend, who between them shot many more concerts in the area. Like Kessler, Lent and Townsend started out as fans who eventually earned closer access – Fetterman was at one time a shooter for the now-defunct Houston Post.

All three have since died, and Kessler was asked to inventory Lent’s and Townsend’s files. He was authorized to keep a handful of photos as a token of friendship, and their work also appears on

In a segment titled “Why the Website” Kessler said “Recalling the excitement of sorting through the Townsend and Lent collections and all of the memories that their work brought back, Bruce realized that it would be a shame to let all of the accumulated images and memorabilia go to waste and that it was finally time to share them. Having never exhibited any of his work, this website serves as a massive photo exhibition recalling Houston’s concert history.”

We asked Kessler if he could estimate how many photos he took over the years.  “After months of editing it feels like millions,” he replied, “but I am sure it is just in the tens of thousands … perhaps 30-ish (thousand).” He supposes one could count how many photos he’s uploaded to the site so far, but he adds “I am not even at the halfway point!”

Check out when you have a few hours – you won’t want to leave!

30 Days Out Interview: Michael Des Barres

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2012 by 30daysout

Michael Des Barres is an authentic rocker. (Photo by Rob Ayling)

If you are truly known by the company you keep, then Michael Des Barres is most certainly the real deal.

He’s a rocker first and foremost, one who counts among his friends Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, as well as former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. Surrounding himself with players who share his authenticity and love for music that hits below the belt, Michael Des Barres and his band deliver a potent shot of rock and roll on the new album Carnaby Street.

Des Barres is perhaps best known as the touring singer for The Power Station, a 1980s supergroup with players from Duran Duran and Chic. Des Barres has also played with the 1970s band Detective (featuring ex-Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye) and British rockers Silverhead.

“For me, the best rock is below-the-waist music,” says Des Barres. “Plain and simple, rock and roll is a synonym for fucking. It’s not a synonym for meditation … it has to get your body moving and your fluids flowing.”

He says he reached deep into his soul for the songs on Carnaby Street. The album is a passionate, profound testament to the power of rock and roll, played in the classic style of British rockers Humble Pie, the Pretty Things and that band with Page-Plant.

The mission statement of Carnaby Street is its title track, where Des Barres remembers growing up as “Oscar Wilde in velvet jeans” and discovering rock and roll in a time when “the Union Jack was in the hands of the Who.”

Michael Des Barres playing live, with Paul Ill. (Photo by Heather Harris)

“I went to school with Mitch Mitchell, and he said ‘I’m playing in a band with this black bloke, come ‘round and see us at the Marquee Club,’” recalls Des Barres. “So it’s 1967, I walk into this club and see Jimi Hendrix. It really blew my mind!

“So today, that feeling has never left me. The same music still moves me, and gets me to moving.”

The songs came when Des Barres was experiencing what he calls “some metaphysical changes, without trying to sound too pompous.” On one of his frequent jaunts to Austin, Texas, Des Barres picked up an acoustic guitar and started to write lyrics and poetry that articulated his new outlook on life.

“I had come to the realization that my life has always been about rock and roll,” he says. “That’s always been my great love.”

So he hooked up with Beaumont’s Jesse Dayton, a mainstay of the Austin music scene and a potent rocker in his own right. Together they wrote the songs that populate Carnaby Street.

As a result, the album begins on the streets of swingin’ London but eventually finds its way to the heart of the Lone Star state. “Hot and Sticky” has a down-South sexiness that Des Barres says embodies the humid sensuality of Texas.

“I love Austin and I spend a lot of time there. I have some beautiful friends living there and when the album was in its formative stage I was fortunate to be around those authentic, great Texas musicians who helped inspire me,” Des Barres says.

In fact, we met Michael Des Barres in Austin once – strangely enough, at a Best Buy store. Former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones appeared during SXSW 2009 for an in-store promotion, and Des Barres tagged along with his old friend.

At SXSW 2009: Steve Jones (left), Pamela Des Barres and Michael Des Barres.

With Jonesy on guitar, the appearance spontaneously turned into a punk rock karaoke session. Des Barres took the mic to sing “Anarchy in the U.K.” and the place rocked out. Even Des Barres’ ex-wife Pamela, (in)famous as the greatest rock groupie ever, materialized to dance along.

“I remember that … it was small, intimate and completely improvised, which is how good rock and roll should be played,” says Des Barres.

So, Des Barres carried the rock and roll flame that was stoked in Texas back to his Los Angeles home base. He huddled with his friend Paul Ill, a virtuoso bassist, and assembled a powerful band of rock players to flesh out the songs.

“Five guys in one room, we played one song and that was it: a single, grand brush stroke,” recalls Des Barres. “We immediately realized what we had. We knew we are more into Little Richard than into Lil’ Wayne.”

The band of rock veterans includes Paul Ill (who’s also played with Courtney Love and Christina Aguilera), guitarist Eric Schermerhorn (The The, David Bowie’s Tin Machine, Iggy Pop), keyboardist Jebrin Bruni and drummer David Goodstein (Nil Iara, Jackson Browne, Edgar Winter).

“We get a huge charge in playing music that gets people off,” Des Barres explains. “When we played Coachella, I looked out over an audience of 50,000 people and it seemed like at least half were wearing Led Zeppelin shirts.”

Des Barres’ point is that there is no iconic substitute for the classic rock bands who people once idolized – the Beatles, the Stones, Zeppelin, the Doors. “Don’t get me wrong – I love the Alabama Shakes, and Jack White … they’re tremendous. But it’s all inevitably a pastiche of what’s happened before.”

Rock and roll is Michael Des Barres’ first love.

As he wins over 25-year-old listeners with his aimed-for-the-balls rock sound, Des Barres chuckles at the irony that these listeners believe they are hearing something new. “And it is new to them … hearing ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ by a band that can play it is a true novelty these days.”

So the next step for the Michael Des Barres Band is to get on the road and take the music to the people.

For Des Barres, that will mean putting aside a prolific acting career – over the past 25 years he’s appeared on such TV shows as “Seinfeld,” “Roseanne,” “Rockford Files,” “Northern Exposure” and many more. His best-known recurring character was the evil mastermind Murdoc on “MacGyver.” This fall he will be seen in a guest shot on the USA Network’s “Suits.”

He was so successful as an actor, in fact, that Des Barres got a little bored. “I was hitting my marks, I was pulling out my gun and getting shot – but not dead!” he laughs. “So I could come back in another episode!”

He loves acting, but he maintains his heart is firmly back into rock and roll, his first love. “If I get an acting gig that I like, I will still do it but if it interferes with playing with my band … sorry,” he says. “I’d much rather be in a small club in Kansas City, rather than in front of a camera in Hollywood.”

Michael Des Barres official web site

Carnaby Street web page (U.S. and U.K. sales of the new CD and DVD)

Purchase the album on iTunes

YouTube: “You’re My Pain Killer”

YouTube: “Stay With Me” (live at SXSW 2010)

Video of the Week: Sex Pistols History Lesson

Posted in Lost Classics!, Rock Moment with tags , on December 1, 2010 by 30daysout

On this day in 1976, the Sex Pistols appeared on ITV’s live early evening ‘Today’ show (in place of Queen, who had pulled out following a trip to the dentist by Freddie Mercury).  Taunted by interviewer Bill Grundy who asked the band to say something outrageous, guitarist Steve Jones says: “You dirty bastard … you dirty fucker … what a fucking rotter!”

Sampler Daze: A Last Look at the Loss Leaders

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2009 by 30daysout


When The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook appeared in early 1969, the liner notes said, by way of explanation, the sampler’s goal was “hopefully to win new friends for some very creative people.”  People like Jethro Tull, the Pentangle, Frank Zappa, Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman, even Tiny Tim.  Warner Bros. Records, founded in 1958, was just beginning to hoist its freak flag, and in just a few years the label’s roster would be the cream of the crop.

And so the ride began: with L.A. street freak Wild Man Fischer’s “Songs For Sale” introducing “My Sunday Feeling” by Jethro Tull.  Eleven years later, the Warner Bros./Reprise Loss Leaders series ended on the sampler Troublemakers with Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols snarling, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

Well, no.  The 34 Loss Leaders samplers that appeared between 1969 and 1980 formed my musical tastes and exposed me to artists I would never have dreamed of seeking out, to people who may have been just a little too adventurous even for early-Seventies radio.  I remember calling up my local AM pop station and smugly asking the DJ to play some Zappa and the Mothers, or that flip side by the Beach Boys, only to get the response, “What?”  The Loss Leaders made me cooler than the disc jockey!

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Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 14

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by 30daysout

eclipse troublemakers

And so we reach a new decade, the third decade in which Loss Leaders samplers appeared, and a radically changed landscape from the old hippie daze.  To get your hands on Eclipse, the first two-LP sampler from 1980, you had to pay three dollars now, only a buck more but a 50 percent increase from 1979 prices.  The liner notes had the air of a valedictory: “Eclipse is the first Warner Bros. sampler of a new decade and commemorates the occasion by presenting vital works by several artists whose careers span the lifetime of the entire ‘loss leader’ project … as well as material by artists as new as the decade itself.”

Sure enough, there’s Van Morrison with “Troubadours” and Randy Newman with “It’s Money That I Love,” a long way from their appearances on the first Loss Leaders album in 1969.  Perennials include Bonnie Raitt, with a cover of Robert Palmer’s “You’re Gonna Get What’s Coming”; Ry Cooder, with “Little Sister”; Leo Sayer with “When The Money Runs Out” and good ol’ Little Feat going “Down On The Farm.”  Then there was Carlene Carter, who had some of the best bloodlines in music: the daughter of country music greats June Carter and Carl Smith, her stepfather was Johnny Cash and her husband at the time was Nick Lowe.  The husband had perhaps the greatest influence on her music, as she turns in a version of Elvis Costello’s “Radio Sweetheart.”

And there’s good old rock and roll: former Doobie Brothers frontman Tom Johnston crunches through “Outlaw” while the Dukes ask “Who’s Gonna Tell You.”  The Dukes comprised former members of Brit rockers Stone the Crow, Savoy Brown and Be Bop Deluxe.  One member, former Wings guitarist Jimmy McCullough, died just as the band’s first album was released.  Funkadelic offers “Field Maneuvers,” while Woodstock veterans Sly and the Family Stone check in with “Remember Who You Are” and Bob Marley and the Wailers give up “Wake Up and Live.”  Talking Heads, with “Drugs” and the Ramones, with ” I Want You Around,” point the way for the future of American music – and for the Loss Leaders.  Eclipse would be the final sampler that showcased artists with mainstream styles.

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SXSW Unauthorized Interview: Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols

Posted in SXSW with tags , , , , , , on April 7, 2009 by 30daysout


At SXSW in Austin, we caught up with Steve Jones, former guitarist with the Sex Pistols.  He played an odd little gig far from the SXSW action, at a Best Buy store in south Austin.  Because it was out of the way (and out of range for the SXSW shuttles) there were no official badges or wristbands present, just hardcore fans.

Jones is, of course, the self-taught guitarist who stole his equipment from Mick Ronson at a David Bowie gig and with Johnny (Lydon) Rotten, founded one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century.  Since the Pistols crashed and burned in 1978, Jones has played with a number of illuminaries including Bob Dylan, Thin Lizzy, Adam Ant, Joan Jett, Iggy Pop, Megadeth and his band the Neurotic Outsiders.

Since 2004 he has also been a radio personality in L.A., broadcasting his “Jonesy’s Jukebox” from Indie 103.1 until this year, when the station went Spanish.  That’s what we asked Jonesy about first.

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Review: “Live at Shea Stadium,” The Clash

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2008 by 30daysout

The Clash came out of the London punk scene of the late 70s that featured, among others, Elvis Costello and the Sex Pistols. Many times the punk bands were good in the studio (Costello), but sucked on stage (Sex Pistols, although they were funny).  But that was the idea: they were supposed to suck, Costello couldn’t help but be good.  Everything was played at breakneck speed usually sung off key.  However, Live at Shea Stadium has neither of these negative elements.  It kicks ass from start to finish.

Actually punk was long dead when Live at Shea Stadium was recorded in 1982.  The Clash -featuring Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Terry Chimes (replacing drummer Topper Headon who was kicked out because of his need for heroin) and Paul Simonon – opened for The Who on their first of many farewell tours.  They ripped through “Train in Vain,” “Rock the Casbah,” “Spanish Bombs,” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”  They also dug into the catalog for gems like “London Calling,” “The Magnificent Seven,” the ska-inflected B-side “Armagideon Time” and a rocking “Clampdown.”

Live at Shea Stadium was one of the last great recordings that featured Strummer and Jones together.  Jones was fired the following year and went on to form Big Audio Dynamite.  Strummer continued on with some other guys, but it was never the same. There have been many great nights at the soon-to-be torn down Shea Stadium. This collection captures one of them.

MP3: “London Calling” (live)

MP3: “Rock The Casbah” (live)

The Clash official website

30 Years Out: Sid Vicious does it “My Way,” 1978

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 2, 2008 by 30daysout

Sex Pistols “bassist” Sid Vicious had absolutely no musical talent, yet he remains one of the most recognizable and tragic figures in the history of rock and roll. In 1978, Vicious took it upon himself to record a solo version of the classic Paul Anka tune “My Way.” It actually reached #6 on the UK chart in 1979, the same year Sid bit the dust. This is truly a classic piece of rock and roll history. Enjoy.

YouTube: My Way – Sid Vicious

The Making of “My Way”

Sex Pistols Official Website

30 Years Out: The Sex Pistols live at Randy’s Rodeo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 26, 2008 by 30daysout

Sex Pistols at Randy’s Rodeo

Photo above from Sex Pistols at Randy’s Rodeo website 

Few things in rock and roll are as fun as being able to “discover” a new band and follow them as they progress into stardom, or obscurity.  Early in 1978 we were hearing rumbles from across the Atlantic about something new, something different, something very, very odd. 

It was, of course, the Sex Pistols … and they toured (more like invaded) the United States in 1978, crossing the southern half of the country playing redneck bars and enduring the insults of (supposedly) hostile audiences.  Manager Malcolm McLaren later admitted this was done on purpose, to get publicity. 

Anyway, I covered the infamous San Antonio gig at a bar called Randy’s Rodeo.  Of course, my newspaper refused to print the review; so did the Associated Press, for which I worked as a stringer.  So to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Randy’s Rodeo gig, here is the complete story, seen publicly for the first time: 

SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 9, 1978) – On the jukebox at Randy’s Rodeo, a bowling alley-turned honky tonk on the outskirts of town, George Jones and Merle Haggard offer to sing their lonely, sad songs to anyone who will listen. 

But nobody wanted them Sunday night, as the British punk rock band the Sex Pistols invaded Randy’s with their trademark brand of switchblade rock and offensive stage antics.

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