Journalists work like historians – we look for root causes, flash points, and key dates. History was unarguably made on June 4th 1976 in Manchester, when a couple of lads from The Buzzcocks put on the second ever gig to feature some anarchic bastards called the Sex Pistols.
We can state conclusively that punk really started there and then, with the Sex Pistols meteoric rise and their catastrophic fall. The subculture itself would follow, defiantly flaming out as the Eighties approached. Punks are still amongst us of course, and embers continued to smoulder, most notably in the hearts of the chosen few in that audience on June 4th.
I’m grateful to journalist Dave Nolan who sifted all the evidence from the thousands of people who claimed to be at a gig we know was only attended by up to forty people.
We know categorically that Morrissey was there. It wouldn’t be until 1982 that he formed The Smiths, and became the controversy courting cerebral crooner we still laud and lambast today.
Even more critically, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook would go out the following day and buy guitars – later with Ian Curtis they would form the legendary Joy Division.
Their future manager, Tony Wilson, was also in the crowd. He would describe Joy Division as having a sound that was ‘Gothic compared to the mainstream’ and a blueprint for a brand new subculture was formed.
The seeds of Goth, inheritor of the legacy of Punk as the UK’s dominant alternative subculture, were undoubtedly sown exactly forty years ago today. I hope you’ll put some punk on, spike your hawk up, and get those studded leathers out of the cupboard. Remember where it all began, and ensure it never comes to an end!