The professionals - REBELLION FESTIVAL, Winter Gardens, Blackpool, until Sunday
The summer of 1977 was punk’s high noon, and Paul Cook, the Sex Pistols drummer, had a ringside stool as their debut album, Never Mind the B********, Here’s the Sex Pistols drove a stake through music’s old order.
“We were fighting apathy, and, like now, 40 years on, there was a real despondency in Britain,” said Cook, whose band The Professionals (pictured) provide one of the headliners at this weekend’s Rebellion Punk Festival in Blackpool.
“We were all angry young men and we didn’t want to accept the status quo, but many people felt disenfranchised at that time.
“A lot of people felt the same way, uninvolved and completely forgotten.”
The raging song that caused the greatest hullaballoo was God Save the Queen, released as the Monarch celebrated her Silver Jubilee.
The publicity generated from the immortal line, ‘God Save The Queen/She ain’t no human being,’ helped the single top the charts; but it also created an atmosphere of moral panic and was banned.
Cook himself was chased down a street by a group of Teddy Boys and beaten with an iron bar.
“You just wanted to change things, but it was hard to comprehend what was happening because we couldn’t really go anywhere when things got crazy,” recalled Cook.
“We lived from hour to hour. We just had to circle the wagons each day because they had made us into public enemy number one.
“It did reach the point that we just couldn’t play anywhere in the country because things had become so chaotic.
“It was pretty stressful and we couldn’t handle it.”
Cook describes his relationship with former Pistols front man John Lydon as ‘cordial,’ and he remains friends with Pistols guitarist Steve Jones.
“I see John now and again, but then (1977) it felt like the planets had aligned, with the album and John was writing so much great stuff.
“But it was so in the moment, you know, out of control really, and the whole thing was over in a flash.
“They were happy to see the back of us, replacing us with the shiny New Romantics or whatever it was, but what they could not replace was the writers, attitude and fashion that came out of punk.
“I certainly think that slab of vinyl, Never Mind, remains a very important cultural moment in music.”
The Pistols have risen from the ashes twice since, first in 1996, and again briefly a decade ago, but Cook doubts that they will ever play live again.
“You never know, things change, but as time passes by it probably becomes more and more unlikely,” he said. “I really enjoyed playing with the Pistols again, and you never say never do you?”
Cook, though, has convened The Professionals for a new album What In The World.
Guests include Mick Jones from The Clash, Marco Pirroni, Billy Duffy and The Professionals founding member Steve Jones.
“Steve (Jones) lives in America now, so although he will not be playing live with us he has given it his blessing, and he’s on a couple of tracks,” said Cook.
“We got the band together when the Pistols was over, but we hardly ever played in England.
“Maybe some people will remember the single Just Another Dream, and we’ve got some super songs on the new album to play at Rebellion.”
Rebellion Festival begins today at the Winter Gardens and runs until Sunday.
Day tickets available.