One of the most iconic bands of their generation would play their last show on home soil in a rather conspicuous venue for the most notorious band of the moment—a Christmas benefit show for children.
In Kevin Cummins’ new book from ACC Art Books, Sex Pistols: The End is Near 25.12.77, the photographer is sharing some of the most candid moments from the show. We’re very happy to show you some previously unseen images from that show as a teaser before the book’s February 1st release.
Following a year of tour cancellations, newspaper smears, and local MPs berating them everywhere they went, the punks were starting to get a little tired of their image. So the Sex Pistols decided to host a party for the children of striking firemen and miners that had been effected in the local community and played a very special gig at a venue called Ivanhoe’s in Huddersfield, UK.
There to capture the chaos was one of the country’s most legendary rock and roll photographers, Kevin Cummins. The Mancunian would go on to cement his name with some of the most iconic shots of artists such as Joy Division, Nick Cave, Bjork, and so many more. But on a cold Christmas Day in the north, Cummins was where every self-respecting punk would be, in a crowd of children watching one of the best punk bands ot have ever graced the planet.
The afternoon gig would welcome children from across the community to be the audience in one fo the band’s legendary punk shows. It would be followed by a more visceral evening performance which would, unbeknownst to the band or crowd, be their final UK appearance. The band would travel across the pond for an infamous US tour before the band would break-up. Only a few months later, Sid Vicious would be dead.
The band, despite their tough as nails image, took the opportunity to show their softer side when welcoming the children. Welcoming the impoverished working-class kids to the venue with all manner of Christmas cheer. They “flooded” the school with cake, presents, and Christmas treats before the performance and even toned down their language during the show, though John Lydon remembers it differently, albeit fondly.
He said of the show: “Fantastic. The ultimate reward. One of my all-time favourite gigs. Young kids, and we’re doing ‘Bodies’ and they’re bursting out with laughter on the ‘fuck this fuck that’ verse. The correct response: not the shock horror ‘How dare you?’ Adults bring their own filthy minds into a thing. They don’t quite perceive it as a child does.”
Cummins’ new book, Sex Pistols: The End is Near 25.12.77, will compile every frame that Cummins shot in one single book for the very first time. A book filled with 150 colour and black and white photographs, in which Cummins expertly captures the passion and power of Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Paul Cook, and Steve Jones.
Look below at a selection of unseen photographs of the Sex Pistols performing at their very last UK show from the talented eye of Kevin Cummins.