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THE EX PISTOL

15-12-2006

No More Heroes was one of the catchphrases of the punk era, but don't remind Dave Woodhall. He's just met the bloke who wrote "Anarchy In The UK" and "God Save The Queen."

There's an old saying that you should never meet your heroes, because they'll only let you down. All I can say to that is that I must have been very lucky, because during the course of work I've been privileged to meet some of the people I'd previously idolised from afar and never once disappointed.

Such varied personalities as Mick Jones, Brian Little and Peter McParland have all been treated to a display of grinning idiocy and been wonderful in return. I've always tried to act as normal as possible, although twice I've been struck dumb by the presence of those I've been meeting - Ron Saunders and Steve Cropper, the guitarist and songwriter responsible for so many classic Stax recordings.

And last week, I was able to meet and work with Glen Matlock. If you don't know who he is, he was the original bass player with the Sex Pistols, the man who wrote all their great songs before being kicked out of the band to make way for the image and non-existent talent of Sid Vicious.

Glen plays a lot of solo acoustic stuff these days, and I was down in London for a show he did at Filthy McNasty's, a pub in Islington best known for being the haunt of Pete Docherty. Our man spent much of his time before his set sitting quietly in the front bar, talking to anyone who wanted a word, but mainly being ignored.

Then he walked into the music room, which holds about fifty people, and doesn't have anything so grand as a stage, and launched into one of the best gigs I've seen all year. A smattering of Pistols songs, one or two from his under-rated Rich Kids project of the late seventies, and a few sixties covers.

Everyone was singing along, enjoying themselves, and it seemed perfectly natural that the man responsible for the songs that changed the world should be performing for free in front of a few dozen people.

The set finished with a frenzied Pretty Vacant, compete with backing vocals from Spizz (he of Energi/Athletic…80/Oil fame) and the audience went back to talking, drinking and generally making a Friday night nuisance of themselves. Glen, meanwhile, spoke to a few people, posed for some photos, then left.

My last glimpse of him was walking away, carrying his guitars, towards his car. Rock'n'roll stars shouldn't be doing things like that, but it seemed appropriate. Nobody could have been more down to earth and approachable. And this, remember, is a man who helped change not just the face of popular music, but the entire cultural history of the nation.

It's my belief that the Beatles and the Sex Pistols are the two most influential British bands of all time. I doubt that Paul McCartney will ever pay in the back room of a backstreet pub, no matter how much Heather fleeces him for. Glen Matlock, though, continues to do what he loves doing. Another hero met, and my record's still intact.

Have you ever met your hero? And were you delighted or disappointed? Leave a comment on our messageboard.

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