Four dozen people witness “The gig that changed the world” (1976)
It seems millions of people claim to have been at Woodstock when only 500,000 or so were really there, but the biggest pop-culture event of the 1960s has nothing on one of the most pivotal of the 1970s: the Sex Pistols’ appearance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England, on June 4, 1976. Proportional to the actual crowd in attendance, perhaps no event in the history of pop music has enjoyed greater retroactive audience growth than the one that’s been called “The gig that changed the world.”
By June 1976, the Sex Pistols had been playing together under that name for only seven months, and though their look, their sound and their nihilistic attitude were already in place, they and the entire British punk scene were still a few months away from truly breaking out. They had drawn just enough attention in the British music press, though, to inspire two young men from Manchester named Howard DeVoto and Pete Shelley to go down and see them play in London in February.