Seasoned Dallas-music devotees last month commemorated the 40th anniversary of an odd — or as Frank Campagna calls it, “off” — concert experience. It's one that left Campagna bitter, a belligerent bassist bloody and musician Barry Kooda set to fight all four Sex Pistols after his blade-earring collection went missing.
The Sex Pistols in early 1979 played the Longhorn Ballroom, a country and western dance hall once owned by Bob Wills and later by Jack Ruby. (The marquee that night advertised Merle Haggard as the next show.) In attendance and right up front (along with legendary Rolling Stone photographer Annie Leibowitz and Dallas punk band guitarist Barry Kooda) stood a young Frank Campagna. Campagna, who is today’s godfather of Dallas art, documented his recollection of the event. The memory is forever preserved inside a prickly poem alongside an illustration of Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten.
"Some crazy mother-fuckin’ Fascist Britz," begins the poem…
"Insulting, obnoxious, possessed.
The killers, X-Rock is next, well now.
Johnny Rotten to the core, Eeeeevil,
Cold blooded spastic zombie, a mocker.
A warm bloody hocker from Sid’s mouth
to his, hers, it’s face.
The Weirdies are here
the Curious too
the Sickies and the Press.
they all show
for the demented show,
Obviously Campagna wasn't too thrilled with the Sex Pistols that night. He emits a polite laugh about the poem today, but clears up that he did in fact like the music. "Well, I’d seen the Ramones a few weeks earlier and they were amazing.” Relative to anything seen when the Sex Pistols took the Texas stage, the Ramones were organized and rehearsed — something he appreciated.
But let's be clear. It's not like anyone expected rock stars to stand up straight, abstain from illicit drugs while onstage or even remain fully conscious, Campagna says. “I saw Steven Tyler out of his mind on drugs, leaning over throughout the show to snort coke. Keith Richards would stumble his way through or blackout during a song, but those guys were hit or miss,” Campagna says. “The Sex Pistols, though, never seemed to get it together, as least not that night.”
Sid Vicious, the band’s notorious bassist, was out of his mind that night, as the story goes. After leaning into the audience, Vicious bolted upright, face bloody. Some say he hit himself with his own mic. But Campagna says he saw it all. “A girl punched him,” he says. (That’s also how it went down in history.) Vicious reveled in the blood, shaking and bobbing his head until crimson covered and dripped from his whole face. Campagna recalled his initial post-performance encounter with Vicious to his Facebook followers.
“Forty years ago … I had a brief interaction with a guy named Sid Vicious. Just after the show at the Longhorn Ballroom he said 'Hey man I'll talk to you for five bucks' and I said 'Fuck off!,'" he writes.
"And not too long afterward, Barry Kooda was ready to fight Sid and his bandmates," Campagna says. "See Barry had bought up all the razor blade earrings in town and Sid went in Barry’s dressing room and stole them. Barry called him out. It was him there against the four Sex Pistols, ready to fight.”
It is still unclear whether Kooda recovered his blades. “Annie’s camera also was stolen that night," Campagna adds.