GLEN Matlock is best known as the original bass player of the Sex Pistols who, according to legend, was thrown out to make way for Sid Vicious because he ‘liked The Beatles.’
But Matlock says the legend is a myth and that he left the Sex Pistols because of a personality clash with lead singer Johnny Rotten. During his time with the group, Matlock is credited as co-writing 10 of the 12 songs on their one studio classic, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.
Since leaving the group, Matlock has played with a roll-call of underground music legends, including Johnny Thunders, ‘Midge’ Ure and Iggy Pop.
He recently hooked up with some of the other greats of popular music to form Robert Gordon & The Gang They Couldn’t Hang, including Chris Spedding from Roxy Music, Slim Jim Phantom of Stray Cats and Robert Gordon, the rockabilly king credited with firing up the roots-rock revival of the ’70s.
Robert Gordon & The Gang They Couldn’t Hang will make their way to Byron Bay in April to play Bluesfest.
“I think I was second best choice for a bass player,” Matlock laughs when asked how he joined the group.
“There was already a connection with the guys – Chris Spedding was the one who produced the Sex Pistols’ first demo recording. I’ve known Chris for a long time; he is a fantastic guitarist but I’ve never actually played with him,” he says.
According to Matlock, the band wanted Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom, as well as the band’s upright bass player Lee Rocker but the latter wasn’t available. On Slim’s recommendation, The Gang ended up recruiting Glen instead.
“It’s been good, we are all kind of a gang because we all knew each other from before.”
Robert Gordon & The Gang They Couldn’t Hang started playing around the UK last summer.
“It’s a really good band,” Matlock says.
“It’s all that roots rockabilly music. When you are learning the bass guitar, you learn all these bass lines and then you get in a band like the Sex Pistols and you never get to use them.”
Matlock was pivotal in the success of the Sex Pistols. He was the primary melody writer on Never Mind the Bollocks, and is credited with writing most of the lyrics of the classic, Pretty Vacant.
But things turned sour as the controversies that surrounded them in Britain captured the attention of the world – Matlock and Rotten fell out.
Matlock chose to leave the group but manager, Malcolm McLaren, sent a telegram to music magazine, NME, claiming he had been ‘thrown out ...because he went on too long about Paul McCartney.’
“That’s a load of nonsense made up after the event by Malcolm McLaren,” Matlock says.
“The truth is me and John never really saw eye to eye; we are totally different people. It became more trouble than it was worth ... it’s a whole story I’m not willing to go into now.”
After he left the Sex Pistols in 1977, Matlock went on to form The Rich Kids, a New Wave band, with Midge Ure, Steve New and Rusty Egan. Since then he has played bass on the Iggy Pop album Soldier and The Damned album Not of This Earth.
Matlock and Rotten kissed and made up in the mid ’90s with the original Sex Pistols playing several reunion tours before he was asked to join Robert Gordon & The Gang They Couldn’t Hang last year.
And can Bluesfest punters expect to hear some of the classics penned by members of Robert Gordon & The Gang They Couldn’t Hang?
“The song list includes some pretty obscure ’50s rockabilly kind of things we’ve dug out from the past,” Matlock says. “The set also includes a couple of Stray Cats numbers and maybe a Sex Pistols song – I’m not telling you (which songs) ... it’s a surprise.”
Robert Gordon & The Gang They Couldn’t Hang at Bluesfest 2010, being held from Thursday, April 1. Tickets are on sale now. Call 6685 8310.