Paisley’s Role In The Punk Revolution
We recently threw up a short FB post about the legend of The Sex Pistols lesser free trade hall gig in Manchester in 1976, and the strong perceived link that it had to the creation of The Hacienda, Factory Records and the birth of the Madchester music scene.
It has always fascinated us the impact that Punk had on popular music culture (and culture in general), especially as it has been stated that Punk was around for a relatively short period, in the context of musical genres.
So when friend of the team, and bonafide Paisley Punk authority, Neil McLean, agreed to pen his experiences and open his extensive photographic and memorabilia collection from this pivotal time in Paisleys music (and cultural) history for us, we were over the moon!
In this, the first of a 2 part blog about The Paisley Punk & New Wave scene, Neil takes us on a personal journey through the gigs that changed his (and many others) lives.
Paisley Punk Scene, Part 1, by NNE contributor Neil McLean.
It’s probably safe to say that the iconic punk group the Sex Pistols played a big part in the Paisley birth of new wave/punk, because if it wasn’t for the infamous ” Grundy” show incident, there would never have been the City Council Ban on all major cities allowing punk groups to play their venues.
Apart from the odd group slipping through the net (i.e. the Stranglers at the City Halls) the Glasgow City Council did a very good job of this.
Circa 1977, a DJ/Promoter with a keen eye called ‘Disco Harry’ saw a way of breaching this ban by bringing bands to Paisley – which was outside of the Glasgow City limit ban.
[Disco Harry] started to advertise and promote punk bands at the Silver Thread Hotel (Blackhall Street, Paisley) playing mostly on Wednesday nights.
It was a roaring success. Laying on buses from ‘Bruces Record store’ in the City centre and with other folks coming from far and wide to see the up and coming bands who were banned elsewhere ( with several going on to international stardom )
And so the legend of The Silver Thread had begun.
[The bands that played the Silver Thread] read like a who’s who of punk talent, featuring the likes of The Rezillos, Generation X, Chelsea, Cortinas, Adverts, Boomtown Rats, Elvis Costello, Fabulous Poodles, Crabs, Jolt, Johnny &the Self Abusers (later to become Simple Minds), Prefects, Saints, ATV, Buzzcocks, Backstabbers and the Exile to name but a few.
There were also rumours of Sid Vicious drinking in The Silver Thread one night sussing it out for the bands upcoming ‘alias tour’.
There are many fantastic memories from these times, Rose & Drew McDowall (future Poems & Strawberry Switchblade) were regulars along with Jim Kerr and the Glasgow cohorts.
I remember us all sitting with Billy Idol and his group before their gig getting sloshed and when Billy got up to do sound check, I asked him to play ‘Anarchy’ and he did! (you just wouldn’t get that now).
Also, everyone lined up at the bar to get their mouths pierced for £1 – where you sucked on an ice cube for a minute before big Kenny Clash slammed a safety pin into your gub!.
I remember going into the toilet to find Bobby Valentino (Fabulous Poodles member who went on to play Clark Gable in many an advert and doc) kicking seven bells out one of my mates for spitting all over him during the gig, with my mate actually reveling in it!!
Unfortunately, there would frequently be a running battle after the shows as punks would start the walk from The Silver Thread down Lonend Road to Paisley town centre to get buses back home and the shout of “Hunterhill Team Ya Bass !” was a common occurrence.
Still, these were fantastic times where young kids who liked the scene could actually see these groups in the flesh.
At the same time kids from Paisley and Renfrew started to try out in their own bands.
The likes of The Pencils, The Sneex and later Fire Exit would practice midweek at St James School hall in Renfrew, (Paisley punks would come down and join in the fun).
I remember being introduced to Paisley legend Clarkie’ (RIP) who became a good mate along with Joe and Kenny McGlynn which meant borders were crossed as in I could go into ‘Feegie’ to see them and they could come into Renfrew for YM discos without any trouble ( well, almost nearly!).
This brought upon the infamous ‘ pigs head’ gig at the Paisley Tech with Fire Exit, Rev Volting and the Backstabbers and Shock which ended up in a riot! Crazy days indeed which of course helped spread the word.
The scene started to flourish just as the ‘Punk Ban’ in the City was lifted – obviously noticing that these groups were now getting TV coverage etc and money was now to be made with them playing major venues like The Apollo, but the influence of Paisley on Punk should never, and will never, be forgotten by those of us who were there…
God Save The Silver Thread!
About the Silver Thread Hotel
The Silver Thread Hotel, Blackhall Street, was also known as The New Whitehouse Hotel, The Ardgowan Hotel and Abbeycourt Care Centre.
The building remains there today but like many of Paisley’s former nightlife establishment, it lies empty.