This Sunday marks the 40-year anniversary of the Sex Pistols’ last concert at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. As the show progressed, it became clear that the iconic punk band had no future.
According to Jon Savage in his landmark book, England’s Dreaming, when the Pistols played “Belsen Was a Gas,” it was an “awful” moment marking the show’s downturn. The tactless song about the Belsen concentration camp, written by bassist Sid Vicious, talked about Jews’ graves and “fun” in consecutive lines. Savage wrote, “On the very last word, the group cuts dead, so that the audience, stunned, fails for a few seconds to cheer. The rushing silence is like a black hole: within it, the group implodes. After ‘Belsen,’ there was no way back.”