The Sex Pistols played a terrible show in Dallas 40 years ago

Today marks 40 years since the Sex Pistols opened (and closed) their first and only United States tour at the Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas.

Neighbor Barry Kooda was there. His band, The Nervebreakers, opened for the pistols. The gig led to notoriety for Kooda, who bit into a fish that someone threw on stage while he was performing. The Rolling Stone ran a centerfold picture of the fish incident.

Here is Kooda’s oral history of the Jan. 10, 1978 show, told to the Advocate in 2010 as part of a story about neighbors who have witnessed history.

There was no real punk scene in Dallas. We had to rent the VFW hall or the foosball place in Irving. There were maybe 250 people in the whole Metroplex who were into punk at the time. It wasn’t cool or popular. You didn’t have tattoos or piercings and let anyone see them.

We had just opened for the Ramones on their first tour. We had this bass player who had the gumption to call up and book it. We got paid nothing, and the Sex Pistols got paid $500. [Former Sex Pistols manager] Malcolm McLaren decided to book them in the weirdest places so they would get the most publicity possible.

The Sex Pistols are one of my favorite bands of all time, but they were terrible. Steve Jones and Paul Cook — the two who were really musicians — were amazing. But Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten were just there to get attention, and they did. They were so contrived at that point. I had on this leather bracelet that my friend made, and Sid said, ‘Hey man, that’s nice. Can I have it?’ And I said, ‘No.’ He had some kind of dog collar on, and I said something about it, and he said, ‘Yeah, I took it off a dog. You can’t get much lower than that. Stealing from a dog.’ They were just trying to be jerks for the sake of it.

Over the years, thousands of people have told me they were at that show, but only the 250 or so who were really into it at the time stayed for the whole show. There were others who came out just to see what it was about, but they all left.

The Sex Pistols was a good, fun show. I got paid nothing, but I got international publicity for it. Later that year, when the Police came through, Sting knew who I was because of that stupid fish.

Barry Kooda in 2010. Photo by Can Türkyilmaz
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