South Shields’ musical maverick comes face to face with Johnny Rotten

The Sex Pistols at the height of their notoriety.
The Sex Pistols at the height of their notoriety.

Forty years ago, the Sex Pistols released the punk anthem Anarchy In The UK.

Fronted by snarling anti-hero Johnny Rotten (Lydon), the notorious rock group went on to enjoy an explosive if short-lived musical career.

Anarchy, which reached number 38 on the UK Singles Chart (before EMI dropped the group on January 6, 1977) has since been listed as number 56 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is also included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

But according to South Shields’ very own musical guru Wavis O’Shave, he should have been the band’s singer – and he told Johnny Rotten so when he met up with him in rather bizarre circumstances.

Bizarre because it involves Wavis throwing a tub of butter at the flamboyant frontman in order to get his attention. Confused? Well let Wavis explain.

“During the first week of June, John’s Public Image were playing a gig nearby at Lincoln University’s Engine Shed,” says Wavis.

“I thought it only respectful to go and see the chap, having always fostered the idea that he had gotten my job. It should have been Wavis O’Shave fronting those Sex Pistols.

“I wondered how I could break the ice with him, a nice sort of introduction type thing. The answer was obvious – I’d chuck a carton of butter at him. His ‘Country Life’ TV butter adverts long ago certainly lost him a lot of respect from ageing punks who took this as their chance to say he’d totally sold out.

“Waiting until the encore when the band re-emerged, I took my opportunity and lobbed the empty carton. Landing at his left, he growled, ‘Is this meant to be a witticism?’ Is this what this country’s coming to?’

“He proceeded to fix his famous stare and glare on me – I’d been stationed directly in front of him at a mere distance of 12 feet all night - and I shouted back, ‘It’s the wrong one!’ It was, it being Utterly Butterly.

“I left things at that, and after the show dashed around to a very distant stage door outside, for Round Two.

Wavis goes on to say that the security guards there told him, “He’s gone. Straight out into a car and gone.”

“Reading their body language, I didn’t believe a word, and so carried on waiting.”

“It was about 11.30pm and still no signs of life at all. Had he gone, after all? At his point the security guards, after a quick call on their mobiles cleared off, and soon after I noticed two shadows creep past in the far distance, heading towards a parked impressive German Tour bus.

“After a few minutes, I decided to nip over there. The lights were 99% out and the windows blinds all down. However I managed to peer through a gap and saw a clearly distinguishable John Lydon’s reflection upside down on the windows of the bus roof. Gotcha!

“Next I went alongside the window where I now knew him to be sitting and knocked on the pane. ‘Got a minute John? I’m not drunk (thought I’d reassure him) and I’m the same age as you’.

“In a moment his ultimate security and good friend John Rambo appeared. ‘He’s not doing photos or autographs tonight. He did last night and he got abuse.’

“I assured Rambo that I wasn’t after either and just wanted a letter, I had prepared for him, handed over - always be one step ahead of the game.

“As Rambo explained that John had a bad cold and his voice was now shot after the show, and all he wanted was to be left alone, rest his voice and get on with his curry, I whizzed past him to enter the bus and confront Mr Rotten who was sitting there looking quite fragile in his green dressing gown.

“He looked up and I returned the friendly glare-stare from Round One and said,’ Fair do’s. I won’t pester you. Rest your voice, but please read the letter’, passing it to him. He remained silent.

“The contents of the letter explained how I thought he had got my job, the many similarities both he and I share, and a few recommended tracks of mine on YouTube.

“He wouldn’t have known until after reading it that he had just had a close encounter with the Wavester. Beating a respectful retreat, that was that, mission accomplished on both counts.

“I’ve only recently sent him another letter which his publishers assure me will be sent over to his home in the States, explaining that it was me who chucked the butter, and would he like to consider recording with me or I with him.

“I suspect having heard those recommended tracks of mine, he must now be a secretive fan. Mind you, I also fear that he might want to keep his distance in case I start throwing Stork margarine tubs at him instead of butter, and he’d worry I’m a Storker...”

Have you had any close encounters with rock stars of the past and the present?