In the past couple of years I've been tramping the streets of London's West End searching out sites associated with the history of pop music. These range from the alley at the back of the Savoy where Bob Dylan filmed Subterranean Homesick Blues to the club in Mason's Yard where Jimi Hendrix played for the first time in the UK. I had known of the Sex Pistols' association with 6 Denmark Street for a while, but a chance remark on a BBC 6 Music programme led to the discovery that the Pistols, and in particular John Lydon, had left a substantial body of graffiti there and that, surprisingly, it had survived. The findings are described in the latest volume of the academic journal Antiquity, published earlier this week.
The graffiti that fellow archaeologist John Schofield (of the University of York) and I recorded in an upper room at the back of a vintage guitar shop include both accomplished caricatures of Malcolm McLaren, Nancy Spungen and John Ritchie (aka Sid Vicious) and other items that record the use of the building by 4" be 2" (a band formed by Lydon's brother Jimmy), and later as the home of two members of Bananarama. But the importance of the site goes beyond the eye-catching graffiti.