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How the Sex Pistols Ended Up Stealing David Bowie’s Equipment

Sex Pistols
Keystone Features / Jack Kay, Getty Images

Times were tight when the Sex Pistols started out, so much so that co-founding drummer Paul Cook said they resorted to swiping stuff from touring artists like David Bowie.

“You’ve got to understand, we weren’t very rich at the time,” Cook told Loudwire. “We wanted to form a band, and that was one way of getting equipment.”

Cook, who started a group called the Strand with Steve Jones that evolved into the Sex Pistols, said these were simply crimes of opportunity. After all, their home base was near one of the U.K.’s most recognizable live-music venues. And there was nothing – quite literally – that the Sex Pistols wouldn’t pilfer.

“It was so easy to get in those places, and we’d just go around the back,” Cook recalled. “We lived in Hammersmith, and so many bands played in Hammersmith Odeon. So we got a full range of equipment before we could even play, really – including the PA.”

Fortune smiled brightly when Bowie came to town. “There’s a famous story about Steve when David Bowie was doing his final shows of the Ziggy Stardust tour,” Cook noted. “Between shows, they’d leave all the equipment standing overnight. It was a big mistake, especially with us around.”

Cook continued to collaborate with Jones after the Sex Pistols’ lightning-fast flame-out, working on The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, appearing together on Johnny Thunders’ solo album So Alone and co-founding the Professionals. He took part in the Sex Pistols’ 1996 reunion, and has since played with Phil Collen in Man-Raze and with Edwyn Collins.

Next: Top 10 David Bowie ‘70s Deep Cuts

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