Samira Ahmed – This year, art institutions including The British Film Institute and the British Library have been marking 40 years of punk. The Sex Pistols first single, Anarchy in the UK, was released in 1976 and that date has been read as the symbolic beginning of British punk music, but is the very idea of a commemoration at odds with what punk was reacting to in the 70’s? The entrepreneur and businessman Joe Corré certainly thinks so, Corré is the son of Malcolm McLaren who created The Sex Pistols and Vivienne Westwood whose fashion designs helped shape the look of the movement. He has a master collection of memorabilia including records and clothes estimated to be worth 5 million pounds, but now he’s planning to burn the lot in protest at the appropriation of punk by the establishment. We met with him in his office where he keeps some of his collection.
Samira Ahmed: One of the objects you’ve brought in, is this an acetate copy of the single “Anarchy in the UK”.
Joe Corré – Yes
Samira Ahmed – Tell me about this and how you come to have it?
Joe Corré – Yeah this is a 7 inch acetate straight from the desk, it’s a one off, it was given to my father to go and listen to, it’s got “Pretty Vacant” on the B side and anyone who knows anything about the Sex Pistols knows that Anarchy in the UK came with a “Wannabe Me” on the B side not “Pretty Vacant,” it’s the only one of it’s kind and it’s a piece of musical history.
Samira Ahmed – And did you play that at home? Play it on your record player?
Joe – Yeah I think I did once or twice when I was a kid. What you’ve got to realise is that at the time people had all those kind of mad ten minute guitar solo’s – Addison Lake and Palmer and that’s what they thought music was, the brilliant thing about punk rock was that freedom that it gave kids to just go get a guitar, you didn’t have to play it, if you’ve got the guitar and you’ve got the right attitude and you’ve got something to say, you’ll figure it out.
Samira Ahmed – and with the doll here, I gather this is one that you are quite fond of, can you show me this?
Joe Corré – This is a doll, a Sid Vicious doll that was made for the Rock & Roll Swindle.
(Image taken from the time Joe spoke to Vice about his collection)
Samira Ahmed – so it looks like an old Sindy doll or something, it was once I presume a female doll but with black hair and swastikas.
Joe Corré – Yeah I remember sitting up with my mother making these things for props for the film, The Great Rock & Roll Swindle and we went down to Arding and Hobbs (the Department Store) in Clapham Junction, we bought a load of these little dolls and adapted them into little Sid Vicious dolls.
Samira Ahmed – How did you do that? With the hair and the…
Joe Corré – Well we melted off their breasts with a hot knife and stuck a plaster on it, cut up some fake fur into little strips and glued it on the head and melted hot knives giving him a few scars on the face and my mum made all the little clothes for it.
Samira Ahmed – The little metal belt and the padlock round his neck and the swastika badge on it.
Joe Corré – Yeah well Sid used to wear that t-shirt a lot, I think you have to understand at the time, punk rockers weren’t into being Nazi’s they were interested in tearing down all of the icons and taking the power away from them. Then there’s some clothes from my parents shop, up in the Kings Road, called Seditionaries.
Samira Ahmed – Can we open them up? So tell me about this one, it’s bright pink and there’s a large pair of well I would say bosoms on them…
(Image taken from the time Joe spoke to Vice about his collection)
Joe – Tits, and I remember my mum wearing that design and I thought she looked great really, you know at the time, in the 1970’s for a period of time I suppose, particularly around the time of the Queen’s Jubilee we were considered public enemy number one, we were hated by the establishment.
Samira Ahmed – And you knew that as a young boy?
Joe Corré – Definitely…
Samira Ahmed – Because they targeted your Mum and Dad?
Joe Corré – Our flat was surrounded by national front thugs smashing our windows, grown men would spit in my face in the street for being a punk rocker…
Samira Ahmed – You would have been 9
Joe Corré – Yeah sure I was 9 or 10 years old, people were physically abused and assaulted in the street, you know that’s how much the establishment despised us and you know the media followed and danced to the tune of the establishment and tried to turn the entire country against it (punk).
Samira Ahmed – And I just wonder then how you look back on it now or rather how you look at the fact that it’s been turned into this big commemoration in a way
Joe Corré – Those people, the British museum, the British Library, they’re all supporting now, suddenly, 40 years later, the celebration of 40 years of Anarchy in the UK this is what this celebration is about, it’s about the release of the Sex Pistols record Anarchy in the UK, now supported by the establishment, it’s a joke, it’s ridiculous, and you know if no one’s going to stand up and say something about it then I will, I will stand up and say something about it because I think people are very interested in these artefacts as having some kind of value but they don’t really understand what they are and those are the questions that I’m asking. I see it as an opportunity to ask those questions because actually, I believe that the generation that we have now, particularly in London, I’m from London, I grew up here and stuff but I see them as the No Future generation with climate change with social cleansing in london, you know today’s a really important time for people to stand up, question the media and question value.
Samira Ahmed – Some people I suppose are quite cynical and say well all of you, except for your father as well were about a personal brand and was that at odd with what punk was supposed to be about?
Joe Corré – I don’t know, I think punk is a state of mind, I certainly don’t think I would have been able to have the confidence to do what I’ve managed to achieve if it wasn’t for punk rock because when you can walk down the street and wear something that either attracts ridicule or attracts anger day in day out, actually there’s not much else that kind of bothers you.
Samira Ahmed – Can I just ask briefly, you know your mother Vivienne Westwood has accepted a Damehood which does imply she is a part of the establishment do you feel you’re a kind of rebel hold out?
Joe Corré – I don’t know, I mean my mother has to take her own decisions and I’ll take mine but I think what’s interesting here when you talk about Vivienne as well is, you haven’t seen Vivienne Westwood celebrating 40 years of punk rock, you won’t go past one of her shop windows and see some celebration of 40 years of punk rock, you know let’s face it you live in an age where you can have a punk credit card, you can have punk insurance policy you can have brands like Louis Vuitton doing punk rock, I mean it’s become ridiculous and I think what I’m sort of saying is, you know what value does this thing actually have, what does it actually represent?
Samira Ahmed – That’s Joe Corré and he’s planning to burn his collection on the 26th November, exactly 40 years after the release of the Sex Pistols Anarchy in the UK.