The Flowers of Romance formed in 1976 around a loose core of early punks, who despite having never played live or released any records, secured their place in Punk history on account of their line-up. More of a Punk petri-dish than a fully formed band, their line-up included Sarah Hall, Jo Faull (the girlfriends of Steve Jones and Paul Cook), the soon-to-be Slits, Viv Albertine and Palmolive, a pre-Pistols Sid Vicious, journalist Steve Walsh, and Keith Levene, an early member of The Clash. Rehearsing in the autumn of 1976 in Joe Strummer’s squat in Shepherds Bush, London, they played a mixture of Ramones songs and fledgling original compositions including Sid’s “Belsen Was a Gas”.
“We played Ramones songs, and couldn’t keep time. Sid went from being a singer to also playing sax. It was a bunch of interesting looking people, so we’d get interviewed, and we’d never done anything and could hardly play…” – Viv Albertine
Just such an interview with the band appeared in the fanzine SKUM no.1 in early 1977, and can be read in full at punk77.co.uk.
According to John Lydon “The original Flowers of Romance had about forty f*cking members, Keith was one of them, and I gave them their name”.
By February 1977, Viv and Palmolive had left to play in The Slits, Sid had joined the Sex Pistols, and Keith would later work with a post-Pistols Lydon in PiL. PiL’s third album was also called “The Flowers of Romance”.
Pete Frame of Rock Family Tree fame, described the band in ZigZag September 1977 as “fast and monotonous…extremely monotonous. Their one innovation: the drum kit had no cymbals.”
Viv Albertine also wrote “So Tough” during her time with the band, a song that later on appeared on The Slits debut album “Cut”.
Their one innovation: the drum kit had no cymbals.”