The Bloody Classics - The Sex Pistols

Sex Pistols, Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols, 1977, Virgin Records

Track List

  1. Holidays in the Sun

  2. Bodies

  3. No Feelings

  4. Liar

  5. God Save The Queen

  6. Problems

  7. Seventeen

  8. Anarchy in the UK

  9. Submission

  10. Pretty Vacant

  11. New York

  12. E.M.I

Formed in 1975, the Sex Pistols started the UK punk movement with a little help from their manager Malcolm McLaren and the woman who would become the grande dame of British fashion, Vivienne Westwood. The original band where John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon on vocals, Steve Jones on guitar, Paul Cook on drums and Glen Matlock on Bass. John “Sid Vicious” Ritchie replaced Matlock as the bassest at the beginning of 1977. The Sex Pistols’ reputation for chaos became far more important than their music and they are credited with creating a moral panic in the UK media.

McLaren and Westwood’s shop Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die on Chelsea’s Kings Road was where the band liked to hang out with others who embraced the punk lifestyle. Originally called Let it Rock and catering to Teddy Boys, the pair saw that there was money to be made from the new subculture of young people who liked to customise their clothing and jumped on the punk bandwagon. They eventually renamed the shop Sex and became the premier purveyors of punk fashion, indeed shop assistant Jordan essentially created what is now seen as the typical punk look - clothing held together with safety pins, ripped and modified (originally because the wearers had no work and couldn’t afford new clothes). Followers of the band’s early gigs including Siouxsie Sioux and Billy Idol were religious about punk fashion and new fans followed their lead, perpetuating the trend and increasing the importance of Sex and Vivienne Westwood as a designer exponentially.

The Sex Pistols only ever released one album, they were a live band and their gigs were important in cultivating their image due to Johnny Rotten's on stage antics, physically interacting with the audience (especially Jordan) and throwing chairs and equipment and wandering on and off stage at will. This and escalating audience violence led to them being banned from various London venues including the Marquee and the 100 club (despite the band having previously played a residency there).

The band signed to EMI in October 1976 and released Anarchy in the UK as their first single to significant acclaim from the music press. It’s angry political message was groundbreaking, as was McLaren’s promotion - the single was released in a blank black sleeve.

Although they were already big news in London, the Sex Pistols came to national attention in December 1976 following an appearance on the Today programme where various band members swore live on air and there was a particularly expletive laden exchange between Steve Jones and the presenter. Watch it here:

Although the show was only broadcast to viewers in London the exchange was headline news in a number of national newspapers and because of this the band’s subsequent tour became a media obsession and a source of outrage. So many venues cancelled shows that the band only managed to play seven dates in total. There were protests outside numerous venues and workers at EMI’s production plant refused to handle their single. The moral panic surrounding the band led EMI to drop them from the label after just one single.