Sex Pistols


The Sex Pistols (formed 1975)

The Sex Pistols are an English punk band, formed in London. The band originally consisted of Johnny Rotten on vocals (b. John Lydon), Steve Jones on guitar, Paul Cook on drums and Glen Matlock on bass. Matlock was later replaced by Sid Vicious (b. John Simon Ritchie).

The Sex Pistols: Formation

Steve Jones and Paul Cook were originally members of the band The Strand. They hung out at Don Lett's Acme Attractions and Let It Rock, a clothes shop owned by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. Other punk stars known to hang out there were Soo Catwoman, Mick Jones of The Clash, Jah Wobble, Marco Pirroni and Captain Sensible.

McLaren took over the management of the band and recruited Matlock and Rotten in 1975. Rotten was chosen after miming along to Alice Cooper's 'I'm Eighteen' on the shop jukebox. Even at this early stage, the band had a group of followers known as the Bromley Contingent, which included Steve Severin, Siouxsie Sioux and Billy Idol in their number.

Glen Matlock arranged the band's first gig as The Sex Pistols, at St. Martins College. The band was unable to finish their set before the plug was pulled on them.

The Sex Pistols: Rise to Notoriety

In 1976, the band started playing at bigger venues, including the 100 Club and the Nashville club in London. The band's first major gig outside of London was at Manchester's Lesser Free Trade Hall. Arranged by Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley (later of the Buzzcocks), many attendants of the gig went on to form their own punk bands.

In 1976, the Sex Pistols signed to EMI. Their debut single 'Anarchy in the UK' was released that November. The next month, they were invited as last minute guests of Bill Grundy's Today show. Along with members of the Bromley Contingent, they caused a national uproar by swearing on the live, early evening broadcast. EMI released the band from their contract in January 1977.

Glen Matlock left the band in February 1977 and was replaced by Sid Vicious, who had previously played drums in Siouxsie & The Banshees. Vicious was selected on account of his image and was barely able to play his bass guitar. His amp was often turned off during live gigs and most recordings were done by Matlock or Jones.

In March 1977, the band signed to A&M Records, only to have the contract withdrawn six days later. Their final deal was signed with Virgin Records in May 1977.

The band's second single 'God Save the Queen' was banned by the BBC, but failed to stop the single reaching number two in the UK singles chart, the same week of Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee.

The band's debut album, Never Mind The Bollocks: Here's the Sex Pistols was released in October 1977.

The Sex Pistols: the Demise

In 1978, a tour of the USA proved to be too much for the band. Plagued by in-fighting, receiving negative responses from their audiences and with Sid Vicious' heroin addiction spiraling out of control, the tour descended into chaos.

The band's final gig was at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom. They performed one song: a cover of Iggy & the Stooges' 'No Fun' before Rotten asked the audience "ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" and walked offstage.

The Sex Pistols: After the Break-up

Johnny Rotten reverted to his original name, John Lydon and formed Public Image Ltd with Keith Levene and Jah Wobble.

Sid Vicious' girlfriend Nancy Spungen was found dead on 12th October 1978, in the Chelsea Hotel. The cause of death was stab wounds to her stomach. Vicious was charged with her murder, as well as assaulting Patti Smith's brother, Todd Smith, with a beer glass. When released on bail, on 2nd February 1979, Sid died of a heroin overdose, aged 21. He never stood trial for the murder.

The Sex Pistols: Reunions

The band have staged a number of comeback gigs. Firstly, in 1996, the original four members played the six-month, worldwide Filthy Lucre Tour. In 2003, they toured North America, for their Piss Off tour. They then played five gigs in the UK in 2007 and announced a series of festival appearances (the Combine Harvester Tour) in 2008.

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