Sex Pistols
1972 † February 02, 1979
United Kingdom
Music group
"I had an eye, and my eye saw Rotten's ability to create an image around himself. It was a gut feeling. I knew he had something, just as I knew Jones had something. We had one rehearsal, and none of them showed up because they thought Rotten was a c***. Right there, first day. They never liked him. I liked Jones. I quite liked Cook, but to me he was a bit boring. I brought Matlock into the group as an anchor of normality. Rotten was just an arrogant little s*** who thought he knew everything.
What brought us all together first was that we hated what was on TV. Rotten thought being mindless was a good pose. As soon as I got that sense, that he was terrified of being in a group, of having to announce himself, I knew there was a star there. I knew people would see that vulnerability and go for it, and they did."
- Malcolm McLaren, discoverer and manager of legendary punk band Sex Pistols.

When Steve Jones and Paul Cook first decided to form a band in 1972 they
could hardly have predicted the effect they were to have on so many on a
world wide scale. Little did they know then that the group which eventually
became known as the Sex Pistols would split after a mass notoriety, and then reform in 1996. The Sex Pistols may have only been together for a few years in the late '70s, but they changed the face of popular music. John Lydon, best known as Johnny Rotten, lead singer of the Sex Pistols, tells on The Origin of The Sex Pistols about his first meeting with the rest of the band:
"I'd go to King's Road just to annoy people: it was necessary then. Long hair was everywhere. What was there to do then? There was Soul boys and Roxy Music kind of clothes: all that was naff, very weedy and not going anywhere. People were very stiff and boring. I was bored with everything.

Bernie Rhodes spotted me wearing my "I Hate Pink Floyd" T-shirt and asked me to come back that night to meet Malcolm, Steve, and Paul in the Roebuck pub on King's Road. Malcolm asked me if I wanted to be in a band. I thought they must be joking. It seemed very cynical, and that really pissed off Steve. He was a bit thick, and he couldn't make out what I was talking about. When the pub closed, it was Bernie who finally broke in and said, "Well, let's go back to the shop and see if you can mime or sing to a few songs." I couldn't sing a note. The only song I could cope with was Alice Cooper's "Eighteen." I just gyrated like a belly dancer. Malcolm thought, Yes, he's the one. Paul thought it was a joke and couldn't have cared less. Steve was really annoyed because he instantly hated me. It was one of the most bizarre meetings I ever had, and I never wanted to go through that kind of nonsense ever again."
The band had their first gig in the St. Martin's School of Art, London on June 11th, 1975, as support to Bazooka Joe (complete with Adam Ant). It was
hardly a success, with the plug promptly pulled after a short set. A
memorable debut but for the wrong reasons! Other dates were forthcoming
though and the band slowly gained a following, sparked by Simon Barker who
formed the "Bromley Contingent", an ardent group of Pistols followers.
Violence at Dingwalls brought an expulsion from that venue. and because of their growing reputation they were barred from playing the Mont De Marson
Punk Festival in France.

Following the U.K. tour, which included a performance at Chelmsford Prison, they played at the 100 club in September 1976 at a Punk Festival, which also featured a line-up of Siouxsie & The Banshees with future Pistols bassist Sid Vicious (real name John Simon Ritchie) on drums. On October 8th the Pistols signed to EMI, recording their debut single "Anarchy In The UK" shortly afterwards. An event then occurred that anyone who hadn't previously heard of the band would now be well aware of them. On December 1st the band appeared on Thames TV's "Today" program as late replacements, only arriving around five minutes before going on air.

They were interviewed live by Bill Grundy, who proceeded to provoke the band and encourage them to "say something outrageous". For Steve Jones in particular this was an open invitation and he happily obliged with a number of expletives stunning (to put it mildly) the early evening audience. The next day the front pages of the daily newspaper were covered with pictures of the band, prompting EMI to drop them. Anxious promoters canceled all but three of the shows booked for December's "Anarchy" national tour and in February 1977 Glen Matlock left the group. His
replacement was the before mentioned Sid Vicious who first had to learn how
to play bass.

In March 1977 the Pistols signed a new recording deal with A&M Records. As their first single was to be "God Save The Queen" they signed the contracts
outside Buckingham Palace and were photographed doing so. Just days later
however A&M kicked the band off the label as well, prompting plenty of
McLaren hype about the large pay-offs they were receiving, a point he made
sure was driven in "The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle" film some time later.

In May the Pistols signed their third and final record deal, this time with
Virgin, and "God Save The Queen" was promptly released. Jamie Reid's sleeve
design depicted the Queen's face with a safety pin through her nose in true
punk tradition and it came as no surprise when the single was widely banned.

The Pistols marked Jubilee Day in their own inimitable fashion by staging a performance on a riverboat on the Thames and were arrested and charged by the police on their return ashore.

Two more singles followed, "Pretty Vacant" (video shown on "Top of the Pops") and "Holidays In The Sun", preceding the group's eagerly anticipated album "Never Mind The Bollocks - Here's The Sex Pistols" in November which went straight to the top of the charts despite many outlets refusing to stock it.

After a secret tour to avoid bans the Sex Pistols' final UK performance took
place at Ivanhoes in Huddersfield on Christmas Day 1977 before they took off for the ill-fated eight show American tour in January 1978. Enough was enough for Rotten by the end and on the final date at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco he snarled "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?", a now infamous remark which sparked his departure from the band the next day. Days later, Cook and Jones travelled to Rio with McLaren to meet and record with Ronnie Biggs, the Great Train Robber. Rotten would go on to form Public Image Limited (PIL).

Sid Vicious recorded a version of "My Way" and performed his farewell UK gig at Camden's Electric Ballroom under the guise of The Vicious White Kids, with ex-Pistol Glen Matlock on bass.

In October 1978 Sid's girlfriend Nancy Spungen was found dead in the couple's New York hotel room, and Sid was jailed for the murder. He was released on bail but died from a heroin overdose on February 2nd 1979 whilst awaiting the murder trial. The Sex Pistols were over.

In 1996, 20 years after anarchy first ruled the world, Rotten, Jones, Cook and Matlock reformed for the highly successful Filthy Lucre Tour. The tour would take the Sex Pistols around the globe, ending in Santiago, Chile, on 7th December 1996.

Then in 2002: Pistols At The Palace. On 27th July, Steve, Paul, John, and
Glen reunited to celebrate their own Jubilee with a concert at Crystal Palace, London.

The Sex Pistols regrouped in 2003 for a Summer tour of North America, playing
a total of 11 shows.

(Source: Jim Henderson on
Your Sex Pistols stats
Sex Pistols's artists (1)

releases (3)