The Sex Pistols are an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. The band originally comprised vocalist Johnny Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bassist Glen Matlock. Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious in early 1977. The Sex Pistols are widely credited with initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and creating the first generation gap within rock and roll. Although their initial career lasted only three years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, the group has been described by the BBC as "the definitive English punk rock band."
The Sex Pistols emerged as a response to the bombastic progressive rock and sentimental pop music that predominated in the mid-1970s. Under the guidance of impresario Malcolm McLaren, the band created controversies which captivated Britain, but often eclipsed their music. Their concerts repeatedly faced difficulties with organisers and authorities, and public appearances often ended in mayhem. Their 1977 single "God Save the Queen" was regarded as an attack on the monarchy and British nationalism.
In January 1978, at the end of a turbulent US tour, Rotten left the band and announced its breakup. Over the next several months, the three other band members recorded songs for McLaren's film version of the Sex Pistols' story, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. Vicious died of a heroin overdose in February 1979. In 1996, Rotten, Jones, Cook and Matlock reunited for the Filthy Lucre Tour; they staged two further reunion shows in 2002, and undertook tours in 2003, 2007 and 2008. On 24 February 2006, the Sex Pistols were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they refused to attend the ceremony, calling the museum "a piss stain".
1.1 Origins and early days
1.2 Johnny Rotten joins the band
1.3 EMI and the Grundy incident
1.4 Sid Vicious joins the band
1.5 “God Save the Queen”
1.6 Never Mind the Bollocks
1.7 US tour and the end of the band
2 Influence and cultural legacy
3 Band members
3.1 Current members
3.2 Former members
3.3 Post-Rotten Sex Pistols
4.1 Studio album
4.2 Compilations, live albums, and bootlegs
6 Sources and further reading
8 External links
 Origins and early days
The Sex Pistols evolved from The Strand, a London band formed in 1973 with Steve Jones on vocals, Paul Cook on drums, and Wally Nightingale on guitar. Early line-ups of The Strand—sometimes known as The Swankers—also included Jim Mackin on organ and Stephen Hayes (and later, briefly, Del Noones) on bass. The band members hung out regularly at two clothing shops on Kings Road, in London's Chelsea neighbourhood: Don Letts's Acme Attractions and Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die. The McLaren-Westwood store had opened in 1971 as Let It Rock, with a 1950s revival Teddy Boy theme. It had been renamed in 1972 to focus on another revival trend, the rocker look associated with Marlon Brando. As John Lydon later observed, "Malcolm and Vivienne were really a pair of shysters: they would sell anything to any trend that they could grab onto." The shop was to become a focal point of the punk rock scene, bringing together many of its primary members: the future Sid Vicious, Jordan, Soo Catwoman, Captain Sensible, Jah Wobble, Gene October, Mick Jones, Tony James and Marco Pirroni, all reacting against the fashion of long hair and flared jeans that prevailed in the early 1970s.
In early 1974, Jones convinced McLaren to help out The Strand. Effectively becoming the group's manager, McLaren paid for their first formal rehearsal space. Glen Matlock, an art student who occasionally worked at Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die, was recruited as the band's regular bassist. In November, McLaren temporarily relocated to New York City. Before his departure, McLaren and Westwood had conceived of a new identity for their store: renamed Sex, it changed its focus from retro couture to S&M-inspired "anti-fashion", with a billing as "Specialists in rubberwear, glamourwear & stagewear." After briefly managing and promoting the New York Dolls, McLaren returned to London in May 1975, inspired by the punk scene that was beginning to emerge in Lower Manhattan. The Strand had been rehearsing regularly, overseen by McLaren's friend Bernard Rhodes, and had performed publicly for the first time. Soon after McLaren's return, Nightingale was kicked out of the band and Jones took over as guitarist. McLaren and the group began looking for a new member to assume the lead vocal duties.
 Johnny Rotten joins the band
Johnny Rotten, ca. 1977, photographed by Dennis Morris
In August 1975, Jones spotted John Lydon, going by the name "Johnny Rotten", at Sex. According to Jones, "He came in with green hair. I thought he had a really interesting face. I liked his look. He had his 'I Hate Pink Floyd' T-shirt on. John had something special, but when he spoke he was a real asshole—but smart." Though he had given little thought to singing, Rotten was convinced to improvise along to Alice Cooper's "I'm Eighteen" on the shop jukebox. Though the performance drove the band members to laughter, McLaren convinced them to start rehearsing with Rotten.
NME journalist Nick Kent used to jam occasionally with the band, but left upon Rotten's recruitment. According to Rotten, "When I came along, I took one look at him and said, 'No. That has to go.' He's never written a good word about me since." Following Kent's departure, Cook began to feel that Jones might not be capable enough alone on guitar, and the band placed an advertisement in Melody Maker: "Wanted—Whizz kid guitarist, Not older than 20, Not worse looking than Johnny Thunders" (referring to a leading member of the New York punk scene). Steve New answered the advert, and played with the band for a few weeks, before he too departed.
In September, McLaren again helped hire private rehearsal space for the group, which had been practicing in pubs. The band also acquired a new name—after considering options such as Le Bomb, Subterraneans, Beyond and Teenage Novel, they settled on Sex Pistols. The new quartet's first gig was arranged by Matlock, who was studying at Saint Martins College. The band played at the school on 5 or 6 November 1975. The plugs were pulled before they finished their set. This gig was followed by other performances at colleges and art schools around London. The band's core group of followers—including Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin and Billy Idol, who would go on to form bands of their own—came to be known as the Bromley Contingent, after the neighbourhood several were from. Their radical fashion, much of it supplied by Sex, ignited a trend that was adopted by the new fans the band attracted.
In early 1976, the Sex Pistols began to play larger venues such as the Nashville and Oxford Street's 100 Club. On 4 June 1976, at the invitation of Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley (who would soon form the Buzzcocks), the band played their first gig in Manchester. Their performance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall inspired a punk rock boom in the city. Two newly formed London punk rock acts, The Clash and The Damned, made their live debuts opening for the Sex Pistols on 4 July and 6 July, respectively. On 3 September, the Pistols played their first concert outside Britain, at the opening of the Club De Chalet Du Lac in Paris. Their first major tour of Britain soon followed, lasting from mid-September to early October.
 EMI and the Grundy incident
"Anarchy in the U.K."
"Anarchy in the U.K." reached number 38 on the UK singles chartProblems listening to the file? See media help.
Following a showcase gig at London's first punk festival, held in October 1976 at the 100 Club, the Sex Pistols signed to the major label EMI. The band's first single, "Anarchy in the U.K.", released on 26 November 1976, served as a statement of intent—full of wit, anger and visceral energy. The song was produced by Chris Thomas, who had produced Roxy Music and mixed Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Belying the common perception that punk bands couldn't play their instruments, contemporary music press reviews and live recordings reveal the Pistols to have been a tight, competent and ferocious live band.
The Fucking Rotter
Audio from the 1976 interview conducted by Bill GrundyProblems listening to the file? See media help.
Their behaviour, as much as their music, brought them national attention. On 1 December 1976, the band and members of the Bromley Contingent created a storm of publicity by swearing during an early evening live broadcast of Thames Television's Today programme. Appearing as last-minute replacements for fellow EMI artists Queen, band and entourage took full advantage of the green room facilities, consuming significant amounts of alcohol. During the interview, Rotten used the word "shit", and host Bill Grundy, apparently drunk, flirted openly with Siouxsie Sioux: "We'll meet afterwards, shall we?" This prompted the following exchange between the host and Steve Jones:
Jones: You dirty sod. You dirty old man.
Grundy: Well keep going chief, keep going. Go on. You've got another five seconds. Say something outrageous.
Jones: You dirty bastard.
Grundy: Go on, again.
Jones: You dirty fucker.
Grundy: What a clever boy.
Jones: What a fucking rotter.
Daily Mirror front page, 2 December 1976
Although the programme was broadcast only in the London region, the ensuing furore occupied the tabloid newspapers for days. The Daily Mirror famously ran the headline "The Filth and the Fury", while the Daily Express led with "Punk? Call it Filthy Lucre"—phrases Lydon adopted for Pistols projects many years later. Thames Television suspended Grundy, and though he was later reinstated, the interview effectively ended his career.
The episode created mass publicity for the band and brought punk into the mainstream. The Pistols set out on the Anarchy Tour of the UK, though many of the concerts were either crowded by hostile press or cancelled by organisers or local authorities. In a television interview, London councillor Bernard Brook Partridge declared, "Some of these groups would be vastly improved by sudden death ... I would like to see someone dig a huge hole and bury the lot of them in it."
Following the end of the tour in December 1976, EMI arranged a series of concerts for January 1977 at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. But before boarding the plane at London Heathrow Airport, the band reportedly spat on each other and verbally abused airport staff. "One witness claimed the Sex Pistols were doing something so disgusting that she could not repeat it for publication ... it became generally believed Jones had been vomiting on old ladies in the preflight lounge," reported Rolling Stone. EMI released the band from their contract two days later. "I don't understand it," Rotten remarked at the time. "All we're trying to do is destroy everything."
 Sid Vicious joins the band
The Paradiso gigs would be their last with Matlock, who parted company with the band in February 1977. According to popular legend, he was sacked because he "liked The Beatles", but Steve Jones later claimed the reason was that Matlock didn't "fit in" with the others, stating, obliquely, that Matlock was "always washing his feet". Matlock now claims to have quit voluntarily, mainly because of an increasingly acrimonious relationship with Rotten. Matlock immediately formed his own band, Rich Kids, with Midge Ure, Rusty Egan and Steve New.
Matlock was replaced by Rotten's friend and self-appointed "ultimate Sex Pistols fan" Sid Vicious, previously drummer of Siouxsie & the Banshees and The Flowers of Romance. McLaren approved Vicious—born Simon John Ritchie, later known as John Beverley—on account of his look and "punk attitude", despite his limited musical abilities. McLaren later stated that, much earlier in the band's career, Vivienne Westwood had told him he should "get the guy called John who came to the store a couple of times" to be the singer. When Johnny Rotten was recruited for the band, Westwood said McLaren had got it wrong: "he had got the wrong John." It was John Beverley, the future Vicious, she had been recommending.
According to McLaren, "When Sid joined he couldn't play guitar but his craziness fit into the structure of the band. He was the knight in shining armour with a giant fist." Lydon later recalled, "The first rehearsals with Sid were hellish. Everyone agreed he had the look. Sid tried real hard ... but boy, he couldn't play bass." Marco Pirroni, who had performed with Vicious in Siouxsie & the Banshees, has said, "After that, it was nothing to do with music anymore. It would just be for the sensationalism and scandal of it all. Then it became the Malcolm McLaren story..." Most of the bass parts on the band's later recordings were played by either Jones or Matlock.
Membership in the Sex Pistols had a progressively destructive effect on Vicious. As Rotten observed, "Up to that time, Sid was absolutely childlike. Everything was fun and giggly. Suddenly he was a big pop star. Pop star status meant press, a good chance to be spotted in all the right places, adoration. That's what it all meant to Sid." Vicious responded by actively cultivating a notorious persona. Early in 1977, he met Nancy Spungen, a drug addict and occasional prostitute from New York with a history of severe emotional problems. Spungen is commonly thought to be responsible for introducing Vicious to heroin, and the emotional co-dependency between the couple alienated Vicious from the other members of the band. Rotten said, "We did everything to get rid of Nancy. She was killing him. I was absolutely convinced this girl was on a slow suicide mission. Only she didn't want to go alone. She wanted to take Sid with her. She was so utterly fucked up and evil."
 “God Save the Queen”
On 10 March 1977, at a press ceremony held outside Buckingham Palace, the Sex Pistols signed to A&M Records. They returned to the A&M offices for what would become an unruly party. Sid Vicious trashed the managing director's office and vomited on his desk. Under pressure from its own employees, artists and distributors, A&M broke contract with the Pistols six days later. Vicious debuted with the band at the Screen on the Green in London on 3 April 1977. The following month the band signed with Virgin Records, their third new label in little more than half a year. The Pistols' second single, "God Save the Queen", recorded in February with Chris Thomas, was released by Virgin on 27 May. Though widely perceived as a personal attack on Queen Elizabeth II, Rotten later stated that the song was not aimed at her specifically, but was instead intended to critique the deference given to royalty in general. However, the perceived disrespect to the monarchy caused widespread public outcry. The record was banned from airplay by the BBC, whose Radio 1 dominated music broadcasting. Rotten later remarked, "We had declared war on the entire country—without meaning to!"
"God Save the Queen"
"God Save the Queen" was originally titled "No Future", but was changed to coincide with the 1977 JubileeProblems listening to the file? See media help.
During the week of Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee, the single reached number one in the NME chart, but only number two in the official UK chart. Many suspected that the data had been massaged, believing that the record had actually qualified for the top spot, but that the charts had been rigged to prevent a spectacle. At least one radio station announced the song at number one, but refused to play it, as they had been advised it might incite disruptions of the national celebration.
The Pistols marked the Jubilee, and the success of their record, by chartering a private boat, intending to perform live while sailing down the River Thames, passing Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. The event ended in chaos, however, when the boat was raided by police, despite a license to perform having been granted. McLaren, the band, and many of their entourage were taken into custody when the vessel docked.
Violent attacks on punk fans were on the rise; on 18 June Rotten himself was assaulted by a knife-wielding gang outside Islington's Pegasus pub, causing tendon damage to his arm. A tour of Scandinavia, planned to start at the end of the month, was consequently delayed until mid-July. At the end of August came SPOTS—Sex Pistols On Tour Secretly, a surreptitious UK tour with the band playing under pseudonyms to avoid cancellation. McLaren had wanted for some time to make a film featuring the Sex Pistols. He arranged for Russ Meyer to direct Who Killed Bambi? from a script by Roger Ebert. After a single day of shooting, 11 September, production ceased when it became clear that McLaren had failed to arrange financing.
 Never Mind the Bollocks
Since the spring of 1977, the three senior Sex Pistols had been returning to the studio periodically with Chris Thomas to lay down the tracks for the band's debut album. Initially to be called God Save Sex Pistols, it became known during the summer as Never Mind the Bollocks. Steve Jones performed virtually all of the bass parts. According to Jones, "Sid wanted to come down and play on the album, and we tried as hard as possible not to let him anywhere near the studio. Luckily he had hepatitis at the time." Although Vicious did record on one occasion, his contribution was later over-dubbed. Jones recalls, "We just let him do it, innit. When he left I dubbed another part on, leaving Sid's down low. I think it might be barely audible on the track." Two singles were released from these sessions, "Pretty Vacant" in June and "Holidays in the Sun" in September.
"Holidays in the Sun"
"Holidays in the Sun", the Sex Pistols' fourth single, is the lead track on Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex PistolsProblems listening to the file? See media help.
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (which includes "Anarchy in the U.K.", "God Save the Queen" and another earlier recording, "No Feelings") was released on 28 October 1977. Rolling Stone praised the album, comparing its sound to "two subway trains crashing together under 4 feet of mud, victims screaming", and applauded the band for playing "with an energy and conviction that is positively transcendent in its madness and fever". Some critics, disappointed that the album contained all four previously released singles, dismissed it as little more than a "greatest hits" record. Never Mind the Bollocks has come to be recognized as one of the most influential records in the history of rock music.
The album title caused difficulties for the band. Boots, W.H. Smith and Woolworth's refused to stock the album, a Conservative MP condemned it as "a symptom of the way society is declining" and the Independent Television Companies Association refused to carry its TV advertising campaign. In Nottingham a record outlet was threatened with prosecution for displaying "indecent printed matter". The case was overturned when defending QC John Mortimer produced expert witnesses who were able to demonstrate that the word bollocks was an Old English term for a priest. Although the word in popular slang means testicles, in the context of the Pistols' album title it is primarily intended to signify "nonsense". Steve Jones had suggested the title—he claimed unwittingly—inspired by two friends who owned a hot dog stand. According to his account, they would routinely interrupt him mid-sentence, exclaiming "Oh, never mind the bollocks".
The Sex Pistols' final UK performance took place at Ivanhoe's in Huddersfield, on Christmas Day 1977. The band played a matinee and evening show as part of a benefit for the families of striking firemen. The location of the gigs was not announced until shortly before the venue opened, a tactic the band was then employing regularly to avoid the sort of attention that had led to earlier cancellations.
 US tour and the end of the band
In January 1978 the Sex Pistols embarked on a US tour, consisting mainly of dates in America's Deep South. Originally scheduled for December 1977, it was delayed due to American authorities' reluctance to issue visas to band members with criminal records. Though highly anticipated by fans and media, the tour was plagued by in-fighting, poor planning and physically belligerent audiences. McLaren has admitted that he purposely booked redneck bars to provoke hostile situations. Over the course of the two weeks, Vicious, by now heavily addicted to heroin, began to live up to his stage name. According to Rotten, "He finally had an audience of people who would behave with shock and horror. Sid was easily led by the nose."
Early in the tour, Vicious wandered off from his Holiday Inn in Memphis, Tennessee, looking for drugs. He was found in a hospital, having carved the words "Gimme a fix" in his chest with a razor. During a concert in San Antonio, Texas, Vicious called the crowd "a bunch of faggots", before striking an audience member across the head with his bass guitar. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he received simulated oral sex on stage, later declaring "that’s the kind of girl I like". Suffering from heroin withdrawal during a show in Dallas, Texas, he spat blood at a woman who had climbed onstage and punched him in the face. He was admitted to hospital later that night to treat various injuries. Offstage he is said to have kicked a female photographer, attacked a security guard, and eventually challenged one of his own bodyguards to a fight—beaten up, he is reported to have exclaimed, "I like you. Now we can be friends."
Sample of "No Fun", a cover version of The Stooges song—studio recording from 1976 or 1977Problems listening to the file? See media help.
Rotten, meanwhile, suffering from flu and coughing up blood, felt increasingly isolated from Cook and Jones, and disgusted by Vicious. On 14 January 1978, during the tour's final date at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, a disillusioned Rotten introduced the band's encore saying, "You'll get one number and one number only 'cause I'm a lazy bastard." That one number was a Stooges cover, "No Fun". In the closing lines, sneering at the audience, Rotten declared, "This is no fun, at all." After the performance Rotten addressed the audience directly—"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? Good night"—before throwing down his microphone and walking offstage. He later observed, "I hated the whole scenario. It was a farce. I felt cheated. Sid was completely out of his brains—just a waste of space. Malcolm wouldn't speak to me. But then he would turn around and tell Paul and Steve that the tension was all my fault because I wouldn't agree to anything. It was all very bitter and confusing."
On 17 January 1978, the band split, making their ways separately to Los Angeles. McLaren, Cook and Jones prepared to fly to Rio de Janeiro for a working vacation. Vicious, in increasingly bad shape, was taken to Los Angeles by a friend, who then brought him to New York, where he was immediately hospitalized. Rotten later described his own situation: "The Sex Pistols left me, stranded in Los Angeles with no ticket, no hotel room, and a message to Warner Bros saying that if anyone phones up claiming to be Johnny Rotten, then they were lying. That's how I finished with Malcolm—but not with the rest of the band; I'll always like them." Rotten flew to New York, where he announced the band's breakup in a newspaper interview on 18 January. Virtually broke, he telephoned the head of Virgin Records, Richard Branson, who agreed to pay for his flight back to London, via Jamaica. In Jamaica, Branson met with members of the band Devo, and tried to install Rotten as their lead singer. Devo declined the offer.
The Sex Pistols continued, briefly, with Cook, Jones and Vicious. Attempts were made at finding a new frontman, but the band ended up with all three members taking lead vocal turns alongside guest vocalists. The group did not perform live in the post-Rotten period, but the majority of the recordings from this time were later released.
After leaving the Pistols, Johnny Rotten reverted to his birth name of Lydon, and formed Public Image Ltd (PIL) with former Clash member Keith Levene and school friend Jah Wobble. The band went on to score a UK Top 10 hit with their debut single, 1978's "Public Image". Lydon initiated legal proceedings against McLaren and the Sex Pistols' management company, Glitterbest, which McLaren controlled. Among the claims were non-payment of royalties, improper usage of the title "Johnny Rotten", unfair contractual obligations, and damages for "all the criminal activities that took place". In 1979, PIL recorded the post-punk classic Metal Box.
McLaren finally succeeded in making a Sex Pistols film. A pseudo-documentary starring McLaren, Jones, Cook, and Vicious, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle was produced in mid-1978 and released in 1980. Although director Julien Temple also received credit for the script, the film is McLaren's fictionalised account of the Pistols' history; in it he claims to have controlled and manipulated the band from its inception. The soundtrack album, released in March 1979, featured Jones, occasionally Cook or Vicious, and sometimes Edward Tudor-Pole, trading on their vocals and engaging in McLaren-concocted gimmicks, such as recording two songs with notorious criminal Ronnie Biggs. Four Top 10 singles were culled from the soundtrack album, one more than had appeared on Never Mind the Bollocks. McLaren went on to manage Adam & the Ants and Bow Wow Wow, and in the mid-1980s released a number of hit records as a solo artist.
Vicious relocated to New York and began performing as a solo artist, with Nancy Spungen acting as his manager. He recorded a live album, backed by "The Idols" featuring Arthur Kane and Jerry Nolan of the New York Dolls—Sid Sings was released in 1979. On 12 October 1978 Spungen was found dead in the Chelsea Hotel room she was sharing with Vicious, with stab wounds to her stomach and dressed only in her underwear. Police recovered drug paraphernalia from the scene and Vicious was arrested and charged with her murder. In an interview at the time, McLaren said, "I can't believe he was involved in such a thing. Sid was set to marry Nancy in New York. He was very close to her and had quite a passionate affair with her." While free on bail, Vicious smashed a beer mug in the face of Todd Smith, Patti Smith's brother, and was arrested again on an assault charge. On 9 December 1978 he was sent to Rikers Island jail, where he spent 55 days. On 2 February 1979, Vicious died of a heroin overdose after a party held to celebrate his release. He was only 21. Reflecting on the event, Lydon said, "Poor Sid. The only way he could live up to what he wanted everyone to believe about him was to die. That was tragic, but more for Sid than anyone else. He really bought his public image." A fictionalised account of Vicious's relationship with Spungen is the focus of the 1986 film Sid and Nancy, directed by Alex Cox. Lydon has been publicly critical of the film, taking issue both with its portrayal of the main characters and the speculation that Vicious and Spungen had formed a suicide pact.
Cook and Jones continued to work through guest appearances and as session musicians. In 1980, they formed The Professionals, which lasted for two years. Jones went on to play with the bands Chequered Past and Neurotic Outsiders. He also recorded two solo albums, Mercy and Fire and Gasoline. Now a resident of Los Angeles, he hosts a daily radio program called Jonesy's Jukebox. Having played with the band Chiefs of Relief in the late 1980s, Cook is now a member of Man Raze. Following The Rich Kids' breakup in 1979, Matlock played with various bands and recorded several solo albums. He is currently a member of Slinky Vagabond.
After a bitter, drawn-out legal case, in January 1986 the four surviving members of the Sex Pistols as well as the estate of Sid Vicious were awarded control of the band's heritage, including publishing rights, master recordings, film footage and exclusive rights to the name "Sex Pistols". This access enabled the production of the 2000 Julien Temple documentary The Filth and the Fury, formulated as an attempt to tell the story from the band's point of view, in contrast to the McLaren-aggrandizing Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. On 9 March 2006 the band sold the rights to their back catalogue to Universal Music Group. The sale was criticized by some commentators as a "sell out".
The original four Sex Pistols reunited in 1996 for the six-month Filthy Lucre Tour, which included dates in Europe, North and South America, Australia and Japan. In 2002—the year of the Queen's Golden Jubilee—they played the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London. In 2003 they toured North America for three weeks as part of their Piss Off Tour.
In November 2006, the Sex Pistols were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honour that the band members turned down, with an "obscene gesture" and a suggestion that the Hall of Fame "kiss this". According to Jones, "Once you want to be put into a museum, Rock & Roll's over; it's not voted by fans, it's voted by people who induct you, or others; people who are already in it."
They reunited again for five gigs at the Brixton Academy and one each in Manchester and Glasgow in November 2007. They announced a series of European festival appearances in 2008, titled the Combine Harvester Tour. In August, they performed at Budapest's Sziget Festival and at the Dutch festival Lowlands. Lowlands director Eric van Eerdenburg declared the Pistols' performance "saddening": "They left their swimming pools at home only to scoop up some money here. Really, they're nothing more than that." That same year, they released the DVD There'll Always Be An England, combining footage from two of the 2007 Brixton Academy appearances.
 Influence and cultural legacy
The Sex Pistols are remembered for arousing the passions of their audience beyond the immediate impact of their music. According to Lydon, "If we had an aim, it was to force our own, working-class opinions into the mainstream, which was unheard of in pop music at the time." The degree to which the Pistols' anti-establishment stance was spontaneous as opposed to cultivated is a matter of debate. Critic Bill Wyman argues that "England's depressed social psyche at the time" made the emergence of a band like the Pistols rather likely. Wyman acknowledges that Rotten's "fierce intelligence and astonishing onstage charisma" were important catalysts, but ultimately finds the band's real meaning lies in McLaren's provocative media manipulations. While many of the Sex Pistols' outrages were plotted, the most famous was evidently not. The day after the Sex Pistols' infamous appearance on the Bill Grundy Today show, their story appeared on the front page of every national newspaper in Great Britain. Rolling Stone suggested the band, responding "to the star trappings and complacency" of mid-1970s rock, "came to spark and personify one of the few truly critical moments in pop culture—the rise of punk." In 2004, the magazine ranked The Sex Pistols #58 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time".
Although the Sex Pistols were not the first punk band, the few recordings that were released during the band's brief initial existence were singularly catalytic expressions of the punk movement. The releases of "Anarchy in the U.K.", "God Save the Queen" and Never Mind the Bollocks are counted among the most important events in the history of popular music. Never Mind the Bollocks is regularly cited in accountings of all-time great albums: In 2006 it was voted #27 in Q magazine's "100 Greatest Albums Ever", while Rolling Stone listed it at #2 in its 1987 "Top 100 Albums of the Last 20 Years". A 2005 Allmusic critique describes it as "one of the greatest, most inspiring rock records of all time".
The Sex Pistols directly inspired the style, and often the formation itself, of many punk and post-punk bands during their brief existence. The Clash and Siouxsie & The Banshees are among those in London's "inner circle" of early punk bands that credit the Pistols. On 4 June 1976, still early in their career, the Sex Pistols performed to a crowd of around 40 people at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. It was to become one of the most important and mythologized events in rock history. Among the audience were many who would later form bands or otherwise popularise the embryonic punk movement, including Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto, who organised the gig and would soon found the Buzzcocks; Bernard Sumner, Ian Curtis and Peter Hook, later of Joy Division; Mark E. Smith, later of The Fall; Morrissey, later of The Smiths; and Anthony H. Wilson, founder of Factory Records. In addition to the groups they directly inspired, the Sex Pistols influenced many later bands. Among those who have acknowledged their debt to the Pistols are The Stone Roses, Nirvana, NOFX, Oasis, Green Day, Venom and Guns N' Roses.
In 1997, paleontologists Jonathan M. Adrain and Gregory D. Edgecombe named a series of fossil trilobite species in honour of the Pistols' members: Arcticalymene rotteni, A. jonesi, A. cooki, A. matlocki and A. viciousi.
Christopher Nolan, director of the Batman movie The Dark Knight, has said that Johnny Rotten inspired the characterization of The Joker, played by Heath Ledger. According to Nolan, "We very much took the view in looking at the character of the Joker that what's strong about him is this idea of anarchy. This commitment to anarchy, this commitment to chaos. So he's not just a bank robber or an ordinary criminal who is out for material gain. His chief motivation would be that of an anarchist." Ledger's costar Christian Bale has claimed that Ledger drew inspiration from watching tapes of Sid Vicious.
 Band members
 Current members
Johnny Rotten – lead vocals (1975–1978, 1996–present)
Steve Jones – guitar, bass (studio), backing vocals (1975–1978, 1996–present)
Glen Matlock – bass, backing vocals (1975–1977, 1996–present)
Paul Cook – drums, backing vocals (1975–1978, 1996–present)
 Former members
Sid Vicious – bass, backing vocals (1977–1978)
 Post-Rotten Sex Pistols
People who sang on The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle other than Johnny Rotten include:
Paul Cook – lead vocals on "Silly Thing" (1978)
Steve Jones – lead vocals on "Lonely Boy", "EMI (Orchestral)", "Friggin' In The Riggin'" and the single release of "Silly Thing" (1978)
Ronnie Biggs – lead vocals on "No One Is Innocent", "Belsen Was a Gas" (1978)
Malcolm McLaren – lead vocals on "God Save The Queen (Symphony)", "You Need Hands" (1979)
Edward Tudor-Pole – lead vocals on "Rock Around the Clock" , "Who Killed Bambi?", "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle" (1979)
Sid Vicious – lead vocals on "My Way", "C'mon Everybody", "Something Else" (1978)
 Studio album
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (28 October 1977) # 1 UK, # 106 US Platinum
 Compilations, live albums, and bootlegs
Spunk (1977 bootleg of early recordings, officially released in 2006)
The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (various artists album) (2 March 1979) # 7 UK
Some Product: Carri on Sex Pistols (interviews and radio spots) (3 August 1979) # 6 UK
Flogging a Dead Horse (compilation) (8 February 1980) # 23 UK
Anarchy in the UK: Live at the 76 Club (live) (1985)
Kiss This (compilation) (5 October 1992) # 10 UK
Filthy Lucre Live (live) (29 July 1996) # 26 UK
Jubilee (compilation) (3 June 2002) # 29 UK
Sex Pistols Box Set (compilation) (3 June 2002) # 160 UK
Raw and Live (live) (2004)
from Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols
26 November 1976 - "Anarchy in the UK" # 38 UK
27 May 1977 - "God Save the Queen" # 2 UK
1 July 1977 - "Pretty Vacant" # 6 UK, # 93 US
14 October 1977 - "Holidays in the Sun" # 8 UK
from The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle
30 June 1978 - "No One Is Innocent" # 6 UK
23 February 1979 - "Something Else" # 3 UK
30 March 1979 - "Silly Thing" # 6 UK
22 June 1979 - "C'mon Everybody" # 3 UK
5 October 1979 - "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle" # 21 UK
6 June 1980 - "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" # 21 UK
from Kiss This: The Best Of
September 1992 - "Anarchy in the UK" (re-issue) # 33 UK
December 1992 - "Pretty Vacant" (re-issue) # 56 UK
from Filthy Lucre Live
June 1996 - "Pretty Vacant" (live) # 18 UK
from Jubilee: The Best Of
27 May 2002 - "God Save the Queen" (re-issue) # 15 UK
from Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols - 30th Anniversary Edition
1 October 2007 - "Anarchy in the UK" (2nd re-issue) # 70 UK
8 October 2007 - "God Save the Queen" (2nd re-issue) # 42 UK
15 October 2007 - "Pretty Vacant" (2nd re-issue) # 65 UK
22 October 2007 - "Holidays in the Sun" (re-issue) # 74 UK
Sex Pistols Number One (Julien Temple, 1976) (a short of footage shot at early gigs)
The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (Julien Temple, 1979) (McLaren's version of the Pistols story)
The Punk Rock Movie (Don Letts, 1979) (contemporary independent documentary footage)
D.O.A. (Lech Kowalski, 1980) (includes footage shot during the Pistols' 1978 US tour, including their final show with Sid Vicious)
Sid and Nancy (Alex Cox, 1986).
Sid's Gang (Andrew Mcleigh, 1999).
The Filth and the Fury (Julien Temple, 2000) (the surviving Pistols' version of events)
Blood on the Turntable: The Sex Pistols (Steve Crabtree, 2004) (BBC documentary)
There'll Always Be An England (Julien Temple, 2008) (Live DVD)
 Sources and further reading
Burchill, Julie, and Tony Parsons, The Boy Looked at Johnny: The Obituary of Rock and Roll, Pluto Press, 1978. ISBN 0-571-12992-7
Dalton, David, El Sid Saint Vicious, St. Martin's Press, 1997. ISBN 0-312-15520-4
Lydon, John, with Keith and Kent Zimmerman, Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, St. Martin's Press, 1994. ISBN 0-312-11883-X
Marcus, Greil, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, Harvard University Press, 1989. ISBN 0-571-23228-0
Matlock, Glen, and Pete Silverton, I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol, Faber and Faber, 1991. ISBN 0-7119-1817-1
McNeil, Legs, and Gillian McCain (ed.), Please Kill Me, Grove Press, 1996. ISBN 0-349-10880-3
Monk, Noel, 12 Days on the Road: The Sex Pistols and America, Harper Paperbacks, 1992. ISBN 0688112749
Morris, Dennis, Destroy: Sex Pistols 1977, Creation Books, 2002. ISBN 1-84068-058-X
Nolan, David, I Swear I Was There: The Gig That Changed the World, Milo Press, 2001. ISBN 0-9549704-9-7/IMP Books 2006
Parker, Alan, Vicious: Too Fast to Live, Creation Books, 2003. ISBN 1-84068-110-1
Savage, Jon, England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock and Beyond, St. Martin's Press, 1992. ISBN 0-312-08774-8
Southall, Brian, The Sex Pistols: 90 Days At EMI, Omnibus Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1-84609-779-9
Vermorel, Fred, and Judy Vermorel, The Sex Pistols, Omnibus Press, 1981. ISBN 0-7119-1090-1
Walsh, Gavin, God Save the Sex Pistols: A Collector's Guide to the Priests Of Punk, Plexus, 2003. ISBN 0-85965-316-1
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 External links
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
The Sex Pistols Official Site
God Save The Sex Pistols
John Lydon Official Site
The Filth And The Fury
Photographs by Bob Gruen
Sex Pistols at Allmusic
Sex Pistols discography at MusicBrainz
Sex Pistols on Myspace
Official Sex Pistols on PunkRockers.com
Photographs of final British gig, Hudderfield, Christmas Day, 1977
Sex Pistols on stage in 2008
v • d • eSex Pistols
Paul Cook • Steve Jones • Glen Matlock • Johnny RottenWally Nightingale • Sid Vicious
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols
Compilations and soundtracks
Spunk • The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle • Some Product: Carri on Sex Pistols • Flogging a Dead Horse • Kiss This • Jubilee • Sex Pistols Box Set • We Have Cum For Your Children • Greatest • Never Trust A Hippy • Pirates Of Destiny • Back & There Again • Anarchy In The USA • Anarchy In The UK • Mini Album • There Is No Future • Pretty Vacant: The Best of '76 • Agents Of Anarchy • Indecent Exposure • Aural Sex • No Future UK? • Silver Jubilee • The Legends Collection: The Sex Pistols Collection • Archive • Early Daze
Filthy Lucre Live • Raw • Anarchy in the UK: Live at the 76 Club • Live at Winterland 1978 • Live at Chelmsford Top Security Prison • Submission • Extended Versions • Alive • The Original Pistols Live • Better Live Than Dead • Pistol Whipped Live •
"Anarchy in the U.K." • "God Save the Queen" • "Pretty Vacant" • "Holidays in the Sun"
"No One Is Innocent" • "Something Else" • "Silly Thing" • "C'mon Everybody" • "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle" • "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" • "Pretty Vacant (live)" • "God Save the Queen (2002 remix)"
The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle • The Filth and the Fury • Who Killed Bambi?
Public Image Ltd. • The Professionals • Vicious White Kids • Malcolm McLaren • The Rich Kids • Ex Pistols • "Filthy Lucre Tour" • D.O.A. • Edward Tudor-Pole