Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Steve Jones and Paul Cook. Four names that can mean only one band, Sex Pistols. An English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975 and were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the UK. Their initial career only lasted two and a half years but they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in popular music.
The Sex Pistols may have only been together for two years in the late '70s, but they changed the face of popular music. Through their raw, nihilistic singles and violent performances, the band revolutionized the idea of what rock & roll could be. In England, the group was considered dangerous to the very fabric of society and was banned across the country; in America, they didn't have the same impact, but countless bands in both countries were inspired by the sheer sonic force of their music, while countless others were inspired by their independent, do-it-yourself ethics. Even if they didn't release any singles by themselves, there was an implicit independence in the way they played their music and handled their career. The band gave birth to the massive independent music underground in England and America that would soon include bands that didn't have a direct musical connection to the Sex Pistols' initial three-minute blasts of rage, but couldn't have existed without those singles.
Guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook were regulars at a boutique owned by their manager, Malcolm McLaren; bassist Glen Matlock worked at the store. Vocalist John Lydon, who would later perform under the name Johnny Rotten, met the rest of the group at the shop and was asked to join the band. While the band played simple rock & roll loudly and abrasively, Rotten arrogantly sang of anarchy, abortion, violence, fascism, and apathy; without Rotten, the band wouldn't have been threatening to England's government -- he provided the band's conceptual direction, calculated to be as confrontational and threatening as possible. The publicity caused by their caustic first single "Anarchy in the U.K." caused the band to be dropped by their record label, EMI. Matlock was fired before their next single "God Save the Queen," which was released on Virgin; it was banned by the BBC. Matlock's replacement was Sid Vicious, a tough street kid who, unlike the rest of the band, couldn't play his instrument.
Their short career only produced four singles and one studio album, “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols”. Perhaps best known for their single, “God Save the Queen”, the band’s concerts and public appearances often ended in mayhem.
January 1978 saw Rotten leave the band and announce their breakup after a turbulent US tour. Vicious died of a heroin overdose in February 1979.
In 1996 the band reformed for a reunion tour and have staged further reunion shows since. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 but refused to attend, calling the museum “a piss stain”. Well guys, it’s good to know you appreciate your fans…
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