The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. Although their initial career lasted just two and a half years, they are regarded as one of the most groundbreaking acts in the history of popular music. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Their fashion and hairstyles have been credited as a significant influence on punk image, and they are often associated with anarchism within music.
The Sex Pistols originally comprised vocalist John Lydon (known at the time by his stage name “Johnny Rotten”), guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bassist Glen Matlock. Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious in early 1977. Under the management of Malcolm McLaren, the band attracted controversies that both captivated and appalled Britain. Through an obscenity-laced television interview in December 1976 and their May 1977 single “God Save the Queen”, the latter of which attacked Britons’ social conformity and deference to the Crown, they popularised punk rock in the UK. “God Save the Queen” was banned not only by the BBC but also by nearly every independent radio station, making it the “most heavily censored record in British history”.
The band’s only album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)—a UK number one—is a staple record of punk rock. In January 1978, at the end of their over-hyped and turbulent tour of the US, Rotten announced the band’s break-up. Over the next few months, the three remaining 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, following his arrest for the alleged murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Rotten, Jones, Cook and Matlock reunited for a highly successful concert tour in 1996. Further one-off performances and short tours followed over the next decade.
The Sex Pistols have been recognised as an influential band. In 2004, Rolling Stone placed them No. 58 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. On 24 February 2006, the Sex Pistols—the four original members plus Vicious—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they refused to attend the ceremony, calling the museum “a piss stain”
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols is the only studio album by English punk rock band the Sex Pistols, released on 28 October 1977 by Virgin Records in the UK and on 11 November 1977 by Warner Bros. Records in the US. The album has influenced many bands and musicians, and the industry in general. In particular, the album’s raw energy, and Johnny Rotten’s sneering delivery and “half-singing,” are often considered game-changing. It is frequently listed as the most influential punk album, and one of the most important and best albums of all time.
The band’s internal relationships were always volatile, and the lineup saw changes during the recording of the album. Original bass guitarist Glen Matlock left the band early in the recording process, and while he is credited as a co-writer on all but two of the tracks, he only performed bass and backing vocals on one track, “Anarchy in the U.K.” Recording sessions continued with a new bass player, Sid Vicious, who is credited on two of the songs the band wrote after he joined. While Vicious’s bass playing appeared on two tracks, his lack of skill on the instrument meant that many of the tracks were recorded with guitarist Steve Jones playing bass instead. Drummer Paul Cook and singer Johnny Rotten appear on every track. The various recording sessions were led alternately by Chris Thomas or Bill Price, and sometimes both together, but as the songs on the final albums often combined mixes from different sessions, or were poorly documented who was present in the recording booth at the time, each song is jointly credited to both producers.
By the time of its release, the Sex Pistols were already controversial, having spoken profanity on live TV, been fired from two record labels, and been banned from playing live in some parts of Britain. The album title added to that controversy, with some people finding the word “bollocks” offensive. Many record stores refused to carry it and some record charts refused to list its title, showing just a blank space instead.
Due in part to its notoriety, and in spite of many sales bans at major retailers, the album debuted at number one on the UK Album Charts. It achieved advance orders of 125,000 copies after a week of its release and went gold only a few weeks later, on 17 November. It remained a best-seller for nearly a year, spending 48 weeks in the top 75. The album has also been certified platinum by the RIAA. It has seen several reissues, the latest in 2017.
In 1987, Rolling Stone magazine named the album the second best of the previous 20 years, behind only the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The same magazine ranked it number 80 on their list of 500 greatest albums of all time in 2020. In 2006, it was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest albums ever. (wikipedia)
While mostly accurate, dismissing Never Mind the Bollocks as merely a series of loud, ragged midtempo rockers with a harsh, grating vocalist and not much melody would be a terrible error. Already anthemic songs are rendered positively transcendent by Johnny Rotten’s rabid, foaming delivery. His bitterly sarcastic attacks on pretentious affectation and the very foundations of British society were all carried out in the most confrontational, impolite manner possible. Most imitators of the Pistols’ angry nihilism missed the point: underneath the shock tactics and theatrical negativity were social critiques carefully designed for maximum impact.
The Picture Disc edition:
Never Mind the Bollocks perfectly articulated the frustration, rage, and dissatisfaction of the British working class with the establishment, a spirit quick to translate itself to strictly rock & roll terms. The Pistols paved the way for countless other bands to make similarly rebellious statements, but arguably none were as daring or effective. It’s easy to see how the band’s roaring energy, overwhelmingly snotty attitude, and Rotten’s furious ranting sparked a musical revolution, and those qualities haven’t diminished one bit over time. Never Mind the Bollocks is simply one of the greatest, most inspiring rock records of all time. (by Steve Huey)
I remember well when the Sex Pistols made it big … I was quite outraged because they made my “old heroes” look so bad … smile.
Paul Cook (drums)
Steve Jones (guitar, bass, background vocals)
Glen Matlock (bass and background vocals on 07.)
Johnny Rotten (vocals)
Sid Vicious (bass on 04. + 08.)
01. Holidays In The Sun (Cook/Jones/Rotten/Vicious) 3.21
02. Body (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 3.02
03. No Feelings (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 2.49
04. Liar (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 2.41
05. God Save The Queen (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 3.19
06. Problems (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 4.11
07. Seventeen (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 2.01
07. Anarchy In The U.K. (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 3.32
08. Submission (Cook/Jones/Rotten/Vicious) 4.11
10. Pretty Vacant (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 3.16
11. New York (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 3.05
12. E.M.I. (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 3.11
The official website: