May 2000

Sex Pistols

A lot of people have a lot of different views on this band and they are certainly still one of the most controversial. I think that the reason for this is that there was so much more to them than just the music, although this facet has long outlived all the others. They were the perfect rock band: angry young men expressing dissatisfaction of their condition through music. As the saying goes, the music is the message.

The story has been told numerous times of a green-haired John Lydon walking down the King's Road in August 1975 wearing a modified t-shirt (modified, as in "I hate" marked in above the words Pink Floyd), so I don't need to go into that. But from their first meetings in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's shop Sex, where Lydon auditioned for Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Glen Matlock, backed by a jukebox playing Alice Cooper's "Eighteen", a milestone in music, and a lesson in how quickly it changes, was made.

The band went on to play quite a few gigs, instigating chaos wherever they went. A friend of Lydon's, John Ritchie, became the band's bass player in February 1977 when Matlock and Lydon finally had enough of each other and Matlock quit. Sid Vicious, although not a musician, will end up creating a continuing legend for himself through the end of his young life in 2 years' time from a heroin overdose while awaiting trial for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.

Lydon went on to form Public Image Limited (PiL) Get their stuff, it's fantastic. Jones and Cook formed the Professionals, a short-lived but excellent band. Over the years, Jones has been in many other bands and has acted in television.

The Sex Pistols reunited for the "Filthy Lucre" tour in 1996, playing to sell-out crowds and wonderful reviews. Unfortunately, I missed it but, as with so many bands, I would have preferred to see them the first time around. All I need to do is load up the CD player with "Never Mind the Bollocks" and I'm transported. You see, despite all the hype, violence and tragedy surrounding them, they created some of the finest music I have ever heard. And that is what will live on for me.

Some notes:

  • The Filth and the Fury
    Julien Temple brings us the ultimate Pistols' documentary. The band helped in the making and John Lydon himself says that it's "the truth". Playing in a few selected U.S. cities. I hope and pray it comes here, but I have this feeling I'll only see it on DVD, which is a shit because the large screen seems the best place to see this film.

  • Rotten Television
    John had his own tv show. VH1, in their infinite wisdom, only aired 2 episodes since January 2000 which are, I dare to say, the best and most refreshing half-hours ever seen on the box. Do not miss these if you can find repeats. Everyone I have shown them to are blown away.

Pistols' links on the web:


Flyer for 1996 reunion
Copyright Sex Pistols 1996

Steve Jones and John Lydon
Copyright Unknown

John Lydon
Copyright Telegraph Newspapers 1992

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