Sex Pistols Biography
The Sex Pistols were an iconic and highly influential English punk band, formed in London in 1975. The band originally comprised vocalist Johnny Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bassist Glen Matlock; Matlock left acrimoniously in 1977, and was replaced by Sid Vicious. Although their initial career lasted only three years and produced only four singles and one studio album, (1977's Never Mind the Bollocks), the Sex Pistols have been described by the BBC as "the definitive English punk rock band". The Pistols are widely credited with initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and creating the first generation gap within rock and roll.
The Sex Pistols emerged as a response to what was perceived to be the increasingly safe and bloated progressive rock and manufactured pop music of the mid-1970s. The band created various controversies during their brief career which captivated England, but often eclipsed their music. Their shows and tours repeatedly faced difficulties from authorities, and public appearances often ended in disaster and riot. Their 1977 single, God Save the Queen, released to coincide with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, was widely regarded as an attack on the British monarchy and British Nationalism.
The group broke up in 1978 amid a turbulent tour of the United States, but reunited in 1996 for the "Filthy Lucre" tour, and have staged subsequent reunion tours in 2002 and 2003. On 24 February 2006, the Sex Pistols were officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but they refused to attend the induction, calling the museum a "piss stain".
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". While they were not the first punk band, the Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks is a singular achievement within the punk movement and an important event in the history of popular music in general. It is regularly cited on lists of the greatest albums ever: in 2006 the album was voted no. 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".
Their live performances were also influential. A significant show occurred early in their career on June 4, 1976, when they performed to a crowd of just 42 people at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England. 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 the Buzzcocks (who had organised the gig), Bernard Sumner, Ian Curtis and Peter Hook (all later of Joy Division), Morrissey (later of The Smiths), and Mick Hucknall (later of Simply Red).
The Sex Pistols are also remembered for communicating directly with a vernacular audience. 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." Whether the Pistols' anti-establishment stance was spontaneous or cultivated has been debated. One reviewer notes that "England's depressed social psyche at the time" was enough to generate a band like the Pistols and that Rotten's "fierce intelligence and astonishing onstage charisma" were important catalysts, but ultimately credits McLaren's history-minded manipulations as the real power behind the band.
Other bands who have been influenced by the Sex Pistols include The Clash, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Nirvana, Oasis, The Fall, Green Day, and Guns N' Roses.
In 1997, paleontologists Adrain and Edgecombe, named a series of fossil trilobite species in honour of the Pistols' members: Arcticalymene rotteni, A. viciousi, A. jonesi, A. cooki and A. matlocki.