Whether you love the look of the original punk rock style, or just love the music, no one can argue that both the Sex Pistols from England and The Ramones from the US, formed a new genre of music in the mid 70’s. There has been much deliberation as to which band had become the true founder’s of the punk movement, but both bands started coming into their own in 1976.
A new wave of music hit society. The message was clear that the individualistic tendencies of teens would be encouraged and that music, poetry and showmanship ruled over mainstream thought. In fact, the Sex Pistols didn’t care what people thought. Lead singer John Lydon was founded by (mis) manager Malcolm McLaren in McLaren’s deer hunting t shirt shop, supporting a hacked up, green haircut, leather milwaukee brewers hawaiian shirt and homemade “I HATE Pink Floyd” shirt, considered Sacrilege at the time. He sounded like no one else, and had a style of dance all on his own, but the band knew at that time, they had found their lead man. They first started out playing anywhere that would take them, but with style being something that could get you into serious trouble, they were often finding themselves in physical danger. They often had to physically fight their way back to their van after their show had been unplugged. It took a while, and everywhere the Pistols would play the audience just didn’t “get it”, but they soon attracted like-minded individuals and started a small following. Some of these people included Susan Dallion (aka Siouxsie Sioux) and William Broad (aka Billy Idol).
After being sacked by 2 different record labels: EMI who had to let them go after a foul-mouthed interview with ‘Today’ TV show host Bill Grundy, where they dropped the F bomb even though had been warned the show would be aired live throughout London, and after only 10 days of being on the A&M label being dropped after a drunken office party became out of control. They lost Glen Matlock (bassist), due to indifference with front man John “Rotten” Lydon. Rotten found this to be a great opportunity to bring in his old friend John Simon Ritchie/Beverly, an early Pistols fan, who would later be known as Sid Vicious. Sid could not play the bass, but his energy would be loved by their fans. By this time they were at war with the public, due to their controversial song ‘God Save The Queen’.
They reluctantly signed with Richard Branson’s Virgin records after a long head hunt. With their ‘God Save The Queen’ hitting so high in the charts, (but never hit #1 due to protest, they stayed at #2 even though they technically had out-sold the Number 1 record of the week – ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’ by Rod Stewart; a blatant conspiracy) they were outcasts to the public other, than the “punks” and few supporting reporters.
Unfazed and continuing to shock audiences with lyrics and stage presence, their next album released in 1977 the album ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ was released with the two hit singles ‘Pretty Vacant’ (July) and ‘Holidays in the Sun’ (October). Pre-Release orders were so high, the album immediately hit Number 1, and was now considered one of the greatest albums ever. This record was often imitated but never surpassed. “Punk Rock” had hit a new high. With the Pistols in their black leather jackets and punk rock hairstyles, they were leading the new wave of listeners and a generation of “Do It For Themselves”.
The Sex Pistols would continue to shock and rock with audiences for quite some time. They helped pave the way for younger generations, giving youth a highly needed identity and outlet for expression. They opened up the music industry like a tin can, flipped it upside down and walked away. This was really helping pave the way for indie music to reign supreme and let record companies know that the music industry was in for a big change.
write by Thomas Kyles