Sex Pistols Biography
Last updated: 06/04/2012 11:00:00 AM
This incandescent UK punk group came together under the aegis of entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren during the summer of 1975. Periodically known as the Swankers, with lead vocalist Wally Nightingale, they soon metamorphosed into the Sex Pistols.
With a line-up comprising: Steve Jones(guitar), Paul Cook (drums), Glen Matlock (bass) and Johnny Rotten (vocals).
The group signed to EMI Records which released their first single, 'Anarchy In The UK'.
From Rotten's sneering laugh at the opening of the song to the final seconds of feedback, it was a riveting debut. Soon afterwards, the group was dropped from EMI in a blaze of publicity.
By February 1977, Matlock was replaced by punk caricature Sid Vicious. The following month, the group was signed to A&M Records outside the gates of Buckingham Palace. One week later, A&M cancelled the contract. After reluctantly signing to Virgin Records, the group issued 'God Save The Queen'. The single coincided with the Queen's Jubilee. It rose to number 1 in the New Musical Express chart. A third single, the melodic 'Pretty Vacant' proved their most accessible to date. They hit again with 'Holidays In The Sun' and the UK chart-topping Never Mind The Bollocks - Here's The Sex Pistols.
A troubled tour of America fractured the Pistols' already strained relationship. In early 1978, Rotten announced that he was leaving after a gig in San Francisco. The group then went to Rio to be filmed playing alongside train robber Ronnie Biggs.
Vicious, incapacitated by heroin addiction, could not make the trip, but Jones and Cook were happy to indulge in the publicity stunt. Another controversial single 'Cosh The Driver' was backed with Vicious's rendition of 'My Way'.
McLaren's movie titled The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle continued the mythology. Vicious recorded a lame version Of Eddie Cochran's 'C'mon Everybody' before returning to New York.
On 12 October 1978, Sid's girlfriend Nancy Spungen was found stabbed in his hotel room and Vicious was charged with murder. While released on bail, he suffered a fatal overdose of heroin and died in his sleep on the morning of 2 February 1979.
Virgin Records continued to issue the desultory fragments of Pistols work that they had on catalogue. The unholy saga ended in the High Court a decade later in 1986 when Rotten and his fellow ex-Pistols won substantial damages against their former manager. In 1996, the original line-up reformed and toured.