The Sex Pistols

I just watched the documentary of the band titled, The Filth and the Fury - A Sex Pistols Film
The documentary was very eye opening. The band did break some ground musically but it was their stage image which thrust them into the spotlight. Rotten seems like a true visionary, while Vicious, on the other hand, was just a scared kid that could barely play his instrument.

I really didn’t know much about the band and I’m reading up on them on Wiki and other places but I was wondering what the opinions of the folks on this board are.

So Sex Pistols–Visionary band with Bad Luck (and mgmt) or A Bunch of Hooligans with Good Luck (and bad mgmt)?

Mods if this belongs in IMHO or some other more appropriate forum my apologies.

Average band who made it only from their reputation. No management needed, even.

I think they had the good luck to fall apart before they could really start to suck.

Yes, but then they had to make a revival tour.

Was the management really did that bad? Sure, they didn’t get far, but they got huge on very little.

To Johnny Rotten tell it, their manager took most of their money and wouldn’t return their phone calls half the time. He said when they got to San Francisco for what would be their last show, he had to stay in a motel with the crew.

Even the wikipedia entry states that after they broke up and went separate ways he (Rotten) was stranded in the states with no air fare. Warner Bro’s finally had to get him back home on their dime.

At least they reclaimed Glen Matlock, who actually could play his bass.

A visionary bunch of hooligans.

Their image was taken from the New York punk scene. Malcom McLaren went to NY and saw Richard Hell there, who had ripped up clothes. He wore those because those were the only clothes he had, but McLaren turned it into a fashionable thing in the UK.

Despite being a band that existed for marketing, and maybe being a little derivative, they still were brilliant. Yeah, Sid Vicious was worthless in the band (maybe he was a better drummer), but John Lydon was great. From what I understand, he’s very intelligent. I love his vocal delivery, I think he was trying to sound like a snotty brat and it worked. Anarchy in the UK almost makes me want to become an anarchist, even though I don’t agree with it. I suspect that he didn’t really agree with it either at the time.

You might be interested in checking out the band he was in after the Sex Pisols, Public Image Ltd. VERY different from the Sex Pistols.

You may want to read The Wicked Ways of Malcolm McLaren. I enjoyed it.

The songs are solid - Never Mind the Bollacks stands strong to this day - if anything it sounds mainstream.

Steve Jones was a great guitarist for what he was trying to do - big, chunky rhythm chords pounded out on a bad 70’s Les Paul Custom through a Marshall he ripped off from some classic rock band.

I found them painful to listen to, but some folks think they had something musically important to offer. I thought their “politics” made more of an impression than their music ever did.

They utterly changed the music scene in the UK (let’s not have the who started punk? conflab again, please) so whether you like them or not you’d have to say they were important. They were a “manufactured” band in as much as McClaren put them together but Johnny Rotten was very much his own (Lydon’s) creation and when Glen Matlock was still with them they could knock up a tune.

Sid was a waste of space, why he’s an icon to some people I don’t understand.
FWIW WordMan I think Steve Jones played though a Fender Twin(!)

Well, he’s a nice way to tell if someone’s really punk or they’re just trying to look cool. If they like him you know they’re clueless.

Does anyone know if it’s true that Glen Matlock got kicked out for liking the Beatles?

Hey, huge Sex Pistols fan and amateur historian here. My take:

Great rock and roll band. I mean, listen to Never Mind The Bollocks today (I probably will). The musicianship and production values are both fully professional quality. Whoever dismissed the Matlock-era Pistols as musical amateurs must have been reading the press rather than listening to the record. The rhythm section is rock solid, the arrangements are dynamic (much more so than, say, The Ramones), and there are good guitar solos in almost every song. The production quality, in particular, stands up well to the top hard rock acts of the day (Zeppelin, Sabbath, Deep Purple, Aerosmith). Sure, it was structurally simple, but so were The Beatles and The Who at the same stage in their career.

I think the Pistols’ politics were a bit overrated, too. If you look at their lyrics, they were nihilistic, snotty, and pop-culture-centered, but not very topical. “God Save The Queen” was about as cogent a bit of political discourse as flipping someone the bird.

It’s a shame that (a) Sid was a junkie and a non-musician, and (b) the Pistols became so inextricably linked with punk rock that they swam and sank with it. Otherwise they, like The Clash and The Damned and Wire and The Buzzcocks, might have evolved into something different, more musically interesting and sustainable, in the next few years.

If they were a visionary band, they had bad managment.
If they were nothing but a bunch of hooligans, they had amazing management.

oof - think you’re right there…I still think it was ripped off from someone…

here are some quotes on a guitar-gear geekout site:


The songwriting on Bollocks is totally solid. Everything except “Submission” is either a classic or near-classic. The were every bit as good as the Ramones or the Clash at similar stages of their careers. What the Pistols had was Rotten. He was the best frontman any punk rock band ever had. Joey Ramone wrote better songs and had a deeper catalog. The Clash evolved into an all-round better band than just about anybody, but the focus on stage was split between Strummer and Jones. Listening to the Pistols today, Rotten’s venom still drips out of the speakers. He’s frightening in a way that the dozens of Cookie-Monster-voiced death metal frontmen wish they were. He was smart, articulate and he clearly didn’t give a fuck about your petty little “laws,” “society,” or the goddamned Queen of England. And his influence on the American punk rock is clear: None of the New York punk bands were political, but the second-wave West Coast American Hardcore punks put their politics right out front. Would they have even thought it was imporant to comment on the sociey they lived in if it wasn’t for Rotten? The flipside of the Regan 80s, Black Flag, the Minutemen, and the Dead Kennedys. Without the Pistols, those bands don’t exist.

A bunch of accidental visionary hooligans with some of the best management ever. Except for that whole getting paid thing.

I just finished reading the excellent Rip It Up and Start Again by Simon Reynolds. Lots of interesting discussion on Lydon’s conflicted relationship with the “Johnny Rotten” persona.

Musically, I enjoy Never Mind the Bollocks but I’ll take The Clash or Pink Flag over it any day of the week.

Steve Jones has a daily radio show in L.A. on 103.1, and sometimes he reminisces abuot his hooligan days. I remember a show last year where he was laughing about breaking into a venue where Bowie had performed and stealing a couple of his microphones.

If you ever get a chance to listen to Jonesy’s Jukebox, he’s great on the air. He plays whatever the hell he wants out of his CD collection – one day it was nothing but Cliff Richards for an hour straight. And he’s a wonderful interviewer. Since he’s been in the business himself his interviews with other musicians are more like conversations between two insiders than the normal “chat up your new CD” drivel you normally hear.

That’s because you’re obviously an smart person of discriminating taste. I salute you with a Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale.

I think I’m going to pick that up. I had the pleasure of meeting Lydon once, and he was as charming, friendly, and just plain non-angry as a person could be. Now, mind you, he WAS on a book signing tour, so he was kind of obligated to at least be a little nice to the fans. But really, he was so sweet…he shook our hands and was like “thanks for coming…so glad to meet you…cheerio!” My friend and I took each others’ pictures with him, and in the pictures he put on this punk-rock sneering expression, but it was so totally a put-on it was kind of funny!