The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians.
Although their original career lasted just two-and-a-half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music.
In their first incarnation, the Sex Pistols included singer Johnny Rotten, lead guitar player Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bass player Glen Matlock. Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious in early 1977. Under the management of Malcolm McLaren, a visual artist, performer, clothes designer and boutique owner, the band provoked controversies that garnered a significant amount of publicity. Their concerts repeatedly faced difficulties with organisers and local authorities, and public appearances often ended in mayhem. Their 1977 single “God Save the Queen,” attacking social conformity and deference to the Crown, precipitated the “last and greatest outbreak of pop-based moral pandemonium”.
In January 1978, at the end of a turbulent tour of the United States, Rotten left the Sex Pistols and announced its break-up. Over the next several months, the three other band members recorded songs for McLaren’s film version of the Sex Pistols’ story, The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle. Vicious died of a heroin overdose in February 1979. In 1996, Rotten, Jones, Cook and Matlock reunited for the Filthy Lucre Tour; since 2002, they have staged further reunion shows and tours. On 24 February 2006, the Sex Pistols—the four original members plus Vicious—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they refused to attend the ceremony, calling the museum “a piss stain”.
McLaren also said in person and in a documentary that if he’d met Vicious before he had hired Rotten to be the singer, Vicious would have been the Sex Pistols’ front man, because he had the most charisma of anyone on that stage. Alan Jones described Vicious as “[having] the iconic punk look … Sid, on image alone, is what all punk rests on.” His nails would be painted in a sloppy manner with purple nail polish.