The Sex Pistols
were an English punk rock band formed in London in 1975. Although they
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 were
one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music,
initiated a punk movement in the United Kingdom, and inspired many later
punk and alternative rock musicians. The first incarnation of the Sex
Pistols included singer Johnny Rotten, lead guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bass player Glen Matlock. Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious
early in 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". Other subjects addressed in their frequently obscene
lyrics included the music industry, consumerism, abortion, and the
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, surviving members
and Sid Vicious—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but
they refused to attend the ceremony, calling the museum "a piss stain".
The original four Sex Pistols reunited in 1996 for the six-month Filthy
Lucre Tour, which included dates in Europe, North and South America,
Australia and Japan. The band members' access to the archives associated
with The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle facilitated the production of the
2000 documentary The Filth and the Fury. This film—directed, like its
predecessor, by Temple—was formulated as an attempt to tell the story
from the band's point of view, in contrast to Swindle's focus on McLaren
and the media. In 2002—the year of the Queen's Golden Jubilee—the Sex
Pistols reunited again to play the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre
in London. In 2003, their Piss Off Tour took them around North America
for three weeks.
On 9 March 2006, the band sold the rights to their back catalogue to
Universal Music Group. The sale was criticised by some commentators as a
"sell out". In November 2006, the Sex Pistols were inducted to the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame, whose citation named Vicious as well as the four
living members. The band rejected the honour in coarse language on
their website. In a television interview, Lydon accompanied a suggestion
that the Hall of Fame "Kiss this!" with an obscene gesture. According
to Jones, "Once you want to be put into a museum, Rock & Roll's
over; it's not voted by fans, it's voted by people who induct you, or
others; people who are already in it."
The Sex Pistols reunited again for five performances in the UK in 2007.
In 2008, they undertook a series of European festival appearances,
titled the Combine Harvester Tour. In August, after performing at the
Dutch festival A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise, Lowlands director
Eric van Eerdenburg declared the Pistols' performance "saddening": "They
left their swimming pools at home only to scoop up some money here.
Really, they're nothing more than that." That same year, they released
the DVD There'll Always Be An England, recorded at their Brixton Academy
appearance on 10 November 2007. In 2010, Fragrance and Beauty Limited
announced the release of an authorised Sex Pistols scent. According to a
statement from the cosmetics firm, "the fragrance exudes pure energy,
pared down and pumped up by leather, shot through with heliotrope and
brought back down to earth by a raunchy patchouli." The band signed with
Universal Music Group in 2012 to re-release Never Mind the Bollocks.