Sex Pistols: 15 Facts You Didn’t Know (Part 1)

The Sex Pistols are one of the most iconic bands to come out of the British punk scene of the 1970s. While only together for approximately two-and-a-half years, the band’s music sparked a movement, questioning authority and anarchy. While their look and music were controversial, they still managed to top the charts with Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, making Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Glen Matlock famous and infamous. Read on to find out more about the Sex Pistols, and watch for part two of our list, coming soon.

Number Fifteen: The Sex Pistols Only Released One Album

Despite the Sex Pistols being so revered, they only released one album before they broke up. Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols was released in October 1977 and the band broke up in January 1978.

Number Fourteen: Sid Vicious Only Played on One Song of Never Mind the Bollocks

When Vicious started playing bass with the Sex Pistols, he didn’t really know how to play the instrument. For this reason, former Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and guitarist Steve Jones played bass on most of the tracks on the album. Vicious did play on one song “Bodies,” but Steve Jones has said that he dubbed another bass track over it and mixed Vicious’ to almost inaudible levels.

Number Thirteen: The Final Song They Played Live Was a Cover

As the encore of their final show, the Sex Pistols played a cover of The Stooges’ “No Fun,” summing up the band’s feelings perfectly. After the final cymbal rolls die out, Rotten famously says at the end of the song “ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? Good night.”

Number Twelve: Malcolm McLaren Initially Wanted Syl Sylvan to Front the Band

When the lead singer of the Strand, the band which preceded the Sex Pistols, was kicked out of the band, Malcolm McLaren needed to find a new frontman. Since he had recently come back from a trip to New York, where he briefly managed The New York Dolls, his first thought was to call Syl Sylvan and offer him the position. Sylvan turned him down, as did Richard Hell.  McLaren resorted to looking for short-haired males hanging out in his store and asking them if they ever thought about singing in a band. That is how he found John Lydon (Johnny Rotten).

Number Eleven: They Have the Most Censored Single in British History

When “God Save the Queen” was released in 1977, it almost didn’t get pressed. First, the single’s cover art offended the printers at Virgin Records. Once the single was pressed, no one would play it or stock it because of its lyrics’ negative image of the British monarchy. It is widely believed that when the single was released, it was supposed to be number one, but ended up coming in at number two after sales from label-related shops (like Virgin) were excluded for that week.

Number Ten: Never Mind the Bollocks was Banned by a Number of Stores

When the album came out, Boots, W.H. Smith and Woolworth’s all wouldn’t carry it because of the vulgar language in songs like “Bodies,” the inclusion of the song “God Save the Queen,” and the word “bollocks” in the album’s title. Furthermore, television and radio stations were prohibited from airing advertisements for the album. Even with these bans, Never Mind the Bollocks charted at number one.

Number Nine: They Chartered a Boat to Mock Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee

As a publicity stunt, McLaren and Virgin Records chartered a riverboat to have the Sex Pistols sail down the Thames, a route which passed by both Westminster Pier and the Houses of Parliament, playing “God Save the Queen.” The event ended chaos with police docking the boat and arresting McLaren, Vivienne Westwood and a number of members of the Sex Pistols’ entourage. Keep an eye out for part two of our list of 15 interesting facts about the Sex Pistols, coming soon.