Social media would have 'put a stop' to Sex Pistols
It is four decades since the Sex Pistols brought out their anti-establishment anthem God Save The Queen – the ultimate publicity stunt and an unforgettable moment in music history.
The song’s release was timed to cause maximum offence, as the country was getting ready to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
It was, of course, a different world in 1977 and arguably much easier to offend. There were only three TV channels and the internet was yet to be invented.
However, if the Sex Pistols had been a new band trying to shock in same way now, author David Hepworth believes social media would soon put a stop to it.
“One of the reasons that you can’t really have rock stars nowadays is they’d spend most their time apologising for stuff,” the music writer insists. “Everybody apologises for absolutely everything.”
“If there were Johnny Rottens today, I think it’d be very difficult for them to get their message out, oddly enough.
“It would all be diffused by social media – as soon as they made any outrageous, provocative statements, they would very quickly be called upon before the court of public opinion and forced to apologise. It’s a different world.”
On the day of the Jubilee itself, manager Malcolm McLaren decided to take the band’s rebellion a step further.
A boat was hired – paid for by Virgin Records boss Richard Branson – so they could have their own alternative party on the Thames but chaos ensued.
They were chased along the river by the police, beer cans were thrown, fights broke out and, when they returned to dry land, there were arrests.
Photographer Dennis Morris, who followed the band, saw it all.
“No one really knew what was going on and every now and then you’d get a police launch come across and go ‘pull over, pull over’.”
Morris, who now lives in Los Angeles, said at the time the band were fed up that they never seemed to make it through an entire gig without being stopped. Their fans seemed to prefer the mayhem to their music.
“They never got past two, maybe three, of their songs because chaos would unfold so it was very frustrating for the band because they really wanted to be able to show they could play.”
Rare copies of Sex Pistols records can fetch as much as £6,000 now but some hardcore punk fans question the band’s music credentials.
Nick Collins, a lifelong punk fan and owner of All Ages Records, doesn’t understand what the fuss is about.
“It’s just like nothing else existed apart from the Sex Pistols who made this one album, albeit an iconic album, and then they really dined out on the legacy of it for the rest of time really.
“It’s over-played. They are The Beatles of punk rock.”