Sex Pistols started in London, England, in 1975. The group started with Steve Jones and Paul Jones, who frequented a store owned by Malcolm McLauren. Later, John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon joined the band, followed by Sid Vicious, who replaced Glen Matlock. One of the reasons the group was so controversial was Johnny Rotten’s direction. Much of his lyrics were about subjects that riled the establishment, including abortion, violence, anarchy, and apathy. Vicious couldn’t play an instrument when he joined the group contributing to the group’s chaotic but revolutionary sound. The group released one studio album, Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, and began a United States tour in 1977.
However, it lasted two weeks when Rotten left the band after the San Franciso Winterland Ballroom show. McLauren tried to keep the band going but met opposition from Cook and Jones. In 1996, the group reunited for their twentieth anniversary; Glen Matlock, original vocalist, stood in for Sid Vicious, who died of a heroin overdose in 1979. The group continued their tour and released Filthy Lucre Live. in 1996 Four years later, Julian Temple released The Filth and The Fury, a documentary about the band. The same year, the Sex Pistol’s signed a distribution deal with Universal Records. Some thought this was to stop the bootleg onslaught.
For the group’s fortieth anniversary of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, they released a new edition of the album complete with outtakes, demos, and other material never heard. Additionally, they released a DVD of live footage. Even though the Sex Pistols only released one album and stayed together for two years in the late 1970s, their music shaped the punk culture. Since the group defied social norms, they didn’t meet much radio success. However, their blatant disregard for the establishment left a lasting impression and helped amass a following. Credited with starting the underground music scene in the United Kingdom, The Sex Pistols released many amazing songs during their brief career. These are the top 10 best Sex Pistols songs of all time.
Throughout the Sex Pistols career, they had numerous run-ins with their manager, Malcolm McClaren. The lyrics of Liar reflect their frustration about his greed and mismanagement. One of the lines in the song, “you’re in suspension, you’re a liar,” with a double mean; suspension as hanging and letting McClaren go.
9. Belsen Was A Gas
Sex Pistols wrote this song about a German concentration camp, Bergen Belsen. Initially, the song title was Belsen was a Gag. Bell Canada created a controversial ad with a woman wearing a Sex Pistol’s pin with the song’s title.
8. No Feelings
Throughout his career, Lydon consistently had a low opinion of himself. The lyrics in this song reflect a darker side about a man who has no feelings and only focuses on himself. Even though this is not Lydon’s personality, he wanted to imagine himself in character.
Aside from managing the band, Malcolm McLauren owned a store that sold fetish items. He asked Lydon to write a song about S&M. Lydon thought the request was ridiculous, so he wrote the lyrics about a submarine instead.
6. Holidays in The Sun
The Sex Pistols constantly met with opposition in the United Kingdom, even feeling like a prison. Instead of staying in the United Kingdom, they went to Channel Island, New Jersey. However, they were so notorious they couldn’t find a place to stay, so they went to Berlin. The lyrics in this song reflect the odyssey.
5. No One Is Innocent
Sex Pistols released this song as a double A-side with Sid Vicous’ cover of Frank Sinatra’s My Way. Ronnie Biggs, the notorious British Criminal of 1963 Great Train Robbery infamy, co-wrote the song and sang vocals on another album track. Biggs was hiding out in Brazil, so Paul Cook and Steve Jones went to Brazil to work with him. Some of the lyrics in the song play off God Save the Queen. Additionally, a few celebrate Biggs’s escape.
4. Pretty Vacant
The third single from the Sex Pistols dropped on July 1, 1977, in the United Kingdom and October 27 in the United States. Glen Matlock wrote the song before Sid Vicious replaced him. The only recording with the music is the BBCs Top of the Pops show. Looking back, they probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity if the show knew the title was subversive.
The Sex Pistols had a notorious fan named Pauline, who didn’t so much love the band as she obsessed with them. Some thought she lived in an insane asylum and spent days in a treehouse before nurses could bring her out. One night she went to Lydon’s house wearing a plastic bag. Some of the lyrics deal with abortion, a taboo subject during the 70s. When questioned, Lydon said he talked about his mom’s miscarriages and assisting when it happened.
2. God Save The Queen
Glen Matlock, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, and John ‘Johnny Rotten” Lydon wrote this song. Like many of their songs, it sounds like a violent incitement. However, according to Far Out Magazine, Lydon said the lyrics were meant as a campy tribute and felt shocked people thought it was about starting a revolution. The song’s first title was No Future. However, Glen Matlock’s bass was featured prominently, so they changed it to God Save The Queen after Sid Vicious joined the band.
1. Anarchy in the U.K.
According to a Rolling Stone article in 2004, when recording this song, several elements stand out; the guitar sound is reminiscent of a pub brawl. Throughout the song, you can hear Johnny Rotten making guttural noises spitting. The song ends with incitement to “get pissed/destroy.” The Sex Pistol’s record label hated the song since it was so violent and pulled the group, only adding to their fame. Later, Rotten said, “I don’t understand it. All we’re trying to do is destroy everything.”