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Sex Pistols Press Release


Johnny Rotten, the angelically malevolent Scaramouche, is a third-generation son of rock 'n' roll - the galvanic lead singer of the Sex Pistols. His band play at a hard heart-attacking, frantic pace. And they sing anti-love songs, cynical songs about surburbia and songs about repression, hate and aggression. They have shocked many people. But the band's music has always been true to life as they see it. Which is why they are so wildly popular. The fans love the Sex Pistols and identify with their songs because they know they are about their lives too.
So Johnny has become much more than the lead singer of another rock 'n' roll band. He is already a cult hero with a mass following. He has been elected the style-setting, opinion-forming generalissimo of the new sub-cultural movement which, since January 1976, has been scything through youth's grass roots disenchantment with society and the state of mainstream rock. And the movement gathers force daily.
For a long time now you needed to look no further than the letters pages of any rock weekly to read how young fans' resentment of established rock stars has been growing. For the last five years, millionaire stars have blatantly disassociated themselves from the brotherly rock fraternity which helped create them in the first place. Most of them have left this country signing off with a cursory - Disgusted Tax Exile From Esher. The fans, never poorer in contrast because of the econonic recession, felt deserted.
Enter the Sex Pistols. They are four working-class teenagers - rock and roll fans - who, not content to feel betrayed, bored and frustrated, have reacted against what they perceive to be the elitist pretensions of their one-time heroes. They decided that since nobody else was playing the music they wanted to hear - they should get up and play it themselves. And they were the first stunning eruption of a rock volcano which has been pouring forth a steady flow of musicians and bands ever since.
The number of musicians who have been directly inspired by the Pistols and the many other bands who have been helped along by their energy, is phenomenal. The roll call of new bands now battering life into a jaded rock scene is dazzling: The Damned The Clash, The Stranglers, Eddie And The Hot Rods, Ultravox, The Jam, The Buzzcocks, Eater, The Adverts, The Slits, Generation X...
And the repercursions are being felt in America. The impact of the Sex Pistols has blown the lid off the rock scene over there too. It is now possible for bands like the Ramones, Patti Smith, Television and Talking Heads to be taken seriously in their home land as well as build up the international reputation they deserve.
Says Johnny Rotten: "Everyone is so fed up with the old way. We were constantly being dictated to by musical old farts out of university who've got rich parents. They look down on us and treat us like fools and expect us to pay POUNDS to see them while we entertain them and not the other way round. And people let it happen! But now they're not. Now there's a hell of a lot of new bands come up with exactly the opposite attitude. It's not condescending any more. It's plain honesty. If you don't like it that's fine. You're not forced to like it through propaganda. People think we use propaganda. But we don't. We're not trying to be commercial. We're doing exactly what we want to do - what we've always done".
But it hasn't been easy. Sceptics and cynics simply didn't want to believe what was happening. Quite unjustly The Sex Pistols were written off as musical incompetents. They were savagely criticised for daring to criticise society and the rock musician's role in it. They have been crucified by the uncaring national press - ever ready to ferret out a circulation boosting shock/horror story - and branded an unpleasant, highly reprehensible Great Media Hype.
Much to their fans' satisfaction, however, the Sex Pistols have remained un repentant and adamant. They want to shock people out of apathy. They want other young people to "do something!". And most of all they want to have fun playing rock 'n' roll. Which is why they've kept going.
The nucleus of the band first got together in London in 1973. This fact is significant. It's in London's suburbs particularly, where the contrast between the promise of a better future and the reality of an impoverished present is most glaringly obvious. Drab,Kafka-like working class ghettoes are not only a stone's throw from the wealth paraded on the King's Road - but also from the heart of the banking capital of the world.
It was only natural that if a group of deprived London street kids got together to form a band - then it would have political overtones. Believe it or not, in 1977 there is a youth unemployment problem of almost crisis proportions. And, as Johnny has said, he just didn't feel disposed to sing love songs in a dole queue.
By the winter of 1975, the Pistols with Steve Jones on lead guitar, Glen Matlock on bass and Paul Coock drumming, were rehearsing every evening. "We just locked our selves away," says Paul. But they were minus a lead singer.
One Saturday afternoon, as they were hanging out as usual in the mysterious rock-infested atmosphere of their manager's Kings Road boutique "SEX", they spotted a likely looking candidate slouched over the jukebox. Johnny, for it was he, had never sung a note before but he was persuaded to show up for a rehearsal. Within three months the band were doing their first gigs.
They "crashed" college dances, pretending that they were the support act when they weren't even booked. They refused to play the 'pub circuit' but early in 1976 they made three appearances at the Nashville Rooms. On one of these occasions, their followers had a fight with hostile hippies and the band were banned from the Nashville.
In February they supported Eddie And The Hot Rods at the Marquee. Johnny threw some chairs around (on the same stage where the Who smashed their equipment) and they were banned from the Marquee.
They worked hard all summer playing small gigs around England. They amazed Paris over a weekend in August. And by September, when they headlined the 100 Club's Punk Rock Festival, their status was uncontested. On the punk scene they were considered to be the finest, most musically exciting and lyrically pertinent rock and roll band to emerge in a decade.
In October they signed with E.M.I. They released the hit single "Anarchy In The U.K." and they were all set for an extensive, triumphant tour of the country. Then they were invited onto the Today show. Bill Grundy got what he asked for - and the Nationals had a bean feast. The band who had been playing week after week all over the country for more than a year were suddenly front page news, branded "filth" and made Public Enemies No.1.
All but five dates of the tour were hysterically banned and the band returned to London on Christmas Eve with the dramatic news that E.M.I. was about to rescind their contract. In January E.M.I. asked them to leave the label. Glen Matlock decided to rorm his own band called the Rich Kids. Sid Vicious replaced him. Everyone cheered when in March, it looked like the Pistols had found shelter at A & M.
Three days later, after a signing-up binge at their new record company's offices, amid more shock-horror stories of tut tut, broken windows and stained carpets, the Pistols were again asked to take back their contract.
By now the band was down - as musicians tend to be when they can't perform - but not out. While their manager sorted out legal tangles and hunted for another record deal, the band ducked out of the limelight. They hired a studio themselves and began recording.
They have been badly missed. But their fans have been waiting with pent-up, fever pitched expectation for what the formidable originators of the New Wave have to offer next.
To all the fans, the Sex Pistols story is the story of an era. It's as simple as that.
JOHNNY ROTTEN: twenty one. Born in London. Lives with his parents in a block of Finsbury Park council flats. Educated at a Catholic sponsored school. Occasional office cleaner. On the dole before he joined the Sex Pistols in 1975.
He is not the loud-mouthed ogre of media myth. He can be cutting and sarcastic but there is an affectionate, tender side to his personality too. He is often seen sitting very still, totally inert and staring mutely ahead - until he springs into action. On stage his body, with not a trace of indolent flesh, will stiffen and contort as if he's wired up to an electric current. He assesses character in a flash. To those who come on trying to be big shots he feigns the expected, sneering punk front. In fact, he is rarely himself in public. But to the genuinely curious and friendly he'll be unexpectedly warm. He kneels on stage and laughs and chats to his fans. A youth of enigmatic contrasts.
STEVE JONES: twenty. Born in London. Lives in a one room, cold water only studio in Soho where the band rehearse. Ex-approved school. He was the lead singer with the Sex Pistols before he took up guitar.
He has the reputation of being a man of a few words. But his sound intuition and low boredom threshold makes him great fun to be with. He's always looking for action. Of the four he probably had the most difficult childhood. His real father was a boxer whom he never knew. He never got on with his step father and since the family lived in one room only, this led to a very fraught home environment. The first record he remembers being impressed by was Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze". He always wanted to play electric guitar.
PAUL COOK: twenty. Born in London. Lived at home until just before Christmas, when his parents were overcome by the national outcry. He now crashes with friends. Left Secondary Modern School (where he was Steve Jones' best friend) for a full time job at Fuller's Brewery in Fulham. Worked there until the day the band played Chelmsford Top Security Prison in September 1976. His work mates gave him a good send off. He was so drunk when he got to the gig that he fell off the drum stool.
He is usually good humoured - the most conventionally sociable of the band. Known to smile and chat to journalists.
SID VICIOUS: twenty. Born in London. Habitat - various squats. One time shop assistant and one of Johnny's closest friends. He drummed for Siouxsie And The Banshees at the IOO Club's Punk Rock Festival. Caused chaos as lead singer in the now-defunct Flowers Of Romance. Was recruited to the Sex Pistols as bass player to replace Glen Matlock in February 1977.
It was Sid who first cut his, and then Johnny's long(ish) hair into the now de-rigeur, spiky punk crop. Sid uses Vick to keep his coiffe on end. And it was his only good pair of trousers which - having been ripped up by some unfriendly squatters - were the first to be economically pinned together again. This creating the safety pin boom.
Not a man to mess with is our Sid - his bite is reputedly worse than his bark.
Caroline Coon. May 1977.


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