It’s been 30 years since the Sex Pistols shook up the music business with their image, attitude and music. Since then, there have been reformation tours and the acknowledgement that their debut album, Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, is one of the greatest rock albums of all time, influencing bands like Nirvana and Guns ‘N’ Roses.
The Sex Pistols are also the most collectible punk band, with prices easily outstripping American and British rivals like The Ramones, Television and The Clash.
“It’s great that we mean a lot to people” says drummer Paul Cook, “and there is good support for us out there amongst collectors.”
Glen Matlock, the original bass player, is also more than happy to blow the band’s trumpet. “I think that we should be the No. 1 collectable band in the world. Although, I’m not into collecting myself.”
That may be so, but when Johnny Rotten sang “we’re the future, your future” on “God Save The Queen” back in 1977, rather than commenting upon society, was he really calling upon his punk fans to invest in Sex Pistols records as a vinyl pension plan?
Sex Pistols vinyl became collectable from the release of their very first single “Anarchy In The UK”/”I Wanna Be Me” (EMI 2566) in November 1976. By this time the band was already seen as the leaders of a new “punk rock” in England, with a devoted hard-core following and a manager in Malcolm McLaren adept at using the music press to attract maximum publicity.
The Pistols’ appearance, however, on the early evening current affairs TV program “Today,” where they unleashed a torrent of obscenities at presenter Bill Grundy, caused a media outrage beyond his wildest dreams. One consequence was that the Pistols were dropped by their record label EMI, which also withdrew “Anarchy ... “ from sale even though it had reached 38 in the U.K. top 40.
Collectors will find that the most common stock copies have a Dave Goodman production credit on the B-side and are worth $50. Those in a black picture sleeve with a Chris Thomas production credit on the B-side are worth $180.
Finally, promo copies with “Demo Record Not For Resale” in a black picture sleeve with the Chris Thomas production credit on both sides and an information slip about the release are worth $550. There are also three known copies of a double-sided acetate containing a longer version of “Anarchy ... “ timed at 4:01, with a cover version of the Stooges’ “No Fun” (EMI 401), which the band originally intended to be the singles B-side. These are worth in the region of $12,000 each, as are one-sided acetates of “Anarchy ... “ in its more widely known version timed at 3:36.
Free from EMI — and allowed to keep the $80,000 advance — McLaren negotiated a deal with the U.K. arm of A&M records who, after symbolically signing the contract outside Buckingham Palace, planned to release The Pistols’ second single “God Save The Queen”/”No Feelings” in March 1977 to tie in with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations.
However, by this time, original bass player Glen Matlock had been replaced by Sid Vicious, and the band’s loutish behavior at A&M’s head office — guitarist Steve Jones allegedly making love to an employee in the toilet being the least offensive action that day — and the assault of a well-known DJ (by Vicious) saw them being dropped 10 days after the deal was agreed.
The single was withdra