The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band formed in London in 1975. Although their initial career lasted just two and a half years, they were one of the most groundbreaking acts in the history of popular music. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Their fashion and hairstyles were a significant influence on punk image, and they are often associated with anarchism within music.
The Sex Pistols originally comprised vocalist Johnny Rotten (John Lydon), guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook, and bassist Glen Matlock; Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious in early 1977. Under the management of Malcolm McLaren, the band attracted some controversies that both captivated and appalled Britain. Through an obscenity-laced television interview in December 1976 and their May 1977 single "God Save the Queen", the latter of which attacked Britons' social conformity and deference to the Crown, they popularised punk rock in the UK. "God Save the Queen" was banned by the BBC and nearly every independent radio station in Britain, making it one of the most censored records in British history.
The Sex Pistols' only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (1977) — a UK number one — is a staple record of punk rock. In January 1978, at the end of their turbulent tour of the US, Rotten announced the band's break-up. Over the next few months, the three remaining members recorded songs for McLaren's film of the Sex Pistols' story, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. Vicious died of a heroin overdose in February 1979, following his arrest for the alleged murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. A film about the couple, Sid and Nancy, was released in 1986. Rotten, Jones, Cook, and Matlock reunited for a successful tour in 1996. Further one-off performances and short tours followed over the next decade.
The Sex Pistols have been recognised as an influential band. In 2004, Rolling Stone placed them No. 58 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". On 24 February 2006, the Sex Pistols—the four original members plus Vicious—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; they refused to attend the ceremony.
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