Steve Jones (Steven Phillip Jones) (Guitar) born 3rd September 1955
Sid Vicious (John Simon Ritchie/Beverley) (Bass) born 10th May 1957
Johnny Rotten (John Joseph Lydon) (Vocals) born 31st January 1956
The Story of the Sex Pistols
The band that was to eventually change the music world, started as a group called "The Strand/Swankers" by school friends Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Wally Nightingale in 1972 when the three of them, just like thousands of other kids, just didn't bother going to school. They would spend days dreaming of becoming a rock band and by means of a little thieving here and there they assembled a various collection of musical instruments. Paul Cook decided he was serious about the idea and invested in a drum kit ,the first piece of legitimate equipment for the band. Together they started "playing" cover versions of Small Faces, Who and other 60's songs plus a few of their own songs (Scarface and an early version of Did you No Wrong). Other people who temporarily joined the band at different times were Jimmy Mackin on keyboards,Stephen Hayes on bass, Del Noone also on bass and a guy named Cecil on congo drums !!!
By 1974, the group had hardly improved, they had no permanent bassist, no manager, hardly any of their own songs and could barely play their instruments. Jones kept asking Malcolm Mclaren, the co-owner of a clothes shop called "Let It Rock" and then "Too fast to Live too young to die" in the Kings Road to be their manager, but when he finally showed an interest in the band he suggested a line up change. Wally Nightingale didn't fit Mclarens idea of how a rock band should look (by now the New York scene was erupting with bands like the New York Dolls, Television and Richard Hell emerging) and Steve Jones vocals left a lot to be desired. After their one and only gig in early 1975 as the Strand, playing a low-key gig in the flat above Tom Salter’s café on the Kings Road and numerous rehearsals (legend has it that a tape recording was made but Wally accidentally taped over it a few years later), Wally was asked to leave and Steve Jones became the guitarist (although he could hardly play at the time), leaving the band looking for a singer.
Vivienne Westwood had told Malcolm about a regular customer in the shop named John and suggested that he would make a good frontman. In August 1975 Malcolm Mclaren asked "John" to audition for the role as a singer for the band. After a meeting in the Roebuck pub, John was taken back to the shop - along with his friend John Grey for moral support - where he auditioned in front of the jukebox. His chaotic performance of Alice Coopers ‘Eighteen’ impressed both the band and Mclaren. He was given the job immediately and John Lydon was christened Johnny Rotten by Steve Jones on account of the state of his teeth "they looked like dog ends" he stated. It was only when Westwood met him that she told Malcolm he had got the wrong guy - she had meant John Ritchie who later became known as Sid Vicious.
In September 1975 Mclaren rented a rehearsal studio complete with bedsit at Denmark Street, this was to become the base for the Sex Pistols where they lived and played together for the next 12 months.
On the 6th of November 1975 they played their first gig supporting Bazooka Joe (featuring the soon to be Adam Ant on bass guitar) at The St Martins School of Art. They managed to play 5 songs before the set was called to an abrupt end.
Several other gigs were played in and around London mainly just by turning up at gigs and claiming to be one of the support bands.
In March 1976 the Pistols played the first of their legendary gigs at the 100 club in London's Oxford Street and a week later in April they played the Nashville Rooms with Dave Goodman at the controls, he added echo and feedback creating the "wall of sound" that became the Pistols trademark.
Some of the Pistols most famous gigs were played in April including the El Paradise Strip Club and the infamous Nashville Rooms gig where a fight broke out in the audience and the band stopped playing to join in. The music press happened to be at the gig and pictures were splattered all over the music mags showing the fight. The violent image of the Sex Pistols and the Punk movement was born, in truth this could'nt have been more wrong but the music press had already decided that this was the image to project. Over the next 12 months the Pistols started playing gigs outside of London and the word of how different their performances were spread around the country, music magazines started giving them reviews and a cult following was created, the most famous being the "Bromley Contingent".
June 1976 saw the Pistols play their first gig in Manchester where nearly 2000 people attended (actually only about 70-80 people were there but as time went by more and more people claimed to have been there.)
July 1976 was when the Pistols made there first demo recordings with Dave Goodman.
August 1976 and they were filmed performing Anarchy in the UK for the TV programme So It Goes.
In September 1976 the 100 Club staged a 2 day "Punk Festival" featuring all the new punk bands in London with the Pistols playing on the first night, on the second night with the absence of the Pistols,who were playing a 3 night stint in South Wales, Sid Vicious was arrested for allegedly throwing a glass at the stage which smashed and partly blinded a young girl in the audience.
October 1976 and the Pistols signed to EMI for a then staggering £40,000
November 1976 and the legendary single Anarchy in the UK was released in the UK.
In December 76 the Pistols appeared on the live early evening TV programme ‘The Bill Grundy show‘. While being interviewed, Jones and Rotten swore at the host, because of this the Pistols became the most famous - and hated - band in England overnight. The following days newspapers were headlining this obsene and filthy craze which had taken the UK's youth by storm.
The older generation and the establishment were outraged at both the Grundy saga and the hype that surrounded the Pistols and tried to stop them with bans and protests. Most of The 'Anarchy Tour' which also featured The Clash, The Damned and the Heartbreakers was cancelled as venues all over England banned The Pistols from playing.
In January 1977 Glen Matlock started having doubts about the Pistols image and had many arguments with the rest of the band and the management and after recording a few more demo recordings he was asked to leave. His replacement was Sid Vicious, an old friend of Lydon. Although he was initially unable to play the bass, he was given the job anyway, partly because Lydon felt he needed an ally in the band and he had the perfect image for Punk (Spiky hair, Westwood clothes etc)
In March 1977 the Pistols signed to A+M Records where they recorded the single God save the Queen. Within weeks they were fired and all but approximately 100 copies of the single were destroyed.
In May 1977 the Pistols signed to Virgin Records and the single God save the Queen was released in time for the Queen's Silver Anniversary. It was banned from radio and TV airplay (except for the wonderful John Peel Show)
In June 1977 the Pistols celebrated with a Boat Trip along the River Thames with a selection of fans and press reporters, after a French reporter was attacked by a reveller (John "Jah Wobble" Wardle) the police were called and many of those on board were arrested for insulting behaviour, disturbance of the peace, assault etc. Over the next few weeks several members of the band and their friends were viciously attacked in the street.
Also in June 1977 the third single Pretty Vacant was released and a video was shown on Top of the Pops, a UK TV Music programme.
In July the Pistols did a tour of Scandinavia where many of the shows were filmed or recorded
In August the Pistols did a mini tour of England playing under different names such as The Spots, The Tax Exiles and Acne Rabble because they would'nt be allowed to play otherwise.
In October 1977 the 4th single Holidays in the Sun was released quickly followed by the album Never mind the Bollocks. Once again the Pistols hit the headlines because of the word Bollocks, this ended in a court case which went in favour of the band.
In December 1977 a tour of Holland and the UK took place with the Pistols playing their last UK gig on Christmas Day at Huddersfield where all proceeds went to the Striking Firemen and the the local children's charity.
In January 1978 the Pistols embarked on a tour of the USA , although only in the south. This was to be the last few days of the Pistols when after 6 gigs of total chaos with Sid totally stoned on drugs, Steve pissed off with the bullshit, Paul still playing his heart out and John seeing that Mclaren's interfering had ruined everything, John announced that he was leaving the band.
After the band finished, Vicious went to New York with his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, and with Spungen acting as his manager, he began a disastrous solo career which ended rapidly due to his and Nancy’s drug addiction. On the 11th of October 1978 Sid awoke from a night of drug binging in a room at the Chelsea hotel to find Nancy laying in a pool of blood underneath the bathroom sink. She had been stabbed in the abdomen and whether it was Sid who killed her is still unknown - he couldn’t even remember what had happened. Some speculate that it was a drug dealer who had killed her while Sid had passed out, or that they had a death pact. Others say that Sid had accidentally stabbed her during an argument and neither of them had realised how severe the wound was. Sid was immediately arrested for the murder of his girlfriend and sent to Rikers Island prison. On the day that Sid was released from prison on bail, his mother Anne Beverly, who had flown to New York to be with her son, took him back to the home of Sid’s new girlfriend, Michelle Robinson. The next morning Anne went to give her son a cup tea and found him lying on his bed, dead from a heroin over dose. He was just 21 years old.
Johnny Rotten changed his name back to John Lydon and with a few friends created Public Image Limited a band that was to change their line up many times over the next few years.
Steve Jones and Paul Cook formed a new band called The Professionals and released two albums and several singles before going there seperate ways.
In 1996 the original line up of Jones Cook Matlock and Rotten reformed for the Filthy Lucre Tour which took them all around the world playing to the people who had idolised them for over 20 years.
In 2002 and 2003 they played one show in London UK and several shows in the USA.
The story will continue...........
Steve Jones (Steven Phillip Jones) (Guitar) born 3rd September 1955
Born Stephen Philip Jones on the 3rd September 1955 in London’s Queen Charlotte's hospital. He was an only child and his father, Don Jarvis an amateur boxer, left when he was just two years old.
Up to the age of twelve he grew up in Hammersmith with his young mother, who worked as a hairdresser and his grandparents. He then moved to Benbow road in Shepherds Bush with his mother and stepfather where they lived in a one bedroomed basement. Jones never got on with his stepfather, who made his living making gaskets for electric cookers, “he was an a*****e, I was just extra baggage”. Problems began to occur from a young age and in 1972 he was the subject of a council care-order. As a teenager Jones was frequently in trouble with the police. He was a kleptomaniac and was arrested for a range of crimes including car theft, shop lifting and burglary. In the documentary 'The Filth and the Fury' Jones said he grew up watching his parents steal from shops and during his teens he racked up 14 criminal convictions. He spent a year in a remand centre - which he says was more enjoyable than being at home - and admits that the Sex Pistols saved him from a life of crime or even prison.
In late 1972/early 73 Jones formed ‘The Strand’ with his school friends Paul Cook and Wally Nightingale who he had met at the Cristopher Wren school. By 1975 after several line up changes and musical differences the band was finalised - minus Wally who had been sacked the year before . They consisted of Glen Matlock, Paul Cook, Johnny Rotten and Jones himself. Over the next three years, the band would become the most famous and notorious band in the UK (possibly the world), Sid Vicious would join and they would eventually end disastrously in 1978 on their only American tour.
After the band, the only thing that had got him out of the hellhole he was in, had disintegrated in front of him, Jones descended into heroin addiction (which he eventually kicked in the mid eighties). He formed ‘The Professionals’ with Paul Cook, but it was short lived and could never match the success of the Sex Pistols.
Jones has formed many bands since his glory days in the seventies, most notably with the Neurotic Outsiders in 1995, but he has never had major success with any of his projects. He has also worked as a producer and an actor. In 1987 he released Mercy, the first of two solo albums and in 1989 Fire and Gasoline.
His movies include 'Ladies and Gentlemen the fabulous stains" which also starred Paul Cook. In 1999 he appeared in the film 'Mascara' playing a photographer who had a unhealthy interest in his teenage daughter. He also narrated the 1999 documentary "Hooligans and thugs - soccers most violent fans".
In 1999 he produced Buckcherry’s self titled debut album and later produced some tracks on the album 'Transmission' by a young British band called 'Violent Delight'. He has also worked as a session musician for the many different artists.
Today he lives in Los Angeles and is a successful radio DJ with his own lunchtime show ‘Jonesy’s Jukebox’ on indie 103.1. FM radio.
Paul Cook (Drums) born 20th July 1956
Born on the 20th July 1956 Paul Cook was raised in the Hammersmith area of London. Unlike his best friend Steve Jones, Cook came from a stable family and was always the most quiet and reserved of the Sex Pistols.
He attended the Christopher Wren school in White City Estate, Shepherds Bush and it was here where he met Steve Jones. There was a considerable amount of difference between Cook’s school report cards before and after he met Jones, the latter warned of ‘bad influences‘. In 1972/73 Cook and Jones - and their school friend Wally Nightingale - formed the Strand. Within the next 3 years the Strand would transgress into the Sex Pistols.
After the band split in 1978 Cook and Jones recorded a few singles, under the name of the Sex Pistols, each taking turns on vocals until they formed The Professionals with Andy Allen. They released 3 singles and 2 albums, but never regained the success of their Pistols days.Paul Cook’s other musical activities included ‘Chiefs of Relief’ in 1988 and also playing drums for Edwyn Collins and Bananarama.Today Cook is a content family man, living in Shepherds Bush with his wife Jenny and their daughter Holly. He continues to work as a session musician for Edwyn Collins.
Sid Vicious (John Simon Ritchie/Beverley) (Bass) born 10th May 1957
Sid Vicious was born in London on May 10th 1957, various accounts list his real name as John Beverley, Simon Ritchie, or "John Simon" followed by one of those two surnames. Sid grew up idolising glam-rock stars like David Bowie, Roxy Music and T. Rex, often imitating their style of dress. While attending school as a teenager in 1975 he met John Lydon, who christened him "Sid Vicious" after a seemingly cute pet hamster who had once bitten a chunk of flesh out of Lydon's father's hand, it was actually a name that Vicious himself disliked. Lydon, Vicious and several other friends began squatting in vacant buildings in London and the two occasionally busked in subway stations. When Lydon joined the Sex Pistols as Johnny Rotten, Vicious became one of the band's most visible followers, creating a dance named the "pogo" which arose from him jumping up and down to see the band perform. Sid played drums for mutual Pistols fans Siouxsie and the Banshees at their first gig at the 100 Club Punk Festival but his pre-Pistols days are more remembered for the occasional violence he stirred up at shows. During a Damned show at the 100 Club Punk Festval he was arrested for allegedly throwing a beer glass at the stage, the glass instead hit a pillar, shattered and struck a female spectator, partly blinding her in one eye. In another notorious incident in June 1976, Vicious attacked music journalist Nick Kent with a bicycle chain.
By February 1977, the Pistols parted with Glen Matlock and Rotten suggested his friend Vicious as a replacement. Even though Sid could not yet play the bass, Rotten had faith in his ability to learn, and Sid already had the image that was wanted.
Early in 1977, shortly after Vicious officially joined the Pistols, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers arrived in the U.K. for a tour. Following them was a groupie and heroin addict named Nancy Spungen. Thunders was credited as introducing Heroin to the London scene, in one instance waving a heroin-filled syringe in Sid's face and saying "Are you a boy or a man?". But it wasn't until a short while later, when a repulsed Johnny Rotten attempted to halt Spungen's unwanted advances by introducing her to Vicious, that Sid's heroin habit began. She wanted a Sex Pistol while Vicious identified with her outcast status and fell into her ways almost immediately.
As a member of the Sex Pistols, Sid became an instant star, the resultant ego inflation, coupled with Spungen's voracious appetite for drugs, spelled disaster.
Sid Vicious played his first live show with the Sex Pistols on April 4th 1977. Although his efforts to learn the bass were sincere, he showed up at recording sessions for Never Mind the Bollocks too drunk/stoned to play at all effectively, so Steve Jones took over the bass guitar parts. In between all the Pistols controversies of 1977, Sid's friends spent most time trying in vain to get rid of Spungen and to break Sid of his heroin habit.
In January 1978, the Sex Pistols embarked on an ill-fated tour of the United States. Most Americans who had heard of Sid Vicious knew only of his media image, and upon his arrival, Vicious did his utmost to live up to that violent tough-guy persona, which usually resulted in him getting beaten up. Since he was separated from Nancy on the tour (she remained in London) Rotten tried again to help Sid kick his drug habit, but he would often "disappear" for hours only to come back high on heroin. Tales of Vicious excesses and self-mutilations on the tour abound, in San Antonio he called the audience "a bunch of faggots" and hit someone on the head with his guitar. In Dallas he appeared onstage with the phrase "Gimme A Fix" carved on his chest,.At a truck stop on the way to Tulsa, a trucker put a cigarette out on his hand and challenged Vicious to beat that, so Vicious sliced his own hand open with a knife and calmly continued eating. Two days after the Pistols' final gig in San Francisco Sid suffered his first heroin overdose, three days later on a flight to New York, he slipped into a drug-induced coma. Upon his return to England he and Rotten fell out completely over his drug abuse and after John had announced his decision to leave the band Sid went to Paris for the Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle film, for which he recorded covers of "My Way" and a couple of Eddie Cochran songs. In August 1978, he and Nancy moved to New York, raising money by performing a farewell gig at the Electric Ballroom in London with a backing band called the Vicious White Kids featuring guitarist Steve New, bassist Glen Matlock and drummer Rat Scabies.
Upon arriving in New York, Vicious formed the Idols which included guitarist Steve Dior and Arthur Kane and Jerry Nolan ex New York Dolls members. They performed several nights at Max's Kansas City. A live album from these shows called "Sid Sings" was released in 1979. It consisted mostly of Pistols, Dolls, and Heartbreakers covers, plus demo of My Way. Many compilation albums from these shows have been released since, with varying recording quality.
On October 12, 1978, Sid Vicious awoke in his Chelsea Hotel room to find Nancy Spungen lying in the bathroom, dead of a stab wound. Although he could not remember the events of the preceding evening due to his drug-induced stupor, he confessed to the crime and was arrested. After Virgin Records bailed him out, he attempted suicide several days later by slashing himself with a razor and was committed to Bellevue for two weeks. On December 9, at the Max's Kansas City club, Vicious propositioned the girlfriend of Todd Smith (Patti Smith's brother), when Todd Smith approached him about it, Vicious broke a glass across his face and was subsequently arrested again. He was released on February 1st 1979 and that night took some bad heroin supplied by his mother, he took more of the drug later that night and was found dead of an overdose the next morning. He was just 21.
The murder of Nancy Spungen was never conclusively solved, and several theories exist as to what really happened. Vicious' own confession told the story of a dispute over a failure to buy any heroin, which escalated into violence and finally the stabbing. Spungen apparently failed to dress the wound properly, and died several hours later. However, Vicious own condition rendered him unsure of the night's events, and those close to him doubted that he could have brought himself to murder her. A team of private detectives hired by manager Malcolm McLaren turned up evidence suggesting that someone else could have committed the murder, several other people had been in the apartment that night, one of whom was unknown to the group, and some sort of drug deal had taken place while a large cashed check from Virgin was lying out in the open. The true details of what happened that night will never be known.
Johnny Rotten (John Joseph Lydon) (Vocals) born 31st January 1956
John Joseph Lydon was born on the 31st of January 1956 to John and Eileen and has three brothers named Jimmy, Bobby and Martin.
Lydon spent his early youth living around the country and at the age of eight he contracted Meningitis, which left him in and out of a coma for six months and unable to attend school for a year. When he recovered from the illness he was left with bad eyesight, a hunched back due to the penicillin injections he had to endure and loss of memory.
When he was 11 the family settled in Finsbury Park London, where they lived in a council flat. It was here where Lydon began to attend the William Of York Catholic school. “A s~~~t hole” Lydon states in the book England’s Dreaming, “I learnt hate and resentment there. I learned to despise tradition and this sham we call culture”.
After leaving school in 1972, Lydon worked in various different jobs including killing rats with his dad. He attended the Hackney Technology college where he met John Ritchie who he named Sid after his pet hamster. Together with Sid they squatted in various London houses and would often busk outside tube stations for money.
In 1975 Lydon was asked to audition for the band by singing along to an Alice Cooper song plated on the jukebox in SEX. His performance was so outrageous he was hired immediately. He had several ideas for songs and coupled with Glen Matlocks gift for writng tunes they created the Sex Pistols repertoire. Being the singer with the band meant that he would get the most publicity, but this also meant he would be the first to be attacked both verbally and physically. After the Pistols split he went on to form a band name Public Image Limited or PIL for short, with a few old mates. After many line up changes and 10 albums he put the project on hold. He did a bit of acting and appeared on several US TV shows and after the successful Sex Pistols reunions of 1996, 2002 and 2003 he appeared on a UK reality show called "I'm a celebrity get me out of here", this pit Lydon back in the spotlight and he followed this with a documentary series about insects and bugs. John Lydon is currently married to heiress Nora Forster(Ari Up's mum) and lives a very comfortable life in Los Angeles.
Glen Matlock (Bass and Vocals) born 27th August 1956
Glen Matlock was born on the 27th August 1956 in Kensel Green, a working class area in north west London. His father was a coach builder and his mother worked as an accounts clerk for the gas board. He was an only child who got on well with his parents. The family lived on the top floor of a two-up two-down flat on Ravensworth Rd in Kensel Green. They then moved to a four -bed roomed house when Matlock was 14. In 1968 attended the St Clement Danes grammar school. It was while playing football games on the grounds of Wormwood Scrubs prison, which was right next to the school, where he met Paul Cook for the first time.
While in his last year of school, Matlock began to work as the Saturday boy in ‘Let it Rock’ a shop on the Kings Road owned by Malcolm Mclaren and Vivienne Westwood. It was while working here that Matlock got the job as bass player of ‘The Strand’ a band formed by Paul Cook and Steve Jones. The band - Steve, Paul, Glen and Wally Nightingale - played their one and only gig as the Strand in a flat above Tom Salter’s café on the Kings Road. In 1975 they became the Sex Pistols and recruited Johnny Rotten as their front man.
In February 1977 Matlock left the Sex Pistols, due to the problems that had been brewing inside the camp. There are many stories said to be the reason Glen left or was sacked depending on who you believe. Mclaren claimed it was because he liked the Beatles too much. But one of the main resons was his love/hate relationship with Johnny Rotten and the bad boy image the Pistols had acquired. To the rest of the band he seemed to be too straight and te was always worrying about what his mother would think. The band now admit his departure (and Sid’s recruitment) was a bad idea and in an interview in 2002 Steve Jones said he believed the Pistols would have made more than one album if Glen had stayed in the band.
19 years after leaving the Pistols, Matlock rejoined them for the Filthy Lucre tour in 1996. Matlock has continued to record since his departure from the Pistols his main success being in ‘The Rich kids’ with Midge Ure, Steve New and Rusty Egan. They signed to EMI on the 5th of November, 1977 and their debut single ‘Rich Kids’ (written by Matlock) was released in January 78 in the UK. The album ‘Ghosts Of Princes in Towers’ followed in August and was produced by Mick Ronson. The Rich Kids split up in 78 despite having recorded new album material.
Matlock has formed many bands since the Rich Kids, including The Spectres, the Mavericks and the Philistines. He’s also played as a session musician on tracks by Primal Scream, the Dammed, Iggy Pop and Johnny Thunders. In 1996 he released his first solo album ‘Who does he think he is when he’s at home’ on Peppermint Records. That was followed by 'Open Mind' in 2000.
Today he still tours both as a solo artist and with his band The Philistines - which currently consists of Glen, Koozie Johns, Chris Musto and Ray Mcveigh. He also tours with Dead Men Walking, a ‘super group’ made up of Kirk Brandon( Spears of Destiny), Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats), Mike Peters (The Alarm) and Bruce Watson (Big Country) He lives with his wife Carol and their two sons Sam and Louis.