The Sex Pistols played at Watford College in England on January 23, 1976. This would be the first of 65 gigs in the “Anarchy in the U.K.” tour of 1976. The tour would Feature the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Damned. This tour goes down in history as one of the shortest, yet most influential tours ever, due to the fact that half of the shows were canceled because of the reputation the three punk bands had gained. By the end of the tour, the three bands were banned from playing in many of the major cities and towns throughout the U.K. When the Sex Pistols returned home to London, punk had blown up and was the newest “kiddy fad.” The impact of the tour was felt across the U.K. and even in America as word spread that a filthy punk band from England was breaking down walls.
The “Anarchy in the U.K.” tour is viewed as the beginning of the Sex Pistols’s rise to fame, but also as the beginning of the end of the band. The tour included a memorable showcase gig held during London’s first punk festival, at the 100 Club in Oxford Street, which featured the band Siouxsie and the Banshies (staring future sex pistols bassist Sid Vicious) and the Sex Pistols would go on to sign with major label EMI. The band’s first single,”Anarchy in the U.K.” was released on November 26, 1976 and served as a statement of angst, anger and youthful energy. By the time the song was released, the Sex Pistols were known to be obnoxious revolutionaries and their single only added to the reputation. The Sex Pistols would be dropped by EMI 30 days later and were picked up by A&M records almost immediately.
The behavior of the Sex Pistols brought them just as much national attention as their music. December 1, 1976 the band would create a storm of publicity during an early evening live broadcast of Thames Television’s “Today” program. The band was appearing as a last-minute replacement for Queen, and their entourage took full advantage of the green room facilities, consuming large amounts of alcohol and creating an overall ruckus. During the interview, lead singer Johnny Rotten created a stir by using the word “s–t” and “dirty sod” while host Bill Grundy, (who was drunk at the time) flirted openly with Siouxsie Sioux. Grundy encouraged the band to continue with the language telling them they had five seconds to say something outrageous. In classic Sex Pistols form, Jones called Grundy a “dirty old man,” “dirty bastard,” “dirty “f—–r” and a ”f—-n rotter.”
Even though the program was only broadcast in London, the public display of anger and violence occupied the tabloid newspapers for days. The Daily Mirror famously ran the headline ‘”The Filth and the Fury“, while the Daily Express led with “Punk? Call it Filthy Lucre.” Thames Television suspended Grundy, and though he was later reinstated, the interview effectively ended his career.
The interview resulted in a full blown media circus with newspapers reporting that the band spat on their fans, puked on fans and even had sex on stage. The band’s growing reputation would both attract and detour media and fans alike.
The Sex Pistols go down in history as one of the most influential bands of all time and the “Anarchy in the U.K.” tour will forever be recognized as one of the defining moments in punk music.Though the Sex Pistols only hand one album and were really only a band for two years, they have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bands such as Guns N’ Roses, Rancid, Green Day, blink-182, and Motley Crue have openly admitted the Sex Pistols’s heavy influence in their own sound. The band’s unique individuality has carried on in virtually every field of music and their presence is felt in all different forms of rock.