Sex Pistols name: Why did Sex Pistols call themselves ‘Sex Pistols’?
John Lydon: The working class have spoken and I'm with them
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The Sex Pistols formed in London in 1975 and were made up of Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Glen Matlock and John Lydon. The band is known for their edgy fashion and hairstyles, along with their controversial tracks – with 1977 single God Save the Queen being banned by the BBC and almost every independent radio station.
Why did Sex Pistols call themselves ‘Sex Pistols’?
Manager Malcolm McLaren claims he was behind the punk rock band’s unique name.
His clothing shop on the King’s Road, which he co-owned with Vivienne Westwood, was called SEX and is likely the inspiration for the band name.
Malcolm has previously said he wanted a band who seemed dangerous, explaining: “[I] launched the idea in the form of a band of kids who could be perceived as being bad.”
He also claims he wanted something that sounded like “sexy young assassins”, and so came up with Sex Pistols.
However, not all of the band agree to his version of events.
Glen, in his autobiography, says the band had already chosen this name while Malcolm was in America.
His claims reveal the name was one they had been working under informally, while they tried out other names like Crème de la Crème, Le Bomb and the Damned.
However, bandnameexplained.com comes up with another theory behind the unusual choice of name.
The website refers to the band’s only studio album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, saying: “If we follow the advice of the album title and leave the balls out of the equation, it’s pretty obvious what we’re left with and what ‘pistols’ means.
“Still, there are people who believe that by pistols not human genitals are meant, but floral genitals.
“The name Sex Pistols is a corruption of pistilla sex, the sexual organ of a flower or plant that grows female reproductive cells.”
How did Johnny Rotton and Sid Vicious get their names?
The band itself was not the only thing to get a revamped name, as John and later member Simon Ritchie – who replaced Matlcok in 1977 – have their own rebrand.
For John, his stage name Johnny Rotten came from his oral hygiene.
He told The Guardian he was given the name as his teeth were ‘turning green,’ and that it was a name given to him by others.
Simon called himself Sid Vicious after Johnny’s hamster, who was named after Syd Barrett, who viciously bit him, promoting him to exclaim: “Sid is really vicious!”
Sid was a big fan of the group and had attended every concert, as an old friend of John’s, however he did not play an instrument and had to learn the bass to join.
While he was not very popular in the music industry, band manager Malcolm once said: “If Johnny Rotten is the voice of punk, then Vicious is the attitude.”
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