Johnny Rotten (John Lydon) – vocals
Steve Jones – guitar
Glen Matlock – bass (1975-1977, 1996-)
Sid Vicious (John Simon Ritchie) – bass (1977-1978)
Paul Cook – drums
The Early Days:
Although the foundations of the Sex Pistols began in 1972, when Steve Jones and Paul Cook started playing together, and later with Glen Matlock, it was a fateful day in 1975 when Johnny Rotten walked into Malcolm McLaren's clothing boutique, SEX. Rotten was wearing a homemade "I Hate Pink Floyd" t-shirt.
He was asked to audition by singing along to "Eighteen" by Alice Cooper. He passed the audition, and the band was formed.
After just a handful of live performances, the band was signed to the major label EMI for a very large advance. The Sex Pistols released their first single, Anarchy in the UK, and began to command the attention of England.
The attention was rarely positive. It was during this time that the band caused a massive public uproar after uttering obscenities on a live television talk show, which lead to the show's eventual cancellation.
The Pistols then embarked on the Anarchy Tour. Due to the controversy they'd generated, most of their concerts were cancelled by local authorities; the ones that were not cancelled often erupted into violence.
The tour was followed by a few shows in Amsterdam, after which EMI, fed up with the negative publicity, dumped the band. Matlock then left the band; legend prevails that he was kicked out of the band for the offense of "liking the Beatles", although Matlock claimed he quit.
Rotten's friend Sid Vicious (real name John Simon Ritchie) was recruited to replace Matlock. Vicious was recruited because he had the look and attitude to be a Sex Pistol, but he couldn't play at all. When the band would return to recording, Matlock would be brought in to play bass for the album. Still, Vicious did look the part, and like Rotten he would come to be synonymous with the band's name.
Two More Labels:
In March of 1977, the Sex Pistols signed with A&M Records. A large press conference and ceremony was held in front of Buckingham Palace. Following the signing, the band went back to the A&M offices to celebrate. The Sex Pistols reportedly wrecked the offices, and Sid Vicious vomited on the desk of one of the executives. As a result, A&M dumped the band six days later.
By May of the same year, the Sex Pistols signed yet another record deal with Virgin Records.
Finally, An Album:
With Virgin, the Sex Pistols released the single "God Save the Queen." It was banned by the BBC and nearly everywhere else, yet still shot up the charts.
The band then headed to the U.S. for a tour which only lasted 14 days and was made up almost entirely of dates in the deep south. Their final show was at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom, where Rotten uttered the famous phrase, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?", before storming offstage and breaking up the band.
Following the band's breakup, Rotten went on to form Public Image Limited. The group would go on to produce several records.
Vicious went to New York to pursue a solo career. He made one album, but was arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. He never made it to trial; Vicious died of a heroin overdose on February 2, 1979.
Cook and Jones went on to take part in multiple music ventures with moderate success.
In 1996, 2002, and 2003, the Pistols (with Matlock on bass) reunited for successful tours; one more show in Japan for a concert film is now rumored to be in the works.
In 2006, the Sex Pistols were nominated for the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. Citing multiple reasons, they snubbed the Hall of Fame by turning down the nomination.
Late 2007 saw the band playing a handful of UK reunions, a song for the Guitar Hero III video game, and discussing reentering the studio.
Despite the fact that The Sex Pistols only produced one album, their music has been repackaged and re-released many times. Live recordings, singles compilation and demos abound, and there are many bootlegs in circulation as well. This is the officially recognized list of albums:
Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols(1977)
The Great Rock n Roll Swindle(1979)
Some Product - Carri On Sex Pistols(1979)
Never Mind The Bollocks/Spunk (aka This is Crap)(1996)
Filthy Lucre Live(1996)
The Filth and the Fury(2000)
Sex Pistols Box Set(2002)
People who are interested in checking out the Sex Pistols should start out with Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols. Those who become hooked on the band often find themselves acquiring all of the official releases, and many unofficial releases as well.