John Peel Wiki
Sex Pistols.jpg

The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Although their initial career lasted just two-and-a-half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music.... (Read more at Wikipedia.)

Links To Peel

Peel never saw the group play live during their late Seventies heyday. He attended the 100 Club in London on 11 May 1976 when the band had a Thursday night residency at the venue, but had to leave during their first number to go and present his show on Radio One [1]. Perhaps the closest opportunity he got to seeing them live was when he drove up to Derby, presumably on the 'Anarchy In The UK' tour (4th December 1976). When he arrived, there was a hand-written note pinned to the venue door announcing that the gig had been cancelled [2].

The original members of the Pistols subsequently appeared on the programme in session recordings: John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten (PiL); Steve Jones & Paul Cook (Professionals); and Glen Matlock (Rich Kids and Jimmy Norton's Explosion).

The DJ did finally see the Pistols live, reformed at the Phoenix Festival in 1996:

"On the last night of course it was the Sex Pistols who, I must admit, I thought were fairly ludicrous, but, you know, other people saw them who had not seen them previously. ... But they were sort of OK, went through their numbers and spat and swore and stuff like this, all the stuff you'd expect them to do, really." [3]

God Save The Queen

Main article: God Save The Queen

The Pistols' second single was due to be released on the A&M label, but the company fired the band with a £75,000 pay-off and destroyed nearly all of the 25,000 copies that had already been pressed. It was subsequently issued on Virgin and caused controversy due to its release in the Queen's Jubilee Year. Peel regarded it as "fuss about nothing" and continued to play the song. It reached the Festive Fifty on numerous occasions.

Festive Fifty Entries

  • Anarchy In The UK (1978, #1; 1979, #1; 1980, #1; 1981, #2; 1982AT, #1; 2000AT, #4)
  • EMI (1978, #48)
  • God Save The Queen (1977, #61; 1978, #3; 1979, #13; 1980, #25; 1981, #38, 1982AT, #25)
  • Holidays In The Sun (1977, #11; 1978, #18; 1979, #14; 1980, #12; 1981, #17; 1982AT, #37)
  • Pretty Vacant (1977, #51; 1978, #6; 1979, #16; 1980, #23; 1982AT, #44; 2000, #29)


  • No sessions.

Shows Played


Sex Pistols - Anarchy In The UK (Official Video)

(The following list is compiled only from the database of this site and references in Ken Garner's The Peel Sessions and is certainly incomplete, not least because of the relative lack of available show tracklistings from the period when the band were most active. Please add further information if known.)

  • 19 November 1976: 'Anarchy In The U.K. (7")' (EMI) (first play)
  • 26 November 1976: 'Anarchy In The U.K.' (day of release)
  • 10 December 1976: Anarchy In The UK (single) EMI
(JP: “And life was never quite the same again. What a great band they were.”)
(JP: "Got nearly twice as many votes as ‘Complete Control’ and five times as many votes as ‘Stairway to Heaven’ did two years ago when it became number one.")
(JP: "My theory is, you see, that say in about five year's time, people will regard that as having been the best of the first four Pistols singles and the fact that it's gone from #18 to #14 indicates that I may be actually right or partially right anyway in this belief [...] And don't forget that "Pretty Vacant" went down from #16, er, from #6 to #16. This goes down from #3 to #13.")
(JP: "At #18 in 1978 and #14 in 1979 and #12 this year, and possibly giving some impetus to my theory - which I think I hold alone, actually - that this may be ultimately the most durable of the four classic Pistols singles.")
(JP: "Number one for the last three years, and number two this. End of an era, or what? I don't know.")
(JP: “Although you obviously don't agree, I still think that's their best record.”)
1990s and 2000s
(JP: There was quite an interesting article, well, interview really, question and answer session with Malcolm McLaren in the Guardian, was it yesterday, or the day before, linked to his candidature as Mayor Of London. It all made you feel quite sympathetic to him, by and large, but he repeated the old canard about 'God Save The Queen' not being played on the radio at all. Well, that's complete bollocks, because it was played at least a dozen times on these programmes.)


The list below was compiled only from the Cover Versions page of this site and includes later versions of songs earlier covered by Sex Pistols. Please add more information if known.

Artist | Track | First Known Play

See Also

External Links

  1. Presumably. This was the month when the Pistols signed to Virgin, and most of the original A&M pressings had already been destroyed.
  2. Again, presumably the language in track 2, Bodies,was edited out in some way. The only available audio recording of this show does not confirm or deny this assertion.