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Friday, 27 May 2016

45RPM: #89 God Save The Queen - Sex Pistols (1977)

When was the last time that music really, and I mean really upset the establishment? Yep, I'm scratching my noggin trying to remember if there is anyone who so disturbed the nation's leaders that they got shut down pretty much everywhere they went. 

Back in 1976 and 1977 the Sex Pistols did just that. It is said of The Beatles that they were the "four lads that shook the world", well the Sex Pistols did exactly that, upsetting everyone and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. They were front page news and banned from airplay by the BBC (although John Peel had continued to play the single!) and pretty much all of the Independent Radio Stations.

After being dismissed from A&M Records (their second record label who they had signed with on 10th March 1977 outside Buckingham Palace! Though six days later they were fired!) they were like musical lepers that no one would touch! But in May along came Richard Branson and Virgin Records to the rescue! Virgin became their third label in less than a year!

The band have said that the song was never really about the Queen's Silver Jubilee that was to be celebrated that summer. Paul Cook saying that "It wasn't written specifically for the Queen's Jubilee. We weren't aware of it at the time. It wasn't a contrived effort to go out and shock everyone." Johnny Rotten has explained the lyrics as follows: "You don't write 'God Save The Queen' because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them, and you're fed up with them being mistreated." His intentions were apparently to evoke sympathy for the English working class, and a general resentment towards the monarchy. Steve Jones has said, "I don't see how anyone could describe us as a political band. I don't even know the name of the Prime Minister." (that always gave me a good old chuckle!)

I have vivid memories of the day of the Silver Jubilee because everywhere there were street parties and a few of us trundled off to one on Sydenham Park Road and managed to get the DJ to play White Riot, In the City and God Save The Queen. The Pistols song of course created a lot of shock and horror with bemused residents complaining and then having us forcibly removed because we didn't actually live on the street! That was such a fun day invading various parties around Sydenham and Forest Hill and upsetting the locals because we were all punk rockers!

There was a bit of a consipracy to prevent the song reaching the #1 spot on the UK Charts and as a number of Record Outlets like W.H. Smiths had banned the sale of it their chart just had a blank line at #2 and Rod Stewart was at the top of the pile with his Double A-Side I Don't Want To Talk About It/The First Cut is the Deepest.

God Save The Queen - Sex Pistols
Produced by Chris Thomas
Released 27th May 1977
UK Chart #2 (though really was #1)

God Save The Queen

Did You No Wrong

It was going to be released on A&M Records but the band got the sack before it made it out. Apparently there were 25,000 copies pressed, most of them were destroyed. There are surving copies around and they go for big money! Record Collector magazine named the A&M single the most collectable record of all time.

The original B-Side was going to be No Feelings.

Jamie Reid's Original Promo Poster
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