The crazy story of the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen”

Summer 1977: the single God Save the Queen of the Sex Pistols, furiously anti-establishment, is robbed of the number one spot on the charts by I do not wanna talk about it, by Rod Stewart. With my generation, of the Who, and the double A side bringing together Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever, of the Beatles, this disc is one of the most famous eternal seconds of pop music.

But that could soon change. God Save the Queen, whose first release coincided with the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II, has been reissued for the Platinum Jubilee. On May 27, exactly forty-five years after its first release, it made its comeback in stores with a limited number of 45s in two versions as well as in digital format, which gives it a real chance to accomplish the exploit of which it was deprived almost half a century ago.

At the time, this God Save the Queen caused a general moral panic. The Pistols’ alternative national anthem, a three-minute, nineteen-second blast of disappointment blasted in the face of the established order, was censored by the BBC (rumour has it that the title was deliberately withheld from reach the top of the charts) and made Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon the target of national outrage. Lydon was regularly attacked in the street by outraged Britons: he was hit in the face with bottles and even received a machete blow in the knees.

Punk in its purest form

The 2022 reissue of God Save the Queen [a bénéficié] a much more favorable context, in this case a few days before the release, on May 31, of a six-part biographical mini-series on the Sex Pistols signed by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle and financed by a television network American owned by Disney. The world has changed so much that what made the cottages tremble in the 1970s is today a marketing axis.

But that does not detract from the importance of God Save the Queen as a work of art. This song announced the arrival in society of the most famous and most identifiable youth movement in our country: punk. And to top it all off, the band’s concert on a boat that traveled down the Thames with a stop in front of the Palace of Westminster, where Parliament sits, became one of the most memorable publicity stunts in history. music. The Pistols and punk in its purest form did not survive the heady summer of 1977, but God Save the Queen, even before this reissue, has always held up.

The song was rated one of the best of all time by rolling stone, and it’s on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Rock Music. The record cover, designed by artist Jamie Reid and depicting the Queen with newspaper characters gagging and blinding her, was voted the magazine’s best cover of all time. Q.

Shake society from its foundations

Apparently, the Pistols were the first surprises of the controversy surrounding their song. “It’s a funny song, to make people laugh. She’s not serious said Lydon in 2002. God Save the Queen ? This is exaggeration, excess. It is unthinkable that it could be taken for a declaration of civil war. True to punk, Lydon went to court last year to try to stop the u