Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sex Pistols: 90 Days at EMI

Sex Pistols: 90 Days at EMI by Brian Southall

A few weeks ago, I ordered the 35th Anniversary Box Set of the Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks from Amazon.  Unfortunately, they did not get it in for the release date so I cancelled my order.  Fortunately, I was able to order it from Amazon UK.  While placing my order, I also found this book and ordered it.

At about 150 pages, the book is still a really quick read.  It is the story of the days of the first label of the Sex Pistols as written by the former head of the press department at EMI Records during this timeframe of Fall 1976.

The book starts out with stories of the live shows of the Sex Pistols and the name they are making for themselves in the music underground.  Lots of labels are trying to sign them.  They finally sign a 2 year deal for 40,000 pounds to record 2 albums.

After releasing their first single on November 26, 1976, "Anarchy in the UK"/"I Wanna Be Me",  they are ready to set out on the Anarchy tour with The Damned, The Clash,  and Johnny Thunder and the Heartbreakers.  This was the Chris Thomas recorded version of the song.

Prior to the start of the tour they make an appearance on the Today Show on December 1, 1976 almost again their wishes and that of the host Bill Grundy.  At the end of the show while hitting on Siouxsie Sue (who went on to front Siouxsie and the Banshees), Grundy coaxes Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones to say "fuck" on live TV.  Remember this was 1976 and a family oriented TV program.  It would have been like John Boy on the Waltons saying "fuck".

The Anarchy tour implodes as venues refuse to let the band play.  Radio stations refuse to play the single.  Stores refuse to sell it.  Pressing plants refuse to make it.  Mounting pressures from EMI's board of directors concerned with their loss of business to their military and medical equipment core businesses, the band is sacked from the label on January 6, 1977.

There are a few final pages of the book that discuss what happened to the Sex Pistols and the players at EMI originally responsible for signing them that are interesting.  Overall, I am glad I made this purchase, and learn somethings about the band that I was previously unaware of.

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