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Only Anarchists are Pretty: The Early Days of the Sex Pistols

By Mick O'Shea

Kings Road, mid 70s. A couple of lads from council estates in west London, Paul Cook and Steve Jones, hang around a shop named SEX which was to become the epicenter of a whole new movement. With encouragement from shop owner Malcolm McLaren they form a band and he names them The Sex Pistols.

Rock writer Mick O’Shea absolutely captures the heady spirit of London in 1977, and the early rumblings of the punk revolution which was about to explode, sending out shockwaves around Europe and to America. The hippy culture of the 60s was well and truly buried as a harder, tougher style of music and fashion took grip. This is a semi-fictionalised account of the band’s early days and of the the search for a frontman, led by McLaren and future Clash manager Bernie Rhodes. Eventually they alighted on the charismatic figure of John Lydon, renamed Rotten due to the appalling state of his teeth. With the addition of grammar school boy Glen Matlock as bassist and principal songwriter the now fully-formed band progressed through a series of chaotic early rehearsals and gigs, culminating in their infamous TV appearance with Bill Grundy.

Although they only lasted for two and a half years, The Sex Pistols are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music. This is a fascinating recreation both of their early days and of the supporting cast who surrounded them – McLaren, Vivienne Westwood, Siouxsie Sue, Billy Idol – who created the punk movement and went on the achieve fame in their own right.

Mick O’Shea spent ten years in the finance industry before making the switch from numbers to letters on a full-time basis. He started out penning articles for magazines such as Amped, Wired and Record Collector, before attempting his first manuscript Only Anarchists Are Pretty. Mick now has some 20 titles in print, including bios of Amy Winehouse, The Clash’s Mick Jones, Guns N’ Roses and The Smiths. Anarchy In The UK, the sequel to Only Anarchists Are Pretty, was published by Famous Seamus in May 2018.

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