27 May: The Queen’s Punk Jubilee

The Sex Pistols’ anti-establishment single ‘God Save The Queen’ was banned by the BBC when it was re-released on 27th May, 1977 by Virgin Records – mischievously, to tie-in with the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

To rub salt in the wound, the band’s ‘art-school punk’ manager, Malcolm McLaren, arranged a boat procession outside the Houses of Parliament so the group could perform the song outside the heart of British government itself. They were then arrested.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how Johnny Rotten and co were just as commercially savvy as they were sincerely punk activists; consider whether there are parts of the controversial lyrics which which conservative royalists might actually agree; and investigate whether the single (and not Rod Stewart’s ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’) *actually* got to Number 1 in the charts…

Further Reading:

• ‘The Story Behind The Song: ‘God Save The Queen’’ (Far Out Magazine, 2020): https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/sex-pistols-god-save-the-queen-story-behind-the-song/

• ‘Still a fascist regime? Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen reissued to mark platinum jubilee’ (The Guardian, 2022): https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/may/03/still-a-fascist-regime-sex-pistols-god-save-the-queen-reissued-to-mark-platinum-jubilee

• ‘The Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen – on the river Thames’ (Virgin Records, 1977):

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