Sex Pistols Ask God to Save the Queen

Sex Pistols Ask God to Save the Queen

…but on May 31, 1977 the BBC told them they couldn’t.
Sex Pistols Ask God to Save the Queen
photo from Rolling Stone magazine
          Rock and Roll and those in Power have never been on the best of terms. At it's best, rock and roll is often a stick in the eye of Power.

          1977 was the year of the United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee.  Adored and admired by many not just in the UK but throughout the world. Even in the former British colonies subjected to her often harsh rule.

          What better time then for an outrageously named British rock group, the Sex Pistols, to sing an outrageously disrespectful song about the adored and admired Queen Elizabeth.
          "God Save the Queen" was released on May 27, 1977 and on May 31 it was banned by the BBC. Such a ban would normally be the death knell for a band's song. Sometimes banning backfires and this one did just that.

          Even though the song was difficult to hear over the air and even though the some major outlets refused to carry it, the song sold more than 150,00 copies a day the end of May and into early June. 

Sex Pistols Ask God to Save the Queen

Sex Pistols Ask God to Save the Queen

          That it didn't reach #1 on the British charts and "stalled" at #2 is hard to believe given such sales. It doesn't take much to think that there was a deliberate action keeping it away from the #1 spot.

          The song holds up well nearly 40 years later. And I suppose some are still asking for God to save the Queen. The Sex Pistols cannot. They were gone within two years.
God save the Queen
The fascist regime,
They made you a moron
A potential H-bomb
 
God save the Queen
She ain’t no human being
There is no future
And England’s dreaming
 
Don’t be told what you want
Don’t be told what you need
There’s no future
No future
 
No future for you
God save the Queen
We mean it man
We love our Queen
 
God saves
God save the Queen
‘Cause tourists are money
And our figurehead
Is not what she seems
 
Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
All crimes are paid
 
When there’s no future
How can there be sin
We’re the flowers
In the dustbin
 
We’re the poison
In your human machine
We’re the future
You’re future
 
God save the Queen
We mean it man
We love our Queen
God saves
 
God save the Queen
We mean it man
There is no future
And England’s dreaming
          The Sex Pistols were: Steve Jones , Paul Cook,  Glen Matlock , and John Lydon (aka, Johnny Rotten).  Sid Vicious replaced Matlock.

          The Rolling Stone magazine bio on the band begins with: Unabashedly crude, intensely emotional, and calculated to exhilarate and offend, the Sex Pistols' music and stance were in direct opposition to the star trappings and complacency that, by the mid-Seventies, had rendered much of rock & roll stagnant. Over the course of their short, turbulent existence, the group released a single studio album that changed the course of popular music. While the Sex Pistols were not the first punk rockers (that distinction probably goes to the Stooges), they were the most widely identified with the genre — and, to appearances, the most threatening. Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols unquestionably ranks as one of the most important rock & roll records ever, its sound a raw, snarling, yet mesmerizing rejection of and challenge to not only rock & roll music and culture but a modern world that offered, as Rotten sang in "God Save the Queen," "no future."

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Detroit Rock and Roll Revival

Detroit Rock and Roll Revival

Michigan State Fairgrounds
May 30 & 31, 1969
Sun Ra…”Atlantis”

First Annual Detroit Rock & Roll Revival

          The First Annual Detroit Rock and Roll Revival is #4 on the list of 1969 festivals I'll blog about as they arrive on the calendar. With any of these festivals, one should not look at the price of admission and sigh with envy. Everything looks less expensive, but keep in mind that the 1969 minimum wage was $1.60 and of course, like now, not everyone even earned that minimum. And if you did, your gross pay for a 40 hour week was $64 or $3328 per year [table}
          And like nearly every other festival that summer, recording or filming it did not happen. That being the case, we have to imagine what the festival sounded like. Sun Ra is what I placed at the top of this entry. A whole book is necessary to explain the amazing Sun Ra and his many contribution to jazz and the arts.
               Johnny Winter was there and as I've pointed out in the earlier posts on 1969's festivals Winter was seemingly at all of them.
         Here is a video of Detroit's Amboy Dukes doing their big hit "Journey to the Center of the Mind" featuring their young guitarist Ted Nugent (and mini-skirted go-go dancers, of course).

         The Psychedelic Stooges might not sound familiar, but Iggy Pop and the Stooges certainly will...

             The MC5 ("Motor City 5") were the "big" name and their song "Kick Out the Jams" typified their far left in-your-face pre-punk sound. Under the "management" of John Sinclair. Sinclair was the founder of the White Panthers and was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1969 after giving two joints to an undercover narcotics officer. Sinclair was infamously referred to by Abbie Hoffman at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair that August during the Who set. Pete Townshend was not happy about it.
          Here is an amazing example of an MC5 performance two months later at Tarter Field, Wayne State University on July 19.

Detroit Rock and Roll Revival

First Annual Detroit Rock & Roll Revival

Here is the whole line-up:
  • MC5
  • Chuck Berry
  • Sun Ra
  • Dr John the Night Tripper
  • Johnny Winter
  • Psychedelic Stooges
  • Terry Reid
  • Amboy Dukes
  • SRC
  • Frost
  • Rationals
  • Teegarden & Van Winkle
  • Nyman Woodward
  • Up
  • Wilson Mower Pursuit
  • 3rd Power
  • NY Rock & Roll Ensemble
  • David Peel
  • Lower East Side
  • Red, White, & Blues
  • Sky-Train
  • Savage Grace
  • James Gang
  • Caste
  • Gold Bros
  • Dutch Elm
              While not one that might make a Festival Hall of Fame, it certainly had it's share of great music.

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Crosby Stills Nash

Crosby Stills Nash

May 29, 1969

Crosby Stills Nash

          The Hollies were part of the British Invasion on the heels of America's Beatlemania and we first heard them on "Look Through Any Window" without realizing we were listening to Graham Nash.

          The Byrds were part of "that" California sound that provided counterpoint to the Beatles. It was Roger McGuinn whose voice we were hearing mainly, but David Crosby's was an important part, too.

          We likely thought Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" was a war-protest song, not realizing it was about teenagers being allowed to stay out late. If someone had said Stephen Stills we may or may not have recognized the name.

          Then we found out that Buffalo Springfield was no more; that the Byrds kicked David Crosby out of the band. 
          In early April 1969, the brand new Rolling Stone magazine had an article about the three finishing their album (Rolling Stone magazine article). The article gave high praise to this latest "supergroup" : "The album, as yet untitled, is arguably the most talked-about LP-in-progress in Los Angeles, one of the most talked-about in the industry. "

          When Atlantic did release the album on May 29, 1969 such praise gave it an automatic boost. Unlike today, the group did not tour beforehand nor did  it tour right away.  And by the time they got to Woodstock and sang in front of the half million strong it was only their second gig. And they were, quote, scared shitless.

Crosby Stills Nash

          Though they were new, Crosby, Stills and Nash (later occasionally adding Young) did not need Woodstock and it's movie and triple album exposure (Warner Bros owned the rights...Atlantic by this time was under WB's umbrella...and Cotillion, the Woodstock album's label was under Atlantic's umbrella), but it helped of course.

          The album went on to have two hit singles (" "Marrakesh Express" and "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" ) and  went on to peaked at #6 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart. It now has had sales of over 4,200,000 copies.

          Some trivia about the well-known album cover taken by the famed Henry Diltz. When Diltz took the photo, the band hadn't settled on a name yet, but did within a day or two. Realizing that the band name did not match the photo, they returned to re-shoot. Unfortunately, the building had been demolished in the interim.
          When the jacket is fully opened the "whole" photo appears. At least it appears to appear with drummer Dallas Taylor Prisoner of Woodstock. That part of the photo was pasted in later with a photo of Taylor posed in Crosby's door. 

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