The Sex Pistols reached stardom almost overnight. It wasn’t due to the usual time and effort that it takes to make it big in music. That’s not what punk is about. Punk is making a comeback now, and it’s worth diving in and understanding what made The Sex Pistols so huge.
Here’s how The Sex Pistols made it big.
1. It was about image, not music.
The punk image was eccentric and apathetic all at the same time. The band was formed around the image, not the other way around. Sid Vicious was infamous for not knowing how to play the bass, but without him, the band would have lost its performing edge.
2. They had an amazing manager.
Malcolm McLaren pushed the punk image to the limit. He would put the Pistols on TV and have them act like buffoons. He had them wear outrageous clothes, reminiscent of the gear he sold in his shop. He made them into a band that the previous generation would fear and that the current generation would therefore love.
3. The music emulated previous, groundbreaking work that deserved more attention.
The Stooges are often credited with releasing the first punk album in 1969, but it wasn’t until the late 70s that bands started imitating the genre. The Sex Pistols took it to the next level with Never Mind The Bullocks, which was clearly inspired by The Stooges. By advertising themselves more, though, they were credited with starting the punk movement.
The Sex Pistols owe their success not to their own efforts so much as to the efforts of their manager. They are the perfect example of valuing image above content. This model is especially valuable today in the age of constant media.
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Gabriel Dufurrena is a mathematician, writer, and educator living in Oakland, CA. When he’s not watching YouTube videos or teaching math, he’s playing the bass in his room with the volume really low.