'Don’t be told what you want, don’t be told what you need’ Sex Pistols, ‘God Save The Queen’, 1977
London punk took off when the Sex Pistols formed in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s Kings Road ‘Sex’ shop in 1975. Throughout 1976 they polarised audiences and galvanised a new movement. But when they swore on television in December 1976, the Sex Pistols and punk rock became national news.
British punk was shocking, novel and subversive - it was a complete package of music, graphics, fashion and politics. Among the groups that formed in the Sex Pistols’ wake were The Clash, with charismatic frontman Joe Strummer, and The Damned, who released the first UK punk single ‘New Rose’.
As important as the music were the designs and the idea that anyone could release records. Jamie Reid’s ransom note designs for the Sex Pistols were very influential on the hundreds of punk fanzines that sprang up after 1977 – the visual equivalent of the hundreds of independent records released in those years.