Johnny Rotten Did Some Backing Vocals for Queen While Sex Pistols Recorded ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’

In the late 1970s, punk rock music was all the rage (literally), and Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols were spearheading it. They questioned authority and weren’t afraid of anything, least of all the Crown. They were only a band for about four years. However, their only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, is the quintessential punk record.

Recording the album was not an easy feat, but nothing was easy for the Sex Pistols. If a band sings about anarchy, they should expect such conditions in the recording studio and beyond. Meanwhile, a more mainstream band recorded some of the most well-known rock songs next door.

Johnny Rotten performing with the Sex Pistols in Denmark, 1977.
Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols | Jorgen Angel/Redferns

Johnny Rotten said recording Sex Pistols’ ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ was chaos

Rotten looked back at Never Mind the Bollocks for its 40th anniversary in 2017. He told Rolling Stone, “Bollocks was such a solid piece of work, yet when we were recording it, it felt anything but.”

Rotten and his Sex Pistols bandmates worked with a producer Rotten called “deaf in one ear and tone-deaf in the other.” The punk band also had to work quickly in the short time they had the studio booked. However, Rotten found time to wander over to the studio where Queen recorded News of the World to see what they were up to.

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Rotten claims he did some backing vocals for Queen while Sex Pistols recorded ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’

According to Rotten, he was somehow able to take time out of the Sex Pistols’ full schedule to help Queen next door.

“Next door, Queen was recording one of their albums [News of the World], and Brian May asked me if I would do some backing vocals on their album,” Rotten said. “I don’t remember which song, it’s not the ‘Galileo’ one.” The exact song Rotten contributed vocals to remains unverified.

“But I went in, and it was amazing to hear the way that Freddie [Mercury] recorded every line separately – sometimes just a word – and then they’d edit them.

“Bloody hell, I got one take, and that’s it; I’d get two if I made a mistake. I eventually realized that the music will overcome, regardless of the alleged rules and regulations that were always being thrown at us.”

RELATED: Taylor Hawkins Said He Didn’t Sleep for Three Days After Seeing Queen Perform for the First Time

‘Never Mind the Bollock’s singles were blacked out on the British charts

Rotten and Sex Pistols released Never Mind the Bollocks on Oct. 28, 1977, the same day as Queen’s News of the World. Never Mind the Bollocks caused chaos in Britain. According to Rolling Stone, the album’s singles were “blacked out on the British charts, a record store manager was arrested and charged with obscenity for displaying the album cover, and the band – banned all over England – had to tour undercover as S.P.O.T.S. (that’s ‘Sex Pistols on Tour Secretly’).”

However, the famous punk band found themselves at the top of the charts in the U.K. Later, it was later certified double platinum there. In the U.S., the album became one of the only first-wave punk records to be certified platinum.

RELATED: Queen: Freddie Mercury’s Bizarre Encounters With the Sex Pistols