Why the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones Thinks ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ Is a ‘Bizarre’ Classic Album

Sex Pistols revolutionized punk rock music, even if they did a drive-by with their only record, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. They were a band for just a couple of years. However, it felt different for Johnny Rotten (John Lydon), Paul Cook, Sid Vicious, and Steve Jones.

Lydon says it was the longest time of his life. Meanwhile, Jones said the Sex Pistols were always supposed to implode. He called the band’s album “bizarre.”

Sex Pistols performing in Holland in 1976.
Sex Pistols | Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones says ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ is a ‘bizarre’ classic album

For the 40th anniversary of Never Mind the Bollocks, Lydon told Rolling Stone, “Bollocks was such a solid piece of work, yet when we were recording it, it felt anything but.”

Sex Pistols worked with a producer Lydon 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. As for the songs on the album, Jones said they were bizarre.

“It’s an album that was so bizarre for these 19, 20-year-olds to do in the structure of the songs,” Jones told Rolling Stone. “It’s just one of them classic albums, if you will. I’m not pumping myself up. But it’s a bizarre record.

“We didn’t go for like, ‘We need to write a hit song for the record company.’ There was none of that. But there’s a lot of catchy bits in some of the songs. I don’t know. It’s just a real weird album. When I do listen to it, I love it.

“I do like the sound of it. The highlight of my Sex Pistols career was recording the album. That’s when I had the most fun and could be the most creative.

“And Chris Thomas allowed me to be creative and Bill Price to get the best out of me, ’cause literally I’d only been playing a year. And I don’t know. It’s quite extraordinary it turned out the way it did.”

The band also had some lucky charms while recording Never Mind the Bollocks. Jones stole gear from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1973, and the Sex Pistols used it on the album.

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Jones is happy Sid Vicious didn’t play on the Sex Pistols’ ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’

When Vicious joined the Sex Pistols, the band had already recorded Never Mind the Bollocks. Jones said he was relieved that Vicious didn’t play on the record because he was so bad. It’s often been said that Vicious was only added to the band because of his attitude.

“He had a good sense of humor,” Jones said. “He had a sweet soul. And I think he could have been a contender, you know? I think he could have been a star in his own light. He is in a way, but not being known for anything other than Sid Vicious.

“But he did have some talent. I think he got slung in the deep end too quick and couldn’t keep up – like all of us, in a way, but we had a little bit more experience than him.

“I attempted to show him where to put his fingers. He tried at first. He really gave it his best shot. I would put bits of tape where to put your fingers but … it was a pain in the a**. I didn’t want to be teaching someone else how to play bass. So he got by in some weird ways.

“I’m glad he didn’t play on the record. That would have been shambles. But you can hear him a bit in ‘Bodies’ because he’s out of tune.”

Jones admitted that it bothered him when Vicious joined the band because he got more attention than him. “Now I look back and I can see why,” he said. “He was the perfect punk, if you will. He had the perfect look, he did outrageous things, he and his girlfriend ended up dead. You can’t top that, really.”

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

Jones knew the band would ‘crash and burn’

In his book, Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol, Jones wrote, “The Sex Pistols were born to crash and burn, and that’s exactly what we did.” Jones told Rolling Stone that it became apparent to him after the Sex Pistols’ infamous appearance on the Today show with Bill Grundy, in which they swore on live television, and when Vicious joined the band.

“It just didn’t look like it was going to last much longer,” Jones told Rolling Stone. “It all got dark and weird. Plus, we were all very young. We had no coping skills. I didn’t for sure. I don’t think any of us knew what was going on.

“We got caught up in the whole whirlwind of mainstream media [after Grundy] and we weren’t interested in writing any songs.”

Many chaotic things happened during the Sex Pistols’ short life. However, Jones is proud of Never Mind the Bollocks. He told Forbes that the album is “one of them little time capsules of a certain moment in time. It was a little bit of that magic in a small time.

“Everything came together, and it was one of them things that I think was just meant to be, and then we dissolved. But that legacy is still strong from the album. It’s crazy.”

Now, Danny Boyle has opened that time capsule in his upcoming limited series, Pistol. All the chaos will be unleashed again.

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