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Elvis Presley’s death in 1977 was a time of mourning for many fans, however, the manager of the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren, and band member Johnny Rotten used his death as an opportunity to say some very nasty things. McLaren reacted to his death by attacking one of Elvis’ contemporaries. In addition, Johnny Rotten attacked Elvis himself at the same time — as well as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s fans.

Elvis Presley with a guitar
Elvis Presley | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

What the Sex Pistol’s manager said when Elvis Presley died

Firstly, a little background. The Sex Pistols were famous for being aggressive and offensive. They sang blasphemous lyrics, put profanity in the title of their only album, and sometimes wore swastikas. They were trying to drum up controversy more than just about any other band of the era. In 1977, Charles M. Young of Rolling Stone spoke with them and McLaren for a wide-ranging interview. 

1977 was the year the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll died. McLaren learned the news over the phone. “What’s that?” McLaren asked. “Elvis Presley died… Makes you feel sad, doesn’t it? Like your grandfather died… Yeah, it’s just too bad it couldn’t have been Mick Jagger.”

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”

In the interview, band member Sid Vicous also attacked The Rolling Stones. Young asked him “It’s true you hate the traditional rock stars who’ve made big names for themselves?” Vicious replied “I absolutely despise those turds. The Stones should have quit in 1965. You never see any of those c*nts walkin’ down the street. If it gets so you can’t see us that way, I don’t want it.” 

How Johnny Rotten reacted when the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll died

Jagger and company weren’t the only rockers that a member of the band disrespected. Young asked Johnny Rotten about the King’s recent death.


“F*ckin’ good riddance to bad rubbish,” he snarled. “I don’t give a f*ckin’ sh*t, and nobody else does either. It’s just fun to fake sympathy, that’s all they’re doin’.”

It’s incredible Rotten felt nobody expressing sadness over Elvis’ death was sincere. While the Sex Pistols are considered a classic rock band, it’s fascinating how they had so little respect for artists who came before them like The Rolling Stones and Elvis.

“Jailhouse Rock”

How Priscilla Presley Reacted When Elvis Presley Shot His TV

Who was more popular — The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, or the Sex Pistols?

The fact that the Sex Pistols called out The Rolling Stones and Elvis raises an interesting question: Who was more popular? The Rolling Stones had an impressive 23 top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. They had hits in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Elvis had 25 top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, also over the course of three decades — the 1950s, the 1960s, and the 1970s. The Rolling Stones and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll remain some of the most popular artists ever. The Sex Pistols, meanwhile, never had a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The Sex Pistols had brutal words for artists who overshadowed them commercially.