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Steve Jones Admits He Didn’t Know What ‘Anarchy’ Meant When Sex Pistols Released ‘Anarchy In The UK’

During a recent interview with the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast, the former Sex Pistols guitarist admitted that he was pretty illiterate back then.

The former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones recently confessed that he didn’t know the meaning of the word “anarchy” when the Sex Pistols released their 1976 history-making single “Anarchy in the UK”.

If the entire musical genre and cultural movement that was punk ever had to be summarised in a single song, the Sex Pistols‘ groundbreaking 1976 hit ‘Anarchy in the UK’ would probably be one of the main contenders for the role.

The band’s debut single would kick-start a whole avalanche of anti-authoritarian music, as it gave voice to an entire generation’s discontent with authoritarian governments and conservative societies.

And while we tend to think of such pivotal moments as pre-meditated perfect storms where their creators absolutely knew what they were doing, the reality is usually nothing alike – and during a recent interview with the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast, the former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones admitted he didn’t even know what “anarchy” meant when his band released the single.

“I was pretty illiterate back then. I’m not proud of it, but that’s just the way it was And I never listened to lyrics.”

However, even though he wasn’t exactly familiar with the term itself, Jones says that he could very much sense the gist of John Lyndon’s lyrics and what he was trying to accomplish with them:

“I mean, I knew he’s on about something. But to me, it was all just great. Whatever it is. The music was what I used to get drawn to. With any bands. Even if it was pop songs. It was the catchiness that drew me in or the chorus. I really didn’t listen to, like, if I were to listen to Bob Dylan songs, I wouldn’t have a clue what he was singing about. It was too intelligent for me.”

However, Jones isn’t the only band member who recently came up with surprising revelations about their relationship with iconic anti-authoritarian Sex Pistols songs. In a recent essay published in The Times, the band’s former vocalist and lyricist John Lyndon tried to distance himself from the idea of anarchy altogether:

John Lydon and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols in 2006 - John Sciulli
John Lydon and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols in 2006 – John Sciulli

“Anarchy is a terrible idea. Let’s get that clear. I’m not an anarchist. And I’m amazed that there are websites out there — .org anarchist sites — funded fully by the corporate hand and yet ranting on about being outside the shitstorm. It’s preposterous. And they’re doing it in designer Dr. Martens, clever little rucksacks and nicely manufactured balaclavas.”

In the same feature, Lyndon – also the man who sang the very anti-royalist anthem ‘God Save The Queen’ – offered his support for Queen Elizabeth, explaining how it was the institution and not the person he had issues with. Commenting on Lyndon’s recent statements, Jones said:

“We get older, you change. I think it’s all part of life. I mean, I think it’d be silly if you had the same thinking that you did when you was 19, when you’re a kid and you don’t know shit, to when you’re older. Everyone changes. Even if some people find it hard to change.”


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