The Sex Pistols sign one of shortest record deals in history in front of Buckingham Palace
By March 10th, 1977, the Sex Pistols were already a household name. The band had broken out of their bohemian West London safety and had entered the public consciousness, if only for the wrong reasons.
The band’s single ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ had prompted some backlash but nothing too extreme. Yet when the band were offered the chance to appear on the Today show with Bill Grundy, their punk attitude had resulted in nationwide shock.
The group arrived at the show full of beans when they were drafted in as last-minute replacements for Queen after Freddie Mercury had to visit an emergency dentist. They took to the studio, accompanied by the rest of the Bromley Contingent, and delivered a flurry of four-letter words that would see the band become public enemy number one overnight.
After Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones managed to upset Grundy with their now infamous exchange, the tabloid newspapers were filled with outrage about this band who called themselves ‘punks’. There was a national furore demanding answers for ‘the filth and the fury’ that they witnessed on TV. It meant EMI’s risk on the quartet was now becoming too large and they severed their contract after just one single.
It meant that the band were free to sign a new contract with independent label A&M Records. While in reality the contract had been officially signed on March 9th, the following day, the band would sign their contract in front of Buckingham Palace.
Of course, it was Malcolm McLaren’s idea and with not only the Queen’s Jubilee coming that year but also the band’s second single, a scathing attack on the monarchy, ‘God Save The Queen’, he knew it was an opportunity not to be missed. So, in front of the Queen’s own home, the Sex Pistols signed their second record contract. It would turn out to be one of the shortest in history.
At the afterparty for the signing, held at A&M’s London offices, the label got a taste of what welcoming punks to a business can be like. Sid Vicious smashed up a bathroom so violently that he cut himself badly. He naturally didn’t stop partying and instead trailed blood throughout the offices. Next up was Johnny Rotten’s vile tongue as he introduced himself to the label by yelling obscenities at whomever he met. Steve Jones was then caught having sex with a fan in another lavatory. One assumes Paul Cook was simply asleep.
It made for a frightening wake-up call for the label and they soon realised they were not equipped to deal with the Sex Pistols. After many staff had been terrorised by their antics and with many of their top acts furious with the signing, the label decided to drop the band in less than a week—but we’re not sure they minded too much.
The group were allowed to keep their £75,000 advance and after A&M decided to destroy most of the 25,000 copies of ‘God Save The Queen’ they had pressed, the ones that did make it out soon became more valuable than ever. It was just another note of infamy for the Sex Pistols. Better to burn out than fade away they say, but we’re not sure the fire ever got started with A&M.