27 May 1977 –Sex Pistols release God Save The Queen

After a wait of six months, The Sex Pistols finally release their follow up to debut single ‘Anarchy in the UK’.  Signed to Virgin records earlier in May, ‘God Save The Queen’ is released on Friday 27th May 1977 amidst a mass of controversy.  The BBC take the moral high ground and initially ban it from all their programmes.  However, not before John Peel managed to squeeze a couple of pre-release plays on his late evening Radio 1 show.

God Save The Queen – Sex Pistols – picture cover from Virgin Records release May 1977

If you wanted to hear the track in High Wycombe in 1977, you had the choice of buying the single from one of the local record shops – with the possibilty of sneaking a listen in one of the booths at Percy Priors in Castle Street.  Or there was also the chance to hear it played by the DJ at gigs at The Nag’s Head or perhaps the eclectic juke box at The Coach & Horses in the High Street.

Despite the lack of national air-play, sales of the single eventually reached an estimated 20,000 copies a day and it peaked at No.2 in the official charts. – There is a (perfectly reasonable) conspiracy theory that the charts were rigged to allow Rod Stewart’s aptly named ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ to take the top spot away from the punk rockers.

The success of the single also helped boost the punk profile of the town.  The Bucks Free Press quoted local Vicar, Rev. John Crisp as saying: “Any record selling so many copies should not be ignored. It should be answered.”

Punk Vicar – Bucks Free Press – 10th June 1977

Rev. John Crisp also commented on the song’s line: ‘There ain’t no future in England’s dream,’ – saying: ”If we believe there is a future, let us be brave enough to declare so to those who preach nothing but doom and gloom”.

The single release came 15 months after the Sex Pistols had played at The Buckinghamshire College of Further Education in High Wycombe – refusing to stop playing in a support slot to Lord Sutch. The following September they appeared at The Nag’s Head with little publicity or controversy. Their appearance on the Bill Grundy ‘Today’ show in December 1976 changed all that.

Here is the video for ‘God Save The Queen’, recorded at The Marquee, London on 23rd May 1977.

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