The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. Although their initial career lasted just two and a half years, they are regarded as one of the most groundbreaking acts in the history of popular music. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Their fashion and hairstyles have been credited as a significant influence on punk image, and they are often associated with anarchism within music.
The Sex Pistols originally comprised vocalist John Lydon (known at the time by his stage name "Johnny Rotten"), guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bassist Glen Matlock. Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious in early 1977. Under the management of Malcolm McLaren, the band attracted controversies that both captivated and appalled Britain. Through an obscenity-laced television interview in December 1976 and their May 1977 single "God Save the Queen", the latter of which attacked Britons' social conformity and deference to the Crown, they popularised punk rock in the UK. "God Save the Queen" was banned not only by the BBC but also by nearly every independent radio station, making it the "most heavily censored record in British history".
The band's only album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (1977)—a UK number one—is a staple record of punk rock. In January 1978, at the end of their over-hyped and turbulent tour of the US, Rotten announced the band's break-up. Over the next few months, the three remaining band members recorded songs for McLaren's film version of the Sex Pistols' story, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. Vicious died of a heroin overdose in February 1979, following his arrest for the alleged murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Rotten, Jones, Cook and Matlock reunited for a highly successful concert tour in 1996. Further one-off performances and short tours followed over the next decade.