The Sex Pistols were a flashpoint in British musical history, a bright light that flared lightning-fast and burned out just as quickly. The band's initial career spanned just two and a half years, but changed the scene forever. Their legacy lives on in the attics and bedrooms of their earliest fans, with a wealth of memorabilia tracking a truly extraordinary rise and fall. If you were at any of their gigs or following their antics in real-time through the papers, it's worth turning out your memory boxes and going through your archives — are you sitting on a piece of punk history?
Juvenilia: Student Unions & London Clubs
Like so much of the British punk aesthetic, the Pistols first came to be in the shops and pubs around London's iconic King's Road, Chelsea. Their first gig was held at Saint Martin's College (yes, of Pulp's Common People fame) and in the months that followed they toured a great many universities around the city. These gigs were small at first, but quickly began to gain notoriety in the national music scene — meaning their tickets, posters, advertising flyers and reviews are all now fascinating relics well worth preserving. If you have photos from the time, be sure to look them over carefully: most of these gigs were attended by various members of the Bromley Contingent, including such luminaries as Siouxsie Sioux and Billy Idol.
The Bill Grundy Incident
In December 1976, the band were joined by some of their most notable followers on the Today programme, a live talk show watched by a huge slice of the capital's population. The ensuing chaos caused a national uproar and was reported on by tabloids the country over for days after the event. Anyone who hung onto these papers might be in for a surprise: collectors of both British punk memorabilia and notable historical tabloids have shown interest in acquiring and preserving them.
Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols
The band's single studio album has one of the most visually iconic covers of all time, and its distinctive neon yellow simplicity was used for any number of gig posters both here in the UK and during the band's disastrous US tour. Never Mind-branded memorabilia is the most exciting find of all for a collector or a fan, and it's certainly the most valuable class of Sex Pistols memorabilia.
With a band this widely emulated, it's worth confirming that your finds aren't mass-produced replicas. To make sure you've got the real thing, get in touch with an appraiser as they'll be able to let you know if you have a valuable piece of history in your hands. There are several who specialise in the era, and they can be contacted through most major auction houses. You might be in for a surprise: some original posters have sold for upwards of £20k!