The foul-mouthed antics which saw the Sex Pistols fired by their record label

The Sex Pistols, London, UK, 10th March 1980. (Photo by Bill Rowntree/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
The Sex Pistols were dropped by EMI on this day 45 years ago. (Getty Images)

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Never mind the record deal, here's the Sex Pistols.

On this day 45 years ago, Britain's punk rock pioneers were dumped by EMI.

Not that they let that stop them.

On 6 January 1977, the record company issued a brief statement announcing they had dropped the notorious rockers.

UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 21:  Photo of Johnny ROTTEN and SEX PISTOLS and Glen MATLOCK and Paul COOK; L-R: Glen Matlock, Johnny Rotten (John Lydon), Paul Cook, Steve Jones performing live onstage at Dunstable's Queensway Hall  (Photo by Chris Morphet/Redferns)
The original Sex Pistols line-up, from left, Glen Matlock, John Lydon, Paul Cook and Steve Jones. (Getty)
London, UK. Friday 23rd November 2012. Christies auction house showcasing memorabilia from every decade of the past century of popular culture from the industries of film and music. Original Sex Pistols print. Never Mind The Bollocks (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)
The Sex Pistols' sole studio album defined the punk era. (Getty Images)

It read: “EMI feels it is unable to promote this group’s records internationally in view of the adverse publicity which has been generated over the last two months.”

But for the band, all publicity was good publicity, even when they somehow became the country's most hated yet most loved music act.


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The Pistols, comprising singer John "Johnny Rotten" Lydon, guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bass player Glen Matlock (later replaced by Sid Vicious), hadn't even released an album before they had the public salivating for all kinds of reasons.

Indeed, 1977's Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols would be their only record. Within three months of its release, the band would split up.

But that hasn't stopped the album being one of the most influential of all time.

Watch: Sex Pistols singer John Lydon refused to be portrayed in The Crown

The "adverse publicity" referred to by EMI in its statement started with one of the most infamous incidents in UK television history: the Sex Pistols interview with presenter Bill Grundy.

The band were invited on to a live broadcast of Thames Television’s Today programme, hosted by Grundy, just a few days after their first single, Anarchy in the UK, was released.

Read more: Danny Boyle to direct Sex Pistols TV series

The Pistols were late replacements on the show for the band Queen, who had to cancel because their singer Freddie Mercury had a dentist’s appointment.

The subsequent interview went down in TV history, as the band dropped a series of expletives, with Jones calling Grundy a “dirty *******”, a “dirty ******” and a “******* rotter”.

2nd December 1976:  Bill Grundy, the television presenter for the Thames Television 'Today' programme is leaving the office after the enquiry concerning his programme the previous night, including the 'Sex Pistols' use of foul language on live television.  (Photo by David Ashdown/Keystone/Getty Images)
TV presenter Bill Grundy the day after his infamous interview with the Sex Pistols. (Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01:  Photo of Paul COOK and Steve JONES and Sid VICIOUS and SEX PISTOLS and Johnny ROTTEN; L-R Sid Vicious, Paul Cook, Johnny Rotten (John Lydon) and Steve Jones performing  (Photo by RB/Redferns)
Bass player Sid Vicious, far left, replaced Glen Matlock in the Sex Pistols. (Getty)

Grundy was suspended and the incident ruined his career – he was accused of goading the band, at one point telling Jones to “say something outrageous”.

And judging from the tabloid reactions - the Daily Mirror’s famous front page about the incident read: “The Filth and the Fury”, while the newspaper also asked, “Who are these punks?” - it looked like the Pistols could be over before they really got started.

But the interview and the resulting coverage merely meant the whole country knew who they were.

Read more: Sex Pistols' John Lydon loses court battle over songs in TV show

But EMI didn’t want the burden of promoting the volatile Pistols.

The final straw for the record company appeared to come on 4 January 1977 after reports the band had vomited and spat their way on to a flight from London’s Heathrow Airport bound for the Netherlands.

EMI terminated the band’s contract just two days later, though its statement did say “recent press reports of the behaviour of the Sex Pistols appear to have been exaggerated”.

The group Sex Pistols, signing a new recording contract with A&M Records outside Buckingham Palace in London, (l/r) Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, new bass player Syd Vicious and the group's manager Malcolm McLaren. 06/01/1977 Picture: PA Photos   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
The Sex Pistols sign a new recording contract with A&M Records outside Buckingham Palace in London in March 1977. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Two months later, in March, Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, found them another deal with A&M Records, and the band performed a public signing in front of Buckingham Palace, as they were about to release their next single, God Save the Queen.

However, A&M followed EMI’s lead and dropped the band after only a few days, but they eventually signed with Virgin Records, who would put out their album in October 1977.

Watch: The Sex Pistols' John Lydon reveals why he went on The Masked Singer