Sex Pistols memorabilia and other punk merchandise valued at $6.25 million was intentionally burned in London on Saturday, according to a report from CBC News.
Joe Corre, who is the son of late Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, and his mother, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, set fire to the “extensive collection of punk memorabilia” on a boat afloat on the Thames River in central London.
“Don’t get nostalgic about punk music — and if you do, don’t go collecting memorabilia from the glory days of the Sex Pistols,” the CBC report begins. “That seemed to be the message Saturday.”
The CBC said the memorabilia was estimated to have been valued at £5 million, which would convert to roughly $6.25 million U.S. based on current exchange rates.
Corre and Westwood’s actions were seen as an act of protest against Punk London, a group celebrating “40 years of subversive culture” with a series of shows, events, and exhibitions, according to a report from Classic Rock Magazine.
— Sheena IsAPunkRocker (@77MASH) November 26, 2016
Punk London has received supported from the Mayor of London, the British Library, and the British Film Institute.
Corre has previously suggested that the group even received backing from the queen. To Corre, this proved that “the establishment” had “privatised, packaged and castrated” punk music, according to Classic Rock.
“Punk was never, never meant to be nostalgic — and you can’t learn how to be one at a Museum of London workshop,” the BBC quoted Corre as saying on Saturday.
“Punk has become another marketing tool to sell you something you don’t need. The illusion of an alternative choice. Conformity in another uniform.”
The Sex Pistols released their debut single, “Anarchy in the UK,” on November 26th, 1976 — exactly four decades ago, the BBC notes.
— Classic Alternative (@altclassic) November 26, 2016
The band’s 1977 tour quickly became the stuff of legends, as did the band members’ chaotic, drug-and-booze-addled lifestyle and their contentious relationship with McLaren and, sometimes, each other.
Regardless of all the angst and missteps the young band immediately started making, it was clear from the beginning they were bound to leave their mark on music history.
Rolling Stone gave the Sex Pistols’ debut album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, a five star review.
“If it’s not clear to you now, it’s going to be: the rock wars of the Seventies have begun, and the Sex Pistols, the most incendiary rock & roll band since the Rolling Stones and the Who, have just dropped the Big One on both the sociopolitical aridity of their native England and most of the music from which they and we were artistically and philosophically formed,” wrote Paul Nelson is opening lines of the Rolling Stone review.
“In a commercial sense, however, the Sex Pistols will probably destroy no one but themselves, but theirs is a holy or unholy war that isn’t really going to be won or lost by statistics, slick guitar playing or smooth studio work,” Nelson added.
“This band still takes rock & roll personally, as a matter of honor and necessity, and they play with an energy and conviction that is positively transcendent in its madness and fever.”
Ultimately, it all proved too much for the young musicians, and it proved so quickly. The band broke up in 1978, just two years after the release of their first single and one year after their first tour. Bassist “Sid Vicious” (John Ritchie) launched a brief solo career that ended with a lethal heroin overdose. Lead singer “Johnny Rotten” (John Lydon) would continue a successful music career as the frontman for Public Image Ltd (PIL). The Sex Pistols occasionally reunite.
In a way, it’s rather fitting that a literal boatload of their memorabilia would go up in flames.
But not everyone was pleased by Corre and Westwood’s spectacle.
Glen Matlock, a former Sex Pistols bass guitarist, told Sky News that he found Corre’s protest to be “dopey,” according to the BBC report.
“I want to paraphrase Monty Python — he’s not the saviour, he’s a naughty boy. I think that Joe is not the anti-Christ, I think he’s a nincompoop,” Matlock said.
[Featured Image by Evening Standard/Getty Images]