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Never Mind the Pistols? The Legacy and Authenticity of the Sex Pistols in

Article  in  Popular Music and Society · May 2015

DOI: 10.1080/03007766.2015.1041748


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Paula Guerra Andy Bennett

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Never Mind the Pistols? The Legacy

and Authenticity of the Sex Pistols in
Paula Guerra & Andy Bennett
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Popular Music and Society, 2015

Never Mind the Pistols? The Legacy

and Authenticity of the Sex Pistols in
Paula Guerra and Andy Bennett
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The impact, influence, and legacy of the Sex Pistols have inspired a considerable number
of works, with those of Jon Savage being perhaps the most paradigmatic. However, these
studies are generally centered on Anglo perceptions of the Sex Pistols and of punk more
broadly. We believe that it is important to understand the Sex Pistols cultural and
economic impact globally, and thus to realize the influence of English or Anglo-Saxon
culture in non-English-speaking countries through the lens of popular music. In this
article, our main aims are as follows: to understand the current and previous
representation of the Sex Pistols in Portugal; to evaluate the group’s legacy in Portuguese
society and its punk scene, its influence on the formation of bands and their consideration
of questions relating to authenticity and market; to define the role of the Sex Pistols in the
dissemination of the DIY ethic and concept among punks in Portugal; and to examine the
importance of the Sex Pistols in the ever unfinished construction of what represents the
mainstream and the underground in music.

The Sex Pistols as a Global and Local Phenomenon

Between early 1975 and 1978, the Sex Pistols played some 122 gigs in nine countries—
see http://www.sexpistolsofficial.com. From the London neighborhood to newspaper
front pages and a number one in the British singles charts (with “God Save the
Queen,” released at the time of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee),1 the career of the
Sex Pistols was fast and frenzied. Even though punk was not born with the Pistols, it
was through them that it became a global phenomenon. In the words of Moore,
“punk style and music came to the world’s attention . . . primarily as a result of the
well-publicized antics of one band, the Sex Pistols” (309). Or, as Clark states, “When
the Sex Pistols topped the charts in Britain, and climbed high in America, Canada,
and elsewhere, punk savored a moment in the sun: every public castigation only
convinced more people that punk was real” (226, emphasis in orginal). The Sex Pistols

q 2015 Taylor & Francis

2 P. Guerra and A. Bennett
are thus rooted in the concept of punk; they “mean” punk in its globalized cultural
In this article we seek to understand the impact, influence, and legacy of the Sex
Pistols with reference to existing accounts of the band, notably those of Jon Savage
and Greil Marcus. However, our main focus is to understand the importance and
impact of the Sex Pistols as part of a global mediascape phenomenon on a local, non-
Anglo-Saxon, scale. Our primary focus will be on the Portuguese case. In the mid-
1970s, the Sex Pistols, punk, democracy,2 and the English language arrived all together
in Portugal amid a “whirlwind of new possibilities for action”— a shattering force
which arrived in an European country in an intermediate stage of development. Our
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perspective is thus the opposite of the understanding of punk as a form of cultural

imperialism (Sabin 3) or as a straightforward British invasion. Instead, we suggest that
punk was brought forth by a process of cultural eclecticism (Lentini 153); it is (re)
appropriated and redefined on a local level, in accordance with local resources and
needs, in a process that mixes the global characteristics of punk and its local
idiosyncrasies (Dunn; Moore; O’Connor). This situation reshapes (and also brings us
closer to) post-subcultural theory in its defense of the emergence of local and
translocal specific scenes (see Bennett, “Consolidating”; Bennett and Peterson;
Guerra, A Instável). In this sense, our approach is similar to that of Osgerby who has
noted that the influence of punk and the Sex Pistols was immense, both in the United
Kingdom, where it spawned numerous music genres, and in the rest of the world,
where, taking into account the different aspects of each country, it had a long and
lasting influence.
Besides its post-subcultural orientation, this article is focused on the issues of
authenticity and reproduction of the work of art, a debate started by the Frankfurt
School. Turner saw subcultures as a search for authenticity when confronted with
modern industrial societies, as subcultural elements would stand in opposition to the
mass-domination consumerist ethics. The work of Lewin and Williams is notable in
this respect, stressing that the search for punk authenticity has evolved along two
paths: a moral path of self-discovery (akin to romanticism) and an effort to attain
social stability in face of the societal fragmentation of post-modernity. The longevity
of punk makes it one of the alternative cultures that has fought hardest for its
authenticity through the rejection of the status quo, consumerism, and existing
hierarchies. The prominence of DIY ethics is tremendous in this, as it allows punks to
create their own identity instead of “purchasing” it. It stands additionally as a self-
discovery process that creates individual beliefs. This perspective rejects the apathy of
an acritical acceptance of the status quo.
Participation in the punk scene is fundamental for individuals in the formation of
their belief systems, while it does not necessary entail canonical group conformity/
conformism, since there is no previously created system of values and practices. In the
context of this discussion, the Sex Pistols are in the eye of the storm, since no one has
been better able than them to redefine the concept of authenticity as this relates to
popular music and culture during the late 20th century (Peterson, Creating Country;
Popular Music and Society 3

Peterson, “In Search”; Bennett, Cultures). The globalization of the Sex Pistols and
their local (re)appropriation throughout the world has been and will continue to be
pivotal in the discussion of the deconstruction of mercantile pop music, and in
particular in the explosive potential of change that it creates in social and cultural
reproduction (Moore).
The impact of the Pistols in the history of popular music3 is undeniable, alongside
their importance in challenging the music industry of the mid-1970s and installing a
back-to-basics approach designed to create a closer connection between music and
audience (see, among many others, Holmstrom; Lawley). Thus, a further aim of this
article is to understand: (1) the current and previous representation of the Pistols, i.e.
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how our interviewees presently see the Sex Pistols and how they saw them at the time
of their original contact with their music; (2) the legacy of the Sex Pistols in punk and
in Portuguese society, their influence on the formation of bands and the importance
of the band in terms of the authenticity vs. market debate; (3) their role in the
dissemination of the DIY ethic and concept; and (4) the importance of the Pistols in
the permanently unfinished construction of mainstream and underground music
From a pool of 110 in-depth interviews4 conducted with individuals of different
social classes, geographical positions, ages, professional categories, and gender, the
discourse of the punk actors — selected on the basis of their consistent involvement in
the punk scene and their key role in the emergence and development of punk in a
Portuguese context — was analyzed. Methodologically, we deployed classical content
analysis, a cross-referencing of discursive tendencies using NVivo, and the elaboration
of clusters of connection to the Sex Pistols by our interviewees (through use of social
network analysis techniques).5
The majority of our interviewees are males (only 13% are females), which reflects
the pattern of unbalanced gender participation in Portuguese punk (as in pop-rock, in
general). The ages of participants vary between 17 and 58, ensuring representativeness
in terms of gathering first-person testimonies from individuals linked to all the
different stages of Portuguese punk. Geographically speaking, despite the national
scope of the research, the majority of the individuals are located in Lisbon and Porto,
the two biggest cities of the country, with a greater focus on Lisbon, the capital, a
tendency that derives from the historical and structural inequalities of socio-
economic development in the country itself. The interviewees show different
educational levels that go beyond mandatory education, with some attaining superior
educational levels. Professionally, most of them are involved in qualified labor jobs
(white-collar jobs) (see Table 1).

Portugal circa 1974: The Democratic Turn, Popular Music, Modernity, and Punk
Between 1926 and 1974, Portugal was under a dictatorship. The rural world and its
traditional “ways” were highly acclaimed as the “true and genuine condition of the
Portuguese people,” alongside socio-political structures based on low qualifications,
4 P. Guerra and A. Bennett
protectionist politics, and closed borders; society was plagued by male dominance,
religious oppression, censorship, and low access to information and communication
(Barreto). During those times, the lack of knowledge of what happened “outside”
Portugal disabled and delayed any attempts to penetrate the imposing unknown; all
had been planned so that the population did not muster any desire to change their
lives for the better. For this reason, not even music was left unscathed by the
mechanisms of censorship. Artistic lifestyles and cultural works were understood as a
luxury which could not, and should not, be supported, and by extension, something
which the country would never subsidize (Guerra, “A Instável” 195). Despite all of
this, in the 1960s a complex process of transformation began, which would soon prove
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to be irreversible (Silva 130). In 1974, the Carnation Revolution brought democracy

Table 1 Characterization of the Interviewees According to their Gender, Age, Academic

Degree, and Residence (N ¼ 110)

Gender %
Female 12.73
Male 87.27
Age %
17 – 22 7.27
23 – 28 10.91
29 – 34 29.09
35 – 40 20.00
41 – 46 12.73
47 – 52 12.73
53 – 58 7.27
Academic degree %
Second cycle of primary education 3.77
Lower secondary education 22.64
Upper secondary education 33.96
Incomplete Bachelor’s degree 20.76
Bachelor degree (and higher) 18.87
Residence* %
Greater Lisbon area 50.91
Greater Porto area 18.18
Setúbal Peninsula 10.91
Other locations in Portugal 16.36
Outside Portugal 3.64
Note: * Residence is based on NUTS III – Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics. For more
information about each Portuguese NUTS III, see http://www.ine.pt/scripts/flex_definitivos/Main.
Popular Music and Society 5

to the country. From then on, Portugal started its race to catch other countries up
socially, economically, and culturally. The Carnation Revolution would additionally
serve as a catalyst for willpower, demonstrations, and protest.
After the Revolution, the musical landscape in Portugal witnessed a widening of
both its range and its audience. In this regard, we should mention the importance of
Rotac ão (Rádio Renascenc a), a radio show hosted by António Sérgio6 which would
influence the alternative tastes of the younger segments of the population. It was
through this show that the Sex Pistols first “arrived,” as, during 1976, Sérgio’s contacts
in the UK sent him cassettes with examples of the most up-to-date music emerging
there. Sérgio’s efforts in attracting a wider audience for the Sex Pistols in Portugal also
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extended to his inclusion of the track “God Save the Queen” on his locally produced
compilation album Punk Rock 77 New Wave 77.7 This was consolidated with the
official release of the album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols in Portugal
in 1979, two years after its official release in England.8
Despite all these changes during the 1970s, Portugal continued to suffer the
consequences of 40 years of dictatorship. The process of change had indeed been
hastily set in motion—much more so than in most European countries (Barreto; Silva
230) and, as such, significant change really began to materialize only in the 1980s.
Thus, and taking into account what we have mentioned of the political, social, and
economic changes during the dictatorship of Salazar,9 the interviewees’ meager access
to international records, namely those of the Sex Pistols, could be surmounted only by
means of import (both by record stores and by individuals themselves), by asking
other people who traveled overseas to bring records back with them, or by listening to
the radio, where punk music was frequently played. There were few record stores, and
records were often too expensive for the majority of the population, even for the
transforming middle classes in Portugal.
This context gave the “word-of-mouth” and “hand-to-hand” dynamics of punk
music acquisition a particular importance, whereby friends (often due to their higher
socio-economic status) imported records or bought them in the few record stores that
existed in Lisbon and Porto. This allowed a larger number of people to gain access to
punk music and, in particular, to the Sex Pistols. During these beginnings, the album
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols assumed the role of a “new potlatch” for
the actors of Portuguese punk.10 Thus, by the beginning of punk’s emergence in
Portugal, the records and cassettes our interviewees had were few enough to, in their
words, “carry with you”—a small but significant number of records that were listened
to by a restricted number of people. Such was the experience of José. Now 49 years old
and a schoolteacher living in London, during the early 1980s José was a key player in
the Portuguese punk scene: “We all had the same three discs, because they were the
only ones available. It was Pistols, Clash, and Stiff Little Fingers. It was those three
things. . . . My collection of discs fitted [under] my armpit—and often I did carry
them around to show them off, to impress others.”
Cassettes filled with songs recorded from the radio, as well as audio and visual
representations of Sex Pistols concerts were particularly important. These objects
6 P. Guerra and A. Bennett
often gained the status of an official band release in the minds of young Portuguese
punks. The people who assumed the role of “promoters” took on this role as a sort of
“sacred duty,” or a mission. They sought to spread the word of punk and to pass on
the “alternative reality” they had found, even if on most occasions such displays of
altruism did not exclude a good dose of exhibitionism. Marcus notes that “punk
created boundaries: it separated the young from the old, the rich from the poor, but
also the young from the young, the old from the old, the poor from the poor, and rock
and roll from rock and roll” (85), or, as we might say, those who knew the Sex Pistols
from those who did not:
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[My mother] still has the discs; she has Never Mind the Bollocks, and another, a lot of
cassettes of them, and some of the Clash too. I think it is mostly cassettes, stuff
which we recorded, not the originals because, well, it was really expensive to buy
them. To those who like music like we did, maybe it is not worth it to buy stuff at all.
(Catarina, 25 years old, incomplete bachelor’s degree, storage supervisor, Porto)

Even though punk started being publicized in the Portuguese media in the late 1970s
and early ’80s (with all their reservations, due to a hidden censorship which was
present even in the post-revolutionary state), specifically in the aforementioned radio
shows of Sérgio and in some periodical publications (Música & Som, Rock Week, and
the newspaper Se7e), a thick veil of ignorance about what was happening in the punk
world persisted. In fact, few people heard these radio shows and even fewer had access
to such publications. At this time, the bars and discotheques (e.g. Rock Rendez Vous,11
Gingão,12 and Bar Oceano13 in Lisbon) that played this sort of music still had great
importance, serving as the venues where many punk bands had their first shows and
being the places where many youngsters would start learning the trademarks of punk
and spreading the movement, the relevant contexts for fanzine and tape trading.
In Portugal there was a deeply symbiotic relationship between punk and the media
(Thornton). The media capitalized on punk—even if on a small scale compared to
England—and played a major role in the diffusion of information and “spreading the
word.” Moreover, media representations and depictions of punk ended up influencing
the subcultural identity of punk itself and, in equal measure, how members of local
punk scenes perceived themselves and how they perceived the Sex Pistols (Osgerby
185). Tucker rightly states that frequently “punk is neglected in favor of the punk
celebrity” (55).
The Sex Pistols are essentially a punch in an iron glass, a screeching scream. If I
identify with what they are saying . . . you know, reading the lyrics, in English, it
gets in your imagination, the slogans which you hear out of context. . . . you think
in “No feelings,” and you start trying to puzzle what it can mean to you, which is a
positive thing. . . . The Sex Pistols have the meaning of an explosion. (Renato, 43-
year-old teacher living in Lisbon who was formerly a member of three punk bands)

For many of our interviewees, the arrival of the Sex Pistols in Portugal was something
akin to a new universe of possible musical, aesthetic, juvenile, and ideological paths.
It was an experience of awe soon followed by a sense of freedom. With the Sex Pistols,
Popular Music and Society 7

Portugal opened itself up to a modern savoir-faire, to pop-rock in general, and to the

beginnings of the music industry (which was the result of the 1980s and of the so-
called “Portuguese rock boom” during the first half of the decade).
By the second half of the 1990s, according to the interviewees, there was a wider
coverage of punk in the media (in newspapers and television) due to such bands as
Green Day and Bad Religion, and due to channels like MTV which broadcast the
music of these and other more recent punk bands. This increased visibility broadened
the public’s knowledge of punk, which in turn, because of the intrinsic relationship
between the Sex Pistols and the genre, led to a massive rediscovery of their work—to
such an extent that the name of the band became irrevocably intertwined with the
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punk genre itself, and there were few people inside or outside punk who had not heard
of them. With the Sex Pistols, ease in forming a band, autonomous production of
records, and independent concerts become a reality; do-it-yourself ethics, a universe
of possibilities, and a new sort of economy of pop music arose (Colegrave and Sullivan
111). In the words of the Portuguese punks, “Sex Pistols is the culture of any guy who
calls himself a musician. Every musician knows the Sex Pistols, even if he isn’t punk.
They were a mark in the history of music, in some way or the other” (Alfredo, 18 years
old, intermediate school incomplete, student, Lisbon).

Sex Pistols’ Punk or Punk as Sex Pistols

From its inception, punk has assumed itself to be a counter-cultural movement—a
rupture and a repositioning in respect of artistic, economic, and social aspects of life
(Bennett “Punk’s Not Dead”; Guerra “Punk, Expectations”; Guerra and Silva;
Hebdige; Tucker)—and the Sex Pistols are, at the same time, the reason for and a
synonym for this position. In this regard, Savage states that “[t]he Sex Pistols, with
their clothes, the choice of their songs, their black and white, high contrast, photos,
their photocopied pamphlets, and their press releases with burning slogans had our
senses boiling” (194). Some of the interviewees agree:
It was the Sex Pistols that were associated with punk, like Black & Decker, not any
other band. When you talk of a drill, you do not say drill, you say Black & Decker;
when you want to say razorblade, you simply say Gillette. And the Sex Pistols did
the very same thing, in that using a mohawk is being punk. (Xavier, 37 years old,
intermediate school, banker, Lisbon)

According to the above point of view, the Sex Pistols often appear as a synonym for
punk itself. Moreover, the name of the band is frequently referenced in a metonymic
sense—the Sex Pistols are punk, the Sex Pistols are “the” punk. If punk was/is
associated with specific characteristics, if punk was/is associated not only with a
specific way of making music, much of that happens because the Sex Pistols reflect
those traits. Then, to our interviewees, the Pistols are related to three core dimensions:
musical, aesthetic, and attitude-related.
8 P. Guerra and A. Bennett
The punk of the Sex Pistols was made to surprise; it was a very simple, direct style of
music which sought to go against the “hippie lifestyle”—i.e. the philosophy of passive
action and the technical mastery of progressive rock (a genre which was deeply
elaborated and lushly orchestrated). In this context, the Sex Pistols and punk more
broadly are considered to have brought the music back to a street-level status, to small
venues and stages improvised with whatever was at hand; punk gave back to popular
music its raison d’être: the attitude, communication, and simplicity. As Moore
suggests, the Sex Pistols’ punk used the language of the working class and its sound
was loud, fast, and different from anything else that the public had heard (312).
If compared to the Clash or the Dead Kennedys, we are in front of a sort of punk with
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limited lyrical value, but which, according to our interviewees, had a seminal role at a
time when “the people were too used to their own rut” (Rodrigo, 23 years old,
secondary education, scenographer, Porto).
For Rivett, the image of the Sex Pistols was the foundation of English punk. The
punk of the Sex Pistols was one that aspired to be nihilistic and shocking, attempting
to break rules and barriers. Thus, it was usual to find people with dyed hair,
extravagantly colored clothes, cut-up ties, spikes, Doc Martens boots, and specific
habits—namely, alcohol and drug use: “[Punk rock] can now be measured in
terms of its success or failure in introducing new codes of dress and behaviour”
(Cartledge 151).
The punk of the Sex Pistols, the interviewees say, relied on going against the
hippies’ philosophy of inaction. Despite admitting that it created several archetypes, it
can be argued that it was an important symbolic creation, where those same
archetypes acted as they wished and contested what they found wrong. “It was a
mainstream band in the midst of the underground,” some say. The Sex Pistols, with
their aesthetic and sound, appealed to the importance of individuality and “being
different,” the importance of having an opinion and personal interests, and each
taking one’s own path (Sabater). Marcus mentions, moreover, that what is interesting
about punk is the desire to change the world, an aspiration which is based on the
demands to “live life not as an object, but as a subject of history—to live, truly, as if
something depends on the actions of each one—and those demands could not but
lead to a path of freedom” (10).
From the point of view of our interviewees, the Sex Pistols are an important band in
the history of music (Spencer), and particularly in the Portuguese history of pop
music, because they are the aesthetic and musical breach that created not only punk
but also new wave and post-punk. It is important to note that the Sex Pistols have
achieved (as a whole) what Adorno would call the imminent and transcendental
criticism of the pop-culture industry. Going well beyond a mere exploration of the
transgressive potential of the pop style, the Pistols became a form of “cultural fusion,”
refusing the apparent pleasures and fraudulent myth of pop culture (see Garnett).
According to some interviewees, the Sex Pistols’ arrival was justified in time and space
by an industrial society that was depersonalized and de-familiarized, a time and space
which asked for a revolution in everyday life, in a sense, a non-ideological revolution,
Popular Music and Society 9

a hysterical, disturbing, nihilistic, non-cultural, non-political revolution, a revolution

mostly of the self (garnered from criticism of movements and collective notions). For
Garnett, the Sex Pistols created a cultural space placed somewhere between art and
pop: “It was probably closer to pop than it was to anything else, but it was at the same
time something unprecedented. This is what made punk singular, in that within that
space bands like the Sex Pistols created something that couldn’t be made within art or
pop, or anywhere else for that matter” (17). Some of the interviewees mentioned that
the first Portuguese punk bands (of the ’70s and early ’80s) were born in close relation
to what was being produced in England, and they based a lot of their work on that of
the Sex Pistols. According to some of them, that influence came in the form of the
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attitude adopted by the bands, and, according to others, in the sheer sound of
the band. The “back to basics” musical style of the Sex Pistols’ brought hope
to the younger generations in their becoming musicians without excessive dedication
to learning to play instruments. This would pave the way for countless other bands,
regardless of their proximity to the punk genre.
It is thus easily understandable that punk, like other popular music styles, is not the
same everywhere. On the contrary, it is re-appropriated and redefined locally,
according to the resources and political, social, and economic needs of the respective
places, in a process which mixes characteristics of global punk and local elements
(Dunn 205– 06). In that context, however much influence the Sex Pistols had over
Portuguese youth, such influence did not result in perfect copies of their songs by
newly formed bands. We previously stated in this article that, for a long time, Portugal
saw its opportunities for cultural, educational, and economic development blocked.
As such, only a few fortunate individuals, in socio-economical terms, had systematic
and continued access, for example, to the English language,14 which created problems
in the creation of covers by the young Portuguese punks. Those who understood
English had other intentions (related to authenticity) beyond simply mimicking the
Sex Pistols; those who did not were barred from the very beginning (from even
choosing to sing the songs of the Sex Pistols, since they simply did not understand
what they were saying nor could they reproduce the English dialect). Even so, as we
have claimed, the Sex Pistols left their mark in Portugal. It was felt in aesthetics as well,
since from the very early days of Portuguese punk young followers started making
homemade band t-shirts as well as using safety pins and other punk-associated
paraphernalia. That aesthetic also gained an important function: allowing people to
recognize themselves by their image, which, at that time, had an associated musical
taste. Garnett, in this regard, sees the work of Reid15 as more than a mere visual
equivalent to the music. Thus, the visuals created by Reid amplified the music-
listening experience and became part of it for the first time in the history of popular
music (see Garnett).
Nevertheless, the Sex Pistols were far from being a consensual universally acclaimed
band. Among our interviewees one can find a wide array of positions and conceptions
of the band—positions that, like those of the Sex Pistols, forbade the detection of
patterned age, socioeconomic, and regional profiles. Far from linear homogeneity, a
10 P. Guerra and A. Bennett
great social, cultural, and economical diversity in the midst of punk becomes
apparent.16 Most of the Portuguese punks interviewed demonstrated a positive
attitude towards the Pistols: 77.5% said they liked the Sex Pistols, against 22.5% who
said the opposite. From this division, and in an effort to categorize the positions of the
interviewees in relation to the band, we can consider six composite “types” of
representations of the band. This categorization includes positionings not related only
to the music or the clothes, but to the band as a creator of collective and subjective
identity in punk.
In the first spot come the “true admirers” (50%). From their point of view, their
liking of the band comes from the fact that it stands out from the rest and brought
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something new to music. To these interviewees, the Pistols opened the door to what
would be their long journey in punk as fans or musicians. Many of the interviewees
stated that the Pistols garnered many followers in Portugal, even though they reached
the vast majority of people only at a later stage, since the media paid little attention to
them. That impact, that strong adhesion, was due to the fact that back then there were
few bands, let alone punk-influenced ones. Thus, when the Sex Pistols arrived in
Portugal with their rebellious, shocking, and transgressive attitude, they managed to
gather a lot of fans. The admiration and praise that the Sex Pistols received are
strongly related to a cult fandom regarding their sound and members of the band
(particularly Sid Vicious and John Lydon), not so much their lyrics (which, due to
their being written in English, created an obstacle for the interviewees, even if they
understood the language):17

The Sex Pistols were, above all, a mark in Portugal. They were one of the first bands
that sold discs everywhere. They made themselves heard, and to those who weren’t
on their wavelength, who didn’t understand the message and the culture, they saw
the Sex Pistols as a punk thing, completely different from everything else, pure
anarchy—anarchy in the UK. They were very important in that. (Carlos, 35 years
old, trader, incomplete university attendance, Porto)

We should add here the category of the “conquered” (2.5%). A substantially smaller
group among the Portuguese punks who stated that they like the Sex Pistols, this is
another subgroup which, when they were younger, did not like the band, but, as time
passed, started expressing sentiments of respect and admiration towards the Pistols,
considering them a cornerstone of the punk movement: “[I didn’t like them] because I
thought it was a bit fake, and I didn’t understand it was a play, and that punk is exactly
that. Spit against all that is wrong, including themselves, it was something which
wasn’t inside me yet” (Hugo, 42 years old, secondary education, graphic designer,
The “critics” (22.5%) subgroup is the second most representative among the
participants in Portuguese punk for whom liking the Sex Pistols is a complex mixture
of “love and hate.” On the one hand, they appreciate the band and its musical work,
while on the other they condemn their attitudes. This ambiguous conception of the
band is something that has lasted ever since they came into contact with it. We cannot
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Table 2 Positions towards the Sex Pistols (N ¼ 110)

Like (77.50%) Don’t like (22.50%)

The true admirers The conquered The bashful admirers The manifest The faster and
(50.00%) The critics (22.50%) (2.50%) (2.50%) dislikers (17.50%) younger (5.00%)
Like the Sex Pistols Like the Sex Pistols Like the Sex Pistols Like the Sex Pistols Don’t like the Sex Don’t like the
(relating to their Pistols (towards Sex Pistols
music their attitude, (regarding their
and aesthetic, not not in relation to music)
their attitude). their music and
Have always liked Have always liked Have only recently Have always liked Never liked the Sex Never liked the
the Sex Pistols the Sex Pistols started liking the Sex the Sex Pistols Pistols Sex Pistols
High influence of High influence of Low influence of the High influence of Low influence of Low influence of
the Sex Pistols in the Sex Pistols in Sex Pistols in their the Sex Pistols in the Sex Pistols the Sex Pistols in
their lifestyles their lifestyles lifestyles their lifestyles in their lifestyles their lifestyles
Low level of critical High level of critical Low level of critical High level of critical High level of critical Low level of
acclaim acclaim acclaim acclaim acclaim critical acclaim
Liking is not hidden Liking is not hidden Liking is not hidden Liking is hidden Liking is not hidden Liking is not
from the common hidden
Age undefined Age undefined Age undefined Age undefined Age undefined Younger age
Source: KISMIF Project [PTDC/CS-SOC/118830/2010], content analysis of the interviews.
Popular Music and Society
12 P. Guerra and A. Bennett
but remember, regarding this ambiguous positioning, Thompson’s description of the
meeting between the Sex Pistols and A&M, where the author paints in vivid detail
the “excessive and sordid” encounter of punk and its target, the discographic
industry (27).
There are, furthermore, the “bashful admirers” (2.5%). Sharing sentiments of
admiration for the Pistols, these actors are part of the subgroup discussed here but
differ from the rest in that they feel a certain shame in expressing their liking of the
band to their friends and peers, given that it is often associated with mainstream and
commercial ideals and frequently questioned as to whether it truly belongs to the
punk movement. In this respect, we can question whether this shame lies in assuming
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that one likes the Sex Pistols due to some notion of authenticity which the
interviewees may see as being put into question if they admit their liking of the band,
and, by extension, their own filiations to the punk movement.

Probably I won’t tell my friends because I’m a bit ashamed, but they still touch
some pretty soft spots in me. And Pistols is on that level, that is: something
which nowadays, especially after the Filthy Lucre Tour, and all the renovations
to get money, is something despicable, and I get it was a marketing maneuver
more than a true belief—but back then I liked them a lot, and I thought that
they were some real hardcore guys. And they play like hell, at least I think so,
I think in musical terms they are amazing. (Luı́s, 42 years old, bachelor’s
degree, office employee, Lisbon)

Finally, among the interviewees who state they do not like the Sex Pistols, we can
observe two distinct positions: the “manifest dislikers” and the “faster and younger.”
The first case comprises 17.5% of the total interviews, and we can see that precisely
what makes some like the Sex Pistols leads others to detest them. In this subgroup
(manifest dislikers) we find several interviewees who state the band had no influence
on them, and, because of that, they do not particularly like it. The reasons for their
dislike are usually the fact that the Sex Pistols were mostly driven by commercial and
economic interests, ambiguous in their cause. Some of the interviewees from this
subgroup also mention that, as time has passed, they have gotten more and more
disappointed with the band.

The Pistols were the product that their manager at the time created. Johnny Rotten,
the vocalist, was chosen through casting. Sid Vicious didn’t know how to play bass,
and his bass was sometimes turned off, that’s what I’ve heard at least. And musically
they released a disc, Never Mind the Bollocks, and that was it. And now they’ve got
together with the declared intention to get some money. (Sebastião, 33 years old,
trader, 12th year complete, Almada)

The “faster and younger” subgroup comprises 5% of the individuals we have

interviewed. Some of the youngest interviewees are placed in this subgroup, not liking
the Sex Pistols because they are looking for faster and harsher sounds; musically
speaking, they are fans of hardcore. Notwithstanding this point, among most of these
Popular Music and Society 13

individuals one can find an acknowledgement of and respect for all that the band
meant and created inside the punk movement.
I knew the Sex Pistols, even if they are a band which neither he nor I like too much,
through my dad. We like faster things. They were the first in what they did, but soon
after became a fashion, a brand. However, they started that way of dressing, acting,
thinking. . . . They are a great symbol of punk. (Abel, 20 years old, middle school
complete, student, Lisbon)

Sold-Out Sell-Outs?
Attempting to respond to and oppose normative culture, punk has stood in the
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spotlight when it comes to the debate between authenticity and commercialization—

between remaining “loyal” and “selling out.” The Sex Pistols, being the first punk
band to sign with a major, were at the epicenter of this dichotomy between the
subculture and the music industry. In this, the very foundations of the movement are
called into question, for it seems impossible to reconcile anarchy, political opposition,
and resistance with punk as a phenomenon of the system, serving as a soundtrack to
sports shows, and with several bands’ music videos being aired on channels such as
MTV. For some, this success is easily explained, i.e. the music industry has finally
realized how to capitalize on punk. For others, however, this transition is not so
simple. For those who were politically invested in the punk ethos, the popularization
of the genre was in itself the first step in reducing and tarnishing its own political
message (Matula).
In this regard, Clark defends a very important perspective of understanding. This
author sees the “death of punk” as the death of the classical subcultures, with these
being defined as “groups of youths who practised a wide array of social dissent
through shared behavioural, musical, and costume orientations” (223). These groups
were important in the shift of social order in various parts of the globe, with the
strength of such groups stemming from their ability to shock and disobey established
norms of social class, gender, and ethnicity. However, this all changed, as in time these
transgressions became, in a manner of speaking, normal, i.e. expected by the public,
and as such were absorbed as narratives by the capitalist repertoire, which
reconfigured to the image of the “rebel” as another potential consumer. In this setting,
deviations from the norm are not as they were, being now seen as something normal,
with the choice by a youth for a few years of a “prefab subculture”, to which he adheres
until his return to the mainstream, which he never truly abandoned.
The problem of punk, something which it shared with other so-called subcultures,
was that it depended excessively on its music and style as a means of expression, which
made it an easy target from which big corporations could profit. This is what
happened with punk, as it was substituted with a mass-produced culture industry
that destroyed all of the movement’s vitality (Clark 225). In this respect, in a
press conference which followed the 1996 band reunion, John Lydon stated,
“Listen, we invented Punk, we write the rules, you follow. Not the other way ’round.”
And he called Green Day “[c]hildish prattle. It’s the same old shit really,
14 P. Guerra and A. Bennett
nothing’s changed. The Sex Pistols never finished properly, so this is what
it’s about, to put a full stop on it” (Lydon, “‘Filthy Lucre”). Years after the second
reunion, in response to Debbie Harry, who said that punk is alive and well,
Lydon added:
Let’s clarify this. The Sex Pistols is Punk. The rest is merely punk rock, plain and
simple. I don’t connect us to any of that. There was no movement. And if you’re
really honest about it, most punk records were fucking awful and just another con.
But then there was the Sex Pistols, who meant it. And I suppose the Clash were big
in Italy. But then the Italians do like left wing politics, don’t they? (Lydon, “Pistols”)
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Despite Lydon’s claims of being authentic and a founder of punk, this positioning is
short of unanimously accepted, to say the least. According to a group of our
interviewees, in Portugal the Sex Pistols are seen as an incorporated product of the
mainstream.18 Plainly speaking, even a classical content analysis was able determine
that most of the interviewees (about 73%, including the so-called “declared
admirers”) talked of the Sex Pistols as a mainstream and commercial band, which
largely contributed to the banalization of punk. Some (about 50%) considered that
the “selling out” was something which started with the band itself, with some (17%)
arguing it was the manager who created the “product,” and others (22%), reiterating
the autonomy of the band, stating that it was the Sex Pistols themselves who “played”
the record labels. Yet others (11%) even saw the connection between the Sex Pistols
and the labels as inevitable, since in those days the record labels held tremendous
power, and any band with any sort of fame would be “swallowed” by them (some say
as a means of controlling anti-system bands). This last idea seems to reinforce
Hebdige’s claim that subcultures are subject to a process of reconstruction by the
dominant culture, which eventually naturalizes and “tames” the subcultural subject,
integrating it into its own behaviors (and, in that sense, ending its own existence), or
claiming its differences and specificities, making it a subject/object of distinction from
the most favored minorities of society: “It was a sort of a play. I have The Great Rock
and Roll Swindle where they talk of the plays they made with the labels and all of that.
It was all a scam, nothing new in that aspect—but maybe nobody had done it on that
level” (Francisco, 42 years old, typographer, 9th grade complete, Guimarães)
Other interviewees (about 22%) considered that the Sex Pistols surrendered to the
mainstream only after signing with EMI or after the death of Sid Vicious. In this
context, these interviewees did not consider it right that the Sex Pistols continued to
make money with a project that, for them, was essentially over following the release of
Never Mind the Bollocks.
When the Sex Pistols or the Clash sign with EMI and . . . end up internationalizing
themselves, they end up reaching . . . they go around the globe. And from then on,
what was punk in its origin, was sort of subverted, it becomes a market product.
(Anı́bal, 47 years old, secondary education, musician, Lisbon)

Some (28%), however, understand and respect the reasons which led the Sex Pistols to
connect to the music industry (in the sense that everyone seeks to have their work
Popular Music and Society 15

recognized), considering even that their signing with the label did not mean a loss of
A guy can do good things, and, by selling them, it does not mean that they are not
good. . . . There is a difference between commercial and sellable. Is Led Zeppelin
commercial? No, but it is sellable. The Sex Pistols, I mean, it’s that moment: it’s
when a movement is no longer about clubs, and about small venues, and starts
coming out in the mainstream. That exists, whether you like it or not, whether you
find it ugly, whether you despise it, it exists. And it is on the top spot—business.
When business comes in, capitalism takes a bow as well. (Álvaro, 56 years old,
incomplete bachelor’s degree, musician and composer, Almada)
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Regardless of the criticisms that one may cast at the Sex Pistols, the majority of the
interviewees (80%) believe that if the band had not signed with a major label, punk
would not have had the impact it did. The reasons concern the big editions which
major labels are able to afford, which allowed the Sex Pistols to reach more
countries (including Portugal) and more people, and, consequently, for those people
to be introduced to an alternative way of thinking. So, for the interviewees, the
connection of the Sex Pistols to the major labels was crucial for the unraveling of
the punk movement. Paul Cook, drummer for the band, synthesized this all in a
phrase: “Et voilá. A simple four letter word had this all going” (qtd in Colegrave and
Sullivan 168).

Life, Death, and Metamorphosis: The Sex Pistols as “Landmark”

As the years went by, the importance of the Sex Pistols changed—as some interviewees
suggested when they talked of a depletion of punk in the Sex Pistols. They indicated
that, in their understanding, the defense of a self which is different from society’s
expectations loses its sense when the “self ” is aggregated into an “us”:
There, punk loses that desperate scream of the self, the need to dress in bizarre ways
to get noticed, and starts to get more focused on the traditional aspects of the
protests . . . because those who were involved in that started to find it more
important to deal with serious problems of society, or global problems, like racism
or fascism. With that take on social consciousness, punk gains a few things— let’s
say intelligence—and loses a lot of other things like spontaneity, the truly
revolutionary and iconoclastic spirit. (Francisco, 51 years old, bachelor’s degree,
designer, Lisbon)

So, from the perspective of these key actors in Portuguese punk scene, the Sex Pistols
ended in the 1970s; they ended because, since they were a sort of an explosion, they
could not “last forever. It’s a logical process: an explosion doesn’t last forever.
It explodes and then it stagnates, or starts layering, or whatever it is it does”
(Francisco, 51 years old, Lisbon). For these interviewees, the Sex Pistols could last only
if they had had an evolution in terms of music and content. In their understanding, to
continue to be creative and critical, it is necessary to be connected to what is
happening in society; otherwise the project can only last for so long. This seems to
16 P. Guerra and A. Bennett
have been the case with the Sex Pistols who, contrary to the Clash (some interviewees
say), could not keep up with the evolution of society, stagnating within a framework
of “over-the-top nihilism” and a simple “no for no’s sake” to the values of that time.
It is therefore in this context that some of the interviewees claimed that the Sex
Pistols, along with other bands (e.g. the Clash, Ramones, Television, Blondie, etc.),
would mark the beginning and the end of a taste for punk, because for them these
bands made up everything that punk could ever be. In that sense, all the rest that
appeared afterwards could not surpass what those bands had done, being in the words
of the interviewees, mere carbon copies of said bands. Some interviewees
strengthened this idea noting that: first, what the Sex Pistols did after those initial
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years had nothing to do with what they once did and stood for; second, that by
turning punk into a mainstream and sellable object, they also caused it to die, at least
when it came to the punk attitude: “About the bands that started it, none of them was
highlighted above the others. They were important as a whole, as one punk. The ones
that started to highlight were only at a later stage, with Joy Division” (Alvaro, 56 years
old, incomplete degree, music and composer, Almada). In this context, we can use the
example of the concert the Sex Pistols held in Portugal in 2008,19 which some of our
interviewees said they did not attend due to the Pistols’ loss of originality, creativity,
and capacity to “amaze,” resulting from their connection to what is commercial and
their widespread propagation. For these interviewees, there is no doubt that the Sex
Pistols lost some of their value. For Clarke, this is even more visible through the
concept of incorporation. He defends the idea that an artistic movement is authentic
only as long as it stands beyond the reach of the market. From the moment at which it
is “consumed” by the market, each and every artistic movement loses its cultural
significance and becomes nothing more than one among various objects of
consumerist societies (see Clarke).
Despite all this, opinions seem to converge when talking about the maintenance of
the Sex Pistols as a reference and historical marker alike. What is known is that the
“globalization”/“banalization” of the Sex Pistols—the fact that they can now be heard
on iPods, YouTube, etc.—gave the band access to a much wider audience, including
many who do not like punk. What is also known is that globalization and wider access
to music have made the Sex Pistols less powerful in their ability to move people. That
is, they no longer create a sense of gathering them in specific places, as was the case
some years ago, when people had to assemble in bars and discotheques in order to
hear the music.
On the other hand, it is possible even then to find elements that prove the
continuity of the Sex Pistols as a reference. They are heard by people who do not like
punk, and that could mean that they are considered not only a punk band, but a band
that marked history in a more general way. The same can be said about the fact that
today they are the target of a mass production that, among other things includes their
image on t-shirts. (After all, not every band is selected for such a level of
Popular Music and Society 17

In the present day, according to the interviewees, the Sex Pistols are regarded as a
mythical band, an essential band, and a reference for those about to be “initiated” into
the punk world. Certainly, that is due to the impact the Sex Pistols once had (making
them eternally marked in music history and, more particularly, punk history), but
also to the simple fact that punk youth today is much closer to the older generation of
punk. This means that, through a process of influence, younger punks end up
listening to what the older punks listened to and in many cases continue listening to.
According to our interviewees though, the liking of the Sex Pistols cannot have the
same meaning that the punk bands of the past gave them. (In 1977, people who heard
the Sex Pistols might have felt as if they were somehow making history; today, people
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who hear the Sex Pistols can feel only that they are hearing a part of a story.) However,
the contexts are not so different that they would shun a feeling that has crossed all
generations of punks in Portugal: non-conformism, rage, and revolt against social
status and the system. Even though that feeling might not appear at a first glance, as it
needs a certain maturity of both actors and audiences, it exists. Thus, it is still
reasonable to like bands such as the Sex Pistols. Or, as Johnny Rotten would say, “It
liberates people. Punk really has that effect” (qtd in Colegrave and Sullivan 119).
Therefore, remembering the Sex Pistols’ visit to Portugal in 2008, it is fitting to
conclude with these words:
Thirty years later, the singer John Lydon, the bass player Glen Matlock, the guitarist
Steve Jones, and the drummer Paul Cook reiterate that they are a fac ade and that
they want to manipulate us. Only this time the assault is shameless, in bright
daylight. Therefore, on the first day of the Festival Paredes de Coura, when they
perform for the first time in Portugal, the Sex Pistols won’t have an easy job. With
them, it’s more than just the music. With everyone else is also more than that. But
with them it’s even more. (Belanciano 21)

In the collection of data, the author had the support of the following researchers: João Matos, Hugo
Ferro, Tânia Moreira, and Tiago Teles Santos. To the depth of our gratitude we thank you for your
sense of duty and support in collecting and analyzing the data.

Disclosure Statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

This study was made possible by funding from FEDER through the COMPETE Operational
Program from the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) [PTDC/CS-SOC/118830/2010],
led by the Institute of Sociology of the University of Porto (IS-UP), and developed in partnership
with the Griffith Center for Cultural Research (GCCR) and Lleida University (UdL). The following
institutions also participated: Faculty of Economics of the University of Porto (FEP), Faculty of
Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Porto (FPCEUP), Faculty of Economics of
the University of Coimbra (FEUC), Center for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra (CES),
and the Lisbon Municipal Libraries (BLX). For more information, see: www.punk.pt/en/
18 P. Guerra and A. Bennett
[1] A key moment in the history of the Sex Pistols is noteworthy—namely, the interview that
took place on the primetime television program Today on 1 December 1976. Goaded by
presenter Bill Grundy, members of the group used expletives and hurled insults at Grundy.
This brought the band widespread media attention and, in the wake of their having been
dropped by EMI, led to their being signed by Virgin with subsequent significant commercial
success, as can be seen in the sales of the single “God Save the Queen” (see Osgerby).
[2] Democracy arrived in Portugal with the Carnation Revolution, a key moment in modern
Portuguese history, as a result of a military coup d’état. It took place on 25 April 1974,
overthrowing the dictatorship of the “Estado Novo” (“New State”), which had ruled the
country since 1933. From then on a process of democratization started taking place,
culminating in the creation of a new constitution on 25 April 1976.
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[3] It is worth mentioning the Sex Pistols’ performance in the Lesser Free Trade Hall in
Manchester on 4 June 1976. Albiez talks of such a performance as a form of “year zero” in the
history of the Manchester rock music scene. It generated an epiphany for the musicians who
were present (see Albiez 103).
[4] These interviews were conducted between January 2013 and February 2014, following the
guidelines of the KISMIF investigation project. This project is part of an attempt at gaining a
broad understanding of the punk reality in Portugal, with a focus on the development of the
scene, or scenes, in the last 40 years. For more information, see www.punk.pt/en/.
[5] Throughout the article we shall use excerpts from the interviews as a means to illustrate
certain points. All interviewees are given fictitious names, and the interview excerpts used
here conform to the requirements of the Deontological Code of the Portuguese Sociology
[6] António Sérgio (1950– 2009) was an important radio host, radio producer, DJ, record editor,
and specialist who gave exposure in Portugal to leading and innovative rock and pop music
artists. Starting in the late 1970s, Sergio played the music of many artists at that time
unknown in Portugal, putting local audiences in touch with these artists and their music.
In this sense, Sérgio is regarded in some circles as the Portuguese equivalent of the late British
radio DJ John Peel.
[7] In 1978 the disc Punk Rock 77 New Wave 77 (Pirate Dream, Vinyl, LP, Compilation, 400
copies) was released. The LP represented 11 bands and 19 tracks, including the Sex Pistols
(“God Save the Queen”), the Jam (“In the City,” “Non-Stop Dancing,” “Taking My Love,”
“Art School,” “Slow Down,” and “Batman”), Eater (“Outside View” and “Thinking of the U.S.
A.”), Warm Gun (“Broken Windows”), Motörhead (“Motörhead” and “City Kids”),
SkrewDriver (“You’re So Dumb”), Generation X (“Your Generation”), London (“Friday on
My Mind” and “Siouxsie Sioux”), Rings (“I Wanna Be Free”), Hideous Strength (“They Call
Me Energy”), and the Radiators from Space (“Love Detective”). The edition was considered a
bootleg by some Portuguese representatives of major record labels, who stated that Pirate
Dream had no right to include several of the aforementioned bands. That was the single
release from Pirate Dream. See http://www.rocknoliceu.blogspot.pt.
[8] The release of this album in Portugal was preceded by the release a few months earlier of The
Great Rock and Roll Swindle (1979, Vadeca), a soundtrack recorded after the American tour
and the announcement of the end of the band in 1978. Recorded without Sid Vicious, it is a
series of songs which would be used for the cinematographic version of the story of the band.
After that, by the end of 1979, it was also released in Portugal as the single “Silly Thing,”
considered “the crown jewel of Portuguese punk releases” with two editions, one in green and
the other in blue.
[9] António de Oliveira Salazar (1889 –1970) was dictator of Portugal in the manner of Franco
and Mussolini. He founded and led the Estado Novo (New State), the authoritarian, right-
wing government that presided over and controlled Portugal from 1932 to 1974.
[10] An interesting fact is that the phonographic recordings most referred to by the interviewees,
and/or those that they had access to, were, besides Never Mind the Bollocks, some which were
never edited in Portugal. This seems to reveal how relevant the foreign trips and proximity
Popular Music and Society 19

networks really were. In addition to the Sex Pistols’ only album, the interviewees talked about
the compilations Flogging a Dead (1980, Virgin Records) and Kiss This (1992, Virgin Records)
and the videocassette Sid and Nancy (1986, dir. Alex Cox, distributed by Samuel Goldwyn
[11] Rock Rendez Vous (also known as RRV) was one of the most important Portuguese clubs in the
1980s. Back then, one of the objectives of all Portuguese bands was to perform a gig at RRV,
which reveals the importance of this place, officially closed in July of 1990.
For more information, see http://portugal80smetal.blogspot.pt/2011/05/rock-rendez-vous-
[12] Gingão was a bar located at Bairro Alto, Lisbon (mid-1980s – end-1990s). It was one of the
first punk bars in Portugal.
[13] Bar Oceano was open between 1988 and 1990. It was perhaps the most important place for
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punk rock at the time, introducing several punk bands to the Portuguese public.
[14] English was not a part of the school system, and only through travelling, foreign TV—to
which some interviewees had access—and the press/literature did people learn the language.
[15] Jamie Reid is an English artist and anarchist with connections to the Situationists. His work,
featuring letters cut from newspaper headlines in the style of a ransom note, came close to
defining the image of punk rock, particularly in the UK. His best known works include the
cover for the Sex Pistols’ album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.
[16] The dispositions hereby described were found through conventional analysis of content,
supported by social network analysis. Thus, first, and using our conceptual notion of the
triadic division of the Sex Pistols’ importance (music, aesthetic, and attitude), all the
discourses of the interviewees were subjected to a rigorous category analysis. Simultaneously,
and so as to produce clearer and more robust data, a database was constructed with all the
interviewees here mentioned, and their respective responses (obtained through the
aforementioned content analysis) to the following questions/variables: liking of the Sex
Pistols—negative or positive (subdivided into music, aesthetic, and attitude); how long they
have liked them— positive or negative (subdivided into music, aesthetic, and attitude);
degree of influence of the Sex Pistols in the life of the interviewee—high or low (subdivided
into music, aesthetic, and attitude); degree of demonstration/revealing of that taste in relation
to others—shy about it or not; age; gender; place of residence; social class; and number of
years in school attendance. Finally, and despite the limitations of the software used in the
network analysis (namely, in terms of entering and comparing multiple variables
simultaneously: the software NodeXL, used in the present analysis, allows only the cross-
matching of two variables), a choice was made, as mentioned, to do a network analysis, this
being simultaneously a sophisticated and a simple method, deemed sufficient for our
investigative needs, given the number of entries in our database (i.e. interviewees). It was then
necessary to match the simplicity of NodeXl to the complexity of our analysis. In a simple and
efficient way, all the variables were transformed in just two: the interviewee and a composite
variable that aggregates all the “answers.” This latter variable is then the result of sequential
addition processes, which stopped when the addition of an extra variable did not bring
anything new to our analysis (as was the case with sociographic variables, as can be seen in
Table 2, which were not included as characteristics of the profiles, except for “age”). With all
of that, we intend to offer new possibilities of analysis, without forgetting the need for future
developments in this area.
[17] Songs such as “Anarchy in the UK,” “Bodies,” and “God Save the Queen” were the favorite
songs of most of our interviewees.
[18] From a relevant analysis of the tone used, we can list the words most commonly associated
with the Sex Pistols, in regard to commercialization. This analysis was done through the
qualitative data analysis software NVivo, through a counting of the words and expressions
previously selected (which, in the present case, refers to the answers given by our interviewees
to the relationship between the Sex Pistols and the music industry and commercialization).
In that analysis, we could see the use of more positive words—movement, influence,
phenomenon, shock, icon, important—and also more negative—major labels, commercial,
20 P. Guerra and A. Bennett
money, business, industry, pop, rage, product, sell—and others which indicate a comparison
between the Sex Pistols and the Ramones and the Clash.
[19] This Sex Pistols concert was inserted into the line-up for one of the main summer festivals in
Portugal, the Paredes de Coura Festival. The Pistols performed on the first of the three days of
the festival, with 40,000 people in attendance that day. A relevant piece of information is that
the average attendance rounds to 17,000 people. See http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/sex-pistols/

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Notes on Contributors
Paula Guerra is Assistant Professor of Sociology, Senior Researcher in the
Institute of Sociology (IS-UP), invited researcher at the Centre for Geography
Studies and Territory Planning in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of
Porto (FLUP) and Adjunct Professor at Griffith Centre for Cultural Research at
Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. She has authored some recent
publications namely The Unstable Lightness of Rock: Genesis, Dynamics and
Consolidation of Alternative Rock in Portugal (1980 –2010). Guerra is currently the
Chief Investigator for ‘Keep it simple, make it fast! Prolegomena and punk scenes, a
way for Portuguese contemporaneity (1977– 2012)’, an international and inter-
disciplinary project about the Portuguese punk scene funded by the Portuguese
Foundation for Science and Technology, and a researcher in other projects. Website:
22 P. Guerra and A. Bennett
Andy Bennett is Professor of Cultural Sociology and Director of the Griffith Centre
for Cultural Research at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. He has authored
and edited numerous books including Music, Style and Aging, Popular Music and
Youth Culture, Cultures of Popular Music, Remembering Woodstock, and Music Scenes
(with Richard A. Peterson). Bennett was lead Chief Investigator on a three-year, five-
country project funded by the Australian Research Council entitled ‘Popular Music
and Cultural Memory’ [DP1092910]. He is a Faculty Fellow of the Center for Cultural
Sociology, Yale University, and an Associate Member of PopuLUs, the Centre for the
Study of the World’s Popular Musics, Leeds University. Website: http://www.punk.pt/
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