Roger Waters on his hate of the Sex Pistols: “It was so clearly contrived”

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Roger Waters, the former creative force behind Pink Floyd, is well known for his many successes and for being one of the most outspoken musicians in rock. This is to be anticipated from a guy whose music, including albums like Animals and The Wall, served as a vehicle for serious political commentary. Never one to back down, Waters hasn’t shied away from sharing his opinions on a variety of subjects, including other musicians. Sex Pistols, a band considered to represent the pinnacle of punk, is one group that Waters openly disdains.

The Sex Pistols are renowned for being the band that organized the 1970s British punk uprising. The group was led by the sneering John Lydon and also included the deadly Sid Vicious as Sid Vicious’ replacement for bassist Glen Matlock, guitarist Steve Jones, and drummer Paul Cook. By taking lyrical jabs at the Queen and cursing on live television, the band made tremendous progress in their generation’s battle against the status quo.

But the normally cautious Waters didn’t buy it. There has always been a connection between Pink Floyd and the Sex Pistols, which is an interesting side point. According to legend, the band picked up Lydon after spotting him strolling along London’s King’s Road wearing an old Pink Floyd T-shirt with the words “I Hate” written on it.

It follows that it is not unexpected that Roger Waters did not enjoy the raucous behavior of the punks. He said to Rolling Stone, “The Sex Pistols were just trying to make noise. It was so clearly contrived. You know, they were managed by a bloke who ran a shop selling silly clothes!” 

Waters abruptly changed the subject to Sid Vicious’s passing and the influence that a youthful death may have in becoming eternal. He then said, “And then one of them died, so you got that iconic thing that lives on. If somebody dies, that’s always good. Except for him, obviously, and his mom and dad, and [his girlfriend] Nancy; but for everybody else, it’s brilliant.”

David Gilmour, a former bandmate of Roger Waters’ with Floyd, gave a more sober assessment of John Lydon and the group. He remembered, “I don’t think we felt alienated by punk, we just didn’t feel it was particularly relevant to us. We weren’t frightened by it. A lot of good things came out of punk, but there were an awful lot of people leaping on it as a bandwagon, who leapt off when they’d got to the top.”


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