Friday, May 27, 1977

Sex Pistols released “God Save the Queen”

God Save the Queen

Sex Pistols

Writer(s): Glen Matlock, John Lydon, Paul Cook, Steve Jones (see lyrics here)

Released: May 27, 1977

First Charted: June 4, 1977

Peak: 1 CL, 1 CO, 2 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 16.36 video, 59.26 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This was the second single from the Sex Pistols, following the UK-chart-topping “Anarchy in the U.K.” This one stalled in the runner-up position behind Rod Stewart’s double-A-sided single “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” / “The First Cut Is the Deepest.” There have been rumours that “God Save the Queen” actually outsold Rod Stewart, but was kept out of the #1 spot because it might offend people. WK

It has also been reported that the song was banned by the BBC. While they certainly made programming decisions about what to play and not to play, they didn’t ban records. There were also some major retailers who refused to stock the song, but that only made it more marketable because of the taboo associated with the song. SF

It was released during Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, which marked the 25th anniversary of accession to the throne. The band has said it wasn’t written specifically in response to the jubilee. Member Paul Cook said, “We weren’t aware of it at the time. It wasn’t a contrived effort to go out and shock everyone.” WK

The lyrics were anything but celebratory. The song, originally called “No Future,” was about resentment towards “the stifling rule of the old-fashioned royal monarchy” SF and sympathy for the English working class. Lead singer John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, said, “You don’t write ‘God Save the Queen’ because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them and you’re fed up with them being mistreated.” WK The song became “an anthem for the punk movement.” SF

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First posted 10/7/2021; last updated 10/8/2021.

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