There are few bands in the history of rock that have left a greater impression in such a short time as the Sex Pistols. The band was together for about two years, they never charted a single in America, and they never recorded a complete album together; their lone album was largely a singles collection.
However, had there been no Sex Pistols, the current musical landscape would be a vastly different one; everything that came after their 1976-1977 existence has somehow been touched by them, either directly as a musical influence, or indirectly in terms of the recontextualization of rock music the Pistols achieved in their brief moment. Punk, indie rock, and alternative rock all owe a tremendous debt to the band whose stated goal was to destroy rock 'n' roll. They might not have succeeded in their mission, but they did manage to change its face forever.
Their music was raw and nihilistic; The Ramones were a cheerful pop band in comparison. In England, they were more than a dangerous band; they were a bona fide threat to the social order and the monarchy itself. In America, most people didn't hear of them until they were already gone; still, the shadow cast by their small clutch of releases had immediate and irreversable effect on punk rock; the overwhelming rage and sonic attack their music held, and their defiant, do-it-our-way attitude were the cornerstones of a whole new generation of music.
Their story begins in 1975 when Malcom McLaren, owner of the London boutique SEX, decided to take some principles learned from the French situationist art terrorists of 1968 and apply them to the staid boys' club of rock music. The idea was to shake things up with a large dose of provocative anarchy that would fly in the face of the pomposity of progressive rock and the flaccidity of country-rock and singer/songwriter music. Having very briefly worked with the provocative New York Dolls at the end of their career, he had some rock experience; this time, he wanted to be fully in charge of a band from the start, and orchestrate their attack like puppetmaster.