March 16, 1977: A&M Records Fires The Sex Pistols After Six Days

A lot of bands get dropped by their record labels, but it usually takes several years and a few stale releases before a label is willing to pull the plug on something it invested so heavily in.

That is, unless you're A&M Records and the band is in question are the Sex Pistols.

It was on this day in 1977 that A&M broke their contract with the Pistols after only having signed them on March 10, not long after they were dropped by EMI. "EMI feels it is unable to promote this group's records in view of the adverse publicity generated over the past two months," read an official statement.

The day of the signing, there was a major press conference announcing the new partnership and the upcoming release of the "God Save the Queen" single, after which the band famously made their way to the A&M offices, completely obliterated.

The band's new bassist, one Sid Vicious, took the opportunity to destroy a toilet bowl, cutting his foot in the process and trailing blood all over the office. It should be noted that there is some disparity over whether or not Vicious cut his foot before or after breaking the toilet, but it seems almost a moot point.

While that was going on, frontman John Lydon was busy firing off obscenities at members of the office staff, living up to his moniker of Johnny Rotten.

A few days later, during an altercation at a London club, Rotten would reportedly issue a death threat to a good friend of A&M's English director. Between that incident and reports of the band swearing loudly and spitting on one another while waiting for a flight at London's Heathrow Airport, the execs at A&M had had a enough, and the band's contract was terminated just six days after it was signed.

Upon the Sex Pistols' release, nearly all 25,000 copies of "God Save the Queen" that the label had pressed were promptly destroyed. The few that remain in existence are among the most valuable pieces of vinyl in the world, with Record Collector recently pricing copies of the single at upwards of $12,000.

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Josh Hart

Josh Hart is a former web producer and staff writer for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado magazines (2010–2012). He has since pursued writing fiction under various pseudonyms while exploring the technical underpinnings of journalism, now serving as a senior software engineer for The Seattle Times.