Looking back at the fascinating tales behind some of our favourite album covers. Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols

Jamie Reed Anarchy in the UK Flyer

Anarchy in the UK Flyer showing Jamie Reed’s iconic style.

Regarded as vital in the establishment of ‘70s punk rock aesthetic, English artist Jamie Reid attended Croydon Art School where he began his anarchist leanings with a six-day student sit-in protest in 1968, also attended by future Sex Pistols manager and ‘godfather of punk’ Malcolm McLaren (also a student at the college at the time). In the early ‘70s Reid ran radical political magazine Suburban Press, where he honed his distinctive graphic style: using newspaper cut-outs to create ransom note-style text.

As the Sex Pistols emerged shrieking into international awareness in the mid-‘70s – banned from several English live venues, fired from two record companies and having sworn on live television – Reid was enlisted through his Situationist art circles to create the band’s debut cover art. His cut-out style, in lurid yellow and pink, caught attention immediately – some of it furious. London police ordered record stores not to display the album; the word ‘bollocks’ was considered obscene. After much uproar and a store manager’s arrest, the case was heard in court, where QC John Mortimer argued a double-standard was at work. An expert witness also testified the word was not obscene, but merely an Old English term for ‘nonsense.’ The hearing’s chairman grudgingly found the manager not guilty, adding: “My colleagues and I wholeheartedly deplore the vulgar exploitation of the worst instincts of human nature for commercial profits by both you and your company.”

Jamie Reed personal collection

From the personal collection of Jamie Reed

check out the story behind Hole, ‘Live Through This‘ (1994) here.