May 27, 1977: Sex Pistols Release ‘God Save the Queen’

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Released on this day in the U.K. by A&M Records, the second single by the Sex Pistols was a blast of invective aimed at the British Monarchy and Queen Elizabeth II, who was celebrating her Silver Jubilee – the 25th anniversary of being crowned – that year.

The punk rock group claims to have been unaware of that fact when they wrote the song, whose title is the same as the English national anthem.

At the time of its release, A&M had already dropped the band from its roster – the second label to do so; EMI had severed ties with the Pistols the year before. Nonetheless it reached #2 on the official U.K. singles chart despite being banned by the British Broadcasting Corporation (aka the BBC) and independent radio stations. Persistent rumors claim it had reached #1 but the chart was manipulated to save the Royal Family from embarrassment.

A&M is said to have destroyed the remaining copies of the 25,000 singles it had pressed up after parting ways with the Pistols. One one point it was rated as the most collectible record ever. In 2001, Q magazine rated its sleeve by graphic artist Jamie Reid as the #1 greatest record cover of all time.

Five months later, the group released its landmark – and only – studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, on Oct. 28, 1977.

Related: Our list of 10 classic punk rock songs

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