Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols' Many Alternate Band Names

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's The Swankers

That's what the Sex Pistols' first and only album — which turns 40 years old today — would've been called if the seminal punk quartet hadn't undergone a pivotal name change. At least that's how guitarist Steve Jones recalls the group's early days in the memoir 'Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol.'

And they had to use a number of aliases while promoting singles from 'Never Mind the Bollocks' in England after clubs became wary of booking a band with such a nasty reputation.

"[W]e actually managed to do some proper shows in England. The S.P.O.T.S. tour (it stood for Sex Pistols On Tour Secretly) was as good as it was going to get for us playing live with Sid in the band. Our disguises — all the different names we used — were just good enough to fool the authorities but not so good as to leave us playing to empty venues. Tax Exiles, Special Guest, Acne Rabble, The Hamsters, A Mystery Band of International Repute," Jones wrote.

But they never went by the band's very earliest name, which was an homage to the glam band that inspired  group that influenced the punk rockers.

"We got our original name — The Strand — from 'Do the Strand', the first track on the second Roxy Music album," Jones wrote. And we have to wonder if he's pulling our leg since it's hard to imagine the snarling Sex Pistols enjoying the tender crooning of Bryan Ferry.

Of course, the Sex Pistols would've sounded a lot different if they'd gone with one of the many other frontmen that had taken a stab at singing for them. At one point, Jones himself took up the mic. "[W]e did just one gig with me singing," he recalled. "That was all it took to confirm that being the frontman was not my bag. It wasn't like this was some big pressure show, either, just a little party for some coke-taking rich kids at Salter's Cafe on the King's Road. But from how much I was shitting myself, you'd think it was the fucking Royal Albert Hall."

Then John Lydon came along and joined the group after another name change. "I was the one who ended up christening John 'Rotten' because of the terrible state of his teeth," Jones said.

The band's two biggest singles also had alternate titles. 'No Future' was the original title of 'God Save the Queen' and 'Anarchy in the U.K.' was originally called 'Nookie.'

But one name that didn't undergo any changes was the title of band's landmark album, which Jones takes credit for christening. 

"I'd supplied the title — half-inched from a cheeky-chappy hot dog guy at Piccadilly Circus who I'd heard say 'Never mind the bollocks....' a few times when I was off to Soho on my red-light missions."

Hopefully the vendor wasn't talking about the hot dog's ingredients.


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