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British artist Jamie Reid designed artwork for the Sex Pistols album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, which includes the song "Anarchy in the U.K." His artistic style helped define the look of the English punk rock scene of the late 1970s.
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Born in 1947, artist Jamie Reid grew up in London. While at art school in the late 1960s, he met fellow student and future Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren. After McLaren formed the Sex Pistols, in 1975, he recruited Reid to work with the band. Reid's artwork for the group came to define and symbolize the English punk rock scene of the late '70s.
"Punk was part of a story that had been going on for the whole of the century, if not longer."
Anarchist and influential British artist Jamie Reid was born in 1947 in London, England. Raised in a politically active family, Reid attended Croydon College in London, where he studied art and met fellow classmate Malcolm McLaren, the future manager of the punk rock band, the Sex Pistols.
In 1970 Reid left Croydon. Already a committed anarchist, Reid aligned himself with the Situationists, a group based in France that advocated for a strain of libertarian Marxism. To help the cause, Reid launched Suburban Press, a publishing outfit that specialized in producing material for anarchists, women's groups, and others. With Suburban, Reid developed his style of cutting up graphics and other elements, fusing them together for a look not unlike some sort of bizarre ransom note.
But the heavywork load and city living eventually pushed Reid out of Suburban Press and away from London, in general. Then, in 1976, he received a telegram from his college friend, Malcolm McLaren, who wanted to gauge Reid's interest in coming back to London.
Reid's return to the city brought him back in touch with McLaren and a new band that McLaren had recently formed and started managing, the Sex Pistols. Fronted by lead singer Johnny Rotten, the angry, brash young group soon became the face of English punk rock. At least part of that was due to Reid.
Working closely with the Pistols, Reid designed artwork for the group's debut (and only) studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. He also co-wrote the lyrics of one of the group's most popular songs, "Anarchy in the U.K.," and produced cover art for the song, a torn and tattered Union Jack flag with safety pins clipped to it. That and other Reid-made Pistols art, including a picture of the Queen with a safety pin through her lip, became defining symbols of the punk rock era, and the Sex Pistols in particular.
Following the Pistols' end in 1978 and the demise of the British punk scene, Reid continued to work as an artist, infusing his work with his political leanings. He's worked with various artists to protest nuclear weapons, racism and a fairer criminal justice system. For much of the 1980s and '90s, Reid worked with the world music group Afro Celt Sound System.
A retrospective of Reid's work was exhibited at The Aquarium L-13 gallery in London in 2007. A devout follower of the Druidic and Shamanistic faith, much of Reid's recent work—he long ago gave up the blackmail lettering and safety pins—has reflected his New Age beliefs. In recent years, Reid has continued to create artwork and hold exhibits throughout London, which are regularly posted to his website.
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Following the "Swinging London" era of the 1960s, a new group of cultural icons arose. The 1970s saw the emergence of the punk rock movement, built upon the wave of psychedelic and folk rock music introduced in the '60s. In the post-hippie era of the early '70s, rock 'n' roll had a new glam image, pioneered by outrageously dressed rockers like David Bowie and Marc Bolan. Soon other acts followed, most notably young performers like Siouxsie Sioux and groups like T.Rex and The Clash. The music of the '70s inspired fashion as well, in particular designer Vivienne Westwood, whose punk designs for the Sex Pistols helped define the decade's London style. Biography.com looks at the various icons who defined London in the '70s.
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