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Steve Jones was the guitarist for the pioneering English punk rock band the Sex Pistols.
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Born in 1955, Steve Jones weathered a troubled childhood shaped by family strains and petty theft, before being saved by music. In 1975 he became one of the founding members of the groundbreaking English punk rock band the Sex Pistols. Following the group's demise in 1978, Jones went on to form several other groups and become a popular studio musician as well as host of a critically praised radio program.
"We're not into music. We're into chaos."
Musician. The influential guitarist for the Sex Pistols, Steve Jones was born in London, England, on September 3, 1955. The son of an amateur boxer, Jones was just two years old when his father left the family, the start of what would be a difficult childhood for the future musician.
His mother eventually remarried, but Jones' relationship with his stepfather became strained as he grew older. At the age of 16 Jones was kicked out of the house. His life, he'd later recall, very well could have been fated to become one of crime and imprisonment. By his middle teens he'd already established a penchant for theft, resulting in an 18-month stay in reform school.
Music, he has said, is the thing that saved him. By the early 1970s, Jones had started learning guitar and co-founded a band, The Strand, with future Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook. Around this time he'd also started frequenting a popular London clothing shop, called Sex, which was run by Malcolm McLaren and his partner, fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood.
The burgeoning punk scene fascinated McLaren, who loved pushing cultural buttons and was fresh from an adventurous, somewhat disastrous run as the in-your-face manager of the New York Dolls, a pioneering glam-rock band.
After the Dolls split up in the early 1970s, McLaren returned to London, intent on creating a new band to manage. He found it in the form of Jones, Cook, bassist Glen Matlock and singer John Lydon, who came together in 1975 to form the Sex Pistols.
Over the next three years, the Sex Pistols would come to epitomize English punk. With now-classics like “Anarchy in the U.K.” (the group's first hit single), “God Save the Queen” and “Holidays in the Sun,” the group brought together a unique blend of fury and violence that incited both hatred and deep reverence.
“God Save the Queen,” in particular, proved to be especially offensive to a country that prided itself on its manners. Released in 1977, the same year as Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee, the song rose to number two on the British charts. The year 1977 also saw the group release its one and only full-length album, Never Mind the Bollocks…Here's the Sex Pistols, which quickly climbed to number one.
Jones' guitar, a Gibson Les Paul, greatly amplified the Pistols' sound and fury, offering a complementary and energetic accompaniment to Lydon's furious voice.
Famously, Jones didn't exactly give up his thieving ways during the Pistols' early days. As legend has it, and as Jones himself has intimated, he stole from a variety of rock stars and legends as the Pistols made their way to the top and met some of the very musicians they'd long admired.
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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.
London Punk- Cultural Icons: 1970s 16 people in this group
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