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From the Library: The Bollocks – A Photo Essay of The Sex Pistols

The Bollocks

The Sex Pistols challenged the conventional and normative behaviour that British society had upheld. They wanted change. They wanted the dam to break. They influenced the youth of a generation: Why be the establishment go-alongs when you can be the rebels? 

Searching for a world that he could artistically embrace, photographer Dennis Morris got invited by the Sex Pistols to turn his lens towards the band, just like the way he did with Bob Marley and the Wailers. In 1977, Morris travelled with the Sex Pistols for a year, capturing them in unguarded moments that are magic to see today.

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The Bollocks: Punk was the lionisation of the marginalised

Clocking in at 208 pages, the book paints us a vivid picture how the Sex Pistols were truly The Anarchy in the UK as well as the medicine for the nation. It’s all so nostalgic. Documenting the band’s journey – on the road, soundcheck, backstage – we see our favourite punks recovering from their hangover in hotels, jokingly taking a piss at the local punk rock club The Vortex, as well as the release of their debut and only album ‘Nevermind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols’.

During their S.P.O.T.S. tour (Sex Pistols On Tour Secretly), the Sex Pistols would drive to a venue and play a show, dodging the local authority before they had time to rumble them. The idea of the S.P.O.T.S tour was to turn up at each venue under the guise of an obscure unknown band, partly to avoid the busy local council and partly because it could be done.

The tour included the Lafayette Club, Wolverhampton where they were billed as S.P.O.T.S.; the Outlook Club, Doncaster masquerading as the Tax Exiles; the Penthouse in Scarborough billed as “Special Guest”; the Rock Garden, Middlesborough as Acne Rabble; on to the Woods Centre in Plymouth performing as The Hamsters and finally to the Winter Gardens in Penzance with the apt title A Mystery Band of International Repute. Unfortunately for the band, the venues were always too small, and things went mad in the blink of an eye once they got on stage. Dennis Morris precisely revealed the times of havoc that the Sex Pistols had created and celebrated the spirit of rebellion with his camera.

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Flipping through the pages of The Bollocks, we take a trip down memory lane and revisit the origin of punk fashion. The beginning of punk fashion is essentially a DIY spirit. When you have a bunch of denim jeans at your disposal, make them ripped jeans. Decorate your jackets with patches, badges, slogans and zips. Stand out of your own crowd.

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Dennis Morris’ storytelling sensibilities through photography have made The Bollocks a powerful photo essay. Comprised of 106 large format black and white and colour plates alongside text from the likes of Billy Idol and Shepard Fairey, we get a full picture of how the Sex Pistols shook up fashion, the music world and youth culture in late 70s.

Buy The Bollocks – A Photo Essay of The Sex Pistols here

Underground Soundwave presents an ongoing series of reports on emerging and established bands with close-up Q&As, new release reviews and gig reports with a special emphasis on supporting diversity in music, women in music, independent labels and venues and the local music scene.

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