There’s no point in asking, ‘cos there’s no reply/Just remember, I don’t decide [Sex Pistols, Pretty Vacant]
When his opinion of the Pistols started to drop, he inevitably stopped including their new material in his playlist, much to the chagrin of Steve Jones, who accosted John and called him a ‘cunt’. John was shocked by this display of aggression, though not by the insult. After all, didn’t he himself happily attend festivals in a T-shirt that bore the legend ‘John Peel Is A Cunt’? [Margrave, p. 367]
I defend to the death the Sex Pistols’ right to record what they like, but I also defend my right not to listen to it. [John Peel]
It tells us what was right and what was so wrong about the band: their earlier calls to arms were replaced by an appeal to do absolutely nothing, backed by a riff somewhat similar to ABBA’s S.O.S. Rotten often stated that he wanted to destroy rock and roll, and this song ends up embracing it. However, therein lies one of its enduring qualities: the hook that nags repeatedly until it worms its way into your subconscious. Rotten proclaims the trick on the listening public that they performed sublimely: ‘you’ll always find me out to lunch’, and we all swooned.
Different stories abound as to why the Sex Pistols never recorded a session for the programme. Walters blamed himself: he felt guilty about imposing on the BBC a band that raucous. John thought that the Pistols had turned down the offer. Whatever the reason, they got away. [Margrave, p. 368]
Like many urban legends, this betrays more about the ethic than the substance. Even recording for the man who gave them the majority of their exposure at the beginning, playing them when nobody else would or could, was out of the question. The TOTP appearance was probably a cynical gesture by Malcolm McLaren to gain them media coverage. Later the same year, Holidays In The Sun (FF 1977 #11, 1978 #18, 1979 #14, 1980 #12, 1981 #17, and All-Time 1982 #37), the riff of which seems to have been lifted from the Jam’s In The City, and which was inspired by trips to Jersey and Berlin, also charted, but would prove to be the Rotten/Jones/Cook/Vicious line-up’s last hurrah before the debacle of 1978 claimed the band.
A messy split and a truly appalling hodge-podge of an album (although The Great Rock’N’Roll Swindle has its moments, it can hardly be called cohesive) signalled the end of punk’s first wave. From this point on, reunion seemed impossible: but happen it did.