The Filth and the Fury – The Pistols meet Bill Grundy

The Silver Jubilee wasn’t the first time that the Queen furthered the careers of the Pistols.

In December 1976, long-haired opera rockers, and Pistol’s labelmates, Queen pulled out of a TV interview on the Today show. Some last minute negotiations persuaded Malcolm McLaren to let the Sex Pistols appear instead. Arriving in a limousine provided by EMI, the Pistols sat in a green room – filled with unease. (Although the green room was filled with alcohol – ever get the feeling you’ve been set up.)

Bill Grundy by this time was completely pissed – although he later denied this – and was reported to have been extremely rude to the band. This made for a bad atmosphere by the time the band and some of the Bromley Contingent arrived on set.

The original Sex Pistols line-up were seated – from left to right – Johnny Rotten, Paul Cook, Steve Jones and Glen Matlock. Bill Grundy sits on their left. Standing behind the Pistols were Siouxsie Sioux, Simon Barker, Steve Severin, and Simone.

Steve Jones by this time was reading from the autocue which annoyed Grundy no end. Bill Grundy looked sideways, hits his leg and then:

Grundy introduces the band to the cameras.

Listen to the interview

GRUNDY: (To camera) They are punk rockers. The new craze, they tell me. Their heroes? Not the nice, clean Rolling Stones… you see they are as drunk as I am… they are clean by comparison. They’re a group called The Sex Pistols, and I am surrounded by all of them…

JONES: (Reading the autocue) In action!

GRUNDY: Just let us see The Sex Pistols in action. Come on kids…(Film of The Sex Pistols in action is shown; then back to Grundy.)

GRUNDY: I am told that that group (hits his knee with sheaf of papers) have received forty thousand pounds from a record company. Doesn’t that seem, er, to be slightly opposed to their anti-materialistic view of life?

MATLOCK: No, the more the merrier.

GRUNDY: Really?

MATLOCK: Oh yeah.

GRUNDY: Well tell me more then.

JONES: We’ve fuckin’ spent it, ain’t we?

GRUNDY: I don’t know, have you?

MATLOCK: Yeah, it’s all gone.

GRUNDY: Really?

JONES: Down the boozer.

GRUNDY: Really? Good Lord! Now I want to know one thing…

MATLOCK: What?

GRUNDY: Are you serious or are you just making me, trying to make me laugh?

MATLOCK: No, it’s all gone. Gone.

GRUNDY: Really?

MATLOCK: Yeah.

GRUNDY: No, but I mean about what you’re doing.

MATLOCK: Oh yeah.

GRUNDY: You are serious?

MATLOCK: Mmm.

GRUNDY: Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Brahms have all died…

ROTTEN: They’re all heroes of ours, ain’t they?

GRUNDY: Really… what? What were you saying, sir?

ROTTEN: They’re wonderful people.

GRUNDY: Are they?

ROTTEN: Oh yes! They really turn us on.

JONES: But they’re dead!

GRUNDY: Well suppose they turn other people on?

ROTTEN: (Under his breath) That’s just their tough shit.

GRUNDY: It’s what?

ROTTEN: Nothing. A rude word. Next question.

GRUNDY: No, no, what was the rude word?

ROTTEN: Shit.

GRUNDY: Was it really? Good heavens, you frighten me to death.

ROTTEN: Oh alright, Siegfried…

GRUNDY: (Turning to those standing behind the band) What about you girls behind?

MATLOCK: He’s like yer dad, inni, this geezer?

GRUNDY: Are you, er…

MATLOCK: Or your granddad.

GRUNDY: (To Sioux) Are you worried, or are you just enjoying yourself?

SIOUX: Enjoying myself.

GRUNDY: Are you?

SIOUX & SIMONE: Yeah.

GRUNDY: Ah, that’s what I thought you were doing.

SIOUX: I always wanted to meet you.

GRUNDY: Did you really?

SIOUX: Yeah.

GRUNDY: We’ll meet afterwards, shall we? (Sioux does a camp pout)

JONES: You dirty sod. You dirty old man!

GRUNDY: Well keep going, chief, keep going. Go on, you’ve got another five seconds. Say something outrageous.

JONES: You dirty bastard!

GRUNDY: Go on, again.

JONES: You dirty fucker! (Laughter from the group)

GRUNDY: What a clever boy!

JONES: What a fucking rotter.

GRUNDY: Well, that’s it for tonight. The other rocker Eamonn, and I’m saying nothing else about him, will be back tomorrow. I’ll be seeing you soon, I hope I’m not seeing you [the band] again. From me, though, goodnight.

The cheesy signature tune plays and the credits roll. Rotten looks at his watch, Jones starts dancing to the music, and Grundy mutters an off-mic ‘Oh shit!’ to himself. The story made the front pages of the following morning’s newspapers, amidst howls of outrage, including the now infamous Daily Mirror headline:

Daily Mirror - The Filth and the Fury!

The interview killed Grundy’s career but made the Sex Pistols. Overnight, they went nationwide and the scene was set for 1977.: God Save the Queen indeed!

In July 1986, Grundy was lead compère for the Festival of the Tenth Summer, a week-long celebration of the anniversary of the Sex Pistols’ performance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall.

Grundy was chosen for the role by organiser Tony Wilson, in a knowing nod to the ‘Today incident’ and Grundy’s unhappy association with the Sex Pistols.

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