It was 35 years ago, England was gripped in economic turmoil, and, at the same time, was celebrating the Silver Jubilee, 25 years of reign by Queen Elizabeth II. Filled with angry lyrics like, "God save the queen, she ain't no human being," and chants of "No future," the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" became a rally cry for the punk movement and a massive public howl about the impact of joblessness and poverty. Perceived by many as an attack on the monarchy, "God Save the Queen" was banned from the BBC radio airwaves, and many record stores as well as Woolworth's refused to stock it. Despite the efforts to block its success, the song hit #2 on the official singles chart. There was much suspicion that there was a "fix" on the charts and "God Save the Queen" should have hit #1. The BBC has never released an official statement either confirming or denying that such an event occurred.
On June 7, 1977, the date of the jubilee celebration, the Sex Pistols boarded a boat to perform "God Save the Queen" on the Thames outside of the Palace of Westminster. The event resulted in multiple arrests when the boat docked. It is captured in the video below.
In celebration of the song's 35th anniversary and coinciding with Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, "God Save the Queen" has been re-released. There is a Facebook campaign to attempt to boost the song to #1, but it is unlikely to be successful. However, in honor of what remains one of the most powerful hit songs of all time, watch the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" below.
- Watch "God Save the Queen"
Single cover courtesy Virigin