Since punk rock’s earliest days, the genre has sought to challenge social norms and traditions. But when the Sex Pistols came out with “God Save the Queen” 40 years ago, on May 27, 1977, it was instantly greeted with widespread, visceral condemnation.
Released only months after the band’s infamous and expletive-laden television debut on the Bill Grundy show in December 1976, many viewed the song as an all-out assault on the morals and values of British culture. Others saw it as an attack on civilization itself.
Originally entitled “No Future,” the song ended up changing its name to “God Save the Queen,” an appropriation of the British national anthem. The Pistols’ version was an “anti-anthem,” a critique of Queen Elizabeth II, whose Silver Jubilee – a celebration to commemorate the 25th anniversary of her ascension to the throne – happened to coincide with the year of the song’s release.