January 6, 1977: EMI fires the Sex Pistols after TV shame and airport anarchy

On this day in 1977, record company and music publisher EMI terminated its contract with punk rockers the Sex Pistols – less than three months after signing the band.

Record company EMI cut its contract with the Sex Pistols on this day 1977, less than three months after signing them.

Following a series of high-profile incidents creating a huge amount of adverse publicity for the group in the mainstream media, the company said it no longer felt able to promote their records.

The Pistols – at that point comprising John ‘Johnny Rotten’ Lydon, Paul Cook, Steve Jones and Glen Matlock – had their first single ‘Anarchy in the UK’ released by EMI the previous November.

From its musical and lyrical content to its nihilistic packaging, the song had made a huge impact on the British rock scene – and also firmly placed the band as a threat to the status quo in the minds of the establishment.

Sex Pistols

They had caused a furore when appearing on ITV’s Today programme with a group of their fans known as The Bromley Contingent in December, being goaded into using obscenities by the show’s presenter Bill Grundy.

On January 4 they boarded a plane at Heathrow headed to the Netherlands; press reports had them swearing at airport staff and spitting at each other, though this was strenuously denied by the EMI representative that travelled with them.

Despite this, the company caved into public pressure and cancelled the band’s contract two days later.

[August 11, 1966: John Lennon defends his claim that the Beatles are 'more popular than Jesus']

[September 9, 1956: Elvis stuns TV viewers with his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show]