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Monday, 28 September, 1998, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Shooting the Sex Pistols
A visual history of the 70s punk band The Sex Pistols has gone on display in London.

The revealing pictures were taken by photographer Dennis Morris, who has worked with pop icons from Marianne Faithful, Tricky, Radiohead through to Liam Gallagher.

Alex Proud, owner of Proud Galleries, the location of the exhibition said: "It will be more an art installation than a standard photographic exhibition. With the emphasis on recreating the excitement of the time, with music and lights as well as creative displays of the shots.

"London should brace itself for a blast of '77 spirit," he said.

Return to the 70s

In 1974 the young Dennis Morris was snapping a then unheard group called Bob Marley and the Wailers. When he was aged just 14 his legendary pictures were published on the front cover of The Mirror.

Three years later John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, a reggae fan was so impressed with the Marley images he invited Morris to photograph the Sex Pistols.

Morris accepted the challenge as he says he was witnessing something dynamic and important.

"They were powerful and they were perfect for a generation, they captured the whole spirit of what everyone was thinking at the time and I felt it was important to document this."

The band gained notoriety for the blatant antisocial behaviour of bassist Sid Vicious, who replaced the more temperate member Glen Matlock.

And also for the rantings of singer Johnny Rotten, who roared over the furious thrashing of drummer Paul Cook and guitarist Steve Jones.

In 1977 Morris accompanied the band on a tour all over Britain. The year was a memorable one for the Pistols.

The band sold over 150,000 copies of God Save the Queen in one day. The single went to number one but was banned by Radio 1 and caused a national outrage. The band continued to dominate most of the headlines but this time with their hotel antics.

The Sex Pistols demise took place rapidly the following year.

On an American tour in 1978 Vicious was accused of murdering his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, then he died of a drug overdose in 1979 whilst out on bail.

The band went on to film The Great Rock and Roll Swindle and its soundtrack - then split. They reformed again in 1996 for their final worldwide Filth Lucre tour that lasted six months.

Capturing the spirit

The aptly titled Destroy exhibition will showcase photos of the Pistols at the peak of their career.

It will include rare and unseen shots of Sid and Nancy exchanging beer's backstage, front row reportage of Pistol's fans at the gigs and clubs in full home made punk regalia.

There are also shots of Vivienne Westwood serving customers in her sex shop and Richard Branson chatting with Malcolm Mclaren.

Other events featured in the exhibition are photos from the SPOTS tour and a video shoot at London's Marquee club.

Morris, the only photographer to gain access to the band during their time feels that the band were basically misunderstood,

"The Pistols were the perfect representation of how English youth were seen at the time and people tend to forget they were good musicians and could actually play," he said.

"Hopefully the public will gain an insight into what it was like at the time and see how they were loved and loathed with equal passion by the Great British public."

BBC News
Dennis Morris :"They were four young teenagers of their time."
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