While most fans of the Sex Pistols know that Sid Vicious replaced Glen Matlock as the bassist, few know, however that almost all the bass parts on Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols — with the exception of “Anarchy in the UK” — were not played by Matlock, but by Steve Jones, the band’s guitarist. Matlock had already left the band.
As far as a reason for his dismissal has actually emerged, it seems that he left for the same reasons why Sid Vicious joined: his look and what he thought the band should be. When responding to a question from Rhino about whether it was Malcolm McClaren, the Pistols’ manager, who fired Matlock, Steve Jones confessed that it was a group decision: “He was a good writer but he didn’t look like a Sex Pistol and he was always washing his feet.” The official telegram, as remembered by the BBC, said “Yes Glen Matlock was thrown out of the Sex Pistols so I’m told because he went on too long about Paul McCartney STOP”
That divergence in what the band should aspired to be can be seen in Matlock’s annoyance with Johnny Rotten for turning down the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as given in an interview with Post Gazette: “I think it was a unilateral decision by Johnny Rotten and I don’t agree with it.” Steve Jones merely said “I appreciate it but I couldn’t care less” about the honor.
“No matter what we’ve all done individually,” Glen Matlock told The Guardian in 2014, “nothing is ever going to equate to the Sex Pistols.” And despite a varied career with other big name musicians, he was probably right. The Sex Pistols is a hard act to follow, even if you left before their image reached peak archetype.
The most notable work he has done since is almost certainly being the bassist for his replacement’s later band Vicious White Kids, in which Sid Vicious proved himself as a very capable front man. While their only album The Vicious White Kids wasn’t released until 1991, the cover of “My Way” is an excellent punk staple. Other appearances include Rich Kids, mostly known for their single “Ghosts of Princes in Towers“, Iggy Pop’s 1980 album Soldier, and The Damned’s Not of This Earth in 1995 for “Tailspin” and “Never Could Believe.” Beyond that he has toured with a large number of other punk and post-punk acts, managing to make a living as a spare bassist. His biggest act since leaving the Sex Pistols has been occasional Sex Pistols reunion concerts, as he explained to The Guardian that “John, Steve, Paul and myself have got something in common that no other four people in the world have. We’re the Sex Pistols and that’s something to be celebrated I think.” While the Sex Pistols lacked Sid Vicious, they now have the dynamic that made them famous.
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