Why Malcolm McLaren Couldn’t Get Glen Matlock Back in Sex Pistols
Glen Matlock says the version of his split with the Sex Pistols seen in the TV miniseries Pistol was untrue. In fact, he says he refused a request from manager Malcolm McLaren to rejoin soon after being fired.
Credited as writer on 10 of the 12 tracks on Never Mind the Bollocks, Matlock said he hadn’t been consulted in February 1977 when McLaren announced Sid Vicious as his replacement. The bassist now says he’s “highly disappointed” with the account depicted on TV.
The truth, he says a recent interview with the Times, was that EMI had told him they’d be interested in signing him if he left the Pistols. “And I thought, ‘I’m getting all this shit from John [Lydon] and Malcolm; Steve [Jones] and Paul [Cook] weren’t backing me up. I heard they tried out Sid on bass, which annoyed me, and I only hung in there because I was getting my wages. So I left.”
He continued: “A week after that Malcolm sent a telegram to the NME saying I was sacked because I liked the Beatles. Two weeks after that I’m in the Blue Posts [pub]… and Malcolm comes in and says: ‘It’s not working out with Sid – can you come back?’ So I replied: ‘The way you treated me, are you fucking joking?’”
Looking back on the Pistols’ collapse in 1978, he reflected: “It reminded me of what John Entwistle once said of the Who: that if he was jumping around like Daltrey, Townshend and Moon, the band would fall apart. There was a balance when I was in the Pistols. Sid Vicious wanted to be the lead guy and the equilibrium went.”
But Matlock was comfortable with taking part in the band’s subsequent reunions, starting in 1996. “By then we had grudging respect for each other and there was a few bob at stake too,” he said. “To play our music properly, in front of a big crowd, was great, and we were flying first class instead of crammed into a Transit van. We didn’t even have to get on the same flight.”
He accepted he’d never escape his connection with the punk icons, saying: “It reminds me of what Keith Richards said when a journalist asked him the price of milk: ‘I don’t know, man; I’ve been a rock star all my life.’ I’ve been an ex-Sex Pistol all my life. No matter how much you try and do other things, it is always there.”
Matlock releases his new album Consequences Coming on April 23. The lead single, “Head on a Stick,” can be heard below: