EXCLUSIVE: Mind the b***ocks! ‘Woke’ Saatchi gallery bosses demand furious artist edit swearing out of Sex Pistols’ x-rated 1976 Bill Grundy TV interview before it can be used in his new tribute to the Queen
- Mark Sloper says he was told to remove swear words from a Sex Pistols interview
- The band shocked the nation in an appearance on the Bill Grundy show in 1976
- It is set to be shown again as part of a major new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery
- But Mr Sloper is furious after they demanded the interview is edited for display
Mark Sloper was left furious after he was ordered to get rid of swear words which feature in a clip of the band’s notorious appearance on the Bill Grundy show in 1976.
He was forced to make last minute changes ahead of the opening of a major new exhibition at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery in London‘s King’s Road.
Mark said ‘It’s f****** ridiculous.
‘The Bill Grundy programme may have been shocking to a family audience in the Seventies but now, in an art exhibition?
‘How is it offensive now? It’s a piece of music history.’
The Sex Pistols shocked the nation when they appeared on the Bill Grundy show in 1976. The band, pictured here on the show, swore on the teatime Today programme
Mark Sloper (pictured) says bosses at the Saatchi Gallery told him to remove the swear words from the interview
The Sex Pistols are seen in 1979. From left to right: Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten (John Lydon), Steve Jones and Paul Cook
How the Sex Pistols shocked the nation on live television
On December 1, 1976, the Sex Pistols appeared on ITV’s Today show hosted by journalist Bill Grundy.
It was a chance appearance for the band, who were booked after Queen cancelled when Freddie Mercury had to undergo emergency dental surgery.
The programme only aired in London but the contents were shocking enough to make the front pages of papers across the country, including the Daily Mail, the next day.
The interview with the band, who were accompanied by their entourage, started well enough.
But it infamously descended into chaos when Grundy appeared to provoke the band members, and many of them ended up swearing.
The interviewer sparked fury when he said to singer Siouxsie Sioux: ‘We’ll meet afterwards, shall we?’
Pistols guitarist Steve Jones said: ‘You dirty b******! You dirty f*****! What a f****** rotter!’
Grundy also asked Lydon to repeat the word ‘s***t’ that he had uttered off camera.
When Lydon did so, he added: ‘Keep going. You’ve got another five seconds to say something outrageous.’
The exchange then continued with Grundy being branded a ‘dirty b*****d’, a ‘dirty f****r’ and a ‘f*****g rotter’, with the presenter encouraging the band members after each insult.
The interview led to hundreds of complaints. Today was later cancelled and Grundy was dropped from prime-time TV. The interviewer’s career was effectively ended by the saga.
Grundy was fired by ITV after encouraging singer Johnny Rotten and guitar player Steve Jones to swear during the teatime Today programme on December 1, 1976.
The interview features in a montage of punk rock footage from the era which is shown on a 40ft TV screen as part of the exhibition.
A source said: ‘Mark is furious about it. He was told to get rid of the bad language and to edit it out.
‘They have censored his art. The only other option was not to show it at all.
‘To me it’s just another example of the world gone mad.
‘They saw it the day before the exhibition and said ‘Sorry you can’t have that. That’s outrageous. What if children turn up, what if it offends someone?’.’
‘He and his team had to spend all night editing the video. They had to get rid of the volume where there are rude words and mute the sound.
‘The rest of it is on there. It looks bizarre. It just looks so weird.
‘The exhibition is all very gritty and then you get this. It’s bizarre.
‘It’s just a representation. They’ll be covering up boobs at the National Gallery next.’
Mark, who is also a film director who used to work for the BBC, launched his provocative new collection of 65 pieces of artwork this week.
The project, the biggest of his career, pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and is the first major art collection dedicated to the late monarch who died last month.
It forms the centrepiece of the annual StART art fair which has helped to springboard the careers of both emerging and established artists from around the globe.
The event – which runs from October 12 to 16 – presents a series of curated projects headlined by Mark’s £1million ‘In 1977 I wanna go to heaven..’ project.
The British punk artist’s exhibition is featured in the main gallery and is described as ‘an enormous ‘God Save The Queen’ immersive punk experience and probably the biggest punk art exhibition which has ever been assembled’.
Mark hit the headlines when he made changes to one of his works once before – at the request of Her Majesty herself.
Grundy’s interview with the Sex Pistols provoked a storm in the days that followed. The story featured on the front page of the Daily Mail
Grundy was fired by ITV after encouraging singer Johnny Rotten and guitar player Steve Jones to swear during the teatime Today programme on December 1, 1976. Pictured: Sex Pistols band members Sid Vicious, John Lydon and Paul Cook are seen performing on a boat on the Thames in June 1977
The band became infamous for their anti-monarchy anthem ‘God Save The Queen’, which was released the year Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee
In 2020 Mark created an image of the Queen with blue hair, a nose ring and a love heart tattoo on her neck.
The late monarch was said to have found the artwork hilarious but asked for the tattoo which featured Prince Philip’s name to be altered to show her royal crest.
He said: ‘When I was first told that Her Majesty found my picture of her ‘a hoot’ I was truly moved, when she approved it for a second time, so that I was able to release it on a commercial print basis.
‘I wanted to thank her personally, alas it wasn’t to be. In her honour I’m dedicating my Saatchi show to Her Majesty and I am making a Royal wall in tribute to her glorious reign, focussing on the 1977 silver jubilee to tie in with the beginnings of punk rock.’
Mark added: ‘My art punk Queens are beautifully constructed with sparkling jewels, newspaper headlines and the fabulous HRH Elizabeth II looking splendid and regal, but of course retaining a little punky attitude.
The incendiary lyrics of the Sex Pistols’ hit God Save The Queen
The first three verses of the 1977 hit typified the message that the song was trying to get across.
‘God save the queen
The fascist regime
They made you a moron
A potential H bomb
‘God save the queen
She’s not a human being
and There’s no future
And England’s dreaming
‘Don’t be told what you want
Don’t be told what you need
There’s no future
No future for you’
‘It’s my homage to punk – not only the way we looked, but the way we thought and treated others.
‘A little bit of Shepherd’s Bush punk ghetto is illuminating walls globally. I love the ceremony and the old-fashioned English respect for our lovely late Queen.
‘Punk rockers such as the Sex Pistols have been misunderstood as anti-royalist but I celebrate the monarchy and loved the Queen. Rule Britannia!’
‘The Royals themselves see the humorous side to my art and now themselves are becoming collectors, if I made this beautiful art in the 1970’s, I may not have had a head!’
Mark, who is known as Illuminati, has a big celebrity following with Sir Elton John, Sting, Boy George, Danny Dyer, Anthea Turner, John Terry and Sex Pistol drummer Paul Cook among collectors.
The setting for the exhibition is 1977 King’s Road featuring a punk squat, with a bed and adult magazines from the time.
There’s also a recreation of the SEX shop run by Vivienne Westwood and Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren.
The exhibition features an entire wall dedicated to the late Queen with a special display of 75 Queen neons.
The whole back gallery has state of the art £100,000 Samsung 8k 40ft screens alongside Mark’s works.
The giant screen across the back features powerful short punk films from 1977, with the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Bill Grundy, outrage and music.
This is intercut with Mark making his iconic neons ‘in 1977 I wanna go to heaven’.
Next to the screen is the prize exhibit called ‘garageland’ with a stage and the sex pistols actual instruments and drums on loan from Cook.
There will also be a Johnny Rotten lookalike.
Cook said: ‘For someone so rough and horrible, I can’t understand how he makes such lovely art.
‘Steve Jones in LA and I have punk Queens in our homes. He’s nicked all his ideas from us the Sex Pistols and must owe us a big commission by now!’
TV presenter Anthea Turner said: ‘I love art and galleries, especially when it’s one of my friends exhibiting, I genuinely love his work. When I look at Mark’s punk Queen at home it always makes me smile.’
The Saatchi Gallery has been contacted to comment.