The Sex Pistols’ debut single “Anarchy In The UK” came out 40 years ago today. To celebrate, the son of Sex Pistols svengali Malcolm McLaren and punk designer Vivienne Westwood just burned £5 million of rare punk memorabilia outside Buckingham Palace. The conflagration reportedly included rare Sex Pistols recordings, clothing belonging to Westwood and Johnny Rotten, and a Sid Vicious doll with a swastika on it.
Joe Corré organized the event in response to Punk London’s 40th anniversary exhibition series celebrating the Sex Pistols and “Anarchy In The USA,” which he claims is supported by the queen. Punk, he told The Guardian, has become nothing more than a “McDonald’s brand…owned by the state, establishment and corporations. It’s time we threw it all on the fire and started again…I think this is the right opportunity to say: you know what? Punk is dead. Stop conning a younger generation that it somehow has any currency to deal with the issues that they face or has any currency to create the way out of the issues that they face. It’s not and it’s time to think about something else.”
If his father had still been alive, Corré says he “would have taken this opportunity to say something…about punk rock now being owned by the corporate sector. Whether or not he would have agreed with burning all the stuff — and I think he probably would have done — I think he’d think it was kind of hilarious.” Westwood was reportedly present at the burning.
John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, has lambasted the stunt, calling Corré a “selfish fucking lingerie expert” and suggesting that instead of burning the collection, he should’ve sold it and donated the proceeds to charity or bought guitars and given them to young pepole. “I don’t think he’s had anything relevant to say for the past 10 or 20 years,” Corré responded. “The job of the state is now taken up by the charity sector. We have charities where people are earning £250,000 a year to sit on the board, these things are becoming corporations in their own right…Punk rock to me is not about music. I don’t know what 28,000 guitars would really do.”