November 29: The Sex Pistols Shows Cancelled Across The UK

On this day

On this day in 1976, council cancelled a Sex Pistols show at Lancaster Polytechnic in Coventry, England. The reason for the cancellation was that the city didn’t want “that sort of filth in the town limits.” 

The show was just the first of many cancellations that year. 

The Grundy Incident

A few days after the Lancaster Poly cancelled the show, Sex Pistols appeared on Today, a Thames Television program. 

The show originally had Queen slotted to play but pulled out at the last minute. The Sex Pistols were brought in as a replacement. 

Normally the featured band would perform live on the show. But because the plans changed so quickly, it was decided that a music video would be played instead. As a result, the only live portion was the interview between the band and the show’s host, Bill Grundy. 

Leading up to the show, the band, along with Grundy and some fans, had a booze-filled lunch in the Green Room. By the time everyone was on set, Grundy and the Sex Pistols were all drunk. 

The beginning of the interview was filled with shots of the band scowling and looking bored. Grundy didn’t fare much better, reading his prompts from the autocue with little enthusiasm. There was even a moment where Glen Matlock read out one of Grundy’s lines.  

Following a thirty-second clip of “Anarchy In The UK,” the interview continued. And this is where things got interesting …

Grundy questioned the band’s commitment to their “anti-materialistic way of life,” Steve Jones muttered “f*cking’ under his breath, and John Lydon said “sh*t.” 

But that was only the start …

Steve, annoyed with Grundy, called him a “dirty sod” and “dirty old man.” In response, Grundy egged him on further, “Well keep going chief, keep going. Go on, you’ve got another five seconds, say something outrageous –”

Steve made good use of the time. He proceeded to call the host a “dirty bastard,” “dirty f*cker,” and a “f*cking rotter.”

Soon Everyone Knew About The Incident

Having aired live, there was no way to cut out the profanity. And with many of the viewers being families with children, people were outraged. 

While the show had a small audience, tabloids quickly picked up the story and it spread across the UK. 

Headlines plastered papers …


One man, so disgusted by the language heard by his 8 year old son, kicked in his new coloured TV. 

In no time at all, cities across the UK had cancelled 17 of the band’s upcoming shows. The vice chancellor at the University of East Anglia, where the band planned to host their first show following the incident, banned the Sex Pistols to protect the “safety and security of persons and property.” 

By the end of the tour, only 7 shows were performed. 4 of which were added to the schedule following the cancellations. EMI Record’s chairman says they will “do everything we can to restrain their public behaviour,” and workers at the label went on strike, refusing to package the Sex Pistols single “Anarchy In The UK.” Paul Cook’s mom even told the Daily Mail that Steve is no longer welcome at home. 

But as is often the case in rock n roll, the cancellations didn’t ruin the band’s image. Instead, it made them, and punk in general, even more famous. 

Other Notable Rock Events From November 29

1963 – The Beatles released “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in the UK. 

1965 – Rolling Stones Day was declared in Colorado. 

1966 – Elvis Presley heard Tom Jones’ “Green Green Grass of Home” on the radio. He called the radio station after hearing it and requested they play the song several more times. 

1968 – John Lennon was fined $360 for cannabis possession. 

1969 – “Come Together / Something” by The Beatles went to #1 in the US. 

1975 – Neil Young recorded “Like A Hurricane.”

1975 – “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen went to #1 in the UK. 

1977 – Point Of Know Return by Kansas was certified Platinum. 

1978 – Comes A Time by Neil Young was certified Gold. 

1979 – Paul Simon sued CBS for attempting to break his contract. 

1979 – KISS played together for the last time before their first break up. 

1980 – John Lennon and Yoko Ono released Double Fantasy. 

1986 – Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” went to #1 in the US.

1999 – Curtis Knight died at 54. Jimi Hendrix played with Knight for a short time in the 60s. 

2000 – Johnnie Johnson sued Chuck Barry stating that he wrote music for 52 of the rock artist’s songs. 

2001 – George Harrison, who played guitar for The Beatles, died at age 58 of lung cancer. 

2004 – Green Day released “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” 

Rock Birthdays

1933 – John Mayall of Bluesbreakers Band

1946 – Tim Davis of Steve Miller Band (Drums)

1951 – Barry Goudreau of Boston (Guitar)

1957 – Jennifer Batten who worked with Jeff Beck (Guitar)

1958 – Mickael Dempsey of The Cure and others (Bass)

On This Day In History – November 29

November 29 marked a pivotal moment in rock history. With the Sex Pistols shows getting cancelled, they became a symbol of the clash between punk’s rebellious spirit and societal norms. 

This event, along with the many deaths, births, and releases on this day, not only served as a catalyst for rock’s impact on music and society but also reminded us of the power of music to challenge, provoke, and ignite change.