John Lydon’s handwritten Sex Pistols lyrics auctioned for over £50,000


A handwritten lyric sheet of Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon has been auctioned off for over £50,000 in a special memorabilia sale of the infamous British punk band.

The page features original working lyrics for two of the band’s hit singles, Holidays In The Sun and Submission, which were reportedly written by Lydon, known as Johnny Rotten, in 1977.

The lyrics were part of a private collection of artworks, posters and documents which sold at auction house Sotheby’s on October 21 for a total of £354,567.

Lyrics by John Lydon for Holidays In The Sun (Sotheby’s/PA)

Lydon’s lyrics for Holidays In The Sun and Submission grossed a total of £50,400, previously estimated to be between £15,000 and £20,000.

The collection was brought together in the 1990s by contemporary art dealer Paul Stolper and critic Andrew Wilson, former senior curator of modern British art at the Tate.

It highlights how the influential punk band, fronted by Lydon, led a revolution in popular music and culture in the 1970s alongside manager Malcolm McLaren.

Stolper-Wilson Collection – Sex Pistols Memorabilia Sale – Sotheby's
Jamie Reid’s God Save The Queen poster, owned by the late Sid Vicious, sold for £44,100 (Sotheby’s/PA)

Another working manuscript sheet of Lydon’s No Feelings lyrics sold for £44,100.

The Stolper/Wilson collection was auctioned in London from October 10-21 after being exhibited in venues around the world, including the Villa Medici in Rome, the Museum of Music in Paris and the Kunsthalle in Vienna.

The collection also included the work of artist Jamie Reid, whom McLaren met at the Croydon School of Art in 1968 and designed the band’s logo and their instantly recognizable cover art.

Reid’s God Save The Queen poster, owned by the late Sid Vicious, also fetched a hefty sale price of £44,100.

The Sex Pistols Trial
The Sex Pistols, led by Lydon, centre, led a revolution in popular music and culture in the 1970s (Ian West/PA)

Her torn Union flag for the band’s first single Anarchy In The UK in 1976, held together by bulldog clips and the official photograph of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee portrait ‘desecrated’ in 1977 by a safety pin in the mouth and featuring ransom letters reading God Save The Queen, were also included in the sale.

The Sex Pistols’ high-octane and often tumultuous history was documented in the recent Disney+ drama Pistol, directed by Danny Boyle.

Last year the band members found themselves embroiled in a legal battle in the High Court after guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook sued Lydon for allowing their music to be used on the show. .

In a ruling, Sir Anthony Mann found the pair were entitled to invoke ‘majority voting rules’ against Lydon over the use of Sex Pistols material on the show, under an agreement of group member.


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