1977: 'God Save The Queen' went straight to #2 on the official UK pop charts
'God Save The Queen', which featured a defaced image of the Queen on the original cover, was released during the Silver Jubilee in 1977 and was subsequently banned by the BBC.
In response to lyrics like “God Save The Queen/She ain’t no human being,” the BBC labeled the record an example of “gross bad taste”— a difficult charge to argue, and one the Sex Pistols wouldn’t have wanted to dispute. Even with the radio ban in place, however, and with major retailers like Woolworth refusing to sell the controversial single, 'God Save The Queen' flew off the shelves of the stores that did carry it, selling up to 150,000 copies a day in late May and early June.
The single was re-released 35 years after its debut, in 2012, in time for the Diamond Jubilee in June. Thirty years after its release, John Lydon, better known as Johnny Rotten, offered this assessment of the song that made the Sex Pistols the most reviled and revered figures in England in the spring of 1977: “There are not many songs written over baked beans at the breakfast table that went on to divide a nation and force a change in popular culture.”
The controversial lyrics included the lines "God save the queen / She ain't no human being / And there's no future / In England's dreaming".
The re-release has been dismissed by some as a publicity stunt but music journalist John Robb insisted the song still resonates. Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: "People always misinterpret the song. Yes, it's anti-monarchy but it's also about the future and they're singing about a generation that felt like a lost generation. "It fits in now doesn't it?"