Official Chart Flashback 1977: The Sex Pistols anti-monarchist anthem God Save The Queen misses out on Number 1 during Silver Jubilee celebrations

And to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee this weekend, the Sex Pistols are re-releasing the iconic track, 45 years on...

This week 45 years ago, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Silver Jubilee and as Her Majesty begins celebrations for her record-breaking Platinum Jubilee, our eyes turn to the Official Singles Chart of 1977...and one of the most controversial chart races in the history of the Official Charts. 

The Sex Pistols were punk - from their aesthetics, to their chaotic, rambunctious music to the fact that the band itself only ever existed properly for two and a half years (by the beginning of 1978, they would split up, having only released one album). 

Managed by Malcolm McLaren, one thing the Pistols excelled at during their time together was spectacle, and was there ever a spectacle for the release of their anti-monarchist anthem God Save The Queen, released just in time to coincide with the height of Silver Jubilee celebrations.

Having just welcomed guitarist Sid Vicious into the fold, replacing founding member Glen Matlock, the Pistols signed with Virgin Records (their third label in little over half a year) and preparations for the launch of God Save The Queen began, although there were immediate roadblocks to its production - the now infamous cover of the single (by Jamie Reid) obscured a picture of the Queen with cut-out words of the band's name and song title, and workers at Virgin's pressing plant actually walked out in protest of the song's content, viewed by many to be a cry for the disbandment of the English Monarchy.

MORE: Sex Pistols' Official Charts history in full

For what it's worth, the Pistols themselves have defended the song's content as not really being aimed at the Queen herself, rather to evoke sympathy for the trod-upon working class. As Johnny Rotten himself once explained it: "You don't write God Save the Queen because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them, and you're fed up with them being mistreated."

If anything, the single's launch was just as memorable as the single itself. the band chartered a private boat down the River Thames at the height of the Jubilee, with the band due to perform while sailing past the Houses of Parliament, in a perceived mockery of a similarly planned trip by the Queen that was due to take place two days later. The police would force the boat to dock and manager McLaren was arrested. 

But perhaps the most famous story about God Save The Queen is its journey up the Official Singles Chart. Four weeks on from its release, the track would peak at Number 2 in the UK, during the week of the official observation of the Silver Jubilee, despite the track itself being blacklisted from being played by the BBC and blocked from release by several major retailers. It would lose out on the top spot to Rod Stewart's double-A side single I Don't Want To Talk About It/The First Cut Is The Deepest.

And now, 45 years on, God Save The Queen is about to enter the public consciousness once again thanks to a very special re-release to celebrate (?) the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. 7,000 physical pressings of the single as released by Virgin and 1,977 (get it?) of the single's original release from former label A&M will be available, although pre-orders on both have now sold out. 

All these exciting re-releases also come just in time for the Danny Boyle directed TV series Pistol, based on the rise and fall of the band and its members, to drop on streaming service Disney+. It starts, among others, Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams as punk muse Jordan and Thomas Brody Sangster as Malcolm McLaren.

Check out the full Official Singles Chart from this week in 1977 here.

Listen to the UK Top 40 from this week in 1977 on Spotify below. Also available on Apple Music | Deezer 

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