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"I was a Teenage Sex Pistol"
Glen Matlock & Pete Silverton

(L-R: Paul, Glen, Steve, Johnny)
I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol
Glen Matlock
Reynolds and Hearn £12.99

There are only three books that are truly essential to grasp the essence of the Sex Pistols: John Lydon's No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs; Jon Savage's England's Dreaming; and I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol. There are other commendable books that add to the story both factually and pictorially, but these three are the ones you need.

On its original release in 1990, I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol gave the public a chance to hear the story, not just from a member of the band, but also from a man who had, up until then, been largely maligned by his former band mates and the press. Glen had for many years had his contribution downplayed and in some cases, downright defiled, yet despite this we all knew, deep down, that Glen was vital to the success and cohesion of the band. Without him, there was no cohesion. He had been given the shit end of the stick and now was the time to grab the clean end.

The conversational style lends itself to an upbeat good-humoured tone. This surprised me when I first read the book; I'd anticipated more bitterness. Yes, he does put across his side of events and the personality clashes, his feelings about John and his own departure from the Sex Pistols are crystal clear, yet the difficulties are not the driving force here, mere pit stops.

The journey, which took Glen from schoolboy musical influences into the subversive world of McLaren, and eventually into one of the most influential bands in the world, is remarkable in many ways, yet Glen adapted to all the developments, and began to thrive in the ever-evolving environment. It was only when difficulties continued with John did Glen decide compromise was no longer on the agenda.

The book paints a stark and oddly nostalgic picture of London and the UK in the early 70s, a bleak backdrop providing a contrast to the excitement and energy of McLaren's shop. The Sex Pistols were not an overnight success who blew in from nowhere. Glen describes in detail the gradual progression, and divulges a mine of information; Wally Nightingale, Steve's thievery, the search for a singer, the exploding punk scene... all bases are covered. Any doubt as to Glen's song writing input is also laid to rest with detailed recollection of the band's compositions.

The updated 2006 edition leaves the original text intact, and adds fascinating and detailed information on the Filthy Lucre Tour. The tale of Glen contacting Steve in the USA in' 95 and the pair then visiting John in his Venice Beach home is hilarious. They then call Paul…

The volume of new material and fresh anecdotes, unheard anywhere before, gives the book a new lease of life, making it a must-have. The triumphs and misgivings of the reunions (Crystal Palace 2002 falls into both camps) are given a balanced airing. There are still, and I imagine will always be, differing opinions within the band, and Glen does not shy away from these. And yes, the Hall Of Fame is not dodged either. It's his book and he gives his opinion.

The bottom line? Simple. If you're reading this review you're visiting God Save The Sex Pistols. If you're visiting this site you are interested in the Sex Pistols. If you are interested in the Sex Pistols, you need the 2006 edition of I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol.

Review by Phil Singleton (October 2006)

Review from 1991...

Matlock exposed..
Matlock was the Pistol who could carry a tune, the man who would admit to liking The Beatles and who contributed to the bands greatest musical moments. He was also good looking, which was a problem with Johnny. In this, his autobiography, Matlock lays to rest all the hype, tripe and gripes about what really happened all those years ago.

The Sex Pistols were one of history's happy accidents. Matlock's tale is told with wit, relish and a canny accuracy. When the time comes for a punk revival this book will serve as an essential piece of reference.

London in the early and mid-70's is perfectly and warmly recalled, the street style, the politics, the school dinners and the last wave of non-cynical enthusiasm which so roundly stunned the music industry.

There's little hint of any bitterness in the writing or telling of the tale, and it's really a shame that the world is not yet ready for what Matlock has to say. Given a little more distance from the events of 1976, critics, musicians and public alike will all pay lip service to "I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol".

Review by Mal Peachey 1991 Vox magazine. Paperback reissue of book

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