Lot 106
  • 106

Sex Pistols—John Lydon (Johnny Rotten)

25,000 - 35,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Original working autograph manuscript of "Problems" - with differences to final recorded version released on Never Mind the Bollocks.
  • paper, blue ink brio fountain pen
1 page in blue ink brio and fountain pen on Malcolm McLaren's Glitterbest Ltd letterhead, (12 x 8 1/2 in.; 302 x 212 mm), ca. March, 1977. Very light folds.


With a letter from Pistols scholar Jon Savage authenticating the manuscript and providing suggested dates of its composition.


Kugelberg, Johan. The Sex Pistols. New York: Rizzoli, 2016. This manuscript illustrated on page 208.
Savage, Jon. England's Dreaming. London: 2001

Catalogue Note

And the problem is you - rare original manuscript for one of the key Never Mind the Bollocks tracks

By the time they released what was to become the seminal English punk album, The Sex Pistols had been handled more as a chaotic spectacle for the general public than a real band. Dropped by EMI, then picked up and sacked by another major label in A&M, the notorious "obscene" appearance on Bill Gundy's television show, cancelled tours and manic press attention - one could justifiably have expected the actual album to have been anti-climatic at best.

It was far from it. The band really began playing well live in 1976 and demos from that time demonstrate a band honing its sound. The singles "Anarchy in the UK" and "God Save the Queen" were seven-inch calls to arms for the nascent Punk movement, but after the hype it was yet to be seen if the band could really sustain the mood and sound over an entire album.

With guitarist Steve Jones playing the bass tracks (as new bassist Sid Vicious was simply not up to the task and original bassist Glen Matlock wanted payment up front), experienced producer Chris Thomas was able to build on the energy of the earlier singles with tracks such as "Pretty Vacant," "Submission," "No Feelings" and the present song, "Problems."

While versions were played at live shows as early as April 1976,  demos for the album version recorded in January 1977 have differences to the lyrics as written here. The songs seem to have evolved even up to the final master recorded by Chris Thomas at Wessex. That final release version  lacks the "I ain't dedicated to a TV screen" and "death trip" lines as found here. Given the differences to the lyrics as recorded on both the album and surviving live bootlegs, Pistols scholar Jon Savage has provided a date of March, 1977 for the present manuscript.

Few authentic Sex Pistols manuscripts survive.