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How Accurate Is the Sex Pistols Show Pistol? Here’s a Fact Check

Let's break down how true-to-life the new FX series gets when it comes to the Sex Pistols

Pistol Hulu Sex Pistols Fact Check
Pistol (FX)
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    This week’s release of Pistol, FX’s six-part limited series about the short existence of U.K. punk group Sex Pistols helmed by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, has been met with excitement by fans and some serious trepidation by critics.

    So far, reviews have been mixed (for the record, we liked it) but even among the pans, one aspect that nearly all the writers seem to approve of is the show’s attention to detail. The team behind Pistol went above and beyond to replicate the look and feel of mid-’70s London, the groundbreaking fashion designs of Vivienne Westwood, and the physical mannerisms of the real-life people being portrayed on screen.

    As for the story being told in Pistol — a group of striving lower-class Londoners who through sheer chutzpah and the machinations of their manager Malcolm McLaren fomented a musical revolution in their home country — Boyle and screenwriter Craig Pearce worked primarily from Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol, the 2017 memoir by Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, while also culling from other books, articles, and films about the band and the London punk scene.

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    To their credit, Boyle and Pearce and their team got more right than they didn’t. But just how close did they get to telling the real story of the Pistols and what did they miss or mess up? We dug into the six episodes of Pistol and compared them to the historical record to give it a quick fact check.

    [Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Pistol (as much as you can spoil such a thing).]


    Did Steve Jones Truly Steal Some of David Bowie’s Gear?

    pistol steve jones How Accurate Is the Sex Pistols Show Pistol? Heres a Fact Check

    Pistol (FX)

    Yes, if Jones’ 2017 memoir Lonely Boy is to be believed. In the opening moments of Pistol, future Sex Pistol Steve Jones is seen sneaking into London’s Hammersmith Odeon in the hours following the one of the final gigs of the Spiders from Mars. He briefly lives out a rock ‘n’ roll fantasy on stage before hustling out the back door with some equipment.

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    Here’s how Jones remembers it in his book: “I just went in and got as much stuff off the stage as I could fit in the back: Trevor Bolder’s Sun bass amp… a few cymbals and this little Electro Voice microphone that still had a smudge of Bowie’s lipstick on it.”

    Did Steve Jones and Chrissie Hynde Have a Hot and Heavy Fling?

    pistol chrissie hynde steve jones How Accurate Is the Sex Pistols Show Pistol? Heres a Fact Check

    Pistol (FX)

    There’s no telling if their brief affair was as intense and… acrobatic as the love scenes that feature prominently in Pistol. The two did fool around in their days as hopeful rockers in London however. In an appearance on Jones’ radio show, Jonesey’s Jukebox, Hynde joked around with her longtime friend about winding up in his bed and once having sex with him in a bathroom during a party.

    Did NME Writer Nick Kent Hate the Sex Pistols?

    pistol teaser trailer sex pistols fx series danny boyle hulu

    Pistol (FX)

    Not at first. Eventually he had every reason to, especially after their future bassist Sid Vicious tried to brain him with a bike chain. But while he’s portrayed in Pistol as looking down his nose at the punk group, the truth is that Kent was nearly a member of the Sex Pistols. He jammed with the group early on and wrote some material with them. Until manager Malcolm McLaren intervened.

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    “He saw [it] as me trying to undermine his control over the project,” Kent wrote in his memory Apathy For The Devil. “He banded the other three together and told them I was a disruptive influence that needed to be exiled forthwith.”

    Did Jordan, the Legendary Shop Assistant at Vivienne Westwood’s Boutique SEX, Take the Train to London With Her Breasts Exposed?

    pistol maisie williams How Accurate Is the Sex Pistols Show Pistol? Heres a Fact Check

    Pistol (FX)

    According to Jones she did. In Lonely Boy, the Sex Pistol writes that Jordan (a.k.a. Pamela Rooke, played by Maisie Williams in the series) dared to dress “so outrageously” that he was “almost embarrassed to walk down the street with her because everyone would be staring at us. It wasn’t like she got changed to go to work… [At] the end of her day grind she’d totter off down the King’s Road and get on a bus back to the countryside or wherever the fuck it was she lived. She’d have her tits hanging out on the bus in all of this rubber gear.”

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