Thursday, March 24, 2016

Punk Will Never Die: Six Pistols' House Given Historic Status To Protect Johnny Rotten's Art

An archaeologist who carried out detailed analysis of artwork daubed on the walls of a flat by the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten today said he had “mixed feelings” after it was announced the building had been given listed status.

Sex Pistols in Paradiso - Johnny Rotten (John Lydon,  )

Credit: Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO),  taken January 6th 1977.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has given two townhouses on Denmark Street, known as London’s ‘Tin Pan Alley’, special protection on the advice of Historic England. The Grade II*listing places the buildings amongst the top six percent of protected buildings in England.

Denmark Street: London’s ‘Tin Pan Alley’
File:Denmark Street, London, 1 September 2013.jpg
Credit: morebyless

The decision was closely informed by research by Professor John Schofield, Head of Archaeology at the University of York and independent researcher Dr Paul Graves-Brown, who published their results in the international journal Antiquity in 2011, assessing the cultural significance of 6 Denmark Street and its artworks for the first time.

Professor John Schofield examines the artwork. 
Credit: Ian Martindale

The listing is particularly significant as it takes place in the year of punk’s 40th anniversary.

Professor Schofield, said: “I think these artworks are highly significant, but that view and the Grade II* listing will of course divide opinion - the Sex Pistols are and will always be controversial.


“I have mixed feelings about the listing to be honest. It is good to have this designation off the coattails of our own research, and to see such an alternative and counter-cultural place given this national recognition.

“But it is also a rather odd contradiction, for a building so closely associated with the Sex Pistols and their rallying cry ‘No Future’ to be preserved for the benefit of future generations.

12 Bar Club farewell party at Denmark Street, London, Date 11 January 2015   File:12 Bar Club farewell party.jpg
Credit:   Su--May

“Punk helped change the world, and it did so with genuine anger, but also with passion, compassion and humour. Maybe there is a lesson there for our times. Denmark Street was where it all started.”

Campaigners had argued that the building, where the pioneering punk band lived, rehearsed and made demo recordings for their first album, and which gave birth to the worldwide punk rock phenomenon, was important to the nation’s musical heritage.

12 Bar Club Farewell party at Denmark Street, London, Date 11 January 2015,  
File:12 Bar Club wall posters.jpg
Credit:   Su--May

The bulk of the artwork is by John Lydon (aka Rotten) and consists of eight cartoons depicting himself and other members of the band, as well as their manager, Malcolm McLaren, and other Pistols’ associates.

John Lydon (aka Rotten) taken at Bingley Music Live, September 04 2010.
File:John Lydon - 2010.jpg
Credit: Shell Smith 

Contacts and sources: 
Alistair Keely 
University of York

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