Pistol Ending, Explained: Why Did the Sex Pistols Break Up? – ‘Pistol‘ digs into the English punk rock scene of the 1970s, following the growth and fall of Sex Pistols, one of the scene’s most prominent bands. The FX miniseries chronicles in graphic detail what went on behind the scenes of the explosive and short-lived rock group, based on the memoirs of the band’s guitarist and founder, Steve Jones.
Characters like Malcolm, the band’s eccentric and smooth-talking manager, and the mysterious Pauline add to the story’s intrigue. The band struggles to stay together near the end due to the members’ disparate personalities and rebellious attitudes. So, how did it come out? Let’s take a deeper look at ‘Pistol‘ and see what happens to the renowned punk rock band at the conclusion.
Read Also: Is Steve Jones Bisexual or Straight?
Recap of the ‘Pistol’ Mini-Series
Steve Jones, the street smart lead singer of a band called The Swankers, is the protagonist of the story. The band, influenced by David Bowie and continuously debating whether The Beatles are any good, toys with their identity while attempting to break into the British rock scene. Steve reportedly has a propensity of stealing musical instruments from concert venues, claiming to have stolen a microphone with David Bowie’s lipstick still on it.
Steve runs with Malcolm, who runs an avant-garde fashion business called SEX with his partner, while attempting to steal some garments for an upcoming gig. Malcolm is outspoken in his anti-establishment sentiments, and Steve recognises that the smooth-talking store owner would make an excellent boss.
Malcolm swiftly makes adjustments to the band and introduces Johnny Lydon as the lead singer (later called Johnny Rotten because of his teeth and attitude). Steve then strives to master the guitar for a few days in a blur of drugs and sleep deprivation. The band’s name has also been altered to Sex Pistols.
We see glimpses of Steve’s terrible past, where he was abused by his father, as the band grows in popularity in the underground scene. Various personalities, including the outspoken fashion star Jordan and the problematic Pauline, join the Sex Pistols’ expanding group.
After a series of spats between Johnny and the bassist, Glen, the latter gets sacked from the band. Malcolm also uses subterfuge to persuade Steve to fire Glen. Sid Vicious, the band’s new bassist, is a buddy of Johnny’s and introduces an entirely new level of craziness to the band.
Pistol Ending Explained: Why Did ‘Sex Pistols’ Break Up?
Sid Vicious becomes enamoured with Nancy, a lady who has been labelled as psychotic. His heroin usage increases as a result of her, and his unpredictable conduct causes him to argue with Steve. The band embarks on a tumultuous US tour in these circumstances, with Sid overdosing on the way back to London. He lives, but the terrible death of Nancy leaves him distraught.
Sid was charged with Nancy’s murder and died as a result of an overdose of drugs. Steve discovers how self-centred Malcolm is when he tries to use Sid and Nancy’s deaths as a marketing tactic. He then walks away from Malcolm and has one final talk with Johnny, telling him how right he was not to trust Malcolm. The series concludes with views of the band performing at a Christmas celebration in a brighter period.
The band goes on a quick and sharp downward spiral at the end. It’s especially terrible that the band is breaking up just as they’re gaining popularity. In fact, the final episode of the show begins with Malcolm declaring that the Sex Pistols must be destroyed. They have gotten too renowned, according to the management, making the band unreachable and contradicting Malcolm’s idea of unfiltered inclusiveness.
The band, on the other hand, does not fall apart because of the manager. Instead, the group disintegrates due to its vivid members. Despite Malcolm’s self-righteous comments that the band has become too well-known, he is more than glad to cash in on its success. However, Steve eventually realises how self-serving Malcolm’s activities are as a result of this.
Since Malcolm talks for him in court and helps him avoid imprisonment, Steve has been unable to stand up to him. The manager’s attempt to use the death of a band member’s fiancée as a marketing ploy is the final straw, and Steve decides to cut ways with Malcolm.
In some ways, Steve and Malcolm are the band’s foundation, and their departure signals the end of the Sex Pistols. Johnny had previously given Steve an ultimatum, asking him to choose between him and Malcolm. The singer leaves the band after Steve chooses Malcolm over Johnny.
As a result, by the time Steve and Malcolm split ways, Johnny had already vanished. Because Steve and Johnny only collaborate because Malcolm constantly pulls them together, the vocalist and guitarist have no chance of continuing the band without the manager.
When Johnny first meets Steve in the final minutes of the series, he tells him that this is the last time they’ll ever speak. Despite the fact that they have (rare) memories of the band in happier times, it is evident that neither of them intends to continue the Sex Pistols.
What Happened to Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols Members?
The series, like the band it follows, comes to a close unexpectedly, leaving the fates of the band’s members and manager unknown. The plot stops following various members as they leave or are sacked. Even in the final scene, when Steve and Johnny reminisce about their past experiences together, it’s unclear what each of them intends to do next.
However, after the Sex Pistols disbanded, the real-life band members on whom the show’s major characters are based continued to play music or became active in new ventures.
Steve Jones eventually relocated to Los Angeles, where he participated in a few of Sex Pistols reunion concerts in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He also has his own radio talk programme, ‘Jonesy’s Jukebox,’ and appears on shows like ‘Californication.’
In the meantime, Johnny Rotten renamed himself John Lydon and created the post-punk band Public Image Ltd. PiL’s debut single reached the UK Top Ten, and the band has since released several studio albums. Lydon also filed a lawsuit against Malcolm McLaren’s company, Glitterbest, alleging nonpayment of royalties, unjust contractual requirements, and damages.
Paul Cook, the drummer, resumed his musical career with The Professionals, a punk rock band. He continues to reside in England with his wife and children. Meanwhile, Glen Matlock, who was expelled from the band, later rejoined it between 1996 and 2001, 2002 and 2003, and 2007 and 2008.
He also pursued a solo career and continues to cooperate with other musicians. He toured with Blondie in the United Kingdom and the United States in 2022. Following his split from Steve and the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren went on to perform as a solo artist, specialising in hip hop and global music, as well as funk and disco later on.
McLaren was a successful musician, with his first album, Duck Rock, receiving a silver certification in the United Kingdom. He spent several years in Hollywood after his breakup with Vivienne Westwood. After a battle with peritoneal mesothelioma, he died in a Swiss hospital in 2010.
— JONE$Y$ JUKEBOX (@JonesysJukebox) May 30, 2022