Brits who witnessed The Ramones and the New York scene carried their punk lessons back home. One such person was a clothing shop owner from Chelsea in London. Malcolm McLaren was the manager of the New York Dolls, one of the key proto-punk bands from the early 70s. The Dolls were pretty much done by the beginning of 1975 and Malcolm was looking for something new. He heard about what was happening at CGBG’s and decided to check it out that February. And he liked what he saw. The music was okay, but what he really liked was the fashion. Malcolm’s small, drab store had specialized in selling 50s-style clothing, much of designed by his partner, Vivienne Westwood. This “Teddy Boy” market was beginning to shrink and Malcolm was looking for some new styles. He thought he found it in New York.
The inspiration came from Richard Hell, one of the guys in television. Malcolm noticed that he wore a lot of torn shirts with the pieces literally held together by safety pins. “This is brilliant!” he thought. “What a statement!” Actually, Richard was so poor that his clothes were falling apart. Since he couldn’t sew, he used safety pins. This wasn’t a style. This was necessity. This was poverty.
“Didn’t matter. Malcolm was inspired and when he went back to the shop in Chelsea, he and Vivienne set about “inventing” punk fashion. So in one sense, the clothes came first. The music was an afterthought.”
“Malcolm McLaren had re-named his store “Sex”, and along with the usual bondage and fetish gear, he had begun selling fashions inspired by the punk get-ups he saw in New York. In late 1975, he came up with the idea of getting back into band management, and this time, his creation would be used as a living, breathing advertisement for the clothes he stocked in his store. That’s when he gathered up a bunch of kids and thieves who hung around his store and put them in a band. He called them “Sex” (after the name of his store) “Pistols” (because guns were dangerous). The Sex Pistols made their live debut in November 1975, and by the spring of 1976, Malcolm had them working in the studio.
So the Pistols had an idea of what punk rock should sound like: three chords, a 4/4 beat and a guy screaming into a microphone. ”