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Sex Pistols’ Glen Matlock recalls clash with late fashion designer Vivienne Westwood over penis artwork

Former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock reminiscences on working in Vivienne Westwood’s shop SEX in the ’70s, and on the time he got on her “wrong side”

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Late last year, ‘Mother of Punk’ and iconic fashion designer Vivienne Westwood passed away at the age of 81. Following her death, a number of tributes came flooding in from musicians who famously wore and were inspired by her designs, including Sex Pistols’ former bassist Glen Matlock.

After her death was announced, he wrote on Twitter: “I have just heard the sad news about a one off, single minded, talented lady. A privilege to have rubbed shoulders with her in the mid ‘70s at the birth of punk and the waves it created that still resound today for the disaffected. My thoughts are with her friends and family.”

Speaking of his time “rubbing shoulders” with the legendary designer, Matlock gave an interview to The Guardian about his time working in her shop SEX, which she ran alongside future Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren.

In the interview, the bassist also reminiscences about an occasion when he allegedly found himself on Westwood’s “wrong side” during a conflict over Matlock’s creation of a new sign for the shop.

“They probably thought I was just some straight kid, which I was,” he explains. “A month or two later, I asked Vivienne to ask Malcolm if he’d give me a reference for art college. She said, ‘Really? I don’t think you’d want to ask Malcolm … he’s been thrown out of every college in London.’ Straightaway I was more interested in them, and they were more interested in me.” 

Of creating the signage for the store, he continues, “That summer, McLaren and Westwood turned the shop into Sex. They were fed up with the right-wing mentality of the teddy boys and I helped with the sign outside.

“I’d learned how to silk-screen, so they asked me to do two images: a big red baseball player with a massive dick and another of two cowboys with their willies touching.

“I said I’d give it a go. It took too long and Vivienne got all dogmatic, saying I was trying to censor her work when I wasn’t at all. If you got on her wrong side, she’d let you know.”

During Matlock’s time working at SEX, he noticed future bandmates guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook frequently showing up at the store. He was shortly ordered to “keep an eye on them”. Their arrival however is what led to the formation of The Sex Pistols, as the bassist explains: “they were trying to get a band together and I overheard them saying they needed a bass player. So that’s how it started.”

Source: loudersound.com