Sex Pistols’ townhouse studio receives Grade II* listing

The 17th century townhouse in which punk band the Sex Pistols lived and recorded their music has been given the second highest heritage grade available.

Earlier this week, Number 6 and Number 7 Denmark Street in London’s Covent Garden received Grade II* listings from Historic England (formerly English Heritage). Band manager Malcolm McLaren leased the outbuilding at Number 6 as a base for his new group, the Sex Pistols. The band used it as a rehearsal studio and living quarters between c1975 and 1977.

According to Historic England, the terraced house at Number 6 earned its high grade for both its architectural and historic interest. Architecturally, it is described as ‘a rare, well-preserved, example of its type, reflecting the architectural fashions of the late C17, and preceding the patterns of urban terraced housing which followed in subsequent centuries’.

Of historical interest is the graffiti attributed to band member John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten), which appears on the walls of the outbuilding. Described by Historic England as ‘a rare example of the cultural phenomenon of Punk Rock’, it is also ‘a wider testament to Denmark Street’s C20 history at the heart of British popular music production’.

Lydon used marker pen to draw eight cartoons of McLaren and fellow band members. McLaren clasps a fistful of bank notes, a wild-haired, buck-toothed John Ritchie (aka Sid Vicious) is renamed ‘Ego Sloshos’ and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen is depicted nude with a stubbled chin and a cigarette in her mouth.

Denmark Street earned the moniker ‘Tin Pan Alley’ for its central role in the efflorescence of the British music industry in the second half of the 20th century. The Rolling Stones recorded their first album at Number 4, Elton John worked at a music publishers at Number 20 and David Bowie is rumoured to have slept in a second hand ambulance van in the street.

The heritage listings coincide with ‘Punk London’, a year long programme of gigs, exhibitions and films to commemorate 40 years of London’s punk heritage.

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