Sex Pistols members: where are Steve Jones and Sid Vicious now - is Danny Boyle series Pistol a true story?

A new Disney+ series starring Dylan Llewellyn and Maisie Williams explores the recent history of British music and the rise of punk.

Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind Shallow Grave, Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire (which won eight Academy Awards) is directing Pistol, the new six-part series.

But is it a true story, and where are the Sex Pistols now?

Here is everything you need to know.

Is Pistol a true story?

Yes, Pistol is based on real events.

The majority of the series’ source material comes from Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones’ 2016 biography, Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol.

It tells the story of Jones and his bandmates, who grew up with little ambitions and low expectations for the future, but who would go on to spearhead a music revolution that would rock the establishment and permanently reshape popular culture.

Pistol chronicles the band’s rise to fame, as well as their controversies and exploits over the course of three of the most turbulent years in British music history.

Who were the Sex Pistols?

Infamous British punk rock group The Sex Pistols playing live in Copenhagen. From left to right; Sid Vicious, Paul Cook, Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones (Photo: Keystone Features/Getty Images)

Jones and drummer Paul Cook formed the Sex Pistols in 1975, with Johnny Rotten on vocals and Glen Matlock on bass. Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious in 1977.

The band was active from 1975 to 1978, a time during which they courted much controversy.

One of their more infamous moments came when the band appeared in an interview on the regional magazine show Today in 197 - reportedly drunk - and spent the segment yelling expletives at host Bill Grundy.

While the incident effectively ruined Grundy’s career, it launched the Sex Pistols into national prominence.

‘Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols’, the Sex Pistols’ only studio album, was released in 1977 and debuted at number one in the UK album charts.

Anti-monarchy protest song ‘God Save the Queen’, one of their most well-known and divisive songs, was included on the album and is being re-released in ‘honour’ of the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

The track was a critique of royalism that linked the monarchy to a "fascist state", and was originally released during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

The song was so divisive that it was banned by the BBC and most commercial radio stations, despite reaching number two on the UK singles chart.

The band split in 1978, with Sid Vicious dying of a heroin overdose a year later; the original surviving members of the band have since reunited for brief periods.

But where are they now?

John Lydon

Johnny Rotten performing with PiL in 2010 (Photo: Karl Walter/Getty Images)

Following the breakup of the Sex Pistols, Lydon (known as Johnny Rotten in his Sex Pistols days) became the main singer of Public Image Ltd (PiL), a post-punk band he created and fronted from 1978 to 1993, and again since 2009.

PiL are far more experimental in nature than the Sex Pistols, and produced eight studio albums and a string of singles.

Lydon has hosted television shows in the UK in recent years, and had an appearance on I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in 2004.

He has also authored two autobiographies and produced solo musical work, as well as appearing in adverts for butter brand Country Life (seemingly at odds with the Sex Pistols’ punk ethos - though Lydon defended the move, claiming he accepted the offer in order to raise funds to reform PiL without a record deal).

Nora Forster, a publishing heiress from Germany, is Lydon’s wife. In 2018, Lydon reported that Forster was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and in 202 he revealed that he had become Forster’s full-time caregiver as her condition deteriorated.

Lydon criticised Pistol in 2021, while the series was still in development, calling it "the most disrespectful s*** I’ve ever had to endure."

Lydon filed a lawsuit against his former bandmates and Sid Vicious’ estate shortly after to prevent the Sex Pistols’ music from being used in the series.

However, Lydon lost the legal battle, and the Sex Pistols’ songs were allowed to be featured in the series.

Steve Jones

Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones performing onstage at The Ramones 30th Anniversary Party in 2004 (Photo: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

Jones provides the lead bass-guitar parts for some of the Sex Pistols’ best-known songs on Never Mind the Bollocks, due to bassist Sid Vicious’ musical incompetence.

When the Sex Pistols were interviewed by Bill Grundy, it was Jones swore at Grundy after being goaded to do so, assisting the notoriety of the band.

He established new band The Professionals with former bandmate Paul Cook when the Sex Pistols disbanded, and has also since collaborated with Johnny Thunders, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, and Thin Lizzy, and released two solo albums.

With members of Guns N’ Roses and Duran Duran, he founded the short-lived supergroup Neurotic Outsiders in 1995.

Jones was able to quit drugs and alcohol with the support of a 12-step programme in the early 1990s. He has never married and lives in Southern California, where he has worked as a DJ for a number of local radio stations.

Glen Matlock

Glen Matlock performing in 2012 (Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CBGB Festival)

Malcolm McLaren announced in February 1977 that Glen Matlock had been "thrown out of the band" because "he liked the Beatles," and that Vicious had taken his place.

Matlock has said that he left because he was "sick of all the bulls***."

The band members agreed that there was conflict between Matlock and Rotten in the 2000 documentary The Filth and the Fury, but Matlock claims those tensions were exacerbated by McLaren, who intended to create disorder in the band to build its image.

On ‘Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols’, he is acknowledged as co-writer on 10 of the 12 songs, but his overall contribution to the album has been questioned.

In a 2011 interview, Steve Jones said he was “tired of Matlock's claims that he had co-written some of the punk icon's biggest tunes,” and claimed that he had written as many songs as Matlock.

Furthermore, while Jones claimed that Matlock despised many of Johnny Rotten's controversial lyrics, Matlock has stated that he has no objections to them.

Matlock went on to establish Rich Kids, a new wave power pop band with Ultravox leader Midge Ure, after the Sex Pistols.

Matlock has since performed with a number of other bands, and following the death of his replacement, Sid Vicious, Matlock resumed bass guitar duties for future Sex Pistols reunions.

Sid Vicious

Sid Vicious and girlfriend Nancy Spungen outside Marylebone Magistrates Court in 1978 (Photo :Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In February 1977, Malcolm McLaren revealed that Glen Matlock had been fired from the band, and Sid Vicious had taken his place.

Vicious had become a die-hard Sex Pistols fan, never missing a show, and was encouraged to be drunk and disorderly.

He could barely play his instrument and had no prior bass experience, and he missed the majority of the band's rehearsals and recording sessions due to hepatitis, which he most likely contracted from intravenous drug usage.

Vicious took a flight from San Francisco to New York after the Sex Pistols disbanded. He had lapsed into a diazepam, methadone and alcohol-induced coma by the time the jet landed , and was rushed to hospital, where the doctor told him that if he did not stop drinking, he would die within six months.

Nancy Spungen, Vicious’ American girlfriend, was stabbed to death with a knife in New York in October 1978. It's unclear whether Vicious killed her; he was charged with murder and released on bail, but died of a heroin overdose before his court date.

Vicious was released from Rikers Island on 1 February 1979, after completing a detoxification programme, after which he met up with friends in Manhattan and requested them to locate some heroin for him.

Vicious and his friends sat around using $200 worth of drugs, and one saw Vicious was already drifting off to sleep as he exited the party.

Despite already partially asleep, his friends gave him four quaaludes; Vicious died in the night.

Paul Cook

Paul Cook with daughter Hollie in 2008 (Photo: Tim Whitby/Getty Images)

Cook met Steve Jones at school, and the two became fast friends. Cook and Jones established The Strand with schoolmate Wally Nightingale. The Strand grew into the Sex Pistols over the next three years.

Cook and Jones initially worked on the soundtrack to Julien Temple's film The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle after the Sex Pistols abruptly disbanded following their final concert in San Francisco in 1978.

Cook sang lead on the album version of ‘Silly Thing’, and the two also recorded a couple of songs under the Sex Pistols banner.

He too has since performed with a number of other bands, and now lives in Hammersmith with his wife, Jeni Cook, formerly of Culture Club, and their daughter, Hollie Cook, a solo musician.