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Never Mind The Sex Pistols - Snap Galleries

Sid and Nancy with knife by Paris-based photographer Pierre Benain.

Exhibition preview

LONDON specialist photography gallery Snap is presenting an exhibition of photographs of Sex Pistols members and friends, taken in London in 1978 by Paris-based photographer Pierre Benain.

Entitled Never Mind The Sex Pistols, it will be on display from January 12 to February 27, 2016.

From the early age of seventeen, Pierre Benain had been writing and photographing for French music magazine Rock & Folk. On his frequent visits to London, he discovered Malcom McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop Too Fast to Live too young to die, which later became SEX.

Soon after, as a contributor to Rock News, Benain was introduced to Malcolm McLaren, and was asked to promote a Sex Pistols gig for the re-opening night of the Châlet du lac club, in the Bois de Vincennes, on the outskirt of Paris. The Sex Pistols played on September 3, 1976, in front of a mixed crowd including the usual regular customers and the Bromley contingent with Siouxsie Sioux, Billy Idol, etc – an explosive combination.

Benain became friends with McLaren and the Pistols during their Parisian stay, and would meet up with them whenever he was in London.

A few months after the Sex Pistols split, in April 1978, Benain was asked to write a portrait of Johnny Rotten for French magazine Actuel. In London, Rotten invited him to his house in Gunter Grove. After a few hours, Rotten invited him to hang around for a few beers and to come back the day after. This turned into a three-day stay, during which various founder members of the London punk scene came by, including Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, Poly Styrene and Don Letts.

Pierre took pictures of everyone over those three days, and recorded hours of interviews with John, sadly now lost. In October 1978, when Nancy Spungen was stabbed in the room she was sharing with Sid Vicious at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, two pictures from Benain’s London session, showing Sid Vicious playing with a knife and holding it under his girlfriend’s throat, became worldwide scoops and were published in Stern, on the cover of the Daily Mirror, in Paris-Match and many other publications worldwide.

This is the first time that these mainly unpublished photographs have been the subject of a gallery exhibition in the UK. The exhibition also includes a very rare original Sex Pistols poster from their first concert in Paris in 1976.

Image: Sid and Nancy with knife by Pierre Benain.

Admission: Free.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 11am to 6pm; Saturday, 11am to 5pm (closed Sunday and Monday).

Snap Galleries, 12 Piccadilly Arcade, London, SW1Y 6NH

Tel: +44(0)20 7493 1152