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Queen Accidentally Gave The Sex Pistols Their Big Break, Even Though The Bands Hated Each Other

Everyone loves a good feud, and music history is full of larger-than-life conflicts and confrontations. One of the most surprising clashes took place in 1977 when Freddie Mercury of Queen and Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols had a heated exchange in a London recording studio. But before they ever even met, the musical war between the established arena rockers and the edgy punkers had been brewing for months. The Pistols were on the rise, and Queen was threatening to fall into obscurity.

It was a tense time for both groups. In the end, though, the two feuding bands might have been more closely related than anyone imagined. 

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  • Freddie Mercury And Sid Vicious Got Into An Altercation

    The most infamous encounter between the two groups came when a visibly inebriated Sid Vicious burst into Queen's control room and antagonized Freddie Mercury. "Have you succeeded in bringing ballet to the masses?" the bassist jeered, referring to an oft-mocked interview answer of Mercury's. The Queen singer replied, "Oh yes, Simon Ferocious. We're trying our best, dear," before flicking the safety pins on his jacket.

    The punker then approached Mercury, but the Queen frontman allegedly grabbed him by the collar and tossed him out of the room.

  • The Two Groups Once Shared A Studio

    The two bands crossed paths not long after the fateful Today interview. Both rock groups were recording their 1977 albums at Wessex Studios, London, and found themselves in close quarters for weeks.

    Although the bands were never friends, Queen guitarist Brian May says that most hallway encounters were polite enough. “I had a few conversations with John Lydon [Johnny Rotten], who was always very respectful," May said. "We talked about music.”

  • Punk Music Shook Up Queen's Established World Of Rock

    Rock in the early-to-mid 1970s was often considered showy and artsy. Some of the most popular artists injected progressive, glamorous, or even operatic elements into their music, and that certainly included Queen, who blurred the lines between rock and classical music with their hit "Bohemian Rhapsody."

    When the punk movement broke big in 1976, stripped-down, rough and honest rock was the new fashion. Pete Townshend of the Who said, “Punk rock was the tsunami that threatened to drown us all in 1977.” The result was decreased commercial and critical success for Queen's 1976 album A Day at the Races

  • Photo: sconosciuto / Wikipedia / Public Domain

    The Groups Eventually Buried The Hatchet

    While the simmering feud between the two groups never officially ended, it may never have been a big deal in the first place. "I eventually realized that the music will overcome, regardless of the alleged rules and regulations that were always being thrown at us," Johnny Rotten later said.

    Brian May told Steve Jones decades later, "You made an album which changed the world," and added that Never Mind the Bollocks was "great music."