Sex Pistol seeks stolen guitars

By Paul Rigg

Punk legend, Sex Pistols' bass guitarist and song writer Glen Matlock has not slowed down since he appeared on the incendiary Bill Grundy 'Today' programme in December 1976. That infamous interview launched punk rock into the mainstream and effectively ended Grundy's career.  

Aside from various Pistols' reunions, Paddington-born Matlock has since worked with Iggy Pop, Primal Scream, The Damned, and The Faces, as well as his own current band, The Philistines, and many others.  

In December 2016 Matlock offered 'a substantial reward' on his Facebook page for the return of three dearly-loved guitars he had had stolen. Guitars Exchange catches up with a relaxed, friendly and candid Matlock to ask him about the response to his plea, his current views on music and his love of guitars.

GUITARS EXCHANGE: What response did you get from the guitar community when you asked people for information on your stolen 1961 Ivory Fender Precision Bass; Modern Mexican Black Precision Bass with changed tortoise shell pick guard; and Blonde Guild D37 Acoustic?   

GLEN MATLOCK: I had around 1.000 likes and shares through Facebook, which I was quite pleased about. But I have not had a sniff of anything so far.   Two of the guitars were stolen from my car after a gig - from outside my house in London.  The other was stolen from my house a year before but because both my sons play guitar and there are so many guitars in the house, and they are in their cases, I didn't notice it had gone for a while. That is why I posted the message about all three at the same time.    

G.E.: What did these guitars mean to you and why?

G.M.: The white 1961 Ivory Fender Precision Bass was especially important to me because I used it when I played with the Pistols and Iggy Pop. As I said I have two sons who play in bands and that guitar was like a family heirloom. It was a beautiful guitar.  
I bought it in 1979 from Wunjo's in Charing Cross, when I was playing with Iggy. I nearly didn't buy it because they said it used to belong to one of The Tremeloes! I paid 250 or 350 quid for it I think - it was a lot back then.   Someone has probably painted it black and sold it for 50 quid for some speed or something - or whatever people are taking these days - not realising what it is.  
The head was ever so slightly skew-whiff and it had quite a few belt marks on it. It is unique; if I ever saw it again I would know it.  
The Modern Mexican Black Precision Bass I used on the Sex Pistols reunion in 2007/2008.  
The third was a Blonde Guild D37 Acoustic with a factory fitted pick up.    

G.E.: You co-wrote ten of the 12 songs on "Never Mind the Bollocks" - Anarchy in the UK, God Save the Queen and Pretty Vacant for example - were any of these guitars used then? 

G.M.: I played a Rickenbacker for those songs. That guitar is currently on display at the British Music Experience Museum in Liverpool.  


G.E.: Who plays guitar on your favourite album?

G.M.: I'd have to say Syd Barrett on "Piper at the Gates of Dawn". I think Syd Barrett was a fantastic guitarist. I don't know how anyone can be so out of it and still play like that!  

G.E.: You previously mentioned that some of your favourite guitarists were James Jamerson (a Motown session musician); Klaus Voormann (Manfred Mann); and Ronnie Lane (Small Faces).  Are there any new guitarists you like?

G.M.: Not really!  
In the past people played live and they had character and musicianship, but now all the discrepancies are ironed out so it is not the same.  
That's why I liked playing with The Faces so much. I used to stand in the mirror as a boy pretending I was one of them and later I played with them in front of 50,000 people in Japan. They were a lot of fun.  
Actually, I would mention Matt Bellamy of Muse. He has a weird guitar that lights up. I chatted with him once about his dad, George Bellamy, who played rhythm guitar in the 1960s pop group The Tornados. He was really pleased about that question!  
I also really liked the guitar sound of the band Ringo Deathstarr. I played with them once in Canada - they have a cool name and they are really great live.  

G.E.: "Never Mind The Bollocks" aside, what in your opinion was the best punk album ever made?

G.M.: 'Blank Generation' by Richard Hell and the Voidoids. I loved Robert Quine's guitar playing on that. That for me is the most important punk song ever.    

G.E.: Do you ever hook up with John Lydon?  Any chance of another Sex Pistols' reunion?

G.M.: Me and John don't really keep in touch, which I think we are both equally happy about. Each time we have had a reunion it has always been a last minute thing, so I never say 'no' to the possibility. He said something recently that I liked, he said: "we are not the best of friends but we are certainy not the worst of enemies", and I would agree with that.  
In the end the four of us shared a particular moment in history. I am pleased to have had that experience and to have that in common with them.      

Our interview ends with Matlock offering to send through some photos of his beloved stolen instruments. It is not too strong to say that his songs changed lives, because the Sex Pistols helped many ordinary young people to dream big. Is it too much to hope that someone now returns his guitars?

(Rickenbacker bass image: Courtesy of British Music Experience Museum;
Other pictures: courtesy of Yellow Brick Music;
Rest: ©CordonPress)