How did Sex Pistols get their name?
The Sex Pistols evolved from the Strand, a London band formed in 1972 by working-class teenagers Steve Jones on vocals, Paul Cook on drums and Wally Nightingale on guitar. Early line-ups of the Strand—sometimes known as the Swankers—also included Jim Mackin on organ and Stephen Hayes (and later, briefly, Del Noones) on bass.
In 1975, the group had been rehearsing regularly and had performed publicly for the first time. According to journalist and former McLaren employee Phil Strongman, around this time the band adopted the name QT Jones and the Sex Pistols (or QT Jones & His Sex Pistols, as one Rhodes-designed T-shirt put it).
After considering options such as Le Bomb, Subterraneans, the Damned, Beyond, Teenage Novel, Kid Gladlove, and Crème de la Crème, they decided on Sex Pistols—a shortened form of the name they had apparently been working under informally. Matlock says the band decided on the name while McLaren was in the United States—no later than May 1975—before Rotten even joined. Jon Savage says the name was not firmly settled on until just before their first show in November 1975. McLaren said the name derived from the idea of "a pistol, a pin-up, a young thing, a better-looking assassin. [I] launched the idea in the form of a band of kids who could be perceived as being bad."