Punk History Goes Up in Flames on 40th Anniversary of “Anarchy in the U.K.”

Photo: Joe Corre, son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, burns a God Save The Queen T-Shirt at Buckingham Palace on November 21, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Ki Price/Getty Images).

Joe Corré, son of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, set fire to his estimated $8 million punk archive on a boat in Central London on Saturday, November 26, 2012—on the 40th anniversary of Anarchy in the U.K., the debut single by the Sex Pistols.

Also: God Save the “Sex Pistols”

Corré, 48, founder of the lingerie company Agent Provocateur, stood before a crowd with a top hat over a bandana wrapped around his head. Before setting fire to his collection and effigies of David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Jeremy “Dr. Death” Hunt, and George Osborne, he had a few words for the people.

According to The Guardian, Corré announced, “Punk was never, never meant to be nostalgic—and you can’t learn how to be one at a Museum of London workshop….Punk has become another marketing tool to sell you something you don’t need. The illusion of alternative choice. Conformity in another uniform.”

Among the treasures burned in the blaze were an original acetate version of “anarchy in the U.K.,” a pair of bondage pants made for Corré when he was ten years old, a pair of Johnny’ Rotten’s pants, rare posters, and live recordings.

Back in March, Corré announced via Crack Magazine plans to burn his collection, which was spurned on by the establishment’s embrace of the scene, with institutions such as the British Library,the Museum of London, ICA, and the British Film Institute ready to declare 2016 the 40th anniversary of punk (when, in point of fact, it was not; it was simply the 40th anniversary of the Sex Pistol’s first song).

Corré’s announcement, which came three months before Brexit, was eerily prescient. He warned, “A general malaise has now set in amongst the British public. People are feeling numb. And with numbness comes complacency. People don’t feel they have a voice anymore. The most dangerous thing is that they have stopped fighting for what they believe in. They have given up the chase. We need to explode all the shit once more.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Joe Corre, the son of Vivienne Westwood and Sex Pistols creator Malcolm McLaren (R) burns his entire £5 million punk collection on November 26, 2016 in London, England. Joe Corre burnt the rare punk memorabilia in protest saying punk has no solutions for today's youth and is 'conning the young'. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 26: Joe Corre, the son of Vivienne Westwood and Sex Pistols creator Malcolm McLaren (R) burns his entire £5 million punk collection on November 26, 2016 in London, England. Joe Corre burnt the rare punk memorabilia in protest saying punk has no solutions for today’s youth and is ‘conning the young’. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)

At a press conference two days prior to the pyre, Corré was asked what his father, the infamous impresario who brought the Sex Pistols worldwide notoriety, would think (McLaren, who died in 2010, was reported to have stormy relationship with his son). According to The Daily Mail, Corré told them, “He would probably have been proud of me and think it’s hilarious.”

The event was attended by aging punks, journalists, and random onlookers who gathered to watch the scene, which took place less than a mile from Sex, the infamous Kings Road shop where Westwood and McLaren made and sold the clothes that would soon go up in flames.

Vivienne Westwood was among the people in attendance for the event. She told The Guardian, “This is the first step towards a free world. It’s the most important thing you could ever do with your life.”


Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.