Sex Pistols stream Lydon-led Belsen demo
The Sex Pistols have released a studio demo version of Belsen Was A Gas like it’s never been heard before: with Johnny Rotten vocals.
The track was written by Sid Vicious before he joined the band and featured in their stage sets towards the end of their brief but explosive career. Only live versions, and a studio take with Ronnie Biggs, have been heard in the past.
The recently-recovered recording has been launched to promote the upcoming 35th anniversary super deluxe box set of Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols on September 24.
Soundman John ‘Boogie’ Tiberi recorded the track in their Denmark Street rehearsal room when Rotten, real name John Lydon, decided to work on the lyrics with Vicious.
He remembers: “I wired up Denmark Street to put it down on a four-track. It really shouldn’t have to be said, but that’s Sid on bass. It was very clumsy, no monitors, and sound insulation was non-existent.
“When I played it to producer Chris Thomas, he probably thought I was barmy and couldn’t understand the reverb vocal – but that’s the way John wanted it. I thought it was good as a kind of sketch idea.”
Lydon later said of the song: “It was a very nasty, silly little thing that should have ended up on the cutting room floor.”
Producers of the box set say: “The controversial subject matter and dark humour of the song was designed to upset and provok, and is certainly an interesting footnote to the Sex Pistols’ finite catalogue of songs.”