The artist and anarchist behind the Sex Pistols’ iconic artwork, Jamie Reid, has died at 76.
John Marchant Gallery announced the sad news of his death on Wednesday (09.08.23).
In a touching ode, the gallerist wrote: “We sadly announce the passing of Jamie MacGregor Reid January 16, 1947 – August 8, 2023; artist, iconoclast, anarchist, punk, hippie, rebel and romantic.
“Jamie leaves behind a beloved daughter, Rowan; a granddaughter, Rose; and an enormous legacy. Universal Majesty, Verity, Love, Infinite.”
The punk visual artist – who was best known for Décollage, the opposite of a collage – created the ransom-note style newspaper cutting lettering that he famously used on the cover of the Pistols’ 1977 song ‘God Save The Queen’, depicting a young Queen Elizabeth II with the track’s title slapped across the royal’s eyes and mouth.
The iconic artwork was based on Cecil Beaton’s photograph of the late monarch.
The Sex Pistols re-released their classic hit in time for the sovereign’s Platinum Jubilee last June. The song, originally released in 1977 during The Queen’s Silver Jubilee, was banned by the BBC and most radio stations but reached No. 2 in the UK Singles Charts. It is widely believed that the song was deliberately kept from the No. 1 spot on the charts due to its anti-royal stance.
Reid created the lettering style while designing the Suburban Press, a radical political magazine he ran for five years.
It was also used on the classic Pistols album ‘Never Mind the B******s’ and the singles ‘Anarchy in the UK’, ‘Pretty Vacant’ and ‘Holidays in the Sun’.
In 2007, on the 30th anniversary of the release of ‘God Save the Queen’, the artist debuted the new print, ‘Never Trust a Punk’, which was exhibited at London Art Fair.
In 2009, out of protest, after it was claimed that Damien Hirst was to sue a student for copyright infringement, Reid called him a “hypocritical and greedy art bully” and teamed up with Jimmy Cauty to produce his ‘For the Love of Disruptive Strategies and Utopian Visions in Contemporary Art and Culture’ image as a pastiche replacing ‘God Save The Queen’ with’ God Save Damien Hirst’.
A year later, David Jacobs, a founding member of the US Situationist group Point-Blank!, dared Reid to make the ‘Nowhere Buses’ graphic which appeared on the sleeve of ‘Pretty Vacant’.
It first appeared in a pamphlet for a protest about mass transit in San Francisco in 1973
Born in London in 1947, Reid passed away in Liverpool, where he had lived for many years.