Here’s the late 1970s punk equivalent of the “east coast v west coast” gangsta rap battles of the 1990s … only with significantly fewer dead bodies. Punks always caused more harm to themselves than to others.
In this corner is the Sex Pistols’ “New York,” which sneeringly spits on the New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders’ follow-up band, The Heartbreakers for being drug-addled hippie tarts.
In the opposite corner is Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers performing “London Boys,” which chastises the Sex Pistols for little boys under the thumb of their manager Malcolm McLaren.
As to who won … well, it’s hard to say. Thunders may have won the battle, because when he recorded “London Boys” for his album “So Alone,” the Pistols’ guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook played on the song (a nice way to bury the hatchet). However, the Sex Pistols are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Dolls currently aren’t, so the Pistols may have won the war. Except that the Pistols protested their inclusion, so maybe that means they lost. Who knows? Who cares? Both songs are funny and immensely cool and I love both.
The version of “London Boys” included here is an earlier version that was an outtake from the Heartbreaker’s “L.A.M.F.” album from 1977. I like the version on Thunders’ “So Alone” album, but I prefer this earlier version.
Well the big thing is that the Sex Pistols wouldn’t really exist without Johnny and the New York Dolls. They did it all first. McClaren managed them at the end and took everything he knew and applied to the Pistols. He even took Sylvain’s Les Paul Custom. It’s a pretty well known fact that the Sex Pistols idolized the Dolls and other bands before them like the Hollywood Brats. They even went knocking for advice from them. It’s a great song battle for sure though.