Jamie Reid, the artist who designed covers for Sex Pistols’ albums, dies aged 76

Reid, known to many for his ‘God Save the Queen’ artwork, helped curate the aesthetic of the punk rock era with his ransom note style

Naomi Clarke
Thursday 10 August 2023 09:13 BST
Sex Pistols perform God Save the Queen at Brixton Academy in 2007

Jamie Reid, the artist behind the Sex Pistols’ signature record covers, has died aged 76.

Among Reid’s most notable work is the visual cover for the British punk band’s classic 1977 song “God Save The Queen” which featured a young Elizabeth II with the record title plastered across her eyes and mouth.

The designer helped curate the aesthetic of the punk rock era with his approach of using letters cut from newspaper headlines in the style of a ransom note.

His Brighton-based gallerist, John Marchant Gallery, shared the news of his death on Wednesday (9 August). An Instagram post reads: “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.”

Born in Croydon, London, in 1947, Reid went on to study at Croydon Art College where he was involved in a student protest in 1968 alongside the band’s soon-to-be manager, Malcolm McLaren.

After leaving college, the young artist co-founded the political magazine Suburban Press where he developed his style of cut-up graphics and slogans.

In late 1975, McLaren asked Reid to work with the Sex Pistols, beginning a significant run of designing the band’s artwork.

Jamie Reid’s artwork for the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind... album (Jamie Reid / Sex Pistols)

His most known pieces include the cover of their 1977 album Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, which featured a yellow background with the first half of the album in block capital lettering and the band name in the ransom note style.

On the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock wrote: “So sad to hear the news of Jamie Reid’s passing away.

“He was an immense talent, a great guy and will be missed. A privilege to have known him.”

Reid also designed the artwork for some of the group’s most popular singles including “Anarchy In The UK”, “Pretty Vacant” and “Holidays In The Sun”.

The artist also created album covers for bands such as the Afro Celt Sound System and engaged visually with socio-political groups including Occupy, Extinction Rebellion and the Free Pussy Riot movement.

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