T-shirt

Jamie Reid archive

1978 (printed)

Reid, Jamie

Height: 52.8 cm, Width: 68 cm arm to arm

S.789-1990 T&P

'Cosh The Driver' Sex Pistols T-shirt designed by Jamie Reid, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood for 'Seditionaries', featuring an image of Ronnie Biggs.

Off-white cotton, with an image of Ronnie Biggs, an accomplice in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, overprinted in three colours: black, blue and peach. Above this image reads "Cosh The Driver". Printed in the lower right corner is the centre label of the record for The Biggest Blow (A Punk Prayer). On the right shoulder is sewn a black label that reads, "Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood, Seditionaries".

Jamie Reid's (b. 1947) cut-and-paste aesthetic grew from his interest in radical politics. His artistic style developed while at art college in Croydon, where he was influenced by the ideas of the avant-garde political group, the Situationist International. The political slant to his art was aroused by the May 1968 Paris student riots, which inspired fraternal protests organised by Reid at the Croydon College of Art. These were directed with fellow student Malcolm McLaren (1946-2010), later to become the manager of the Sex Pistols. From 1971, McLaren managed a boutique on King's Road in Chelsea, selling clothes designed by himself and Vivienne Westwood. Originally selling Teddy Boy styles, and called 'Let It Rock', the name was changed in 1972 to 'Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die', and in 1974 renamed 'SEX'. McLaren had been heavily influenced by the Punk scene coming out of New York at the time, and the designs sold took on fetish and bondage influences. The Sex Pistols were named after this shop, but with a name change in 1976, the shop and label became <i>Seditionaries</i>, just as the Pistols were becoming famous. The boutique was refurbished as Worlds End at the beginning of 1981 and remains in this incarnation. This t-shirt, from 1978, is one sold in the Seditionaries shop and depicts Ronnie Biggs, an accomplice in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, who, at that point, was a prison escapee in Brazil. Johnny Rotten, singer with the Sex Pistols, had left the band, but McLaren insisted the remaining members continue recording for his film project The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. This resulted in the song No-one Is Innocent, featuring Ronnie Biggs on vocals, whom they had met in Brazil. The original title was Cosh the Driver, as can be seen printed on the t-shirt, and related to the near-fatal beating that the train driver received during Biggs' robbery. Virgin Records vetoed this idea and it became The Biggest Blow. This t-shirt documents the period after the Sex Pistols broke up, when Sid Vicious (1957-1979) released several solo singles. His recording of Eddie Cochran's 1959 rockabilly hit, Something Else, was released shortly after his death in June 1979. As this t-shirt promotes, it was featured on the soundtrack to the Sex Pistols documentary, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle.

Location: In Storage

View this object on the V&A website