Anarchy in the Year Zero: The Sex Pistols, The Clash and Class of ’76

This is the story of the birth of Punk, with a capital P, in the only country where it was a mainstream movement: the UK; told entirely by eye-witnesses (Heylin included) whose words, then and now, have been held up to the light of history's hindsight.

This is also the story of the rebirth of Rock, by a bunch of bands who set out to deconstruct and destroy the form, on the island that largely invented it and reinvented it at least twice in the fifteen years before Punk.

And it is the story of the ex-Catholic, semi-Irish, snot-nosed, working-class Cockney oik who dealt the final, fatal blow to England's dreams of empire when he became a Rotten revolutionary.

But most of all it is the story of a handful of British youths who were inspired to raise their voice in song, and allow it to echo around the world.

It is a story that, till now, has only been told piecemeal: of one band blazing a trail gig by gig, convert by convert, to the pre-set agenda – not always adhered to – of a fetish shop owner until, within a single year, the whole island rocked to the sound of ANARCHEEE.

How did this happen and why does it still matter? Read on.


‘Clinton Heylin has finally released his own personal Sgt Pepper – a book about the birth pangs of punk rock itself with every twitch and every breath and every distorted fibre of 1976 noted and put into a thorough context, trying to make sense of just why this most wonderful moment happened. Heylin has pared the narrative to the bone for this dense and condensed speed read through the battlefield and frontline of 1976 culture that totally explains just why this happened and how it happened.’ – John Robb, Louder Than War

‘For those who weren’t there, but swear they were, now you are.’ – Richard Boon, former Buzzcocks manager

‘Heylin has done a masterful job of mapping the when, where and who’s who in the Pistols pied piper saga.’ – Thurston Moore, Sonic Youth


Longlisted for the Penderyn Music Book Prize 2017

Rights Profile

Rights Available
World, all languages

Original Language

Samples Available
Sample text available in English



Publication Date

June 2016