“He was a teenager when I met him. I didn’t notice him carrying a sack full of dreams around, but he was. Like all of us, he wanted to play guitar in a rock ‘n’ roll band,” said Hynde, who wrote the forward of Jones’ 2016 memoir. “But none of the bands out there fit.”
The six-part Pistol series is based on Jones’ book, Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol and his pre-fame rendezvous with Hynde will apparently be part of the story. “The girls had a soft spot for this shy West London thug and he took full advantage,” Hynde said of Jones.
The future Pretenders leader moved from Ohio to London in 1973 at the age of 22, in search of a fresh start. She got a job at Sex, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s boutique frequented by Sex Pistol’s members, and began to embed herself in the punk music scene.
“A teenage west London delinquent, Steve Jones, hung out around the shop. (I had no idea he had aspirations to play guitar; he had no idea I did, either.) Malcolm and Viv seemed to have taken him under their wing for some reason, to help keep him out of trouble,” Hynde said in her 2016 book, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender. The two musicians soon connected on more than just music. “When Chrissie was working at the shop she’d shut the place up and we’d put Malcolm and Vivienne’s gospel of Sex into practice,” Jones recalled.
“I like to think I was pretty upfront with women about what they could expect from me. I couldn’t have the kind of relationship where actual feelings were involved because I was too fucking damaged,” Jones noted in his book. “To some extent I did have that chauvinistic thing going on where I would see women as sex objects first and anything else was second, but I don’t think I was the only man in the music industry in the 1970s who committed that misdemeanor. In fact, it would be harder to find one who didn’t.”
Jones wasn’t the only Sex Pistol Hynde was linked with. When she was unable to get a U.K. visa, the future Pretenders frontwoman nearly married Sid Vicious in an effort to stay in the country. That plan fell apart when the would-be newlyweds found the local registrar’s office closed. “The next day wouldn’t work,” Hynde recalled, “as Sid had to go to court for putting someone’s eye out with a glass.”
While Hynde’s rise to fame would wait until she joined the Pretenders in 1978, the Sex Pistols started to flourish ahead of that by two or three years. “The Sex Pistols were getting gigs and people liked them,” Hynde said of the Pistols’ mid-70s heyday. “Steve was playing guitar and it was thrilling to see him finding himself – still a thieving delinquent at heart, but now with a creative outlet.”
The romantic relationship between Hynde and Jones eventually fizzled, but the two have managed to keep in touch. “Chrissie’s been a good friend over the years,” said Jones in his memoir. “I hope she’d say that of me.”
Pistol will dive into more than just the romantic pursuits of the musicians, according to cast member Emma Appleton, who plays the late Nancy Spungen (girlfriend of Sid Vicious). “These women were iconic women in their own right,” said Appleton to NME. “They weren’t just the girlfriend of Sid Vicious or the paramour of Malcolm McLaren. They weren’t an accessory to these men in the story. They had their own stories and their own success. It was an honor to harness their power.”
Playing the role of Hynde will be a breakout opportunity for Chandler, who will follow Pistol with a part in the upcoming Don’t Worry Darling, opposite Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine and Olivia Wilde.
Pistol arrives on Hulu May 31.