Megadeth’s thrash-metal “Anarchy in the U.K.” cover featured the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones

By on October 2, 2018

“In 1983, Southern California rockers Megadeth first forged their white hot strain of heavy metal and hardcore,” says Pat Prescott in Night Flight’s “Take Off to New Heavy Metal,” which arrives about a half-hour into this episode that begins with our “Take Off to Big Bucks.” “Today, they remake the Sex Pistols‘ ‘Anarchy in the U.K.'”

Watch this carefully-curated episode — which originally aired on “Tax Day” (April 15, 1988) — on Night Flight Plus.


Megadeth’s collage-style video for “Anarchy in the U.K.” — which premiered on MTV’s metal-ghetto “Headbangers Ball” – combines clips of the band performing live in concert along with footage of a young male actor in a scenario in which he appears to be held against his will and tortured, forced to watch politically-tinged cartoons and newsreel-style clips, all at a frantically-edited pace and showing society at its worst.


Their version retained the title of the Pistols song, although Dave Mustaine can be heard singing “U.S.A.” throughout.

Mustaine also wasn’t able to understand some of Johnny Rotten’s vocals, so he adds to the list of hilariously odd mondegreens by singing “I wanna destroy, possibly,” instead of “I wanna destroy passersby.”

He also sings “… and other cunt-like tendencies” instead of “… another council tenancy,” a reference to Londoners living in council housing, or “social housing” as it’s known in America.


The actor in the video — strapped down and tortured much like how we see Malcolm McDowell’s “Alex” undergoing “therapy” in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange – appears to be forced to view cartoons and images of political figures, including a psychotic gun-slingin’ Ronald Reagan and a Rambo Chicken.

Read more about Megadeth below.


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Megadeth — one of the so-called “Big Four” of thrash-metal’s beloved band,  along with Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax — were formed in 1983 by outspoken singer-guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson, not too long after Mustaine was kicked out of Metallica — the band he formed with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich — over allegations of his rampant drug use.


Mustaine — who was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness in La Mesa, California, in San Diego County, before moving to L.A. — originally lived upstairs from Ellefson, a former Minnesota farmboy.

Mustaine has said he was initially annoyed when he heard Ellefson, plugged-in and practicing with his axe during the early mornings.

His eruption — yelling out “Now shut the fuck up!” and throwing a flowerpot which shattered on Ellefson’s air conditioning unit belowsoon prompted a face-to-face meeting between the two neighbors, who discovered they liked the same kind of music.

Ellefson had never heard of Metallica, but liked a few the new tracks Mustaine played for him. They began to writing songs together, which led to the formation of Megadeth’s extremely short-lived first lineup (along with Slayer guitarist Kerry King, and drummer Lee Rauch).

The band’s poorly-produced first album, Killing Is My Business… And Business is Good — was released on the metal indie label Combat Core Records, arriving in stores just as the still-emerging sludgy thrash-metal sub-genre was just beginning to come into focus in heavy metal rockdom.


By their second full-length album, Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? — quickly snapped up for distribution by Capitol Records, scoring the band critical acclaim and their first real commercial success — Megadeth had established themselves as the definitive thrash-core metal band.

They were also simultaneously earning a reputation for being erratic and difficult, mostly because of Mustaine’s ongoing problems (as well as the other band members) with spiraling substance abuse.


After Mustaine ejected guitarist Chris Poland and drummer Gar Samuelson over their own drug addictions, he replaced them with two new recruits, guitarist Jeff Young and drummer Chuck Behler (Samuelson’s former drum tech).

The new lineup began recording tracks in L.A. for the Megadeth’s third album, 1988’s So Far, So Good… So What!, which were memorable sessions for many reasons, not the least of which were due to the fact that Southern California experienced one of their massive earthquakes while the album was being recorded, which set everyone (particularly the non-native Californians) even more on edge.


For Megadeth’s cover of the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the U.K.,” the Sex Pistols’ guitarist Steve Jones was invited to play on the track.

He arrived at the L.A. recording studio on his motorcycle, still wearing a cast on his arm, which he’d broken in a recent car smash-up.

He proceeded to play the song’s second lead guitar solo, but his guitar was unfortunately out of tune (that didn’t matter to Mustaine, who left it in as played).

Regarding his payment, in an interview with Rolling Stone in early 2017, Mustaine says Jones reportedly told him, “Just give me a hundred bucks and some suction.”

As he recounted in his 2010 autobiography, Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir, the singer says he replied, “How about I give you a thousand dollars and you can go get some suction yourself, because I ain’t calling anybody to come down here and blow you.”


Unfortunately for all concerned, none of the singles off of Megadeth’s So Far, So Good album (released on January 19, 1988) got much in the way of commercial radio airplay.

Nevertheless, the album reached #30 on the Billboard 200 chart and it was eventually awarded platinum status for sales over one million copies (despite less than enthusiastic reviews).

Watch this episode — which also features music videos focusing on the ’80s’ infatuation with wealth, excess and greed, including those by the Pet Shop Boys, Steinski & Mass Media and the Pheromones — on Night Flight Plus!


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.