Why Author William S. Burroughs Once Sent A Letter To The Sex Pistols

"I am not a punk, and I don't know why anybody would consider me the Godfather of Punk," renowned scribe of all things controversial and countercultural William S. Burroughs is quoted in the book "With William Burroughs: A Report from the Bunker" by Victor Bockris. The "Naked Lunch" author, despite his stern proclamation, definitely stood in solidarity with certain sentiments that defined the punk movement of the 1970s, and many people credit Burroughs' books with inspiring much of what the infamous genre later became. According to Far Out Magazine, Burroughs directly partook in some of the conscious dialogue circulating around major punk bands and their societal impact through a series of letters and correspondences, once upon a time.

In October 1977, Burroughs reached out to his dear friend Brion Gysin in regards to a Rolling Stone piece that explored British punk moguls the Sex Pistols. Along with the article itself, the novelist reportedly sent Gysin three short, devastating words: "Bugger the Queen," according to Far Out Magazine.

Bugger the Queen

In the letter to Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs explained how he and punk singer Patti Smith were in cahoots on a new song entitled "Bugger the Queen" that took shots at the British monarchy and the ruling class as a whole. The esteemed author (who was born in St. Louis, Missouri, according to Britannica) aimed to draw certain correlations and comparisons between the English aristocracy and its U.S. equivalent. Namely, his diatribe explored the notions of free speech and those higher-up efforts to suppress it, as Far Out Magazine reports.

"I guess you read about the trouble the Sex Pistols had in England over their song 'God Save the Queen (It's a Fascist Regime),'" Burroughs explained in his essay compilation "The Adding Machine." He continued, " ... I have composed this lyric which I hope someday someone will sing in England. It's entitled: 'Bugger the Queen.'"

Burroughs writes a letter to the Sex Pistols

It was following the release of 1977's "God Save the Queen" that William S. Burroughs found a common cause in the Sex Pistols' message. According to Far Out Magazine, the song re-instilled a profound sense of angst in the author, and the words he wrote years earlier ("Bugger the Queen") bubbled back up to the surface. To show his gratitude and support, he sent a strongly-worded letter of veneration to the English punk band across the Atlantic Ocean and their rebellious musical movement.

"I did ... send a letter of support to the Sex Pistols when they released 'God Save the Queen' in England because I've always said that the country doesn't stand a chance until you have 20,000 people saying BUGGER THE QUEEN!" he told Search & Destroy, a San Francisco punk magazine, as quoted in Far Out Magazine. Unfortunately, as the latter outlet points out, the missive itself was never made public by Burroughs or its recipients, so we can only muse over its possible contents.