Stephen “Steve” Philip Jones is an English rock guitarist, singer and actor, best known as a guitarist with the Sex Pistols. Following the split of the Sex Pistols he formed The Professionals with former bandmate Paul Cook. He has also released two solo abums, and worked with the likes of Johnny Thunders, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan and Thin Lizzy. In 1995 he formed the short lived supergroup Neurotic Outsiders with members of Guns N’ Roses and Duran Duran. Jones was ranked in Rolling Stone‘s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
Jones was born in Shepherd’s Bush, London, where he grew up with his young mother, who worked as a hairdresser, and his grandparents. He then moved to Benbow Road in Shepherd’s Bush. He was an only child and his father, Don Jarvis, an amateur boxer, left when he was two years old. With fourteen criminal convictions he was the subject of a council care-order and spent a year in a remand centre, which he said was more enjoyable than being at home. Jones has also said that the Sex Pistols saved him from a life of crime. His early influences were Iggy & the Stooges, the New York Dolls, Small Faces, and glam rock icons like Roxy Music and David Bowie.
Jones co-founded the Strand (named after a Roxy Music song) with Paul Cook and Wally Nightingale in the early 1970s. The Strand were a precursor to the Sex Pistols, and it’s where Jones first learned to play guitar. After dropping Wally Nightingale in the mid 1970s, the band was known as The Swankers. In 1975, Jones went on to co-found Sex Pistols with Paul Cook, Glen Matlock, and later, John Lydon.
Jones is a self-taught guitar player, primarily playing Gibson Les Paul electric guitars in his early years. He had allegedly only been playing for three months before his first Sex Pistols gig, and has said that practising under the influence of black beauties helped him focus well on learning the instrument.
His usual guitar was a cream coloured Gibson Les Paul Custom which Malcolm McLaren had acquired from Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls. According to Filth and the Fury, he had also stolen equipment from a truck parked behind the Hammersmith Odeon where David Bowie was playing, when he and his fellow Sex Pistols members posed as road crew members, stealing amplifiers and other equipment.
Bill Price, the engineer on Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, called Jones one of the tightest guitar players he has ever worked with; this is due to his “chuggy” playing in the studio as Price had described it with very little sustain and echo, which required overdubs to hide.
Due to the inability of Sid Vicious to perform to a satisfactory standard in the studio Jones also played the bass guitar parts on Never Mind the Bollocks, the sole exception being “Anarchy in the UK”, recorded whilst Glen Matlock was still in the band.
Currently Jones also uses Hamer Sunburst double-cut guitars, and prefers the White Les Paul Custom as his primary guitar, as stated in the Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock Sex Pistols video.
Jones became well known among fans for his “hanky on the head”, and his perm. When the Sex Pistols were interviewed by Bill Grundy on the Today show on 1 December 1976, Jones openly swore at Grundy after being goaded to do so, causing much controversy and elevating the band’s profile.
After the Sex Pistols broke up in 1978, Jones and drummer Paul Cook co-founded the Professionals. They released four singles, recorded a self-titled LP that was shelved until 1990, and released I Didn’t See It Coming in November 1981. The band’s American tour to promote the album was cut short when band members Paul Cook, Paul Myers, and Ray McVeigh were injured in a car accident. While the Professionals did return to America in the spring of 1982 after recovery, Jones’ (and Myers’) drug problems further hampered the band’s prospects. They declined an opening spot offer on tour for the Clash, and broke up.
Jones was also a member of Chequered Past (led by Michael Des Barres) from 1982 to 1985. They released a self-titled album in 1984. Jones performed alongside Sex Pistols bandmate Paul Cook on Johnny Thunders’s solo album So Alone. Siouxsie and the Banshees thought for a while to engage Jones after the departure of two of their original members. Rehearsals took place in early 1980, and Jones recorded the guitars parts on three songs of the album Kaleidoscope. The experience did not go further than a simple recording session.
Jones also played with Thin Lizzy, Billy Idol, Joan Jett, Kraut, Adam Ant, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Andy Taylor, the Dano Jones Band, Megadeth, Neurotic Outsiders, and had a solo career in the 1980s and early 1990s. His song “Mercy”, from the album of the same name, was used in a Miami Vice episode called “Stone’s War” and was featured on the Miami Vice II soundtrack album and in the film Homeboy 1988. “Pleasure and Pain” also from the album Mercy, was included in the 1986 film Sid and Nancy. In 1989, he released his second solo album, titled Fire and Gasoline, which featured Jones on guitar and vocals, Terry Nails on bass, and drummer Mickey Curry. Jones was a guest star in an episode of the television sitcom Roseanne. He had previously played a private detective in The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, and had a role in the 1981 film, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains.
In 1992 a project called Fantasy 7 (known as F7) was recorded, and remains officially unreleased. They toured locally in Los Angeles and a few shows in South America featuring singer Mark McCoy. In 1995, Jones played guitar on the self-titled and only album released by the band P, who featured Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers and actor Johnny Depp.
In 1996, Jones formed Neurotic Outsiders, that featured himself on guitar and vocals, former Guns N’ Roses members Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum on rhythm guitar and drums, and John Taylor from Duran Duran, on bass. They released a self-titled album in 1996. “I call him Uncle Steve,” remarked Amanda Rootes of Fluffy, who supported the Outsiders on tour. “I’ve got uncles just like him, East End gangster types.”
Also in 1996, he took time out to record guitar tracks for The Great Milenko, an album by Insane Clown Posse. Jones produced the self-titled debut albums of the Los Angeles-based Buckcherry and American Pearl, released in 1999 and 2000.
He participated in the Sex Pistols reunion concerts and currently resides in Los Angeles. He has since engaged in session work, playing guitar on Lisa Marie Presley’s 2005 album, Now What. Jones played lead guitar on two tracks. “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” which was originally recorded for the Ramones tribute album We’re a Happy Family but only appeared as a hidden track on Now What.
The Sex Pistols, including Jones, played a gig for the 30th anniversary of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols at the Brixton Academy on 8 November 2007. Due to popular demand, two further gigs were announced on 9 November and 10 November. This demand led to two further gigs being announced, making five in total. A further gig in Brixton on 12 November was followed by one at the MEN Arena in Manchester on 17 November. The Glasgow S.E.C.C on 18 November completed the tour. In 2008, he played guitar on four songs on David Byrne’s album he has done with Brian Eno, Everything that happens will happen today.
Jones has recently played with Hollywood United F.C., an American amateur soccer team based in Los Angeles, made up mainly of celebrities and former professional footballers. In 2008, the Sex Pistols appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival as the headlining act on the Saturday night, the Peace & Love Festival in Sweden, and the Live at Loch Lomond Festival in Scotland. Jones made a cameo appearance on Portlandia’s second-season finale, “Brunch Village”, which aired on 9 March 2012.
In May 2012, Jones appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in a sketch playing himself as the roommate to Prince Charles (played by Craig Ferguson), as well as playing guitar on a cover of Ninian Hawick’s Scottish Rite Temple Stomp in a cold open to a week of shows shot in Scotland. He later appeared on Ferguson’s last show in December 2014, playing guitar during a rendition of Dead Man Fall’s “Bang Your Drum.”
Jones was ranked 97th in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. After an appearance as the guest on Russell Brand’s FX television program Brand X with Russell Brand in 2013, Jones has assumed the duties of the house band on that program. He performs solo on the electric guitar. In 2013 and 2014, Jones appeared as recurring character “Krull” during the sixth and seventh seasons of Showtime television series Californication, playing the road manager of Tim Minchin’s character Atticus Fetch.
While with the Sex Pistols Jones mostly played two Gibson Les Paul Customs, a black 1954 Gibson Les Paul Custom and his most famous white 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom (with the pin-up girls on it) that formerly belonged to Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls. In the late 90s, Jones was offered free Burny Les Paul Customs, straps, picks and cables if he played their guitar. They made two models for him which he used on the 2002–2003 North American Piss Off Tour. At around 2005 he went back to using Gibsons, but has still been seen playing his Burny. In 2008, Gibson put out a “Steve Jones Signature Les Paul Model” to the exact specs of his original white 1974 Les Paul Custom.
While Jones typically since the 1980s plays through Marshall JCM 800 Stacks, he used a silverface Fender Twin Reverb (reportedly stolen from Bob Marley at the Hammersmith Apollo) with Gauss speakers to record Never Mind The Bollocks. He also used Musicman Amps and a Fender Super Reverb during the 1978 US Tour.
In February 2004, Jones began hosting a daily radio program in Los Angeles, called Jonesy’s Jukebox, on Indie 103.1 FM, where he could do whatever he wanted (within FCC rules), with no direction from station management. Jones mixed an eclectic playlist with rambling and often humorous interviews of guests from the entertainment industry. He kept an acoustic guitar in the studio and frequently performed stream of consciousness songs about the current topic of discussion. Notable guests included Johnny Ramone, Leif Garrett, Brian Wilson, Pete Townshend, Iggy Pop, Robert Plant, Gary Oldman and Sex Pistols vocalist Johnny Rotten.
Indie 103.1 last broadcast Jonesy’s Jukebox on 14 January 2009; Indie 103.1 ceased to exist as a broadcast radio station on 15 January 2009. In November 2009 he guested on BBC Radio’s 6Music with five Sunday shows titled A Month of Sundays with Steve Jones, playing a mix of tunes from his childhood through to the current day. In December 2009, the show was revived ran via internet radio on IAmRogue.com, a website run by producer Ryan Kavanaugh. This incarnation of the show ended in late March 2010. Jones was picked up by LA radio Station KROQ in October 2010 to continue his Jonesy’s Jukebox segment. Jones’s last show on KROQ was March 2013. He is now on LA radio station KLOS 95.5 from noon to 2pm daily.
- Mercy (MCA, 1987)
- Fire and Gasoline (MCA, 1989)
- The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (1980)
- Punk and Its Aftershocks (1980)
- D.O.A. (1980)
- Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1981)
- Roseanne (1994) One Episode
- Mascara (1999)
- Four Dogs Playing Poker (2000)
- The Filth and the Fury (2000)
- 25 Years of Punk (2001)
- Classic Albums: Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (2002)
- Hooligans & Thugs: Soccer’s Most Violent Fan Fights (2003)
- Punk: Attitude (2005)
- Played (2006)
- The Dog Problem (2006)
- Cutlass (2007)
- Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who (2007)
- Portlandia (2012)
- Californication Krull, Butler of Rock and Roll (2013)
- Saturday Night Live (2013)