The Sex Pistols, the truants of rock 'n' roll, have been denied visas by the U.S. embassy in London on the eve of their first American tour.

The denial means that the group, called "the world's most notorious punk rock band" by Rolling Stone Magazine, has been forced to postpone its initial four concerts including Tuesday, Jan. 3 at the Alexandria Roller Rink.

The Pistols' visas apparently were refused because the band's members - Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Paul Cook and Steve Jones - reportedly have criminal records ranging from drug arrests to attempted auto theft and assault on a police officer. The biggest fine levied was 50 pounds, approximately $100.

Other rock folk guilty of whatare known in the trade as "excludable offenses," people like the Rolling Stones' Keith Richard and Mick Jagger, have usually been granted waivers has been forthcoming for the Pistols.

Warner Bros. Records, the group's American label, is hopeful that they can obtain a waiver in time for the fifth concert of the Pistol's 10-city, 15-day tour, Jan. 5 in Atlanta. All a spokesman for the State Department's Visa Office would say is, "These cases are still not in cement, they're changing from minute-to-minute."

Ted Jaffe, an attorney for Warner Communications who was in Washington yesterday "trying to get a reading on this thing," noted that "none of these kids committed any heinous crimes, they're what we would call misdemeanors, they never had a day in jail and they never paid any serious, substantial fines.

"This is a group of youngsters who came up from slum areas and it sounds to me like a lot of small things involved with street kids growing up. Now that they're on the threshold of being somebody, we shouldn't deny them the right to really make it."

Sam L'Hommedieu of Cellar Door Productions, promoters of the Alexandria concert, said tickets for the 1,700-seat Roller Rink had just gone on sale and were doing very well. When the Pistols get a visa, the Alexandria concert will be rescheduled and tickets already purchased will be honored.

The Pistols' tour would have started tonight in Pittsburgh and gone on to Chicago and Cleveland before Alexandria and Atlanta, Memphis, San Antonio, Ft. Worth, Tulsa and San Francisco after it. Many of these concerts had already been sold out.

One rock observer noted that the Pistols' scabrous, anti-authority stance, especially a song called "God Save the Queen," with Iyrics like "She ain't no human being. There ain't no future and England's screaming," issued at the time of the Jubilee celebration, had no doubt hurt them: "You just can't do the things they do without having establishment people come down on you."