- John Lydon
Infobox musical artist
Name = John Lydon
Img_capt = John Lydon in 1986
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = John Joseph Lydon
Alias = Johnny Rotten
Born = Birth date and age|1956|1|31|df=y London, England
Instrument = Vocals,
Stroh violin, Saxophone, Guitar, Bass guitar, Violin, Synthesizer, Keyboards, Percussion
Punk rock Post-punk Alternative rock
Years_active = 1975 – present
Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd.
John Joseph Lydon (born 31 January 1956 in London, England), also known as Johnny Rotten, is a British
rock musician, best known as lead vocalist for the punk rockgroup Sex Pistolsand post punkgroup Public Image Ltd.
He has since become a television personality, appearing on television shows in both the UK and elsewhere.
He was born in London to
Irish Catholic immigrants, his father from Tuam, County Galway, and his mother from Shanagarry, County Cork.Fact|date=May 2008 He grew up on a council estatein Finsbury Park, North Londonwith three younger brothers. At the age of seven, he contracted spinal meningitis, putting him in and out of comas for half a year and erasing most of his memory. The disease left him with a permanent curve in his spine. It also damaged his eyesight, resulting in his characteristic stare. He attended St. William of York School in Islington, North London, where his friends included David Crowe, Tony Purcell and John Gray. David Crowe went on to become involved with Public Image. John Gray became a school teacher and Tony Purcell went on to become a pioneer of the Internetindustry in Scotland. [p. 17, "Rotten - No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs". Picador, 1995. ISBN 0-312-11883-X.]
In 1975, Lydon was among a group of youths who regularly hung around
Malcolm McLarenand Vivienne Westwood's fetish clothing shop SEX. McLaren had returned from a brief stint travelling with American proto-punkband the New York Dolls, and he was working on promoting a new band formed by Steve Jones, Glen Matlockand Paul Cookcalled Sex Pistols. McLaren was impressed with Lydon's ragged look and unique sense of style, particularly his orange hair and modified Pink FloydT-shirt (with the band members' eyes scratched out and the words "I Hate" scrawled in felt-tip pen above the band's logo). After tunelessly singing Alice Cooper's "Eighteen" to the accompaniment of the shop's jukebox, Lydon was chosen as the band's frontman.
The origin of the stage name "Johnny Rotten" has had varying explanations. One, given in a "
Daily Telegraph" feature interview with Lydon in 2007, was that "he was given the name in the mid '70s, when his neglect of oral hygienesaw his teeth turning green". Another story says the name was allegedly given to him by Steve Jones, after Jones saw his teeth and exclaimed "You're rotten, you are!"
In 1977, the band released "God Save the Queen" during the week of Queen Elizabeth II's
Silver Jubilee. The song was a hit, but caused so much controversy that Lydon was attacked in the streets by an angry mob. They stabbed him in his left hand, his leg, and nearly gouged out his eye with a beer bottle. Since then, he has not been able to properly make a fist with his left hand.
Lydon's interest in dub music and his post-Sex Pistols work with
Public Image Ltd.(also known as PiL) and artists such as Afrika Bambaataaand Leftfieldshowed him to be more musically sophisticated Fact|date=August 2008 than his work with the Sex Pistols had suggested. McLaren was said to have been upset when Lydon revealed during a radio interview that his influences included progressive experimentalists like Can, Captain Beefheartand Van der Graaf Generator.cite book | author = Simon Reynolds | title = Rip it Up and Start Again - Postpunk 1978-1984 | year = 2005 | publisher = faber and faber | id = ISBN 978-0-571-21570-6]
Tensions between Lydon and bassist
Glen Matlockarose. The reasons for this are disputed and uncertain, however Lydon claimed in his autobiography that he believed Matlock to be too white-collarand middle-classand that Matlock was "always going on about nice things like the Beatles". Matlock stated in his own autobiography that most of the tension in the band, and between himself and Lydon, was orchestrated by McLaren. Matlock quit and as a replacement, Lydon recommended his school friend John Simon Ritchie. Although Ritchie was an incompetent musician, McLaren agreed that he had the look the band wanted: pale, emaciated, spike-haired, with ripped clothes and a perpetual sneer. Rotten dubbed him " Sid Vicious" as a joke, taking the name from his pet hamster, a finger-biting creature named Sid the Vicious.
Vicious' chaotic relationship with girlfriend
Nancy Spungen, and his worsening heroin addiction, caused a great deal of friction among the band members, particularly with Lydon, whose sarcastic remarks often exacerbated the situation. Lydon closed the final Sid Vicious-era Sex Pistols concert in San Francisco's Winterlandin January 1978 with a rhetorical question to the audience: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" Shortly thereafter, McLaren, Jones, and Cook went to Brazilto meet and record with former train robber Ronnie Biggs. Lydon declined to go, deriding the concept as a whole and feeling that they were attempting to make a hero out of a criminal who attacked a train driver and stole " working-classmoney". Lydon was abandoned in San Francisco virtually penniless.
The Sex Pistols' disintegration was documented in
Julian Temple's satirical pseudo- biopic, " The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle", in which Jones, Cook and Vicious each played a character. Matlock only appeared in previously-recorded live footage and as an animation and did not participate personally. Lydon refused to have anything to do with "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle", feeling that McLaren had far too much control over the project. Although Lydon was highly critical of the film, many years later he agreed to let Temple direct the Sex Pistols documentary " The Filth and the Fury". That film included new interviews with band members hidden in shadow, as if they were in a witness protection program. It featured an uncharacteristically vulnerable Lydon choking up and becoming tearful as he discussed Vicious' decline and death. Lydon denounced previous journalistic works regarding the Sex Pistols in the introduction to his autobiography, "Rotten - No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs", which he described as "as close to the truth as one can get". [Lydon, John. "Rotten - No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs".]
Although Lydon spent years furiously denying that the Sex Pistols would ever perform together again, the band re-united (with Glen Matlock returning on bass) in the 1990s, and continues to perform occasionally. In 2004, Lydon publicly refused to allow the Rhino
record labelto include any Sex Pistols songs on its box set "". In 2006, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fameinducted the Sex Pistols, but the band refused to attend the ceremony or acknowledge the induction, complaining that they had been asked for large sums of money to attend [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4750262.stm BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Sex Pistols snub US Hall of Fame ] ] and stating that it went against everything the band stood for.
In June 2007, Lydon, Jones and Cook re-recorded "Pretty Vacant" in a Los Angeles studio for the video game "Skate" and, in a radio interview in the same month, Lydon announced that the Sex Pistols may perform again over the
Christmasperiod. They also re-recorded "Anarchy in the UK" for the video game "". In September 2007, Lydon announced that the Sex Pistols would play a concert for the 30th anniversary of "Never Mind the Bollocks" at the Brixton Academyon 8 November 2007. Due to popular demand, four additional concerts were added, as well as further shows in Manchesterand Glasgow.
The Sex Pistols will be appearing at the Isle Of Wight Festival 2008 as the headlining act on the Saturday night. They are also due to appear at the Peace and Love Festival in Sweden, Electric Picnic in Ireland, the Live at Loch Lomond Festival in Scotland, Heineken
Open'er Festivalin Gdynia(Poland), Paredes de Coura Festival in Portugal, Traffic Free Festival in Turin(Italy) and EXIT festivalin Serbiathe same summer.
Public Image Limited (PiL)
In 1978, he formed the
post-punkoutfit Public Image Limited (PiL) and denounced the Sex Pistols. PiL lasted for 14 years with John Lydon as the only consistent member. The group enjoyed some early critical acclaim for its 1979 album, " Metal Box" (a.k.a. "Second Edition"), and influenced many bands of the later industrial movement. The band was lauded for its innovation and rejection of traditional musical forms. Musicians citing their influence have ranged from the Red Hot Chili Peppersto Massive Attack.
The band's surreal performance on the dance/concert TV show "
American Bandstand" has become the stuff of legend, with Lydon giving up on lip synching not long into the performance and dancing with audience members instead. The group did quite well in the UK charts, but were regularly outsold by Sex Pistols reissues. Despite his tenure with PiL, Lydon is still most well-known as "Johnny Rotten".
The first lineup of the band included bassist
Jah Wobbleand former Clash guitarist Keith Levene. They released the albums "Public Image" (also known as "First Edition"), "Metal Box" and "Paris in the Spring". Wobble then left and Lydon and Levene concocted the "The Flowers of Romance". Then came "This Is What You Want...This Is What You Get" featuring Martin Atkinson drums (he had also appeared on "Metal Box" and "The Flowers of Romance") as well as session artists. Lydon said of this album in 1992 that "This is What You Want" is just me giving orders and them receiving them. There was no feedback. If I had a crap idea, the crap idea would go onto vinyl almost immediately". However, despite the dip in quality as compared to their first three albums, it featured their biggest hit, the sarcastic "This Is Not A Love Song", which hit #5 in 1983.
Then in 1986 Public Image Limited released "Album" (also known as "Compact Disc" and "Cassette"). Most of the tracks on this album were written by Lydon and
Bill Laswell. The musicians were session musicians including bassist Jonas Hellborg, guitarist Steve Vaiand Cream drummer Ginger Baker. It continued the band's foray into accessible dance-pop as opposed to their earlier incarnation as a challenging art-rock ensemble. Like the previous album, this also featured a massive hit, the anti- apartheidanthem "Rise".
In 1987 a new lineup was formed consisting of Lydon, former Magazine,
Siouxsie & The Bansheesand The Armoury Showguitarist John McGeoch, Alan Diason bass guitar in addition to drummer Bruce Smithand Lu Edmunds. This lineup released "Happy?" and all except Lu Edmunds released the album "9" in 1989. In 1992 Lydon, Dias and McGeoch were joined by Curt Bisquera on drums and Gregg Arreguin on rhythm guitar for the album "That What Is Not". This album also features the Tower Of Poweron two songs and Jimmie Wood on harmonica. Lydon, McGeoch and Dias also wrote the song "Criminal" for the movie " Point Break". After this album, in 1993, Lydon put PiL on indefinite hiatus, in which state they remain today.
In December 2005, Lydon told "Q" that he is working on a second autobiography to cover the PiL years.cite web
title="The Q Interview: 'I want to take the Sex Pistols to Iraq!'"]
Collaboration with Time Zone
In 1984, Lydon worked with Time Zone on their best-known single, "World Destruction". A collaboration between Lydon, Afrika Bambaataa and producer/bassist Bill Laswell, the single was an early example of "
rapcore" predating Run-DMCand Aerosmith's "Walk This Way". The song appears on Afrika Bambaataa's 1997 compilation album, "Zulu Groove". It was arranged by Laswell after Lydon and Bambaataa had acknowledged respect for each others' work, as described in an interview from 1984::Afrika Bambaataa: "I was talking to Bill Laswell saying I need somebody who's really crazy, man, and he thought of John Lydon. I knew he was perfect because I'd seen this movie that he'd made ("Corrupt", a.k.a. "Copkiller" and "The Order of Death"), I knew about all the Sex Pistols and Public Image stuff, so we got together and we did a smashing crazy version, and a version where he cussed the Queen something terrible, which was never released.":John Lydon: "We went in, put a drum beat down on the machine and did the whole thing in about four-and-a-half hours. It was very, very quick." [ [http://www.fodderstompf.com/CHRONOLOGY/1984.html 1984 interview] ]
The single also featured
Bernie Worrell, Nicky Skopelitisand Aïyb Dieng, all of whom would later play on PiL's "Album"; Laswell also played bass and produced.
olo album: "Psycho's Path"
In 1997 Lydon released a solo album on
Virgin Recordscalled " Psycho's Path". He wrote all the songs and played all the instruments. In one song, "Sun", he sang the vocals through a toilet roll.cite web
title="Psycho's Path"] It did not sell particularly well and received mixed reviews from critics. The U.S. version included a
Chemical Brothersremix of the song "Open Up" by Leftfieldwith vocals by Lydon. This song is heard during the title menu of the computer game "All Star Baseball 2000" ( Acclaim Entertainment). The song was also a club hit in the U.S. and a big hit in England.
Movie, TV and other non-music projects
In 1983, Lydon co-starred with
Harvey Keitelin the movie thriller "Corrupt", a.k.a. "Copkiller" and "The Order of Death". While the film was generally panned, Lydon won some praise for his role as a psychotic rich boy. Lydon would act again very occasionally after that, such as a very small role in the 2000 film, "The Independent".
He also was the host of the skateboard film, "Sorry", by The Flip Skate Team
In the mid-1990s, Lydon hosted "Rotten Day", a daily syndicated US radio feature written by
George Gimarc. The format of the show was a look back at events in popular music and culture occurring on the particular broadcast calendar date about which Lydon would offer cynical commentary. The show was originally developed as a radio vehicle for Gimarc's book, "Punk Diary 1970-79", but after bringing Lydon onboard it was expanded to cover notable events from most of the 2nd half of the 20th century.
In November 1997, Lydon appeared on "
Judge Judy" fighting a suit filed by his former tour drummer Robert Williams for breach of contract, and assault and battery. Lydon won the case, and the judge called Williams a " nudnik", although she did advise Lydon to keep quiet several times. During an appearance on " Politically Incorrect", in response to a statement about "hand lotion" in men's restrooms, Lydon remarked "Well, "I'm" English - "we" still have our foreskins".
In 2000, Lydon hosted "Rotten TV", a short-lived show on
VH1. The show offered his acerbic commentary on American politics and pop culture. In one segment he took Neil Youngto task for not appearing on the show, making fun of Young's singing style and pointing out that Young had once proclaimed Johnny Rotten "the king" in the song " Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)". It was good natured, however, as Rotten has been quoted to proclaim his love of Young's albums "On the Beach" and "Tonight's the Night".
The Belzer Connection
In 2003 Lydon appeared as a panelist on an episode of
Richard Belzer's ambitious (and ill-fated) conspiracy-themed panel show, "The Belzer Connection". The episode in question posed the query, "Was there a conspiracy involved in the death of Princess Diana?" For his part, Lydon proved as witty and scurrilous as ever, responding to suggestions of Royal Familyinvolvement by proclaiming "If the Royal Family was going to assassinate someone, they would have gotten rid of me a long time ago." The series ran for only two episodes.
I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here
In January 2004, Lydon appeared on the British
reality televisionprogramme, "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!", which took place in Australia. He proved he still had the capability to shock by calling the show's viewers "fucking cunts" during a live broadcast. The television regulator and ITV, the channel broadcasting the show, between them received 91 complaints about Lydon's use of bad language. However, in a February 2004 interview with the Scottish " Sunday Mirror", Lydon said that he and his wife "should be dead", since on 21 December 1988, thanks to delays caused by his wife's packing, they missed the doomed Pan Am Flight 103. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Lockerbie/Story/0,2763,1154000,00.html Sex Pistol recounts Lockerbie near miss | UK news | The Guardian ] ] During this interview, Lydon said that the real reason for him leaving the "Get Me Out of Here!" show was his fear over the Pan Am incident and the "appalling" refusal of the programme makers to let him know whether his wife had arrived safely in Australia.
In an interview previous to the show's first episode, he had described it as "moronic", and throughout the show's run he had displayed an indifferent attitude to staying and threatened to walk out on numerous occasions. 30 hours following ex-football star
Neil Ruddock's departure, Lydon left the show for unclear reasons, although he had been very visibly angry both to and about fellow star Jordan.
British newspapers claimed that Lydon had won a
£100 bet with Ruddock over who would stay in the longest. Lydon, however, stated on air that he felt he would win outright and that it would be unfair to the other celebrities for him to win.
John Lydon's Megabugs, Goes Ape and Shark Attack
After "I'm a Celebrity...", he presented a documentary about
insectsand spiders called "John Lydon's Megabugs" that was shown on the Discovery Channel. cite news
title = The Sex Pistols: Johnny be good? Never!
work = Telegraph.co.uk
date = 2007-11-8
url = http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2007/11/08/bmlydon108.xml
accessdate = 2008-07-26 ] "
Radio Times" described him as "more an enthusiast than an expert". He went to present two further programmes: "John Lydon Goes Ape" in which he searched for gorillas in Central Africa, and "John Lydon's Shark Attack" in which he swam with sharks off South Africa.
Reynebau & Rotten
In 2005, he appeared in "Reynebeau & Rotten", a five episode documentary on Canvas, the cultural channel of
VRT, which is the Flemish public broadcaster. Lydon guided Belgian journalist Marc Reynebeau through Great Britain. When asked why he was chosen as a guide, he answered that he was the cheapest one available.
After the show had been broadcast on Flemish television, Lydon claimed in an interview with the popular Belgian magazine "
HUMO" that he was very unhappy with the way they handled post-production and was very angry with the way they depicted him in this particular show. He claimed that the creators mainly showed his humorous, sometimes clownish antics, instead of focusing on his personal opinions and sometimes philosophical conversations he had with Marc Reynebeau. Lydon was also infuriated that the production company used songs from the Sex Pistols' catalogue, without consulting all the remaining members of the band, including him.
Lydon broadcast a short pod on
Current TVin which he critiqued The Doors' keyboardist Ray Manzarek's previously broadcast pod. Manzarek's advice to young people had been to "fuck your brains out." He emphasized this especially for 25-year- old women, saying that "it won't last." Lydon had several choice words for Manzarek and told young people that the best thing they could do was get an education because knowledge is free. Lydon also suggested that at one point Manzarek had asked him to work on a project together and that he did not do it because it would negatively affect his career.
Lydon is currently one of the judges in the
BodogMusic Battle of The Bands competition.
Country Life butter advert
In September 2008, it was announced that Lydon would appear in an advert for
Country Life, a popular brand of butter, in a move Lydon was widely mocked for. [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1050489/One-anarchist-Johnny-Rotten-turns-country-squire-TV-butter-ad.html] [http://www.thetartpaper.com/ents.php?id=1413]
The Ritz Carlton Hotel case
On 23 January 2008 Lydon was reportedly involved in a string of offences, including battery,
sexual abuse, sexual assaultand physical assault. Ms Davis (Lydon's employer on his television program) was punched in the face by Lydon after being called a "cunt" several times. It is believed that Lydon wished for a door between his hotel room and his male friend's room at the hotel Ritz Carlton, but was given a separate room without a dividing door. Lydon reportedly became infuriated with the hotel staff, before assaulting his own employee who was staying in the same hotel. Upon being questioned by journalists over the incident, Lydon was unavailable. Davis has taken legal action against Lydon, her lawsuit is underway in a San Francisco court room [http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/music/news/exsex-pistol-lydon-sued-for-lsquoassault-and-batteryrsquo-13507701.html] .
2008 Summercase incident
Bloc Partysinger Kele Okerekeclaims he was left with severe facial bruising and a split lip following what he alleges was a verbal and physical racist assault by three members of Lydon's entourage. The incident occurred on the evening of 19 July 2008 at the Summercasefestival in Barcelonawhile the bands were socialising backstage. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/jul/22/john.lydon.racist.assault]
However in statement to
NME, John Lydon has denied the allegations of his involvement in this assault. [ [http://www.nme.com/news/bloc-party/38378 'Kele Okereke was right about Sex Pistols racist attack' | News | NME.COM ] ] Since the report, Super Furry Animalslead singer Gruff Rhyshas come forward in support of Okereke's claim, saying "the statements Kele has said are absolutely true, it did happen." [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/jul/24/gruff.rhys.supports.okereke Gruff Rhys supports Kele Okereke's account of racial abuse | Music | guardian.co.uk ] ]
A British tabloid accused Lydon of racism due to the incident. Lydon strongly denied these claims on "
The One Show", claiming that they were "atrocious" and "hurtful". he went on to say that:
He went on to say, when asked if he was racist, that:
Lydon is married to Nora Forster. They have no children together, but Lydon is
stepfatherof Forster's daughter, Ari Up, who herself had been the lead singer in the influential postpunk, dub reggaeband, The Slits. He currently lives in Los Angeles.cite web| url= http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2007/11/08/bmlydon108.xml| title=Daily Telegraph feature interview, 8 November 2007]
All chart positions are UK.
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols" (Virgin, 1977) Platinum
Compilations and live albums
* "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle" (Virgin, 1979)
* "Some Product: Carri On Sex Pistols" (Virgin, 1979)
* "Kiss This" (Virgin, 1992)
* "Never Mind the Bollocks / Spunk" (aka "This is Crap") (Virgin, 1996)
* "Filthy Lucre Live" (Virgin, 1996)
* "The Filth and the Fury" (Virgin, 2000)
* "Jubilee" (Virgin, 2002)
* "Sex Pistols Box Set" (Virgin, 2002)
Anarchy in the UK" - 1976 #38
* "God Save the Queen" - 1977 #2
Pretty Vacant" - 1977 #6
Holidays in the Sun" - 1977 #8
* "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone" - 1980 #21
Anarchy in the UK" (re-issue) - 1992 #33
Pretty Vacant" (live) - 1996 # 18
* "God Save the Queen" (re-issue) - 2002 # 15
Public Image Ltd.
First Issue" (Virgin, 1978)
Metal Box" (Virgin, 1979)
* "Flowers of Romance" (Virgin, 1981)
Commercial Zone" (PiL Records, 1983)
This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get" (Virgin, 1984)
* "Album" (Virgin, 1986)
* "Happy?" (Virgin, 1987)
* "9" (Virgin, 1989)
That What Is Not" (Virgin, 1992)
Compilations and live albums
* "Second Edition EP" (Virgin, 1980)
* "Paris in the Spring (Paris au Printemps)" (Virgin, 1980)
* "Live in Tokyo" (Virgin, 1983)
The Greatest Hits, So Far" (Virgin, 2003)
* "Public Image" - 1978 #9
Death Disco" - 1979 #20
* "Memories" - 1979 #60
* "Flowers of Romance" - 1981 #24
* "This Is Not a Love Song" - 1983 #5
* "Bad Life" - 1984 #71
* "Rise" - 1986 #11
* "Home" - 1986 #75
* "Seattle" - 1987 #47
* "The Body" - 1987 #100
* "Disappointed" - 1989 #38
* "Don't Ask Me" - 1990 #22
* "Cruel" - 1992 #49
World Destruction" - 1984
Psycho's Path" (Virgin, 1997)
The Best of British £1 Notes" (Lydon, PiL & Sex Pistols) (Virgin/EMI, 2005)
* "Open Up" (with
Leftfield) – 1993 – #11 UK
* "Sun" – 1997 – #42 UK
* [http://www.johnlydon.com Official John Lydon website]
* [http://youtube.com/watch?v=p2CnwYPhcQk Johnny Rotten on Judge Judy !]
* [http://www.youtube.com/rottentv RottenTube]
* [http://www.johnlydon.com/pp/pp_index.html Psycho's Path Micro-Site]
* [http://www.johnlydon.com/notes/notes_index.html The Best of British £1 Notes Micro-Site]
* [http://www.cbc.ca/thehour/video.php?id=1483 Johnny Rotten on The Hour] ------
NAME=Lydon, John Joseph
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Johnny Rotten
SHORT DESCRIPTION=English rock musician
DATE OF BIRTH=31 January 1956
PLACE OF BIRTH=
Hollowayin London, England
DATE OF DEATH=
PLACE OF DEATH=
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