John Lydon

From Academic Kids

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John Lydon

John Joseph Lydon (born January 31 1956), also known as Johnny Rotten (a nickname derived from the state of his teeth) was the iconoclastic lead singer of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd (PiL) and an Irish individualist anarchist. With his leering, swaggering and sarcastic manner he laid down a new template for rebellious youth and band frontmen that continues to be imitated today.


Brief biography

John Lydon was reportedly born on January 31 1956 in Finsbury Park in London—although according to his autobiography this cannot be confirmed as his birth certificate has been lost.

Sex Pistols

Lydon was hanging around Malcolm McLaren's clothes shop, Sex (co-owned with designer Vivienne Westwood), in 1975, after McLaren had returned from a brief stint of travelling with the American proto-punk band, The New York Dolls, and was working on promoting a new band formed by Steve Jones and Paul Cook. Lydon was apparently wearing a Pink Floyd T-Shirt with the words 'I Hate' scrawled in felt-tip pen above their name when offered the job. He audition in the shop singing to Alice Cooper's "Eighteen".

His interest in dub music and his post-Sex Pistols work with PiL and artists such as Afrika Bambaataa and Leftfield showed him to be far more musically sophisticated than his Pistols persona suggested. Indeed, Malcolm McLaren was said to have been quite upset when Lydon revealed during a radio interview that his influences included Can, Captain Beefheart and Van Der Graaf Generator. Such acts were not in keeping with the 'punk' image McLaren wished to see projected.</p>

Lydon recommended his school friend John Simon Ritchie to McLaren as a replacement for bassist Glen Matlock. Even though Ritchie was a below average bass player, Lydon and McLaren decided he had "the look": lanky, spike-haired, with ripped clothes and a perpetual sneer. Because that image was the exact opposite of the quiet, shy Ritchie's personality, Lydon dubbed him "Sid Vicious" as a joke.

Ritchie would prove the Sex Pistols' undoing, however; his chaotic relationship with disturbed groupie Nancy Spungen and worsening heroin addiction angered Lydon in particular, and was the source of much friction.

Lydon split up the band onstage at a concert in San Francisco in January 1978 with the now legendary quip to the audience: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

The Sex Pistols' disintegration is documented is the documentaries D.O.A. and The Filth and the Fury, and to a lesser degree Russ Meyer's comedy The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle, in which the Pistols played themselves.

That same year he formed PiL and denounced the Sex Pistols. He remained with PiL for ten years and released many critically acclaimed albums, but he is to this day known first and foremost as "Johnny Rotten."

Counter-culture journalist

Today Lydon is a freelance counter-culture journalist (and major real estate investor in residential property) in Los Angeles and has reported from events such as the 1999 protest in Seattle. In another broadcast venture Lydon teamed up with Dallas radio personality George Gimarc to produce Rotten Day, a syndicated radio program heard in 50 markets.

TV reality show

In January 2004, Lydon appeared on the British reality television programme, 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.

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.

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John Lydon

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. He also loudly proclaimed dislike for a fellow competitor, British glamour model Jordan, though it is unclear whether this was any more than pure theatre or contributed to his leaving the show.

In a February 2004 interview with the Scottish Sunday Mirror, Lydon said that he and his wife "should be dead", since on December 21, 1988, thanks to delays caused by his wife's packing, they missed the doomed Pan Am Flight 103. During this interview, Lydon said that the real reason for him leaving the Get Me Out of Here! show was the "appalling" refusal of the programme makers to let him know whether his wife had arrived safely in Australia.</p>

In 2004 he publicly refused to allow the Rhino record label to include any Sex Pistols songs on its box set No Thanks! The 70's Punk Rebellion, a compilation of songs by influential punk rock bands.

Further reading

  • Lydon's autobiography - Rotten - No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs

External links

it:John Lydon nl:John Lydon sv:Johnny Rotten pl:John Lydon


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