Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rotten Revisited

There are a few quotes from John Lydon that I think give the reader a good sense of what was going on with the Sex Pistols in the early stages of the band. 

A lot of people feel the Sex Pistols were just negative.  I agree, and what the f**k is wrong with that?  Sometimes the absolute most positive thing you can be in a boring society is completely negative. It helps.  If you’re not, you show weakness, and you must never do that!  You must always be committed.   

We were huge, but we couldn’t play anywhere, so we couldn’t earn any money.  Nobody wanted to release our records.  We were quite literally paupers. 
Too many days off between gigs on the Anarchy tour turned the Pistols against one another.  We became frustrated and began looking at each other suspiciously.  We were bored and at each other’s backs.  Today the animosity has transformed into a sense of loss.  

John's take on record companies and the record business:
There were virtually no independent labels when the Pistols started. 

You set yourself bigger than that; you want to be heard by as many people as possible.  Unless you have distribution, there’s no point.  When you sign with these independents-as they call themselves-they go and lease the contract to the big labels.  Again you’ve defeated the point, you’re now twice removed.  They still need to go through the major labels to the bloody records pressed, distributed, and paid for. 

On knowing little about record contracts:

To be honest, the only interest the band and I had was, how much do we each get?  Like true humanitarians.  Quite frankly you can’t tell an eighteen year old to think any other way. 
I was nowhere near capable of understanding what was going on.  I realize now that the contracts were shockingly bad.  Malcolm hadn’t the slightest idea what he was doing, either. 

The American contract with Warner Bros. was signed in perpetuity, forever and ever.

I don't think I know of any artist that signed a record contract in perpetuity.  This was a shocker to me; it probably shouldn't have been.   Although record contracts are not what they used to be, this book could easily be a musician primer of what-not-to-do. 


  1. The only thing Recording Co's have achieved
    'In Perpetuity' is the ability to lose money.

  2. I think it's more likely they achieved to "lose" the musicians money.