Wednesday, January 23, 2013


35 years ago on January 14, the Sex Pistols played their final gig as the band we remember,  that lineup with Sid Vicious.  It's ironic that on that date this year, I finished reading Rotten, John Lydon's memoir.
  • Lydon has a great respect for women.  With the exception of Vivienne Westwood, who he disliked immensely, they come off pretty well.  As for the men in the book, there are few that he liked or had any patience for.  Strangely he did have patience for Sid Vicious who he brought into the band.
  • The Sex Pistols career was short (not including reunions).  It was basically a two year stint.      
  • Their only US tour during the 1970's took place in southern states.  Their manager Malcolm McLaren thought animosity would follow them throughout the South.  This would bring publicity.  Logic would have them playing NY, Philly, Chicago, LA.  Logic rarely entered into  McLaren's thinking.  

Some of the most interesting anecdotes come from the photographer Bob Gruen who accompanied the Pistols on the US tour.  The stories of tour manager Noel Monk trying to keep things in check are riveting.  Did you know that John and Sid were on a tour bus with the crew while bandmates Steve Jones and Paul Cook traveled separately and stayed in different hotels with McLaren?  Chaos hung around this band like a noose. 

The book also contains words from those who were part of Lydon's scene ( Billy Idol, Chrissie Hynde, Steve Severin). They shed an ancillary light on the Pistols story.  The commentary basically ends when the Sex Pistols ended. The book was published in 2008, but there was no mention of the 1996 Filthy Lucre Tour (Original member, Glen Matlock returned to replace a departed Sid).  There are mentions of his second band Public Image Ltd, but the bulk of the book deals with his life as Johnny Rotten. 

After reading Rotten,  I'm inclined to think that the Sex Pistols may have had a longer career than one album if Lydon had never brought Sid into the band.  He was disruptive and useless.  Except for his image and his tabloid attention-getting antics, there isn't much to say about him.  In today's world (with 24/7 media coverage of anyone's moves), I don't know if Sid would have been considered a legend.  His disruptive girlfriend Nancy Spungen would be dismissed as annoying (apparently everyone hated her and had no problem vocalizing it).  The media has had it's fill of the closest we've come to another Nancy in Courtney Love, who ironically I met when she was filming Sid and Nancy.  Lydon writes that there are many falsifications in that movie and nobody bothered to consult him on the story.  

John Lydon rants and raves throughout his story.  Would you expect anything else?

1 comment:

  1. I would be stunned to find Lydon-Rotten anything but ranting and raving.
    Good review Paula !!!