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John Lydon says “dead wood” bandmates would be nothing without him

By | Published on Tuesday 19 April 2022

John Lydon

Having lost his court battle over upcoming Sex Pistols TV drama ‘Pistol’, John Lydon is continuing his verbal assault on his former bandmates in relation to the telly project, and more generally.

In a new interview with The Sun he claims that guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook worked behind his back for years to make a show that he believes will misrepresent him and his contribution to the punk band.

“Cutting me out is a shockingly stupid move”, he says. “It’s so ridiculous. It’s so preposterous. They can all fuck off. I supported them for years and years and years, knowing they were dead wood. None of these fucks would have a career but for me. They did nothing before, they’ve done nothing since”.

But if you think he won’t be watching the Danny Boyle directed series, due to air on Disney+ next month, you’d be wrong.

“I don’t really want to watch it but I will need to fact-check it”, he insists. “I have not seen one single second of it. Not any script, I’ve been completely ostracised. To be misrepresented in such a rude manner is unacceptable. If there was any truth in it, they wouldn’t have kept it from me”.

“They were putting this together for three solid years behind my back without involving me in any way, shape or form”, he continues. “They kept it a secret from me and away from me, and they find that acceptable. As a human being I couldn’t do that to another person. The underhandedness of it is preposterous and the assumption that I would be negative right from the start is clearly ludicrous in itself. I wrote all those songs. I’m the image, it’s my name they’re using to promote it, Monsieur Rotten here”.

“It’s bizarre that a bloke like Danny Boyle would consider doing something without speaking to me”, he adds. “I mean, where is the accuracy? If you cut me out, then you’ll never know how those songs were formulated. Not ever”.

Of course, if Lydon wants to know more about the content of the series, he could just read Jones’s autobiography, upon which it is based. Also, Jones and Cook have repeatedly denied that they kept the show a secret from Lydon, insisting that they attempted to get him involved on numerous occasions.

“He was informed of the ‘Pistol’ TV series, offered meetings with the director and to be involved in the show months before principal photography began”, they said last year. “He refused these offers and we were saddened he would not engage and at least have a conversation with the director Danny Boyle and co-showrunner Craig Pearce”.

The court case over the show last year was an attempt by Lydon to block the series from using any of The Sex Pistols’ music, and centred on whether or not any one member of the band had the power to veto a sync deal.

Jones and Cook said that an old band agreement meant that sync deals could be issued if a majority of band members agreed. Lydon argued that the band had always operated on the assumption that unanimous consent was required for such deals. However, the court confirmed the old band agreement was nevertheless still in force, depriving Lydon of any veto right.

Explaining why he went legal, Lydon says: “I had less than a few days to decide whether I was going to go along with this and grant my permission for them to use the songs for this TV series that didn’t involve me at all”.

“I knew it would cause me serious financial problems going into the court case, but I had to stand up for what I view as value systems, and I’ve had to take it on the chin”, he adds. “I knew I couldn’t fight against the Disney wealth and might without suffering substantial kicks in the teeth, but I still went ahead, because what they’re doing is wrong. It’s wrong on every level. It’s just inappropriate thievery”.

Continuing to argue that the band have always operated on a system of unanimous consent when it comes to sync deals – regardless of any band agreement stating otherwise – he says: “They now disagree with that prospect, so they won the case on the grounds of majority rather than unanimity, so I’m outvoted all the time, on everything, from here on in. I wrote all the songs. I’m the image. I’m the frontman, and now I’m not there”.

‘Pistol’ will arrive on Disney+ on 31 May.