John Lydon Says Court Decision on Danny Boyle’s TV Series Will “Water Down” Sex Pistols’ Legacy

He fears it could "distort the true history and legacy" of his band

John Lydon rotten Danny Boyle statement Sex Pistols court case TV series legal news water down legacy
John Lydon, photo courtesy of artist

    Last week, John Lydon officially lost a court case over the use of the Sex Pistols’ music in Pistol, an upcoming TV series about the group that’s directed by Danny Boyle. Now, the infamous musician has shared a written statement in which he claims the “majority rules” technicality that lost him the case will also “water down” Sex Pistols’ legacy in the years to come.

    As The Guardian notes, a press statement was published today on Lydon’s website suggesting Lydon was only made aware of Pistol hours before it was announced. It also claimed he still has not been told how the band will be portrayed in the series, adding that he feels there’s a good chance all of this will “distort the true history” of Sex Pistols.

    “For more than 23 years the Sex Pistols have operated on the basis of unanimous decision making. The Disney production is the first time that the unanimous approach has been ignored,” the statement read. “It is disappointing that a High Court judge has decided that John Lydon is bound by an undated agreement signed in 1998, which imposes on the Sex Pistols a majority rule arrangement in place of the unanimous decision making process that has been followed for 23 years.”


    It continues, “Looking forward, there is great uncertainty about what the majority rule approach might do to water down and distort the true history and legacy of the Sex Pistols. Time will tell.”

    The whole statement is pretty much a lot of woe-is-me nonsense, but technically it’s not all written by him. Only one paragraph is credited as being “in John’s words” directly:

    “I am the lead singer and songwriter, front man, image, the lot, you name it. I put it there. How is that not relevant? It is dumbfounding to me. It is so destructive to what the band is and so I fear that the whole project might be extremely negative. How can anyone think that this can proceed without consulting me and deal with my personal life in this, and my issues in this, without any meaningful contact with me before the project is announced to the world. I don’t think there are even words that I can put forward to explain quite how disingenuous this is. As I said in the lyrics of ‘The Order of Death,’ ‘This is what you want, this is what you get…'”


    This back-and-forth legal debate has been going on for months now. Back in April, Lydon — who went by the moniker “Johnny Rotten” in Sex Pistols — threatened to sue Boyle over his “disrespectful” decision not to hire him as a consultant on Pistol. The six-episode biographical limited series is based on Sex Pistols’ guitarist Steve Jones’ 2017 memoir Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol. Boyle is directing and executive producing, while Craig Pearce (The Great Gatsby) is credited as creator and co-writer alongside Frank Cottrell-Boyce (24 Hour Party People).

    Unsurprisingly, Jones and Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook were fed up with Lydon’s constant whining, so they properly sued him for blocking the licensing of their group’s music. The two used a 1998 accord in which the Sex Pistols agreed that future decisions would be made on a “majority rules basis.” Their lawyer claims that bassist Glen Matlock and the estate of his replacement, Sid Vicious, all supported licensing the music, too. Thus, Lydon was overruled by everyone else.

    This band agreement is about as logical and reasonable as it comes, but that didn’t stop Lydon from claiming he wasn’t aware of the extent of the agreement. “I reject the suggestion made by him that he did not really know or appreciate its effect,” clapped back judge Sir Anthony Mann. “That piece of evidence was a convenient contrivance. It is highly likely that, even if he did not read it himself, it will have been explained to him and he will have understood its effects.”


    Now that Lydon’s petty complaints have been smacked down, Pistol remains on track to launch on FX in 2022.

    If you want to remember the good old days when Lydon wasn’t a literal flea-infested Trump supporter, check out our loaded 2021 Punk Week coverage, including the 30 best punk bands and the 50 best punk songs.

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