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The gospel according to John Lydon

Never trust the music industry or nuns. Question everything. Religion is pollution. You don’t have to hate your bandmates. These and more help shape the former Sex Pistol’s world view

Former Sex Pistols vocalist and current PiL focal point John Lydon – opinion-polarising iconoclast of long standing – is tucking into a liquid brunch. Resplendent in billowing pink shirt, he’s perched on a Thameside balcony at Chelsea’s Harbour Hotel, smoking like a lab rat and lubricating a bright and breezy discourse with a rapid succession of minibar miniatures. Bourbon follows gin, follows vodka, follows bourbon… “Wanna brandy, mate?” It’s 11.45 on a Tuesday morning.

Lydon is animated (go figure) as he flicks through Mr Rotten’s Songbook, his eye-wateringly expensive, self-illustrated compendium of lyrics. Era-defining couplets and doodles in a distinctly Milligan style persistently prompt anecdotes, fury, melancholia, laughter and acid drops of obdurate bile.

The twinkle-eyed Lydon charm is habitually tempered by indefensible Rotten controversy – he’s nothing if not infuriating. And as he preaches his punk-inciting mischievous gospel, we realise why it is we can’t help but love this unlikely national treasure: he’s good bad, but he ain’t evil.



From the archive

From the archive

From the archive

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