Sex Pistols Miniseries Could 'Destroy' The Band, Says John Lydon

By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta

July 23, 2021

Photo: Getty Images North America

Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon a.k.a. 'Johnny Rotten' is condemning a licensing agreement he signed with his former bandmates years ago, calling it a "total trap or prison" and likening it to "slave labor."

Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook are suing Lydon over the right to use the band's music in an upcoming biopic miniseries about their groundbreaking U.K. punk band.

Pistol is a six-episode biopic miniseries about the Sex Pistols, based on Jones' 2018 memoir, Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol. It's directed and executive produced by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle.

Jonesy and Cook argue that, according to a band agreement from decades ago, licensing requests in the band are determined on a "majority rules basis." Jones and Cook have agreed to the series, as have bassist Glen Matlock and the estate of late-bassist Sid Vicious.

According to his lawyer, Lydon objects because Jones' book portrays him in a "hostile and unflattering light." As it stands right now, Lydon has no say in how he's portrayed on screen.

Jones argued that the series is "not about slagging anyone..." including the frontman.

In court Wednesday, Lydon told the judge:

"I care very much about this band and its reputation and its quality control and I will always have a say if I think anything is being done to harm or damage [it].
"I don't want anything I'm involved in to victimize any one of us. It would destroy the whole point and purpose of the band and so I don't understand the [band member agreement]... I don't remember signing it.
"You can't let your history be rewritten for us by a complete stranger with no interest in it. This is my life here. This is my history. I didn't write these songs [for them] to be given off to nonsense."

Furthermore, Lydon claimed that the band member agreement has never been invoked since it was signed so many years ago. Previously, all the Sex Pistols licensing was agreed upon with "unanimous" votes, he said.

Cook told the court that he and Jonesy were forced to sue Lydon so their music could be licensed for the show. While the band members have always "wanted to work harmoniously," Lydon is a "difficult character" and likes to feel like he's in control of everything related to the band.

Regarding the "majority rules" clause, Cook said the band members never invoked it before in order to "maintain good relations" with Lydon.

"I am unhappy that [Lydon] would behave like this over an important personal project for Steve," Cook added, "particularly as we have always backed [Lydon's] personal projects."

This spring, Lydon called the Pistol series "the most disrespectful s--t I've ever had to endure" and vowed to fight it in court to the "bitter end."

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