Johnny Rotten was left out of Danny Boyle's show because he's too difficult to work with, claims Sex Pistols muse05/19/2021
THEY were a band that thrived on violence and anarchy, fighting with fans, insulting the public and even cutting themselves up on stage.
So it is little wonder that acclaimed director Danny Boyle felt compelled to shoot a biopic about the Sex Pistols, the iconic group that shocked the establishment and turned the worlds of music and fashion on their heads.
But even Boyle might have been surprised by the amount of real-life drama his Pistol TV series has created as threats of multi-million-pound lawsuits fly back and forth.
Frontman John Lydon – aka Johnny Rotten – tore into producers and his former bandmates from his home in Los Angeles last week, saying: “I think that’s the most disrespectful s*** I’ve ever had to endure.”
He added: “I mean, they went to the point to hire an actor to play me but what’s the actor working on? Certainly not my character. It can’t go anywhere else [but court].”
Now we can reveal the real reason Lydon has been frozen out, causing yet another ugly chapter in the poisonous saga of the Sex Pistols.
The band’s former muse Jordan Mooney, whose story forms a key part of the new TV drama, says producers cut him off because he is too "difficult" to work with.
The 65-year-old, from Seaford, East Sussex, told The Sun: “John picks and chooses when he wants to be a punk. If it suits him one day, he will be Johnny Rotten and otherwise he is John Lydon.
“Probably the rest of the band are more true to themselves.
“John has got a few issues about his importance in the world so him not being involved is the best thing that can happen.
“He would just be a saboteur and he wouldn’t bring much to the table.
“It would just be a bad idea to involve John and the writer and Danny Boyle knows that.
“John argues for the sake of arguing. He’s a difficult person and I can’t say that part of him has changed at all.
“As he’s got older, he’s only got more difficult – he’s contrary.”
Biopic turned courtroom drama
Guitarist Steve Jones, 65, and drummer Paul Cook, 64, who have also acted as consultants on Pistol, have yet to respond to Lydon’s comments.
But, as this newspaper revealed in March, they are already suing Lydon, 65, and former bass player Glen Matlock, 64, for breach of contract over unpaid royalties.
Matlock has previously called Jones, who also lives in LA, a “miserable sod.”
The row has torpedoed a potential reunion that was in the pipeline.
And, with the various members only communicating through lawyers, the iconic group is officially no more, according to a source.
Yet the fact that the famous punk rockers are once again at war will not come as a surprise to fans.
'A real a***hole'
The Sex Pistols were formed in 1975 when Lydon, who was wearing a ‘I Hate Pink Floyd’ t-shirt, was introduced to Jones and Cook at a London pub.
The meeting did not go well, with Jones later remarking: “John had something special, but when he started talking he was a real a***hole.”
They invited Lydon to join the band all the same and Jones rechristened him ‘Johnny Rotten’ on account of his poor dental hygiene.
In 1976 their debut single ‘Anarchy in the UK’ only reached number 38 in the UK charts before record label EMI dropped them over a series of foul mouthed outbursts during a television interview.
The British public was outraged and a year later Matlock quit following arguments over the ‘God Save The Queen’ single, a punk classic and anti-monarchy anthem.
Malcolm McLaren announced the news through a telegram, saying he had been "thrown out – because he went on too long about Paul McCartney.”
Jones later added of Matlock: "He was a good writer but he didn't look like a Sex Pistol and he was always washing his feet. His mum didn't like the songs."
Matlock blamed Lydon for forcing him out. He wrote in his autobiography: "You just had to put up with a constant tirade of bulls**t from John. Total lies and denial.
"He'd say something and two minutes later he'd completely deny he'd ever said it."
Stage cutting and glassing a girl
He was replaced by Lydon’s close friend Sid Vicious, real name John Simon Ritchie, who was given the job despite not being able to play the bass guitar.
Matlock believes Vicious was recruited to balance out the burning rivalry between the band members, saying: "Instead of him against Steve and Paul, it would become him and Sid against Steve and Paul.
"He (Lydon) always thought of it in terms of opposing camps."
But Vicious’ arrival only made relations worse as his heroin use escalated and he frequently cut himself on stage and started fights with members of the audience, even blinding a girl when he hurled a pint glass that shattered in her face.
He also developed an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship with girlfriend Nancy Spungen, a former New York prostitute and groupie.
Lydon later wrote: "We did everything to get rid of Nancy. She was killing him. I was absolutely convinced this girl was on a slow suicide mission.
"Only she didn't want to go alone. She wanted to take Sid with her. She was so utterly f***ed up and evil."
The group’s last gig involving Vicious took place at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco on 14 January 1978.
Lydon addressed the audience after the last song before he stormed off stage, saying: “Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? Good night.”
He later said: "I felt cheated, and I wasn't going on with it any longer – it was a ridiculous farce.
"Sid was completely out of his brains – just a waste of space. The whole thing was a joke at that point. Malcolm wouldn't speak to me. He would not discuss anything with me.
"But then he would turn around and tell Paul and Steve that the tension was all my fault because I wouldn't agree to anything."
Lydon sued McLaren, who he branded “the most evil man in the world,” over the name and rights and the band members were eventually awarded £1million each.
Vicious however died aged 21 from a heroin overdose in 1979 while waiting to see if he would stand trial over the murder of 20-year-old Nancy, who was stabbed to death in mysterious circumstances at a New York hotel.
Lydon vowed they would never reform without him but in 1996 he changed his mind.
When a journalist questioned the reverse ferret, he lashed out saying: “We invented punk. We wrote the rules and you follow, not the other way round.”
The band are said to have made £15million from the reunion tour, but it ended without them even saying goodbye and Jones said: “We really don’t make enough to put up with each other.”
Matlock said they “still hated each other with a vengeance.”
In a 2017 television interview, Jones made clear his dislike of Lydon, saying: “As much as I loved playing with John, I didn’t want to hang out with him, so that caused some friction.
“With his low self-esteem, he wondered why I didn’t want to hang out with him and took it all personally.
“We ended not good originally – there was a lot of resentment.
“Cut to 20 years later we got back together and did a hundred shows and was on the road for a year and we wanted to kill ourselves by the end.
“It was the first time though that we made a bit of dough.
“There were still deep resentments that you can’t let go.
“It’s like a divorce from a marriage. You don’t want to hang out with your ex-wife, you’re just hanging in there because you want to make a bit of bread.”
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