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Life First, Money Second: John Lydon interview from 1990

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John Lydon must get fed up being asked the same olde questions year-after-year by interviewers who should know better. Just see how many interviews over the past thirty years have kicked-off with rumors of a Sex Pistols reunion, as if Lydon has done nothing since the summer of 1977, and then ask whether he’s still Punk and why isn’t PiL any good?

Understandable, therefore, that Lydon is often contemptuous of those who pose such dumb questions.

That said, I sometimes think Lydon’s aggressive behavior stems from a genuine shyness, as he displays a set of tics and mannerisms consistent form his first appearance on Bill Grundy’s infamous swearfest. You’ll recognize them - the mumbling, the staring, the dismissal of questions with the word “Next” - all used to deflect the more personal probing. Oo-er.

We can see examples of both here in this short interview with Jonathan Ross, from his chatshow The Last Resort in 1990.

It begins with Lydon antsy as Ross reels off cue card questions about The Sex Pistols. Lydon is dismissive, which is interesting in light of the Pistols reunion later in the decade.

When questioned about the rumors of a reunion for £6million, Lydon says he wishes such offers would be given to him direct. Even so, he wouldn’t reform the Sex Pistols at any price.

“I would never repeat myself. And I think everybody knows that about me. You may not like me, but at least I am damned honest.”

He is harsh on Sid Vicious, defending his comments as honesty.

“When you start messing with heroin, you’re kissing goodbye to your life, and good riddance too.”

Fair commnent, but I tend to agree with Oscar Wilde that sometimes honesty is not the best policy, and the truth is never simple.

As for Malcolm McLaren he is dissmissed as “an imitation alcoholic”.

He lightens up about his brief acting career in the Harvey Keitel film Order of Death, going on to tell how he was offered “the ratty little git” in Drugstore Cowboy, a part he would have taken but couldn’t because of commitments. Shame for it would have been interesting casting.

The end cuts off just as Lydon gives a 4-word summing up:

“Life first. Money second.”

A nice thought, which reminded me of Picasso’s line about wealth: how it was always best to be rich enough to live poor. O, that we should be so lucky.
 

 
Bonus clip of Lydon interviewed by Margenta Devine from Network 7, from 1987, where the same questions about Sex Pistols, Punk and what he’s been up to all come to the fore. Lydon sticks to his honesty and having fun routine.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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