John Lydon’s handwritten response to the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame regarding the induction of the Sex Pistols in 1996:
Next to the SEX-PISTOLS rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain. Your museum. Urine in wine. Were not coming. Were not your monkey and so what? Fame at $25,000 if we paid for a table, or $15000 to squeak up in the gallery, goes to a non-profit organisation selling us a load of old famous. Congradulations. If you voted for us, hope you noted your reasons. Your anonymous as judges, but your still music industry people. Were not coming. Your not paying attention. Outside the shit-stem is a real SEX PISTOL
Yesterday John Lydon threw a hissy fit on Australian TV talk show The Project and ended up the fool. Looking like a pudgy old tart with a stick up his arse, Lydon’s rant was bereft of even the slightest trace of humor or punkish charm. It’s really quite embarrassing.
Hey, hey, hey Mrs, shut up. Whoever you are, shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Now listen, when a man is talking do not interrupt.
Johnny needs a good kick in the dentures. What a wanker.
While Lydon is obnoxious from the get-go, the real unpleasantness begins at the 4:10 mark.
Fascinating unedited raw footage of a 1982 JJ Jackson interview of Public Image Ltd’s John Lydon and Keith Levene at MTV’s studio. Jackson’s questions are a lot better than you might expect them to be (he absolutely knew what he was talking about).
I’ve never seen Keith Levene more loquacious and animated in a vintage interview. He even talks briefly about his tenure in the Clash during the second part.
Lydon had just come off filming Corrupt with Harvey Keitel in Rome. Of course he tries to pull his patented obnoxious routine with Jackson, but the well-researched MTV VJ plays it cool and manages to get a good interview out of him.
At the beginning, and near the end, after a few minutes of silence, you can hear what they were talking about off-camera.
Recorded at a moment in time when the young Mr. Rotten was routinely getting his head kicked in by skinheads and hassled by the police, this is probably my single favorite bit of punk rock audio ephemera (actually, it’s a tie with the infamous Slits college radio interview, but that’s another blog post…).
What am I talking about? A guest appearance by Johnny Rotten on the Capital Radio program of deep-voiced DJ Tommy Vance. Rotten/Lydon was invited to play records from his own collection and talk about them. He comes across as whip-smart, honest and refreshingly free from much—if any—social programming and religious brainwashing. He discusses the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McClaren (he calls him the fifth member of the band), being educated in a Catholic school he despised and his passionate love of music. There’s no put-on here or any hint of the deliberate obnoxiousness of later years.
Where did you go to school?
[sighs] This poxy Roman Catholic thing. All they done was teach me religion. Didn’t give a damn about your education though. That’s not important is it? Just as long as you go out being a priest.
Which you haven’t become.
Well no. That kind of forcing ideas on you like when you don’t want to know is bound to get the opposite reaction. They don’t let you work it out for yourselves. They tell you you should like it. And that’s why I hate schools. You’re not given a choice. It’s not free.
It’s an inevitable question, and a corny question, but can you think of any better system of educating people?
No I can’t [laugh], I just know that one’s not right. I wouldn’t dare, it’s out of my depth, I have nothing to do with that side of things. I haven’t been to university and studied all the right attitudes, so I don’t know. No I haven’t.
[fades in Doctor Alimantado - ‘Born For A Purpose ‘]
This is it, ‘Born For A Purpose’, right? Now this record, just after I got my brains kicked out, I went home and I played it and there’s a verse which goes, ‘If you have no reason for living, don’t determine my life’. Because the same thing happened to him. He got run over because he was a dread. Very true.
The music he plays is a revelation. Can, some rare soul, Tim Buckley, Peter Hammill (he accuses Bowie of copping the Van Der Graaf Generator front man’s moves), Captain Beefheart (he plays “The Blimp”!), Nico, John Cale and of course, lots of reggae. When Rotten plays the dub b-side by Culture (the track with the lopping bass, barking dogs, crying babies and blaring car horns) you can hear the blueprint for the PiL sound that would come along just a few months later.
It must be said that for a 20-year-old he’s got astonishingly good taste in music and for that time period? Please! This really is an incredible thing to listen to. For the musical education alone, it’s great, but listening to the thoughts of this controversial, brilliant young man at the height of powers is a sublime pleasure.
It even contains the radio commercials from the broadcast. This has been making the rounds for years, but this version is clean and in real stereo, the best I’ve ever heard.
A transcript of the interview and a track listing can be found here.
I did not know this existed, but I’m glad it does, as it has made my day a whole lot brighter!
in 1997, former Public Image Limited drummer Robert Williams brought an action against John Lydon for breach of contract and assault and battery. The suit got played out on daytime TV, in front of the nation, and the one and only Judge Judy. What the hell were they thinking?!
Lydon comes out of this looking good, despite being accused of head-butting Williams at a Japanese restaurant and firing him for no good reason, three days before an American tour. Williams protests that he did not want to share a room with two other musicians while on the tour, and thus was let go.
SPOILERS: Williams loses, and faces a stern telling off from Judy, who advises him that the music industry is full of strange characters unlike any other business, and that perhaps he is in the wrong trade.
Yeah, Judy doesn’t like WIlliams much, you can tell. It looks as if she takes a shine to Lydon though, despite having to calm his boisterousness by telling him to keep quiet on many occasions.
Perhaps this was the moment Lydon’s ambition as a TV presenter was born. Who knows? But it certainly deserves its place in his canon of classic television appearances.
Although I was told by the guy who actually shot it himself that there was, in fact, a videotape of the legendary Public Image Ltd. “riot” show at New York’s Ritz nightclub in 1981, I’ve never seen it bootlegged anywhere. However there were at least a couple of different audio bootlegs of the show. The one I have is like the one pictured above, a 45 rpm record that came inside of a clear plastic sleeve. It’s chaotic, noisy and difficult to tell what’s going on, yet still really interesting.
The set up was simply that PiL were brought in to hastily replace Bow Wow Wow, who’d screwed over the concert promoters at the last minute. PiL, having no time to rehearse, offered to do a “video performance” using the club’s state of the art video projector, standing behind a screen mixing video, DJing with some live playing.
The following is a description of what actually happened that night, May 15, 1981, as told by Ed Carabello, who arranged the gig. The full article is at Perfect Sound Forever.
“So now it was PIL’s turn to go on. The crowd was really cranky and pissed by then, chanting ‘PIL, PIL, PIL!’ I was in the control booth with my headphones, nice and snug in there in the back of the club with a beautiful view of the audience and the stage: I felt like I was manning the Starship Enterprise. We felt that it would be appropriate to have a video of Lisa Yipp interviewing Keith and John in the trashcan she used for the show. Lisa gets on the headphones and says ‘I’m not going out there- they’re rowdy, they’re screaming!’ I told her ‘you’re a professional, go out there and do it.’ So one of the stage crew drags out the trash can she used for her show with her inside and with the lid on top. The audience looked at it like ‘what the hell’ and she pops out like Oscar the Grouch and says ‘HI, I’M LISA YAPP! I’M HERE TO TALK ABOUT PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED!’ So now the crowd’s really pissed and they start chanting louder. She starts to give an introduction about the band and we play this interview she did with Keith. In the interview, he’s saying ‘Rock and roll is dead. This is a new age of performance.’ The crowd had it by then. They turned on Lisa for everything that happened. They pelted her with beer bottles but Lisa was such a trooper that she kept going with her introduction. She fended off the bottles with the lid of the trash can like a gladiator shield. Then she says ‘AND HERE’S PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED!’
The whole band’s behind the screen and Keith starts playing and the drummer’s playing this celtic rhythm to start the show. Then Keith starts playing the record ‘Flowers of Romance.’ He cranked it up and took all the equalization out of it- it sounded so cacaphonous. I started pulsating the parcan lights. It was really eerie and screechy. The crowd just loved it- they fell silent. You just saw the glow and the lights flashing. Keith’s guitar was feeding back, playing off the record that was on and John was just silent throughout this whole thing. He just stood next to Keith. You could only see the silhouettes of them and the projections of them on the screen. The crowd is just loving this, thinking ‘what a great introduction.’
The first song ends and John starts to talk to the audience for the first time. He says ‘sil-ly fuck-ing aud-ience, sil-ly fuck-ing aud-i-ence…’ He’s slowly taunting the audience. Now the crowd’s not quiet anymore. They start chanting ‘raise the screen, raise the screen, raise the screen!’ John’s never been one who likes to be told what to do so he’s chiding the audience. He says what fuckers they were to pay 12 dollars to see this, just taunting the audience. The more they say ‘raise the screen,’ he says ‘we’re not going to raise the fucking screen!’
So the band goes into another song that was this kind of improvisational kind of thing. It seemed to be directed by the drummer! John and Keith were just doing their thing. John made those sounds with his voice, almost like a yodelling type of thing. Keith is doing this screechy, primal sounding thing with his guitar, almost like a jazz number. They go through this and it’s a ten minute number. The crowd is kind of liking it but you could hear them add their two cents by syncopating the rhythm with ‘raise the screen! raise the screen!’ At the end of this, John is really being abusive. So the audience starts pelting the screen with beer bottles. Even in the balconies, they were throwing bottles and some of it was hitting the audience down below. The more that they threw bottles, the more that John would chide them.
The manager of the Ritz comes to me then as I’m the only member of the band that was accessible- everyone else is behind the screen. Jerry says ‘you gotta raise the screen! There’s a riot happening right before our eyes!’ I felt like Nero watching Rome burn, seeing these bottles all over and I never realized how abusive John was to his audience. So I tell Jerry ‘No, I’m not raising it. You should have advertised and said that this wasn’t a concert. It’s a performance art show. That is what it is, that’s what they paid for and that’s what we’re putting on.’ I was guarding the remote control switch, not letting anyone touch it. Jerry kept yelling at me to raise it and I’d yell at him that I wasn’t going to do it.
Then Jerry turns to the crowd and sees something going on as they let out a collective ‘aaah.’ The front of the crowd started pulling on the tarp and I start getting scared because the instruments and amplifier were moving forward like they were going to go into the audience. So Jerry says ‘Are you crazy? Look at that!’ I said ‘you’re probably right.’ So I raised the screen just a little bit, enough to put on the parcans full blast so that we’re blinding the audience with light. For a minute, they shrink back from this huge flash of light. It looked like the screen from ‘Wizard of Oz’ where everyone sees the magical workings of the Wizard, like ‘pay no attention to the PIL behind the screen!’
After the jump, listen to audio recordings of what happened during this infamous performance…
Choice clips of Public Image Limited, performing live at Zeche Bochum, Germany, for Rockpalast in 1983.
John Lydon was 5 years into his PiL experiment, and having either kicked out or split from the band’s original members, was now teamed-up with a band of session musicians (who acquit themselves admirably), and regular drummer Martin Atkins. Lydon seems happy that he is now in charge and gives a great performance of his “greatest hits”, a similar version of which would be released as the double EP record Live in Tokyo.
01. “Public Image”
05. “Flowers of Romance”
08. “Anarchy in the UK”
09. “(This is Not a) Love Song”
10. “Low Life”
11. “Under the House”
12. “Bad Life”
13. “Public Image”
More choice chunks of PiL on ‘Rockpalast’, after the jump…
John Lydon fans have probably heard that Lydon co-starred opposite Harvey Keitel in a 1983 film, variously titled Copkiller, The Order of Death, Corrupt, or as it was later renamed Corrupt Lieutenant (to capitalize on Bad Lieutenant, of course), but they have probably never seen the film.
No surprise no one’s ever seen it as the movie hardly saw any release in any form other than a VHS that came out in the mid-80s and the newer crop of bootleg DVDs you can buy at the 99 Cents Only discount stores. The version you can find there—and yes for 99 cents—has a cover that looks like it wasn’t even made on a computer, but by hand, with scissors, tape and magic makers, that’s how schlocky it is. It’s sourced from the same VHS that came out in the 80s. For sale on Amazon, too, often for as low as a penny with $3.99 postage and handling.
Under whatever title, this film is not, by any method of accounting, what you could call a “good” movie, but it does have one thing to recommend it and that is the then 23-year-old Lydon’s performance as Leo Smith, a wealthy, psychotic “confessor” who falsely confesses to the murders of several cops. His performance is so strange and riveting (and psychotic) that you can’t take your eyes off him. In many ways he’s just doing his standard shtick (and wearing his own clothes!), but it’s simply amazing to me that he wasn’t routinely hired for more psycho and “bad guy” roles after this. What a waste.
The film was shot in Rome—standing in for New York City—and the producers didn’t seem to care if this was obvious. It’s got a decent, nerve-wracking Ennio Morricone soundtrack, but other than Lydon’s charismatic performance, but Copkiller, AKA The Order of Death, AKA Corrupt is pretty sub-par, and at times, a rather tedious affair. Still, I confess that I have watched it at least three times all the way through just for Lydon’s scenes. It’s easy to find on torrent trackers, including the Pirate Bay (the film is public domain in the U.S. at least), and you can stream it in full on Daily Motion. Now see this mythical, but ultimately crappy, movie yourself and you won’t even have to spend 99 cents on it…
After the jump, watch Copkiller, AKA The Order of Death, AKA Corrupt, AKA Corrupt Lieutenant...
Marc has already posted some of this here on DM, but for those who would like to see more, here is the entire Question Time show featuring John Lydon (among others) which went out on BBC1 last Thursday.
We all gathered round the computer monitor to watch this broadcast last week, and I have to admit it felt like real event television. Having someone with the wit and stature (not to mention televisual infamy) of John Lydon sitting as part of a panel on a mainstream political show simply does not happen very often.
It was a mixed blessing. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the pro-drug decriminalisation discussion, which Marc linked to before, and I thought he could have handled that part better. I also found some of his showboating grating, but hey, the guy is a rock legend, so I guess a bit of attention grabbing narcissism is to be expected.
But where Lydon really shone was in the opening few minutes of the show, when the panel were asked about the current banking crisis, and how the UK government intends to investigate the LIBOR scandal. Perfectly cutting through the blame-throwing merry-go-round the politicians were spinning in an attempt to avoid giving any real answers, Lydon was loud and direct, and did what he does best - namely, a physical representation of righteous fury. Below is the entire episode, but the beginning of Question Time is worth watching just to see Lydon put Louise Mensch and her ilk firmly in their place, by reminding them that this is not some abstract argument or phiopsphical discussion. People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake:
John Lydon bumps heads on the legalization of drugs with chick lit author and conservative member of parliament Louise Mensch in this episode of BBC TV show Question Time. Mensch claims class A drugs addled her brain. An accurate self-assessment?
Lydon makes a lot of sense while managing to get Mensch’s knickers in a twist. I can foresee a day when the old punker runs for political office himself.
Who Killed Bill? is a Sex Pistols for Dummies, bargain-bin video, consisting of a mixed collection of original archive news stories (mainly culled from London Weekend Television) and documentary footage, which tells the rise, demise, and return of the legendary band. It’s worth watching for the first fifty minutes or so, before the film veers off into a section on Vivienne Westwood’s fashion, then returning for the Filthy Lucre tour of 1996, and then beyond.
As it’s all original TV archive, there are some classic moments, including the early Janet Street-Porter interviews with the Pistols, and then with Lydon after his spilt, as well as coverage of the public’s fury for the band, and one disgruntled councillor who riffs off a long list of adjectives to describe his distaste for Punk Rock, before finishing with:
“Most of these groups would be improved by sudden death.”
There is also sections on Sid and Nancy the tragic couple and Alex Cox’s film. What’s quite startling is how The Pistols all look so young, and Lydon comes across as a shy, tense, nervous individual who seems ill at ease with his celebrity, describing its affects:
“It ain’t the person who changes, it’s people’s attitude towards them.”
Sadly, no classic tracks, just bogus lift muzak interpretations of a rhythmic Punk guitar. And the Bill of the title is, of course, Bill Grundy, he of the infamous launch-pad, “Filth and Fury” interview.
Britton approached Fielding in 2002 to record extracts from J. G. Ballrd’s novel Crash. At first, Ms. Fielding demurred, but Britton’s persistence paid-off and a thrilling creative partnership began.
Fielding recorded Britton’s La Squab, as well T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, and selection of work by Collette - which Ms. Fielding had originally performed on stage in 1970.
Ms. Fielding is perhaps best known for her role as Valeria, the delightful, kooky vamp to Kenneth Williams’ Dr. Orlando Watt in Carry on Screaming, which tends to greatly over-shadow her legendary career in theater and revue. She was hailed by Noel Coward and Kenneth Tynan as one of theater’s greatest actresses, her performance as Hedda Gabler was described by The Times as “one of the experiences of a lifetime”. She was a versatile comedy actress and had performed in a series of successful comedy revues, including Pieces of Eight (co-starring Kenneth Williams, written by Peter Cook and Harold Pinter), and her celebrated one-woman show at Cook’s Establishment Club. Ms. Fielding also provided the announcer’s voice for The Village, in Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner. And if this weren’t enough, she was adored by Frederico Fellini.
In 2006, Britton invited Fenella to a studio in Rochdale, where she recorded a selection of popular hits - including PiL’s “Rise”, New Order’s “Blue Monday”, Kylie Minogue’s “I Can’t get You Out Of My Head”, and even Robbie Williams’ “Angels” - re-interpreting them through her own unique and distinct style, which Kim Fowley described in 2009:
Her Succulent/Velvet-Blue-Saloon vocal tones made me believe I was having Naked Lunch in a Berlin bubble-bath, next to Marlene Dietrich… Somewhere in Berlin, circa 1928–1932.
Hence, we have a message in an aural bottle, from a 21st Century, Axis Sally/Tokyo Rose: Fenella Fielding.
Bring on the smelling salts! Then give me the Silver-Spoon and Golden Needle, so I can blend into the Wonder-Word Void, where Ms Fielding must surely reside.
Fenella’s delivery of the following titles places me squarely at the foot of her bed, on my knees, in a position of worship!
Find your copy of Fenella Fielding’s The Savoy Sessionshere.
Here then, for your delectation and delight is the beautiful Ms. Fenella Fielding and “Rise”.
Bonus video clip of Fenella in the Studio, plus taster clips, after the jump…
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.