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  • Rotten Johnny's Wood-Fired Pizza Pie

Rotten Johnny's Wood-Fired Pizza Pie

Ratings and reviews, food and ambience, location and contact.

Friendly staff, currently at reduced capacity for seating, quick service, the white pizza was amazing- simple great flavor. The crust is thin and delicious. The sausage pizza was a bit heavy with toppings and the crust couldn’t support it. Use fewer, bigger chunks of sausage... and it would work much better. Wings were good too. Stick to the simple basics and you’ll enjoy. More

rotten johnny

Like the rest of Sedona; it isn’t cheap but the pizza was fantastic. All pizzas are 13 inch thin crust (but not too thin of crust) and they allow you to mix and match pizzas. We chose a half red (marinara sauce) and half white... (garlic and cheese) pizza so we could both be happy. Half a pizza was more than enough. The salads looked amazing and we heard many people talking about how good they were. Things to note: it’s a small place there was often a line waiting so I wouldn’t come here with a group of 6 people. There is only one restroom Plenty of parking available in the rear of the complex even for larger vehicles like RVs; though there is an archway at the entrance so watch your top!! We fit fine at under 10 feet. More

rotten johnny

This was the first time I've visited Rotten Johnny's. I ordered the margherita gluten free crust pizza for take out. I added artichoke hearts to the pizza. This pizza was divine for gluten free. It was different than most margherita pizzas I've had, and seems... there was more cheese on it than I'm used to. It really was more of a cheese pizza with basil added. Something to note in case you have allergies, they don't have dairy free cheese. They were light on the extra topping, and I guess I expected more. It was still amazing pizza, though. It was ready for pick up in a timely way, and they asked if I needed paper plates and napkins, which I didn't expect. Although, I didn't need that I appreciated the option. They were very helpful when I ordered over the phone, and even offered suggestions. I recommend checking their website in advance for any specials. This month they had a happy hour special of $3 off any pizza. More

I would give this 0 stars. To start out with at 6 on a Saturday night they did not have gluten free crust which is fine I don't care my wife likes gluten-free not me the second thing they were out of wings I get... it we're in the middle of a pandemic you might not have your full Supply. But then we got our pizzas absolutely disgusting I do not know how you under cook a pizza and burn the crust I think that is humanly impossible it tasted worse than a frozen pizza the toppings were absolutely awful the pizza was cold and we were standing right there. The toppings were terrible I had to put it in my oven when I got back to Scottsdale for 20 minutes just to make sure that the thing was cooked and hot. The sad thing is my wife went up to Sedona 5 days earlier and said the gluten free pizza was good. Well I am officially done with this place I hope they were just having an off night if not people don't what good pizza is.I will not be back!!! More

I did not like the slow service and how the waitress was "wearing" a mask and exposing his nose on us and the table at all times. She was nice but her nose hanging out the mask make me feel uncomfortable . The service was... slow and we ordered a pizza half peperoni and half sausage, they brought a pizza with something which looked like small sheered sausage and green peppers? We asked the lady who was cleaning the table what was that ingredient and she said she didn't know. She called the waitress to explain us but the kids didn't like it anyways, they only wanted simple pepperoni and sausage and we didn't' have time to order another one and wait. We were in a hurry and told the lady at the register but she sent us to the table to wait for the tab. Will not go back. More

Our first visit to Rotten Johnny's was a success! Stopped here after checking into our condo for the week. It's a small place and the tables were spaced properly for social distancing...thank you! Masks required and also worn by the staff. We noticed the outside... patio and opted to sit out there. Nice atmosphere ! I had a glass of Chianti and started off with a Ceasar salad. Too much for one person, but very good. Only one size of pizza offered (13"). We each wanted something different so we ordered two. This crust is thin like we like, but I like mine crispier. Nonetheless, it was tasty pizza. We inquired and yes, they do make their own sauce and the flour for the dough is imported from Italy. I's a bit pricey to order like we did, but there was plenty left to take away. Service is friendly and we certainly didn't feel rushed. We actually thought the Server forgot us, but it allowed me to "linger" over my Chianti. We would certainly go back. More

Small venue with not much ambiance to speak of. But the wood-fired thin crust pizza is one of the best we've had and glad they're here to serve locals and tourists alike. We go there at least once a month. Can't remember for sure but... one night we went they were discounting the wine. More

We read the reviews and thought this would be a great pie. But we were very disappointed with our order. We called in for pick up and they told us what time to arrive and that was the best part they were spot on. We... were given our bill and we shocked that 2 x 13 inch pizzas were $53.00!!!! We ordered one off of the menu Chicken Gouda Apple Sausage which was $19.00 and one 13 inch that was customized with our own toppings, we didn’t realize that that would be a pizza that cost $34.00. The Apple sausage was a complete disappointment and didn’t get eaten but the pie that cost gold was devoured. Just be warned to only order the pizzas they have on the menu and do not customize it as it is $4.00 per topping choice (or at least that is what we were charged!) More

11-2, M-TH they offer individual cheese pizza and organic salad for $10. The pizza is surprisingly large and more importantly excellent. $2 more got me pepperoni and they did not skimp. My wife and I had two, resulting in an entire pizza for the next... day, and we went in hungry. Unbelievable bargain, but worthless if it weren’t good…but it was great. 2-5 has happy hour deals if you can’t make it by lunch. If I lived here I would go at least once a week. More

We are local and our first time experience was not that great. Tried to call several times (4-5 times) on a Saturday night around 7pm. Nobody ever picked up. Received a voicemail stating to leave message (not possible because mailbox is full) also voicemail refers... to use website to order (this website does not have online ordering capability). Website also stated deliver available. So I gave up, got into the car and drove down to place my order. Upon arrival staff seemed to be very unorganized and absolutely not interested in my experience. Essentially stating that they are working the phones and I was made felt like I was making up the story. Anyhow, placed my order and was told it will take 40min to an hour. Oh well, since I wanted delivery anyhow it was ok. But then I was told no delivery, we are too busy ! So I had to come back after 40min. later and to my disappointment the food was already pretty cold. On a side note, compared to some other restaurants in town, there seemed to be hardly any Covid measures besides a bottle of sanitizer. Staff did not wear any masks and from what was visible in the kitchen, staff did not wear any gloves. It seemed very unusual and not very comforting. About the food. Pepperoni pizza was topped with a generous amount of pepperoni and a few sprinkles of ricotta. Ordered extra ricotta but it might have been mixed up and we got extra pepperoni instead of ricotta ? Anyhow, ingredients seemed to be fresh and of good quality. Crust was o.k. very burnt on the edges and a little overdone. Also tried the wings. Sauce was interesting. Not the typical buffalo wing sauce but more like a spicy bbq type of sauce. Well balanced and not too spicy. Definitely not the typical pizza or wings and fairly good even so it was cold. We will try this place again and give it another chance. Hopefully the experience will be better. More

We recently drove through Sedona on a busy holiday weekend, rather than stop in the crazyness downtown we went on through and found this little gem. The first thing that hits you is the smell of that wonderful pizza baking in the brick oven. They... have many many options and you can devise your own. We had a half white, half red and it was so delicious. The root beer I ordered was served with a frosted mug, what a nice touch. The staff was very attentive but let us enjoy our meal. I would definately eat here again if I am ever in the area. More

A restaurant's success or failure is in large part due to consistency or lack thereof. RJ's has been consistent with their pizza and service on both our visits. Very friendly staff and some of the best pizza in Sedona will have us coming back again... and again. Since our last visit, they now have indoor seating. Social distancing is observed and patrons must wear a mask to enter. Once seated it can be removed. This visit we tried an artichoke and mushroom pie with their "white" sauce. It's my new favorite! Thanks to everyone at RJ's for providing excellent food and service during a very trying time. All with a smile! More

Cute place, lots of choices on the menu. Had the gluten free crust- it was cracker thin and crispy, cooked perfectly. I would highly recommend for an excellent wood fired pizza. We also had Chef John cater a private party, served the most AMAZING food-... paella made fresh onsite...give them a call for your next private party. More

We ordered at RJ's while staying in the neighborhood and what a nice find. Due to their space and the current CDC guidelines, they were not offering dine-in options but it was not a problem to walk around a nicely designed courtyard. The pizza was... served in about 13-15 minutes. The combination of excellent dough, the wood fired oven (high temp smoky goodness), the perfect amount and type of sauce with just a small piece of cheese (feta?) along with our other toppings was fantastic. There are several places to get wood fired pizza in this area. This one is near or at the top of that list! Thanks to all the staff who made us a pizza we cant wait to return to eat again! Hope to see yas again soon. More

What a fun place! We thoroughly enjoyed our pizzas, the atmosphere, and the friendly staff. My husband had the meat lovers pizza (Niman ranch pepperoni and soppressata and Schreiner’s fennel sausage) and I had pancetta (Niman Ranch pancetta and caramelized onions). We devoured the pizzas... because they was so delicious. The hostess was a hoot, telling us stories of when she was a teacher. It was a fun and delicious experience. More

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ROTTEN JOHNNY'S WOOD-FIRED PIZZA PIE, Village of Oak Creek - Menu, Prices & Restaurant Reviews - Tripadvisor

  • Service: 4.5

Order your favorite dishes in seconds!

map marker pin 7000 Arizona 179, Sedona, AZ 86351

Welcome to rotten johnny's, plus wings & sandwiches.

Proudly serving Sedona, AZ - Enjoy your favorite sports events at Rotten Johnny's with 3 large flat-screen TVs. Monday - Sunday 11am - 9pm

View Our Menu food

Cocktails assortment

Review by - Yelp

I got the veggie lover with chicken sausage and it was delicious! The crust had the perfect amount of crisp and the toppings were fresh. I had my dog with me and was able to get seating outside with attentive service.

Pourshia M:

Our server was super friendly and engaging. Being that it was our first first visit she told us all about the menu and let me sample the wines I couldn't decide between. We only ordered pizza which was wood fired thin crust. We opted for half pepperoni for the hubby and the special for me which was FABULOUS...
Loved the pizza here! The gluten-free crust for my white pie with mozzarella cheese, ricotta and arugula all had taste enhanced with their delicious olive oil. The other pizza at our table: artichoke with olives, garlic, mozzarella and artichoke hearts...
Excellent pizza and very friendly people! Order was filled quickly given the busyness of the place and the person who took our order was very friendly and pleasant. The food was simply amazing coal fired pizza and there was a good selection with modifications allowed...
Another long day hiking. Found this place, pizza and a beer! The grilled veggies of the day started us out and could have been the meal. Supreme 13" Pizza was great. Wood fired oven makes a difference. Try this place if you're on the area.

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Becoming Johnny Rotten, When John Lydon Would Rather You Didn’t

Anson Boon went through a grueling process to play the punk star in “Pistol,” even though the original wanted nothing to do with the project.

rotten johnny

By Douglas Greenwood

LONDON — Anson Boon gave playing Johnny Rotten everything he had, including a front tooth.

Boon embodies the punk frontman in “ Pistol ,” a new limited series charting the meteoric rise and fall of Rotten’s band the Sex Pistols, and the tooth was lost recreating one of Rotten’s “most animated performances,” the 22-year-old actor said in a recent interview. “I slammed my face into the microphone by accident.”

Sitting in a north London park, a mile from where Rotten grew up, Boon reeled off a list of other injuries sustained over six months of filming: He fractured his coccyx when he fell over a drum kit; zealous singing dislocated his jaw; he spent several hours a day hunched over to emulate the musician’s posture, and still has back pain from it today.

This roll call is, in some ways, appropriate. Rotten — who now goes by his real name, John Lydon — was one of the pioneers of London’s 1970s punk movement, known for his “divine insanity,” as John Rockwell wrote in The New York Times in 1977, and for overseeing concerts where chairs were thrown and noses bloodied.

“Pistol” — which begins streaming Tuesday on Hulu in the United States and on Disney+ in other territories — is Boon’s most significant screen role to date, following parts onstage in London and in films like Sam Mendes’s “1917.”

Despite the injuries, he “loved the intensity” of playing the Pistols frontman, Boon said. Besides, “It’s not Rotten to give up. I just had to power through,” he added.

This determination was already clear to Danny Boyle, who directs the series, when he saw Boon’s audition tape. One of the scenes Boon presented was Rotten auditioning for the Pistols by singing Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen” into a broken shower head. Boon sang into a toilet brush.

His parents watched the tape, and asked him: “‘Are you sure you can send that? You’ve really gone for it,’” he remembered. Boon thought he would either get the part, or the casting team would never let Boyle see it.

As it turned out, the director loved it. The tape was “repulsive and magnetic at the same time,” Boyle said in a recent phone interview.

Boon realized he needed to “transform into Rotten.” But he only knew the Sex Pistol’s most famous songs — “God Save the Queen” and “Anarchy in the U.K.” — and meeting Lydon wasn’t an option.

The show is based on “Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol,” the autobiography of the guitarist Steve Jones, who hasn’t spoken to Lydon since 2008 . While all the other living members of the band are consultants for “Pistol,” Lydon has disavowed the project from the start. In 2021, the frontman was sued by his former bandmates for refusing to agree to license the band’s music for the show; Lydon lost the case . He declined to be interviewed for this article.

So Boon’s research process was rigorous. He read “Lonely Boy,” as well as “Defying Gravity: Jordan’s Story,” a memoir from Jordan Mooney , a friend of the band who is played in the show by Maisie Williams. Boon also created what he called a “Rotten museum” on his laptop, collecting photos, videos and charts of Rotten’s life to keep track of how he changed, Boon said, from a “shy kid” to a famous punk artist.

“You usually have to tell young actors to be diligent and do their research,” Boyle said. “We had to tell Anson when to stop. He became obsessed with him. He knows more about him than I do.”

For three months, Boon and his co-stars also went through a band camp, led by the British electronic group Underworld, who scored “Pistol.” The hard work seemed to be paying off by February 2021, when Mooney came to see the actors during rehearsals. At her request they sang the Pistols track “Holiday in the Sun.” After they’d finished, Mooney approached Boon: “‘Thank you,’” he remembered her saying. “‘I feel like I’ve just watched the Sex Pistols again.’”

It took a team to get the actors to that point. A dialect coach helped Boon pin down Rotten’s accent and his lisp. A movement instructor helped him emulate Rotten’s posture.

His vocal coach, Anne-Marie Speed, helped raise Boon’s singing voice two octaves to match Rotten’s register, “in the same way you might teach a dancer to do the splits,” Boon said. The process was arduous. Afterward, “I had to have acupuncture in my head because there would be so much pressure buildup,” he said.

Each day on set, Boon would go through an hour and a half of hair and makeup preparation, wearing wigs and brown false teeth, while listening to interviews of Rotten “to get into his voice and his contrarian mentality,” he said.

Boon said he wanted to make sure the world created by Boyle and the show’s screenwriter, Craig Pearce, didn’t feel “like a caricature,” he said. “I had to be surrounded by everything, completely enveloped in it, to make it feel real.”

Toby Wallace, who plays Jones in the series, saw Boon “shifting through these wild and risky choices, and committing to all of them,” he said in a phone interview.

When Kate Winslet played Boon’s mother in the 2019 film “ Blackbird ,” she recognized a similar dedication. “I have never met a young actor who is as unafraid of throwing themselves in at the deep end like Anson does,” Winslet said in an email interview.

The sense of responsibility Boon felt playing Rotten was only “amplified” by the fact Lydon didn’t want to be involved, the actor said. Recently, Lydon has criticized the show on Twitter and in British tabloids , which only “endears him to me even more,” Boon said.

Boyle believes Boon has done Rotten justice. “He’s done his due diligence,” Boyle said. “He believed in himself,” in the same way “John would have.”

For months after filming, Boon would automatically sit pigeon-toed with his friends at the pub, he said. And the show has rubbed off on him in other ways. Through Rotten, “I learned about that punk spirit,” said Boon, who still lives in Peterborough, a medieval city in the east of England.

Does that spirit live on in him still? “I’d certainly like to think so,” Boon said. And just in case, he has that false tooth to remind him.

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1. Johnny Rotten

Johnny Rotten no longer goes by his stage name but his real name, John Lydon, which he has used since he left the group in January 1978.

Following his departure from the Sex Pistols Lydon formed the group Public Image Ltd, or PiL, with Keith Levene, Jah Wobble and Jim Walker.

PiL remained active from 1978 to 1999 and released eight albums together before the group went on a hiatus until 2009. After reforming PiL released two more albums.

Lydon has also released his own solo music and appeared on reality TV show I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in the U.K.

In 2021, Lydon competed on the sixth season of The Masked Singer as Jester. He is very outspoken and has criticized Pistol, which the showrunner and cast have spoken about with Newsweek.

2. Sid Vicious

Sid Vicious was the last member to join the Sex Pistols, but his story is one that doesn't extend much further than the band itself.

The bass guitarist died of a heroin overdose at the age of 21 on February 2, 1979, a day after he was released on bail after becoming the prime suspect in his girlfriend Nancy Spungen's death.

3. Steve Jones

Steve Jones' autobiography Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol is largely the basis for Pistol and he was heavily involved in the creation of the show.

After the Sex Pistols disbanded, Jones and the band's drummer Paul Cook formed another group named The Professionals.

As well as this group, Jones released his own solo albums and he has also worked with the likes of Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan and Thin Lizzy.

Jones is also a successful DJ in his own right and he became a household name with his radio show Jonesy's Jukebox in Los Angeles, which he began in 2004.

  • 'Pistol' Team Want Johnny Rotten to Give the Sex Pistols Biopic a Chance
  • How the Cast of FX's 'Pistol' Compares to the Real-Life Sex Pistols
  • Sex Pistols' John Lydon Compares Contract Dispute to 'Slave Labor'

4. Paul Cook

Paul Cook, like Jones, worked closely with the cast and crew of Pistol to help them recreate the Sex Pistols.

Jacob Slater, who plays Cook, shared with Newsweek that he found it "surreal" to be able to meet and work with his real-life counterpart.

He said: "It was slightly surreal, especially having listened to them kind of growing up and stuff. Like, 'oh, there you are' and now I've got to be you in some way, shape or form.

"But I think you know, we had a really good team sort of coaching us on all the music stuff, and yeah hopefully we ended up doing it justice.

"Also, the actual guys themselves were really helpful and they had a lot of input musically. So [they were] really generous."

5. Glen Matlock

Glen Matlock left the Sex Pistols in 1977, at which point Sid Vicious replaced him as the group's bass guitarist.

Matlock subsequently formed his own bands Rich Kids and the Spectres and also played bass on the albums of several musicians including Iggy Pop and The Damned.

Although he left the Sex Pistols in 1977, Matlock performed with the band again after he, Cook, Jones, and Lydon reunited for several tours between 1996 and 2008.

In April 2022 he filled in for Leigh Foxx on Blondie's tour of the U.K. and U.S.

Pistol is available to watch in full on Hulu now.

Sex Pistols

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

About the writer

Roxy Simons is a Newsweek TV and Film Reporter (SEO), based in London, U.K. Her focus is reporting on the latest TV shows and films, conducting interviews with talent, reporting news and doing deep dives into the biggest hits. She has covered entertainment journalism extensively and specializes in sci-fi and fantasy shows, K-pop and anime. Roxy joined Newsweek in 2021 from MailOnline and had previously worked as a freelance writer for multiple publications including MyM Magazine, the official magazine of MCM Comic Con. She is a graduate of Kingston University and has degrees in both Journalism and Criminology. Languages: English.

You can get in touch with Roxy by emailing [email protected].

To read how Newsweek uses AI as a newsroom tool, Click here.

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Johnny Rotten Breaks Silence on Sex Pistols Court Case: ‘Whatever Disney Does, It Is Doing It Without John’s Approval’

By K.J. Yossman

K.J. Yossman

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John Lydon

Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon has broken his silence over losing a recent court case over use of the band’s music in upcoming FX series ‘Pistol.’

“Pistol” is directed by Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) and has been filming over the course of the pandemic. It is due to air on FX, which is a subsidiary network of The Walt Disney Company.

Lydon, better known as his on-stage persona Johnny Rotten, was sued by his former bandmates – guitarist Steve Cook and drummer Paul Jones – after he vetoed use of the band’s music in the series, which is based on Cook’s memoir “Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol.”

“For more than 23 years the Sex Pistols have operated on the basis of unanimous decision making,” a representative for Lydon posted on the punk singer’s website. “The Disney production is the first time that the unanimous approach has been ignored.”

“It is disappointing that a High Court judge has decided that John Lydon is bound by an undated agreement signed in 1998, which imposes on the Sex Pistols a majority rule arrangement in place of the unanimous decision making process that has been followed for 23 years.”

“Looking forward, there is great uncertainty about what the majority rule approach might do to water down and distort the true history and legacy of the Sex Pistols. Time will tell.”

“Whatever Disney does, it is doing it without John’s involvement or creative approval. John is powerless to prevent any distortion of the true history of the Sex Pistols and whatever results will be at the wish of the majority only.”

The dispute centered around a contract signed in 1998 in which the band agreed that any decisions would be made by the majority vote. However Lydon argued that in practice this had never been followed and that any objection by a band-member – for example when Lydon objected to the Sex Pistols’ music being licensed in an episode of “The Crown” – was adhered to.

Cook and Jones took Lydon to court to enforce the contract and earlier this month a High Court judge found in their favor, stating that Lydon’s evidence was “implausible.”

“I am the lead singer and songwriter, front man, image, the lot, you name it. I put it there. How is that not relevant? It is dumbfounding to me,” Lydon said on his website. “It is so destructive to what the band is and so I fear that the whole project might be extremely negative. How can anyone think that this can proceed without consulting me and deal with my personal life in this, and my issues in this, without any meaningful contact with me before the project is announced to the world. I don’t think there are even words that I can put forward to explain quite how disingenuous this is. As I said in the lyrics of ‘The Order of Death,’ This is what you want, this is what you get…”

In the series, Lydon will be played by Anson Boon (“1917”) while Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“Love Actually”) stars as the band’s erstwhile manager Malcolm McLaren.

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John Lydon and His Rotten Past

By Kory Grow

John Lydon , the man who horrified the world in the late Seventies as Sex Pistols ringleader Johnny Rotten , is in an especially good mood today. When Rolling Stone asks how he’s doing, the 59-year-old singer exclaims, in a dry, British snarl, “I’m alive!”

It’s a fitting reply since today’s subject happens to be the entirety of Lydon’s life. The singer has just published his second memoir, Anger Is an Energy: My Life Uncensored . The 500-page-plus monster covers everything from his youth in London’s Finsbury Park neighborhood, where he survived a bout with meningitis at an early age, to the decades he has spent fronting post-punk experimenters Public Image Ltd. , who are putting out a new record likely this fall. Where his last book – 1994’s Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs – focused mostly on his time in the Pistols, the new tome places his whole life in context in his own, often-hilarious words.

“If anyone is even the slightest bit interested in my life, here’s the research rather than the hearsay and fabrication,” Lydon says of why he wrote it. “It’s really unpleasant when someone else has rewritten your life for you. It’s one of the bad perks of being unpopular and infamous.”

With that, the singer opens up about all the uncensored details of his life so far, including memories of Sid Vicious and Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, as well as “smiling in the face of adversity” with PiL. But perhaps most surprising is just how silly he is about serious things and how he doesn’t harbor ill will over many of the bad experiences he has survived. When Rolling Stone offers to help him set the record straight on his life, he rejoins quickly and wittily: “The records will be circular.”

You had a rough upbringing. What was the hardest part of your early years for you to revisit? When you lose your memory at age seven [from meningitis], it’s pretty disappointing. It took many years for it to come back properly, but that’s where my unwillingness to take a lie from anybody comes from. I so desperately depended on what adults were telling me between then and age 12.

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It’s a bit like re-programming yourself. It is and it’s a bloody strange thing to spend an important part of your childhood analyzing yourself and finding out who you are and what are you. But it hasn’t made me bipolar.

When did your parents begin supporting your music career? Oh, that took some time. I was a naughty boy [ laughs ]. I’m laughing at it now, but at the time it was all a struggle. My mum particularly knew that she could trust that whatever I was going to do was going to be right. They never grasped it initially. “You can’t say those things, Johnny! They’ll lock you up.” [ Laughs ] Well, they tried to lock me up.

When you have the facts on your side, everything’s easier. Yeah. And I was being discussed in the Houses of Parliament. “Were [the Sex Pistols ] traitors or treasonous?” I did a little bit of research on that at the time and they were looking to enforce such an old law that it carried the death penalty. I mean, how far are they going to push this against me? For me at the time, I could see the fun in it. Now people have started to question things like the monarchy. It was very important.

John Lydon and His Rotten Past , Page 1 of 7

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Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten announces death of wife Nora Forster at 80

Forster had been living with Alzheimer's disease for several years.

rotten johnny

Johnny Rotten is mourning the death of his wife, Nora Forster, who had been living with Alzheimer's disease for several years.

The Sex Pistols frontman, whose real name is John Lydon , shared the news of Forster's death at 80 in a statement posted to social media Thursday. Alongside a sweet picture of the two embracing, the statement said, "It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news that Nora Forster - John Lydon's wife of nearly 5 decades - has passed away."

Noting that Lydon had become his wife's "full time carer" in recent years, the statement concluded, "Please respect John's grief and allow him space. Rest in Peace Nora. Heart felt condolences to John from Rambo and all at PiL Official."

Lydon had long been open about his wife's diagnosis, which he first revealed in a 2018 radio interview . At the time, he said she was in the "mid-stages of Alzheimer's."

In the years following, he would continue to discuss Forster's condition and how he was taking care of her.

"I am her full-time carer and I won't let anyone mess up with her head," he told The Mirror in 2020 . "For me the real person is still there. That person I love is still there every minute of every day and that is my life. It's unfortunate that she forgets things, well, don't we all?"

More recently, Lydon appeared on season 6 of The Masked Singer as the Jester. After being unmasked, he revealed on stage that part of his reason for doing the show was to make his wife smile. "We've been married 45 years," he said. "And no sadness, you know, because [we're] at a certain point now in our lives where she's suffering from Alzheimer's, and it's my job as her main protector and love of my life to look after her, and she will love this."

Forster and Lydon married in 1979. She was a publishing heiress, actress, and model, as well as a music promoter who provided financial support to the Sex Pistols, the Slits, and the Clash.

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John Lydon photographed at home in Los Angeles, may 2022

‘I know what it’s like to be frightened’: John Lydon on loneliness, lyrics and life as a Sex Pistol

After 45 years of picking fights, the former Johnny Rotten is squaring up to his ex-bandmates, director Danny Boyle and anyone who disrespects the Queen. But what’s really impressive is his capacity for love

“I always panic,” says an unexpectedly anxious John Lydon . He has had the challenging task of connecting to this video call, all by himself, from his home in California, and he seems surprised that he has managed it. “I’ve got bad eyesight anyway, so I don’t know what I’m looking at.”

The 66-year-old hasn’t entirely lost that love of riling up an audience that he first displayed with the Sex Pistols. Later, I will get a dose of his current pro-Trump, anti-woke outlook. But increasingly, he is a man with a degree of vulnerability laid bare.

It is not just laptop connections he has to contend with. When we speak he is preparing to hit the road with his band Public Image Ltd and the “stage fright, rack of nerves, whatever you want to call it” is starting to bubble up again. “The worry that I will let people down, forget where I am and mug it all up.”

Was he like this in the 70s with the Sex Pistols ?

“Even worse then! It was all totally new to me. But over the years I’ve realised you need to go through it, because you’re charging the batteries up so you can go out and put your head on the guillotine and prepare to be sacrificed. You can’t disguise yourself out there. No, no, no … it’s bare bones, broken heart stuff.”

Nora Forster and John Lydon in 1986.

Lydon has been out of practice as a frontman, spending the pandemic not as a singer but as a carer for his wife, Nora Forster, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2018. He has been married to the German publishing heiress since 1979 and they have lived in Los Angeles for most of the time since. Forster is the mother of Ari Up, the singer from the punk band the Slits who died in 2010; John and Nora became guardians of Up’s twin boys in 2000 after she struggled to bring them up, and later her third child, too.

“Lockdown was soul-destroying for Nora,” says Lydon. “She’s always been very gregarious so she couldn’t understand why nobody was coming around, and the few that did had to have face masks on. It was very bad. But she’s absolutely fine at the moment. My family is with her now; we’ve got a nice little unity going. The whole thing is to never let her feel lonely.”

If these are not words you would expect to hear from the former snarling punk known as Johnny Rotten, then perhaps you weren’t paying close enough attention to his music. “You couldn’t write the songs I do without having some consideration for your fellow human beings. The media at the time viewed my stuff as foul-mouthed this, that and the other … no, no, no, no, it’s all from a point of empathy.”

Lydon has been misunderstood for most of his life. At Catholic school in north London he was forced to write with his weaker right hand, and despite his love of reading and writing, didn’t really envisage an outlet for it. Career avenues for the working-class son of Irish immigrants were limited, to say the least, and he was stifled by both shyness and a bout of meningitis, which wiped out his memory for several years. It wasn’t much of a childhood. “I was ill for most of it, then went from illness to work to the Pistols – no time for fun,” he says.

Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones … the Sex Pistols in San Francisco in 1978.

Was being in the Sex Pistols not fun? In little more than two years Lydon, alongside Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Glen Matlock and, later, Matlock’s replacement Sid Vicious, released punk’s defining album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, caused national uproar by swearing live on the Today television show with Bill Grundy and upended the Queen’s silver jubilee with their anti-national anthem, God Save the Queen. More importantly, they showed an entire generation that they didn’t have to settle for the life mapped out for them. Surely all that must have been a bit of a laugh?

“No, it was too hectic,” says Lydon. “Too much condensed into such a short space of time. And it was very hard dealing with the band because they were so indifferent to me. They didn’t understand what I was doing – or much care.”

Lydon was only 19 when he was spotted on Kings Road in Chelsea wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt with “I hate” scrawled above the band’s name. He was swiftly introduced to the rest of the band by the Pistols’ svengali manager, Malcolm McLaren . Lydon had no masterplan to go into music, but he seized his opportunity when it came. “The band weren’t very capable, which made it easier,” he says with a devilish smirk. “A bum rhyme could go really well with a bum note. But they never paid much attention to the lyrics so I had a free hand.”

Rotten/Lydon with Malcolm McLaren in 1977.

Things are particularly sour at the moment between Lydon and his former Pistols bandmates because of Danny Boyle’s Disney miniseries Pistol , based on Jones’s memoir Lonely Boy . Lydon says he was shut out from the process altogether and, after losing a legal battle over control of the band’s music, is unable to single-handedly veto any of the decisions made under the Sex Pistols name. He is particularly aggrieved that the band that once threatened to bring down the whole establishment are in bed with Disney.

“It’s dead against everything we once stood for. The only thing you’ve got of value in your life, and you’re going to cheapen that because you want an extra fiver? Not much of a human being there.”

The way Lydon tells it, the band kept everything secret from him until they knew he was at his weakest moment looking after Nora. “They picked the right moment to stick the knife in. My weakest point. I couldn’t focus on this nonsense.”

When we speak, Lydon has yet to see any of Pistol beyond the trailer, and that didn’t impress him.

“It’s karaoke, really. The voices, the way they’re talking … it sounds like a bunch of kids from Tring, all discussing the latest calamities! That ain’t it at all! It’s so off.”

Danny Boyle recently told the Guardian : “I don’t want [Lydon] to like it – I want him to attack it.”

“Oh, how fey of him!” Lydon shoots back. “It’s disgusting, really. How can you be truthful when you don’t involve the main frontman who wrote those songs and had to take the hidings and kickings and public admonishments?”

Lydon poses for a Public Image Ltd tour photo in New York, May 1983.

With his inimitable vocal delivery and lyrics that exposed the drudgery of 70s Britain, Lydon was the spark of genius that made the Sex Pistols. But perhaps the most astonishing thing about his career is that during that fertile second half of the decade he changed popular music not once but twice. In 1978, the same year the Pistols split up, he formed Public Image Ltd with Keith Levene, Jah Wobble and Jim Walker, and released their debut album, Public Image: First Issue. A year later came Metal Box, a confounding and uncomfortable collision of glass-shard guitars, dub basslines and cavernous atmospherics that was a founding document for the post-punk revolution.

“And you’d think if you were making a film about a fella like that you’d wanna talk to him,” he says, not letting it go. “But PiL is where the real stuff is. I went into real emotions and the songs became ever so personal, between band and audience. It was about reaching out for the truth … and that’s a hard thing. With PiL, there are songs about the death of my mother, my father … these are tragedies that are really hard to cope with live. But there’s the audience, looking directly into my eyes, telling me they have similar experiences and that the pain is being understood and appreciated for its honesty. It’s why I say PiL is like a church but without religion, without God.”

While Lydon is touring the UK, his brother and sister-in-law will be looking after Nora. He says his own experience of memory loss has helped him to understand her needs. “I know that fear of isolation. I know what it’s like to be completely frightened and not know where you are. And so I know how to deal with it. What frightened me was strangers coming up wanting to hug me. That was terrifying, made the whole thing much more painful. No. I just look in her eyes and she’ll find me when she’s ready and that will bring us back. Don’t be telling them to do this, do that, and don’t ask questions … let them work it out. Never let anyone think they’re alone – it’s the evilest emotion of them all.”

It’s moving listening to him talk about Nora and the things that have made her diagnosis more bearable – the two of them dancing, laughing at old comedy programmes, even binge-viewing ghosthunting shows together (“You know, clowns running around in cellars with torches … hahaha!”). His recent appearance on the US version of The Masked Singer was done for her, too. “I wanted to see if she guessed and she did. She said, ‘Johnny, it’s you!’ It was one of the best experiences of my life: how rewarding to hear her talk that way and keep her from switching off.”

The Sex Pistols at Leeds Polytechnic during their Anarchy Tour, on 6 December 1976.

He adds: “If you just wheel someone into a corner, they lose through sheer sadness. I couldn’t let that happen to Nora – or anybody, really. My whole life I can’t bear the thought of somebody suffering.”

What does he think the secret is to having such a long-lasting relationship?

“Barefaced honesty,” he replies, instantly. “First time we met, we were at each other’s throats, looking for the faults … and we found a great common ground in that because we burst out laughing. The more ferocious the insult, the more fun you get, so we just take it to absurd levels.”

What’s the worst thing she has ever said to him?

“‘Oh, you’re really nice.’ How do you ever live that down?” He bursts out laughing.

We are, of course, speaking around the time of the Queen’s platinum jubilee. Forty-five years ago, Lydon was singing lines such as: “And our figurehead / Is not what she seems.” These days, he professes to be a fan of her majesty – in fact, he says, he always was. “As a human being, as a person.”

Even though God Save the Queen said the exact opposite: “She ain’t no human being”?

“But it was about the office of queen. I resent that, but behind all those screens of state is a person and she’s managed rather bravely and wonderfully for quite some time to contain the excesses of what royalty means. It’s near its end now and the poor old dear is going to die very unhappy, so I send her my love as a person.”

Lydon at home in Los Angeles last month.

To hear him now, it would seem a lot of Lydon’s viewpoints as a Sex Pistol were mischaracterised.

“I couldn’t help it if the press wanted to turn it all into filthy lucre, foul-mouthed yob stuff,” he says. “The giggle was: they hate us, so let them get on with it, eat themselves alive with jealousy and contempt. What was so shocking? Working-class lad has a point of view? It must be stopped!”

Back then, Lydon said the biggest divide in society was between the classes, and he credits punk with breaking it down. Nowadays, he says, the real divide is all about politics. “There’s no understanding, no empathy for another point of view. No room for being an individual. The internet has made people so volatile! That’s why it’s easy for me to say ‘I like Trump’, and see how that kicks off.”

For the past few years Lydon has disappointed some fans with his enthusiasm for the former president, even going as far to don a red Make America Great Again cap during interviews. So was he just doing it to shock?

“There’s that element, yeah,” he admits. “I’d be a fool not to find the fun in it.” But he also seems to genuinely admire Trump, reeling off a list of his achievements, most of which you might charitably describe as being “up for debate”, before our call unexpectedly dies and I can’t find a way to get him back on.

When we catch up by phone a few days later, I almost wish I hadn’t. It’s not that Lydon’s shy about his opinions, or that he has lost the ability to deliver them with withering disdain. It is just that they are largely incoherent.

So, yes, Lydon still backs Trump. But he dismisses our own Trumpian prime minister as a “Humpty Dumpty teddy bear” who can’t get anything done. Then he does another about-turn by hitting a rather Johnsonesque note about loving flag waving and his issues with “BLM and the woke and all of that – making problems that really were almost semi-non-existent”.

After all that, he then says he has no issue at all with the fight for transgender rights – “fantastic. If as an adult that’s what you’ve come to the conclusion of, then there’s every chance you’re right” – before following up with an amusing but completely misguided story from his own youth. “I remember going to the doctor as a teenager because one of my nipples, the left one, was a bit swollen, and I panicked, I thought I was growing tits. And I think now how, in the hands of a wrong doctor, that might have changed my future … I could have been Joan Rotten by misdiagnosis!”

I start to tell him that’s not quite how it works, but he’s off on various tangents now: Joe Biden’s cognitive decline, why we mustn’t remove racist passages from old literature, his hatred of the 90s era of “girl power” … This, I guess, is your classic Johnny Rotten persona, winding up his audience, an act as old as time for him. It seems pointless to get into an argument about any of it. Instead, I think about how this follow-up call was made possible in the first place: Lydon is speaking from his bedroom, where he has set up a video monitor so he can keep an eye on Nora. “She doesn’t understand who I’m talking to when I’m holding a phone, you see,” he says, before adding: “It’s not as bad as you would think. I don’t like to mope. I’m just happy she’s there and bubbling away and her natural personality is shining through.”

This, I suspect, is where the real John Lydon resides. The rest, as they say, is just noise.

PiL are currently on tour in the UK – for details and tickets go to PiLOfficial.com . Find out more about John Lydon’s NFT project at JohnLydon.com

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Wife of former Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Lydon dies aged 80

The 67-year-old singer, also known by his stage name Johnny Rotten, was his wife's full-time carer and recently attempted to represent Ireland at Eurovision with a song dedicated to her.

rotten johnny

Sky News reporter @niamhielynch

Thursday 6 April 2023 20:50, UK

File photo dated 1/7/2008 of John Lydon with wife Nora Forster arriving for the screening of the film 'Sex Pistols Live From Brixton Academy' at The Screen on The Green, Islington, north London. Nora has died aged 80 after living with Alzheimer's disease for several years. The 67-year-old former Sex Pistols frontman, also known by his stage name Johnny Rotten, was his wife's full-time carer following the diagnosis and raised awareness of the condition through his recent attempt to represent Irel

Nora Forster, the wife of former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon, has died aged 80 after living with Alzheimer's disease in recent years. 

The 67-year-old singer, also known by his stage name Johnny Rotten, was his wife's full-time carer after her diagnosis.

He recently attempted to represent Ireland at this year's Eurovision with a song dedicated to Ms Forster with his band Public Image Ltd (PiL).

John Lydon

In a statement posted on Lydon's Twitter, he said: "It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news that Nora Forster - John Lydon 's wife of nearly five decades - has passed away.

"Nora had been living with Alzheimer's for several years. In which time John had become her full-time carer.

"Please respect John's grief and allow him space.

"Rest in Peace Nora. Heartfelt condolences to John from Rambo and all at PiL Official."

More on John Lydon

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Eurovision: Former Sex Pistols' frontman John Lydon fails to win place representing Ireland

John Lydon performs at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California, in 2010

Eurovision: John Lydon's Public Image Ltd in bid to represent Ireland at song contest

Eurovision: John Lydon's Public Image Ltd in the running to represent Ireland at song contest

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The couple first met in 1975 at the late artist Malcolm McLaren's clothing shop that he owned with Vivienne Westwood in London.

Lydon and Ms Forster, the daughter of wealthy German publisher Franz Karl Maier, were together for 45 years.

She was also the mother of the late musician Ari-Up, best known as a member of the English punk rock band the Slits, who died in 2010 after a "serious illness".

Lydon's Eurovision bid song was named Hawaii in a tribute to a holiday they took together.

File photo dated 1/7/2008 of John Lydon with wife Nora Forster kiss during the screening of the film 'Sex Pistols Live From Brixton Academy' at The Screen on The Green, Islington, north London. Nora has died aged 80 after living with Alzheimer's disease for several years. The 67-year-old former Sex Pistols frontman, also known by his stage name Johnny Rotten, was his wife's full-time carer following the diagnosis and raised awareness of the condition through his recent attempt to represent Irela

"As I say in the song, old journeys end and some begin again, but this is the beginning of a new journey with us," he said during his Eurovision campaign.

"And, oddly enough, as bad as Alzheimer's is, there are great moments of tenderness between us. And I tried to capture that in the song, and so it's not all waiting for the Grim Reaper.

"I can see her personality in her eyes, she lets me know that it's the communication skills that are letting her down.

John Lydon (second right) with his PiL bandmates in Dublin

"And I'm just blessed really that I can be there and catch on to that and maybe share that information as this progresses, as we know it will, to its ultimate sad demise.

"Pass something useful on to other people. It's a subject now that I'm so firmly tied up and wrapped up and connected to that I care now for all of its victims. Particularly to spouses that have to endure this."

In the UK, Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia , which is the name for a group of symptoms associated with an ongoing decline of brain function.

The condition can affect memory, thinking skills and other cognitive functions, according to the NHS.

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rotten johnny

The chief executive at Dementia UK, Hilda Hayo, offered her condolences to Lydon and his family.

"John has raised a huge amount of awareness around the impact that a diagnosis of Alzheimer's can have through his work in recent months. Through sharing his personal experience, he will no doubt have helped others seek the support they need," she said.

"The death of someone close is one of the most difficult experiences many of us will ever face, and we hope he receives the support he needs while he is grieving.

"We urge families affected by dementia to reach out to our specialist helpline."

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High Times Greats: A Rotten Interview With Johnny Lydon

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John Lydon turns 64 on January 31. To pay tribute, we’re republishing Ann Bardach’s interview with the punk legend from the November, 1980 edition of High Times .

Johnny Lydon almost single-handedly defined the “punk ” in punk rock. Not the textbook version coined by Marsh and Bangs in Creem over a decade ago to describe a certain late-’60s recording sound that has once again become fashionable, but the nightmare visions of brain-damaged apocalypse kids bent on demolishing everything and everyone in their path. He was the vile and repulsive Johnny Rotten, lead vocalist of England’s most cursed and celebrated Sex Pistols. Rotten was too good a name for the astounding character he created in this guise, as he built one of the most sensational images in rock history. His antistardom, right down to the green teeth he cherished as a symbol of his foulness, became his calling card as he cursed out every rock band, TV commentator, record-company employee and virtually every reporter he ever met.

The Sex Pistols disintegrated in one awesome, vulgar swoop after their brief, aborted 1978 U.S. tour when bassist Sid Vicious died of an overdose. Rotten reverted to his given name, John Lydon, and formed Public Image Ltd. His character hasn’t changed much in exchanges with the press, as witnessed by his recent battle with Tom Snyder on the “Tomorrow” show. It took Ann Bardach, whose coverage of the Vicious murder case gave her an international reputation, to get Lydon talking. The results are pretty interesting…

High Times: Can you describe the transition you went through, from being the ultimate media-contrived hype product, to being an artist, performer—a musician who calls the shots himself.

Lydon: I’m not an artist or musician. And I definitely don’t perform.

High Times: We go from the ultrahype of the Sex Pistols to—

Lydon: Well, I got nauseous. I had enough of that. Just a farce.

High Times: Are you unhappy with Virgin Records?

Lydon: Yes. I’m totally unhappy with all record companies. They’re bullshit. They’re liars—third-rate frauds. They’ve no fucking sense of anything, no perception. They don’t want to take risks. Which is why their crummy industry is falling to pieces. I mean, they’re frequently moaning about album sales dropping. Why shouldn’t they be. They’re just selling the same old dirge forever and a day. In the last 15 years music has changed practically not at all. How many retreads of Chuck Berry are still going on? All those long-haired, platform-booted, flared-jeaned, fucking imbeciles. That still goes on. And that’s fucking old as the hills. God! Grandad Rock!

High Times: I was going to ask you about that—how you felt about all the renaissance of music from the ’50s and ’60s.

Lydon: It’s vile! I don’t need history. I can go to a museum for that, thank you very much. And they did it so much better the first time around anyway. They made their mistakes. And there’s people desperately trying to do the same thing.

High Times: How do you like the revivals of two-tone groups, girl groups, and all the ’50s music? Do you see it as inspired reinterpretation, or just regurgitation?

Lydon: Just farcical imitation. Well, I mean, we all know there’s going to be a psychedelic revival, [laughs] right? It’s so obvious, it just has to happen.

High Times: Are you looking forward to that?

Lydon: No! It is going to be the worst. Woodstock, part two. Woodshack.

High Times: But you don’t see reggae, which you like, as being part of the ’50s revivalist music movement.

Lydon: I don’t mind reggae, I don’t mind a bit of jazz, I don’t mind classical, I don’t mind cocktail music or cabaret. I don’t mind rock in its place. I don’t mind anything. It’s fun. Just so long as they don’t pretend it’s the be-all, end-all of the universe. Which is the way it seems to be.

High Times: The Clash?

Lydon: The clap.

High Times: The clap is the Clash?

Lydon: Same thing: They’re both a disease.

High Times: You told a story once in a piece in the New Musical Express , where Joe Strummer comes over to your flat in London and shows you a book in which Bernie Rhodes [the Clash’s first manager] had underlined passages for him.

Lydon: Yeah, Bernie used to give them Marxist theories and stuff like that. Books on it. And he’d underline certain lines and sentences. Then they’d write about it.

High Times: Did you get to see any of the titles of these books?

Lydon: Oh, I don’t really know about that dreariness. He [Strummer] was a wank for even considering it. “Here Joe write a song about this, I’ve underlined it for you.” Such trash. What can you do?

High Times: Why do you think Strummer was interested in Bernie Rhodes’s Marxist theories?

Lydon: I don’t think he was. I don’t think he knew what he was getting involved in. If you look at the Clash and its various succession of managers, you’d notice that they’ve adopted the styles given to them by those managers. They are very easily influenced people. They don’t seem to have direction of their own. I don’t like that.

High Times: You don’t see any value in their songs?

Lydon: No. None at all. Completely ineffectual. Waste of time. Politics was always a definite thing to avoid.

High Times: Are most of your friends musicians?

Lydon: No. None of them. No one in the band is a musician. We all hate that term.

High Times: Excuse me. What are you?

Lydon: I’m not sure. Something close to factory workers. Machinists. Skilled operators.

High Times: Do you work for a living?

Lydon: Uh huh. Who doesn’t? Mind you, I’d love not to work for a living.

High Times: You wouldn’t want to be or live like Mick Jagger?

Lydon: Oh, god, no! It’s not doing him much good, is it?

High Times: Yet you’re very pragmatic

Lydon: What’s that?

High Times: Sensible.

Lydon: Yes. I’m definitely not an intellectual. I keep getting asked, am I an intellectual or am I a poet. And all that dreariness. All those labels just reek of boredom. Bookworming. Ooooh! Ugh!

High Times: In other words, you think of an intellectual as being a poser, like Joe Strummer leafing through Bernie Rhodes’s crib notes on dialectic materialism.

Lydon: Dia- what?

High Times: Marxist theory.

Lydon: All right, you backed me into a corner. I give up. [Laughs]

High Times: What college did you go to?

Lydon: Kingsway, CFE. The College of Formal Education.

High Times: And shortly thereafter, you ran into Bernie Rhodes?

Lydon: Wobble!

High Times: Oh you met [Jah] Wobble [Public Image’s bassist] at college, that’s right. And then one day you’re in the Sex Store and Bernie Rhodes comes in and sees you miming to records.

Lydon: No. I was insulting Malcolm McLaren when Bernie was there.

High Times: McLaren turns around and says, “You too can be a star!”?

Lydon: Malcolm never spoke to me.

High Times: What did Bernie say?

Lydon: “You’re unpleasant enough to be in a band.”

High Times: What did you say?

Lydon: I just did it. To me it was just a huge joke. I really didn’t give a shit, and it struck me as being mighty humorous that someone could want me as a singer.

High Times: Never occurred to you to be in a rock band?

Lydon: Never. You see, I’ve always hated rock music and that was my chance to really wreck it.

High Times: You hated rock music. Then what kind of music did you listen to?

Lydon: Anything but. Anything but that long-haired dreariness.

High Times: Name a few. I’m trying to remember what was before long-haired dreariness. Short-haired dreariness?

Lydon: Brylcreem dreariness!

High Times: So you stopped listening after Buddy Holly?

Lydon: I never listened to even that. I hated it. Besides, I was too young for that.

High Times: You never listened to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones or the Who?

Lydon: Oh, no. I couldn’t bear them.

High Times: When you were 14 years old, you never listened to them?

Lydon: I did not like them. No. It’s so detached. They were in a dream world. Just didn’t want to know about them.

High Times: You said in an interview that you would like to change the music industry and “this time [you] would do it right,” as opposed to the Sex Pistols. You said “it would take years.” When you said “change the music industry,” how?

Lydon: Well, it was a bit of a rash statement, I admit. That I could change the entire industry in one fell swoop. But I’m making a bash at it I could only fail.

High Times: How would you do it? You still need Warner Brothers here, which is one of the largest multinationals.

Lydon: They are seen here merely to distribute our records, nothing else.

High Times: They’re lackeys then, for the Public Image?

Lydon: Yes. And they don’t like us treating them like this. But that’s just too bad.

High Times: Did you ever hear that Warner Brothers is the mob?

Lydon: Uh huh. I’ve been told that. They must be curious then, how we got the gall to say “shove it.”

High Times: Public Image taking on the biggest mob in the music world?

Lydon: Horrible fun. And all we can do is lose, right? That is if the worst comes. Oh, we won’t lose. I’ve no intention of losing. I never back a dead horse. I look a bit like a horse as well, don’t I? [Sings:] “I’m getting near the winning post, get out the way.”

High Times: So, you were always listening to American black music?

Lydon: Yeah. Tamber what from the early skin days. We were skin heads when all the hippies in the universities were going to see the Who. It meant nothing to us.

High Times: When Malcolm McLaren said, “You too can be a rock and roll star,” you said “why not”?

Lydon: It was never put like that. I had no faith in the Pistols that amounted to anything other than a damp fart. The prospect looked pretty grim. Oh, it was something to do, and then it got so huge. I saw the humor in it for a while, and then it crawled up inside my ass. I felt embarrassed about being alive. We just fell apart when we got to America. Too much of everything.

High Times: Do you think Malcolm McLaren was ever honest, at any point?

Lydon: No, and he had very little to do with the Pistols as well. That was what was the farce of it. He was always a remote, distant figure.

High Times: But he made a lot of money.

Lydon: Uh huh. He wasn’t too remote about that. He sent me the tax bills too. That was real good of him. And when the Pistols broke up, they left me stranded in fucking L.A. Sorry—San Francisco. No ticket, no plane ticket and 20 dollars and no hotel. So there I was in a hotel lobby with a suitcase [laughs] like a fool. Destitute, as usual. Fucking poncing money off journalists.

High Times: You came back to New York though?

Lydon: Yeah, I had to.

High Times: Have you talked to Malcolm McLaren since then?

Lydon: [Snickers.] Words wouldn’t be passed between us, I’ll tell you that. Quick-firing metal projectiles would be aimed at his direction. He doesn’t deserve to live. I feel very righteous about that one.

High Times: After the Pistols broke up, and Sid had this murder rap—

Lydon: Uh huh. It was so dismal.

High Times: Malcolm was in town [New York]—

Lydon: Yeah, see how Malcolm helped him. He got one hell of a failure of a lawyer [F. Lee Bailey]. I never got through. Well, Sid wanted to talk to me. But his old dear never put me through.

High Times: His who?

Lydon: His mother. She’s a bitch.

High Times: Wasn’t she arrested?

Lydon: In jail?

High Times: I heard she got busted for smuggling dope back.

Lydon: Yeah, she did. I don’t know what’s happened about it.

High Times: I heard she got busted again a few months ago.

Lydon: Probably, that’s highly likely with her. Right irresponsible human being. I remember she bought him a pack of needles once for his birthday. With substance in white packets. Never liked to be quoted on that one.

High Times: What birthday was that?

Lydon: This was years ago.

High Times: When you were still in the band or when you were in school?

Lydon: Before then. You see, he’d cleaned himself up.

High Times: My understanding is that Malcolm was trying to manage a murder.

Lydon: That’s how I understood it. Yeah, that’s how it appeared to me.

High Times: Malcolm was very cooperative with all the American reporters, who knew nothing.

Lydon: Our Malcolm loves dealing with people who don’t know nothing. That way he can shine.

High Times: Where do you think Sid went wrong? At what point did he go from being the kid you knew in school, a fairly nice bloke, to a total disaster?

Lydon: He believed in his own publicity. He fell for it, hook, line and sinker. He was called Vicious because he was such a wanker. Really, he couldn’t fight his way out of a crisp bag. He’d lose all the time.

High Times: Then why did you ask him to join the band and fire Glen Matlock?

Lydon: Because Matlock was into the Beatles. [Laughs.] He had nice melodies. Sid was into no melody whatsoever, which struck me as a damn good right conclusion. I mean, so what if he couldn’t play when he joined—Wobble couldn’t play when we [PiL] started. He learned as he went along. That’s what we all do.

High Times: Yeah, that’s what you did. You began the Sex Pistols as a joke and you learned to sing. Then you started to love it.

Lydon: I perfected the joke and it backfired, I must admit. Slightly like scrambled egg on face. Sunny side up.

High Times: You say Sid went wrong when he started believing his own publicity, as opposed to doing a lot of junk.

Lydon: Maybe that was the reason. He just lacked humor. Took it all too serious. I don’t think it deserves a lot of sentences.

High Times: Even posthumously?

Lydon: Well, heaven! Pretty wanky way to go.

High Times: By a drug overdose?

Lydon: Yeah. So dreary and typical, isn’t it?

High Times: Was he using junk before he joined the Pistols?

Lydon: No. Speed then.

High Times: Which you approve of?

Lydon: I don’t approve of nothing.

High Times: I mean favor.

Lydon: No, I wouldn’t advise anyone to take any kind of chemical.

High Times: Who do you think brought him into the realm of junk, Nancy Spungen?

Lydon: Yes. There was that horrible movement from New York to London, and they brought their dirty culture with them.

High Times: And that was the beginning of the end for Sid?

Lydon: He was impressed by the decadence of it all. God! So dreary. Too many Lou Reed albums I blame it on.

High Times: Do you think there are drugs that are useful?

Lydon: No. They just put off what you’ve got to face sooner or later: blandness.

High Times: Do you know that book written by Julie Burchill and Tony Parson, The Boy Looked at Johnny , that has your photo on its cover?

Lydon: Uh huh.

High Times: Burchill and Parsons advocate speed. About it being a useful drug. There’s an entire chapter on the benefits of amphetamines.

Lydon: Well, that’s just stupidity.

High Times: They credit some of your genius to your intake of amphetamine.

Lydon: [Laughs.] That’s a typical journalistic approach. I mean, that’s all they are, toss-bag journalists, desperately trying to get in on something.

High Times: They came up with a very interesting unknown scientific “fact” that amphetamine raises the IQ.

Lydon: I doubt if that’s true.

High Times: Did they ever discuss this with you?

Lydon: Tony Parsons I’ve met briefly, for about two minutes. He was shaking like a leaf. Snorting lines. He just looked like a pathetic character to me. He didn’t strike me as having a high IQ.

High Times: So you don’t see any utilitarian value in using drugs?

Lydon: Each to his own. It’s just as simple as that. I would never advise anyone to do anything.

High Times: You say you can’t see anything remotely political like the Clash.

Lydon: No. What I really mean is naive political. I mean, they’re spouting these theories and not knowing what the fuck they’re talking about. And that I find offensive.

High Times: Because they don’t have the academic muscle to personally read it and figure it out themselves.

Lydon: They don’t even read all of it. It’s just what they’re shown. They’re very narrow-minded. Go into it totally or not at all. I can’t bear people not knowing things totally. Just spouting out ignorant, half-assed statements that don’t mean fuck-all. I mean, you’ve got to understand what you’re talking about.

High Times: But say in your case you sang “Anarchy in the U.K.”

Lydon: That’s not political.

High Times: Yes it is.

Lydon: How? Anarchy is a mind game for the middle class. It doesn’t mean anything.

High Times: It was very threatening to the Labor government at the time.

Lydon: I never thought so.

High Times: Threatening enough to get you bruised.

Lydon: No. That was “God Save the Queen.” That’s what got me bruised.

High Times: For all intents and purposes, it was political in that it frightened the authorities to action. It brought the whole police department down on you.

Lydon: So what. They’re still coming down on me. I just got raided recently.

High Times: Where?

Lydon: Oh, they’ve been around quite a lot, the police. They kicked the house to pieces. And then they go off and wait for another month. In the last couple of months I’ve been raided on suspicion of bomb making, of hiding runaway juveniles and, last week, for drugs. They’ve raided me for drugs and found nothing . Not even one marijuana seed, and it made me very happy. They done me instead for a gas canister. I have to put the case forward until I get back to England or else I wouldn’t have got my visa.

High Times: So essentially you had to plead guilty. Which you would not have done if you didn’t need a visa.

Lydon: So this might be my last time in the U.S. of A.

High Times: As a kid, what were the charges against you?

Lydon: Oh, silly things. Minor burglaries, jaywalking. Out on the streets late at night.

High Times: Does it make you feel paranoid?

Lydon: No. It’s just a way of life. It’s always been there and it just gets worse.

High Times: It strikes me that you take things very calm, one at a time.

Lydon: You have to, God! I couldn’t be one of those people who sit down and think, “God, if I go out I’ll get arrested.” That would be terrible. Wow.

High Times: Do you have any prophecies for the world for the next ten years?

Lydon: We’re damn lucky if there will be a next ten years.

High Times: What do you see yourself doing in the next ten years should the holocaust not happen?

Lydon: Being very embarrassed.

High Times: How old are you now?

Lydon: I’m 24.

High Times: You’ll be 34.

Lydon: Oh. I’ll have to move over for the next big mouth. It won’t be me ranting and raving then, will it? I’ll be too old then and past it.

High Times: Have you seen any of the Pistol movies, like The Great Rock ’n ’ Roll Swindle ?

Lydon: I’ve seen the Swindle , yeah.

High Times: How about that?

Lydon: What about it? Really, it’s not worth spending money on. It’s very dreary. It’s just Malcolm’s ego, isn’t it.

High Times: Were you ever enthusiastic about making that movie?

Lydon: Never. I had nothing to do with that film.

High Times: How about D.O.A. ?

Lydon: What’s that?

High Times: A movie about the Sex Pistols.

Lydon: No. I don’t know about that.

High Times: You say you read newspapers and magazines, which ones?

Lydon: All magazines. I like Omni.

High Times: What else do you like?

Lydon: Well, any kind of glossy magazine.

High Times: Do you read Rolling Stone ?

Lydon: No. That’s so boring. Oh God! What in earth do they got in mind with that rag? That’s showing its age.

High Times: Do you think people will rely upon drugs and sex more as we approach impending nuclear war?

Lydon: When I get my seven-minute warning, I’m going to go pretty over the top, I think. Do it all in one glorious swoop. Everything all at once. I have the supply ready here, put that way.

High Times: What’s your favorite day or night?

Lydon: Monday morning. I watch others go to work.

High Times: Do you think you’ll always want to live in England?

Lydon: Yeah.

High Times: Does your family live in London?

Lydon: I’ve got family in England, Ireland and Canada.

High Times: Are you close with your family?

Lydon: Umhum. There’s three others. All boys. They are all younger.

High Times: Oh, you’re the first one?

Lydon: [Whispers.] Yes. I was the experiment. Then they decided to have some more.

High Times: Do you want to have children at some time?

Lydon: No, definitely not.

High Times: Why not?

Lydon: One of me is quite enough.

High Times: Can you envision yourself as an old man?

Lydon: No. I can’t conceive myself being old.

High Times: No old age and no progeny.

Lydon: What?

High Times: Children.

Lydon: No. Well, I’m happy. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else. I couldn’t cope with kids. It would drive me nuts. I’m totally irresponsible. Me as daddy. I’d be rotten.

High Times: I don’t believe that.

Lydon: I’d like to get married to Dolly Parton, though. Maybe I’d consider it then. “Dolly Rotten?” God! What a glorious name.

High Times: Were you religious?

High Times: But you were raised Catholic?

Lydon: Yeah, that’s enough to make you not religious.

High Times: But you know what they say about Catholic boys: always an altar boy.

Lydon: I never thought of that. I was almost an altar boy when I was young. But the priest who wanted me died. Definitely an act of God.

High Times: How did you feel about getting scooped up by the National Front a few years ago?

Lydon: Scooped up! They hate me. They always did. Right from the start. Yes, right from the very beginning. The National Front, just after Anarchy was recorded, had their magazine, Spearhead , with its front page a picture of a gorilla and underneath written “Johnny Rotten—the White N*gger.” That’s their opinion of me and they can go shove themselves.

High Times: Did you ever receive any phone threats from them?

Lydon: Oh yeah, lots. But if people mean to do you harm, they don’t let you know about it first.

High Times: How do you stay sane?

Lydon: I drink permanently.

High Times: Is that the only way?

Lydon: It lets me stay asleep a lot. What’s wrong with being asleep on and off? I suppose there’s not too much to get up for, is there?

High Times: Do you get a lot of groupies?

Lydon: No. No one wants to know us. If we do get any, they’re fat and ugly. We get a lot of loonies: lunatics and dangerous people. Like one who commits suicide in your presence.

High Times: Has anyone ever done that?

Lydon: Tried to.

High Times: What did you do?

Lydon: Push them out the front door. “Don’t do it here. Away!”

High Times: One last question: Do you have any advice for our world leaders?

Lydon: Drop dead! Move over!

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Hello stoner fam

Johnny Rotten created his own personality, fashion, and singing from artists like Richard Hell and Iggy Pop, all were performing years before Sex Pistols. Really, punk was just England copying the New York and Detroit hard rock scene of the early seventies, New York especially when it came to fashion and attitude. The only difference is Sex Pistol had a mainstream impact, Richard Hell and Iggy at the time were underground.

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2022, Biography/Drama, 1h 59m

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Johnny   photos.

After a court order sends him to work at a hospice, an ex-criminal strikes up a friendship with a compassionate priest who changes his life.

Genre: Biography, Drama

Original Language: Polish

Director: Daniel Jaroszek

Producer: Robert Kijak

Writer: Maciej Kraszewski

Release Date (Streaming): Mar 23, 2023

Runtime: 1h 59m

Distributor: Netflix

Production Co: Visual Work Rebel Media, Moderator Inwestycje, Next Film, TVN, Festival Group, Warmia Resort

Cast & Crew

Dawid Ogrodnik

Ksiądz Jan Kaczkowski

Piotr Trojan

Patryk Galewski

Magdalena Czerwinska

Helena Kaczkowska

Maria Pakulnis

Marta Stalmierska

Witold Dębicki

Józef "Ziuk" Kaczkowski

Michał Kaleta

Filip Kaczkowski

Joachim Lamża

Roman Zalewski

Beata Zygarlicka

Grażyna Bułka

Jakub Nosiadek

Daniel Jaroszek

Maciej Kraszewski


Robert Kijak

Marcin Perzyna

Executive Producer

Agnieszka Porzezinska

Michał Dąbal


Maciej Kozlowski

Film Editing

Michał Kush

Original Music

Karolina Raczka

Production Design

Zofia Komasa

Costume Design

Konrad Bugaj

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John Lydon

  • Born January 31 , 1956 · London, England, UK
  • Birth name John Joseph Lydon
  • Johnny Rotten
  • Height 5′ 8″ (1.73 m)
  • John Joseph Lydon, more popularly known by his former stage name, Johnny Rotten, is an English singer, songwriter and author. He is best known as the frontman of the British punk band Sex Pistols , one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music. The band originally lasted from 1975 to 1978, but had various revivals during the 1990s and 2000s. John is also the lead singer of the avant-garde post-punk band Public Image Ltd (PiL), which he founded and fronted from 1978 to 1993, and again since 2009. Known for his no-nonsense way of talking, rebellious image and fashion style, Lydon was seen as a figurehead of the burgeoning punk movement in the 1970s, and, having been a prominent figure in British popular culture for over four decades, in 2002 he was named among the 100 Greatest Britons following a UK-wide vote. - IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous
  • Spouse Nora Forster (1979 - April 6, 2023) (her death)
  • Children Ari Up
  • Spiked hair and sneer
  • Known for his lack of fear expressing his opinion
  • He was supposed to be on Pan American World Airways Flight 103 from London's Heathrow International Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport on December 21, 1988, but missed the flight because his wife Nora, hadn't packed in time. The plane crashed over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland when a terrorist bomb exploded in the forward cargo hold, killing all 259 passengers and crew.
  • Lydon was knifed by offended Royalists after the Sex Pistols' classic anti-monarchy song "God Save The Queen" was released, resulting in the permanent loss of feeling in the middle two fingers of his left hand. He has played the guitar right-handed ever since.
  • The whole "Johnny Rotten" persona was indicated as a stage act in "The Filth & the Fury," the considerably more flattering of two documentaries on the Sex Pistols. Johnny Lydon was said to be a sickly, quiet, bookish type before he joined the group and the documentary showed that many aspects of his stage persona were inspired directly by Laurence Olivier's performance in the film "Richard III": the hunched back, the half-sneer/half-grin, the loud clothes, the tendency to shout insults at any "passersby."
  • He openly supported Donald Trump in the 2020 US presidential election, one of very few celebrities to do so.
  • Sufferred Spinal Meningitis as a child.
  • On acting: "I hated it. It was too long, too stressful; two minutes' working day and 12 hours' fear and nausea. And no improvising; you're just a hired robot. That might be all right for people that don't have any kind of personality, but if you have anything going for your own self, it's very, very frustrating that way."
  • On being on tour with the other Sex Pistols again: "They don't seem to relate to the world around them. They're stuck in this 1976 vibe. It's very peculiar. It was a bit like walking around with a museum attached to you. But then, I'm perverse enough to enjoy that."
  • On Malcolm Mclaren: "I'm not aware of him anymore. I haven't been for quite a long time."
  • On his relationship with his father: "We never ever spoke, really, seriously at all until the day I left home. And from then on in, it's been friendship total."
  • On body piercing: "It's just a fad now. About as much content in it as Prodigy."

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