The October issue of SPIN includes a feature about 1977 and the ol’ punk explosion. Of course, Johnny Lydon’s dusted off to say a few things. And, just as of course, he makes a few headline-baiting statements, attempting to define “punk” according to his questionable criteria. It’s the classic bait and bitch — he likes something we wouldn’t expect him to like (here, it’s Journey) then goes on to diss folks you’d assume he felt sympathetic to, or whatever. Pretty vacant.

Here’s Johnny…


The Ramones to me were never really punk; they were closer to Status Quo … The record company wanted to shove us into that CBGB’s world of New York, but that’s a world of foolishness…

I never liked any of the Clash stuff, though … And I never considered the Clash punk. Joe [Strummer] was alright. He was very sweet-natured. But he came from a different music background. He’d already tried the pub-band circuit, so he hopped onto punk.

He calls “Smells Like Teen Spirit” “stunning,” but also terms Nirvana “a kind of record company ploy, to rephrase punk in a manufacturable way.” Wait, did you forget about Malcolm McLaren?

To prove punk’s not dead, it’s just sorta old and crusty, check out some footage of Lydon from the BBC’s Juke Box Jury circa 1979.

Also, remember, the band is reuniting to play a one-off gig to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Never Mind The Bollocks. Reunions are pretty punk! As is Judge Judy (seriously).

Comments (32)
  1. S. Jerusalem  |   Posted on Sep 24th, 2007 0

    I’ll be the first one out of the gate to say that Johnny Rotten, and the Sex Pistols, are overrated. “Nevermind The Bullocks” isn’t really that good of an album outside of the “singles,” and since that’s the only original recording the Sex Pistols ever did, it’s the only thing we can judge them sonically by. The Clash and the Ramones were miles away better than the Pistols, probably because they were more than just an image concocted by Malcolm McLaren.

    As for Rotten, he’s pretty much a joke at this point. In the past 30 years, what has he done of any note? An appearance on Judge Judy? A crusty old “Filthy Lucre” tour? Whoring himself out to the “Bodog Battle of the Bands”? Let’s face it: Sid Vicious had a better career path.

  2. doug  |   Posted on Sep 24th, 2007 0

    i met him at the opening of an anglophile exhibit at the met. he’s actually really nice in person

  3. blogs like stereogum get breathlessly excited when old turds like the police reform, then can’t wait to get the knives out for johnny rotten. i. give. up.

  4. Big Bird  |   Posted on Sep 24th, 2007 0

    eww…. What’s that on his shoulder? Bird Poop?

  5. nick  |   Posted on Sep 24th, 2007 0

    this shit isn’t nearly as punk as stereogum posting a pissed jeans video.

  6. Tony G  |   Posted on Sep 24th, 2007 0

    Stereogum has completely lost it today. Fake Meg sex tape, now this.

    Fuck off and goodbye.

  7. johnny reb  |   Posted on Sep 24th, 2007 0

    Good lord. Are you guys really this stupid? To take anything Lydon says seriously? He’s taking the piss, so to speak. I think he’s actually a pretty funny guy, in his own way. But you guys clearly don’t get the joke. At least this piece didn’t contain one of those insufferable ‘n’s, or the run-into-the-ground expression “sun-kissed”. Seriously, do you guys really think the overly cutesy style of writing that you impose on your audience is clever? It’s like this blog has turned into an indie “Tiger Beat”.

  8. Joe  |   Posted on Sep 24th, 2007 0

    “Sid Vicious had a better career path”.

    Have you ever heard any of PIL’s records? You’re embarrassing yourself. The Pistols are not overrated. They were a great band that said what they had to say and got out. More people should follow their lead. The reunions might be ridiculous but they are straight up cash grabs. Lydon said that in no uncertain terms when they reformed the first time. At least he’s honest enough to tell the fans.

    Johnny Reb is right. Lydon lives to stir the pot. He’s extremely intelligent and opinionated. Reacting to comments like this with anything else but a laugh is dumb. As far as judging his career, he could have given up on making music after PIL released Metal Box and he would still be one of the most important musical figures of the last thirty years.

  9. Finchmeister  |   Posted on Sep 24th, 2007 0

    I X3 you Stereogum. Today has been a wonderful day. Don’t listen to these kids.

  10. God, he was so good looking back in the day. And they aren’t overrated because they created the scene in the first place. They got the credit they deserved.

  11. Actually, Johnny can say what he wants and get away with he because he IS Johnny Rotton. He’s got the cred…nevermind the lack of great talent or an amazing catalogue of songs. Doesn’t matter, it’s all moot, he IS johnny rotton. the pistols at their peak WERE the peak of punk. They invented and perfected the idea of a crazy/anything goes rock show…sloppy, out of tune…but still full of tons of energy n balls n FUN. They invented the punk attitude…the anger, the apathy, the energy.

    SO…hey, even if he disses this n that, so what? It’s like grampa who saved the world in ww2 spouting off about crazy shit too…you let it slide… he’s earned it;) (and i actually couldnt agree more about the clash/ramones thing…they were never true punk.)

  12. Matt  |   Posted on Sep 24th, 2007 0

    Not to defend the 00′s version of Johnny Rotten, but the first commenter asked what he’s done since the Pistols. He was PiL. i’d always count on Johnny Rotten to be a dick. I’d be upset for him to turn around and disclose any earnest feeling towards the press. He hates the press. Whereas someone like Bob Dylan would toy with journalists. Lydon just straight up fucks them. And the Bodog thing is inexcusable. hes a fag for that career choice.

  13. Charlie  |   Posted on Sep 24th, 2007 0

    Don’t forget, that “Open Up” song Johnny did with Leftfield like 12 years ago was pretty sweet.

  14. matt  |   Posted on Sep 25th, 2007 0

    lydon rules

  15. Peregrine  |   Posted on Sep 25th, 2007 0

    “Sid Vicious had a better career path.”

    But wait, Vicious ran off with some groupie and OD’ed on heroin and…Oh, I see what you did there.

  16. filchyboy  |   Posted on Sep 25th, 2007 0
  17. nnnnark  |   Posted on Sep 25th, 2007 0

    why does anyone care? the sex pistols were created to sell clothes. their music sukcs. j. rotten is just a creation of the machine he ridicules. this man would be a nobody and should be a nobody. he’s the clay aiken of punk…

  18. Mikey T  |   Posted on Sep 25th, 2007 0

    You guy’s screwed the pooch on the Meg White tape. And you give no apologies… Fuck off, and goodbye. Your sponsors should be saying the same as well!

  19. Eugene  |   Posted on Sep 25th, 2007 0

    Dave W, you’ve obviously never heard of The Stooges or the New York Dolls.

  20. Or maybe i just didn’t wanna spend an hour typing:D haha…yeah ok, fine the stooges were there first blah blah…and KINDA the dolls …although, barf, shiver. Let me rephrase then, they perfected punk in a crazy new apathatic, angry and very ENGLISH angsty way. As if that’s a newsflash to anyone haha. We’ve ALL seen the rock movies n shit, the point is, the pistols mattered a TON. Even without much skill they were amazing, specially the effect they had and continue to have. So yeah, like i said Johnny can say whatever he wants…and SO can Iggy… n all other originators.

    SHIT i’d wish i’d hear MORE slagging off of music today by the old boys. N btw, where the FUCK were the Dave Grohls (of the ‘newer boys’ w/cred) of the world ETC when that shitty ass rock/rap shit was going on a few years back?? Or NOW with all the emo shit? Kinda odd innit. At least Reznor n Manson did that Starfuckers video…but…wayyy too little.

  21. Dw Dunphy  |   Posted on Sep 25th, 2007 0

    Moving the “punk” status aside, The Pistols were a band. When a band needs to make a little money or to freshen up back catalog sales, they reunite. I’m not saying I like the practice because it takes the goodwill of the fans and wrings it out for some more cash. Nonetheless, it’s a common practice and not something to be too alarmed about.

    As for Lydon, he created his archetype by being, literally, “Rotten”. What’s he going to do now? Apologize and go on about his lapses of memory or frequent bouts of incontinence? Worse, is he going to be on Dr. Phil any time soon? When you paint yourself in a corner, you work the room that’s left.

    Still, a part of me wishes that PiL’s “Happy?” was as well-remembered as “Bollocks”. Now that was a good album.


  22. mrs  |   Posted on Sep 26th, 2007 0

    John Lydon is hilarious, and actually quite bright. Anyone who read his fantastic autobiography Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs likely understands this.

    Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one. Lydon’s got one, as does Stereogum.

  23. The Other Matthew  |   Posted on Sep 26th, 2007 0

    @Ass Hat

    That’s because The Police are actually good.

  24. Sarah  |   Posted on Sep 28th, 2007 0

    John Lydon is just bril! I love him because he continuously acts in ways that I don’t have the guts to. He is super-important for his contributions to society; he championed freedom of expression on behalf of us all. Obviously he is not the only person on the planet to do so, but people who think his contributions are overrated don’t grasp how hard it was too look and act different in the 1970′s. Punk (and “indie”) rock is safe now but it was very dangerous when it started and that is why kids loved it and still love it. It still feels dangerous but it really isn’t anymore(i.e. Hot Topic).

  25. iburl  |   Posted on Sep 28th, 2007 0

    The RAMONES were GODS compared to this prick. Sex Pistols and Johnny Rotten Lydon are footnotes. People will still be listening to the Ramones in 50 years. Today people listen to the ONE Sex Pistols album for a few giggles and then put it away again for 10 years. Ramones invented punk rock, the Sex Pistols were just Malcom McLaren’s whores, doing a puppet show for the money. PiL was a lame joke too.

  26. mrs  |   Posted on Sep 28th, 2007 0

    People will be listening to Cutting Crew in 50 years, too.

  27. The Ramones were GODS?!?! Duuude, they played the SAME 2 minute song w/slightly different cord changes, at the SAME speed…for like 10-15 years! haha…’good’ maybe, ‘gods??’ mmm no.

  28. Liam  |   Posted on Sep 30th, 2007 0

    PiL>>>>>>>>>>>>>sex pistols.

  29. fortune  |   Posted on Oct 4th, 2007 0

    jesus. it’s as if you fucking kids don’t like 3 chord shit. why don’t you youtube the dallas show or any other and realize that you’re just bummed out you weren’t born yet.

    but then again i’m the only jingo de lunch fan too i’m sure.

    eat it hipsters, that shit is way better than your band.



  30. blah  |   Posted on Oct 31st, 2007 0

    to all the fucking retards who are saying the sex pistols were created by malcom mclaren to sell clothes, you are total dipshits. most of the great clothes that shop sold were rip off’s of clothes john wore that vivienne copied. paul and steve created the band, met glen through malcom and then found john. malcom was just there. he did nothing but an incredibly shit job at managing them. and by the way, what john did to the music industry is uncomparable to ANYTHING. and ide bet a million none of you dickfaces would have the guts to do or say anything close to what he did. shove it up your dimented asses.

    add if you have any debate, fuckheads.

    ps. ramones are boring shit

  31. Jacky  |   Posted on Jul 24th, 2009 0

    I agree with blah, the sex pistols practically created the whole hardcore image, and if they had not , the misfits and nirvana wouldn’t have exsisted and so wouldn’t have screamo.Things need insparation and roots from somewhere,this is where they got it.I have to say that iburl can go fuck his (ungodly) RAMONES which he whorships so fucking much that he’d get plastic surgery to look like a chick so he could screw them.The sex pistols albums album is damn good and all the songs on it are top notch so well done lydon…clap..clap…. Oh and Sid vicious chose his own fate, hey johnny didn’t do drugs, common sense it’s called!
    So I think JR has rightfully earned the right to fuck around.
    Oh and P.S the ramones and the clash wernt true punk, they were never close as hardcore as the SEx pistols and were poppy/rocky groups, punk is about mayhem and being rebelious! And the sex pistols summed that up pretty nicely in their record and the seventies . They had guts. Did the ramones and the clash? NO! They were tryhard posers who were commercial! Oh and by the way IGGY PoP rules, so does jim morrison! R.I.P

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