5 Things You May Not Have Known About John Lydon

Thursday, January 31, 2019


    Today we celebrate the birthday of John Joseph Lydon, better known to punk fans as Johnny Rotten, frontman for the Sex Pistols. In commemoration of the occasion, we’ve put together a list of five things about Lydon that might have flown under your radar, but even if you’ve somehow heard about some of them over the years, keep it to yourself and let the others enjoy the education.

        1. He once contributed backing vocals to a song by Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians.

    When Brickell and her band released their 1990 album GHOST OF A DOG, there was a very surprising name in the credits: John Lydon. How did such an unlikely collaboration come about? Through producer Tony Berg, apparently, if Lydon’s memory can be trusted. “It was hilarious and great and odd and weird,” he told the A.V. Club of the experience. “I mean, I’d have to blend my voice to hers, and that was something I hadn’t really thought about doing at all, so it was very much like starting from scratch in the Pistols all over again, because it was very uncharted territory for me. But somehow or the other, a really nice sounding record came out. And she’s a lovely, wonderful person.”

        2. Chrissie Hynde once asked him to marry her.

    No, there wasn’t a romance between the soon-to-be Pretenders frontwoman and the then-frontman of the Sex Pistols: Hynde was on the verge of being kicked out of the UK because of her lack of visa, so she tried to talk Lydon into marrying her, thereby solving her problem by making her legal. Alas (or not), the Lydon-Hynde nuptials never came to pass, nor did her back-up plan to become Mrs. Sid Vicious, but somehow or other, she managed to make things work until she found success as a recording artist in her own right.

        3. He once co-starred in a film with Harvey Keitel.

    Actually, the film in question – Corrupt, a.k.a. Cop Killer – is relatively well-known amongst punk fans, and there was a time when it was startlingly easy and inexpensive to procure, having fallen out of copyright somehow and landing in $1.00 DVD bins. It wasn’t widely released, however, so there’s a good chance you’ve never seen it, and if you’re a Lydon fan or a Keitel fan, it’s definitely a movie worth checking out.

        4. He was supposed to be on the plane that terrorists blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland.

    Pan-American World Airways Flight 103 left from London’s Heathrow International Airport without Lydon, owing to the fact that Lydon’s wife hadn’t packed in time. If that wasn’t the best mistake she ever made, it’s got to be in the top three.

        5. A few years back, he found himself a nice side gig as a wildlife program host.

    The idea of Johnny Rotten hosting a Discovery Channel show is hard to wrap one’s head around, but it’s true: in the UK, Lydon found a whole new degree of fame with programs like John Lydon Goes Ape and John Lydon’s Mega Bugs. Oh, well, in the grand scheme of things, it’s no nuttier than the knowledge that Rat Scabies of The Damned wrote a book about the Holy Grail.