Rhino Factoids: John Lydon on Judge Judy
There are plenty of things that would probably qualify as being more punk rock than appearing on a syndicated court show, but there was still something kind of cool when - 18 years ago today - John Lydon found himself fighting a claim of lost wages and civil battery filed against him by drummer Robert Williams on Judge Judy.
Judge Judith Sheindlin had only been on the air for about a year when Lydon appeared on her show, and while it might not have been a real sweeps-week spectacular to have the former frontman of the Sex Pistols in her courtroom, it certainly brought a slightly unique demographic into her viewership for the first time.
The case, such as it was, involved Williams - hired for Lydon's tour behind his solo album, Psycho's Path - claiming that there had been an occasion just before the first tour date, at the House of Blues in New Orleans when fisticuffs broke out. There were three cancelled shows after that particular evening, and when the tour picked up again, it was with a new drummer behind the kit. Williams claimed that he was fired and demanded $5,000 in lost wages. Lydon, meanwhile, said that Williams had actually quit the band four days before the tour even began.
It's clear from the get-go that Lydon is used to being allow to start a rant and finish it, but Judge Judy isn't having it. She lets him go at first, but then she shuts him down and asks him to respect her in her courtroom, and when she asks him if she's disrespected him, he concedes that she has not, and he quiets down. Later, when she catches Lydon using his hand to mime someone talking and snaps at him to stop being disrespectful, he instantly stops with the mockery and pretends to be adjusting his sleeve, after which he looks up and says, “Oh, sorry,” and then briefly bows his head. You have to admit, it's kind of entertaining to see Lydon in a position where he's outmatched or, at the very least, willing to concede that he's not the one in charge.
There doesn't seem to be any complete version of Lydon's appearance on Judge Judy, but here's the longest version that's floating around YouTube at the moment:
Since it was, in fact, 18 years ago, this would seem to be past the point of having to say “spoiler alert,” but in case you haven't heard, Lydon came out victorious, with Judge Judy telling Williams that if he's looking for a career that's well-organized and done in a orderly fashion, he'd better find another line of work. After winning the case, Lydon announced, “Now I'm going to get on with my life. We're going after the real killers!”
Nice one, Johnny. Nothing says “late '90s” quite like O.J. Simpson jokes.