John Lydon: Exclusive chat with former Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten ahead of his Blackpool show

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John Lydon – aka Johnny Rotten – changed the face of music and sparked a cultural revolution.

The legendary frontman and lyricist of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd has caused his fair share of political earthquakes during a unique and extraordinary career.

From the mischievous glint which still twinkles brightly in his eyes, you sense he’s relished every single moment. And still does.

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On June 2, the London-born singer will visit Blackpool’s Winter Gardens as part of his spoken word tour, I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right.

John Lydon is bringing his I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right tour to Blackpool John Lydon is bringing his I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right tour to Blackpool
John Lydon is bringing his I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right tour to Blackpool | Contributed

He will talk about how he sees life, his unique and extraordinary career, and take audience questions.

Ahead of his show, reporter Sean Gleaves sat down for a chat with Lydon to find out what people can expect.

Take a look at what he had to say below:

Can you tell me a little bit about the I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right tour?

It’s a question and answer format. There’s no script. It will be a delightful ball of confusion, but that’s kind of what the audience expects and I will deliver.

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I will answer the questions to the best of my abilities, but if you come with a political manifesto in the back of your skull, forget it! You’re in the wrong building.

John Lydon – aka Johnny Rotten – changed the face of music and sparked a cultural revolution (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)John Lydon – aka Johnny Rotten – changed the face of music and sparked a cultural revolution (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
John Lydon – aka Johnny Rotten – changed the face of music and sparked a cultural revolution (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images) | Getty Images

This is Norman Wisdom does philosophy.

I expect a great deal of fun. These things go off really well. People are good, and then there’s that very excellent British way of just finding humour in everything.

You did a similar tour in 2021. What made you want to do it again?

It’ll be like that again but with a great deal of grief in the back of my mind, which for me might be a real good soul-solving problem.

To lose my wife Nora Forster and my best friend John Rambo Stevens in the same time span, that’s very much more than I was expecting to handle.

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I’m coming round to that, but obviously my nights are lonely as hell without my lovely Nora, and my mornings too without Rambo on the phone saying: ‘Get up you lazy b*****d, do some work.’

I really miss their personalities. I really try to share that with the audience so that they understand why they were so important to me.

Nora Forster, John's wife, has died aged 80 after living with Alzheimer’s disease for several years (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)Nora Forster, John's wife, has died aged 80 after living with Alzheimer’s disease for several years (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
Nora Forster, John's wife, has died aged 80 after living with Alzheimer’s disease for several years (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival) | Noam Galai/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

The tour was booked beforehand by Mr Rambo, which is why it is so extreme. It’s 44 dates in 48 days. That’s a lot of work that is.

If he was there with me he’d have really helped me get through that, but I’m all on my own now so I have to take up the challenge.

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It’s only right. It’s what Nora and him would expect from me.

They’d be furious if I cancelled, because there are as many people that are going to be in these crowds that matter very closely to me as there are not, and I can’t forget them or cast them aside in moments of self-pity and abject laziness.

What questions have you been asked that really stick in your mind?

Any question is a good question. I’m never short of words because I’m basing everything on my true experiences.

To me I think of my life as not that intriguing, so I’m always flabbergasted when people really want to know things that I’d almost forgotten.

John  will talk about how he sees life, his unique and extraordinary career, and take audience questions (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)John  will talk about how he sees life, his unique and extraordinary career, and take audience questions (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
John will talk about how he sees life, his unique and extraordinary career, and take audience questions (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival) | Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

It’s terrific because those memories come flooding back.

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What’s it like interacting with fans that have followed you for so long?

It’s very good. It’s exceptional. It’s nice to know that I’ve had a positive influence on so many people’s lives rather than a negative one.

I think they appreciate the fact that I’ve stuck to my guns. I don’t run around with a fake image and I don’t tell lies.

I do as I want, I’ve gone against the establishment almost continuously, I’m now completely independent of the record companies, so nobody can put a gag on me.

That’s the best way, and so by example I’ve shown that it can be done and you can be successful and sort yourself out financially just by telling it as it is, which should’ve been always the motto and manifesto that we all adhere to.

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Public Image Ltd (PiL) released its 11th studio End of World in 2023. Have you got anything planned for the future?

Rambo was such an important person to me and to PiL. He was the chief operator and instigator, and it’s chaos to me now at the moment trying to pick up the business pieces.

The man had an incredible memory, and so he didn’t tend to write things down because he found it unnecessary.

The day before he died we were moaning about Arsenal as per usual on the weekend, and on the Sunday he had an aneurysm and died in a matter of hours.

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Public Image Ltd (PiL) released its 11th studio End of World in 2023Public Image Ltd (PiL) released its 11th studio End of World in 2023
Public Image Ltd (PiL) released its 11th studio End of World in 2023 | Contributed

So he didn’t see it coming. Apparently it was hereditary, so now we’ve all got to deal with that, but I’m going to try.

I’m in constant contact with Lu, Bruce our drummer is having situations of his own, and Scott has got to stop drinking so much!

They’re very good friends of mine. We’re very close. We all have incredibly different backgrounds and beliefs.

We’re absolutely not supposed to get on, but it’s just not the truth. You can find friendship regardless of those auxiliary moments.

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What memories do you have of Blackpool?

I’ve got fond memories of Blackpool. The most famous one was singing into Cilla Black’s tights.

We played on that old cinema-type venue right by the pier on the front boardwalk. I don’t know if it’s still there.

It was the weekend and Cilla Black was off. She was doing a play or whatever it is she does, and I went into her dressing room and found a pair of her tights thrown over a chair.

So, I went ‘appropriations time’ and I put them over the microphone and sang through her tights. It was fantastic.

Tickets for the Blackpool show can be bought at https://www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/events/john-lydon/.

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