A week after losing his bid to effectively block an upcoming six-part biopic miniseries on the Sex Pistols, frontman John Lydon a.k.a. Johnny Rotten is concerned about how the legacy of the band will be treated in the future.
A High Court judge in the U.K. last week ruled in favor of Lydon's Sex Pistols bandmates — guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook — in their bid to use Sex Pistols music in the series, Pistol, which is based on Jones' 2018 memoir and spearheaded by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle.
In a statement on his official website, Lydon laid out his position on the project. As a driving force behind the band, he complained of a lack of involvement in what is likely to be a major Sex Pistols event. He says the miniseries has been in the works for years, yet he was only alerted to it a few days before it was announced.
"Understandably, John, as the creative force of the Sex Pistols wanted to know how he was going to be portrayed and his musical works were going to be used to lend credibility to the series," the statement reads. "Despite asking for details of the script or screenplay, John still does not know these details."
It continued, noting that Lydon did not seek out the recent court proceedings; he was sued by Jones and Cook and he "took a stand on principle."
Lydon was critical of Jones' memoir for portraying him in a "hostile and unflattering light." He assumes he'll get a similar treatment on screen.
In court, he argued that the Sex Pistols' have never licensed the band's music or imagery without unanimous agreement from all the members. Jones and Cook pointed to a 1998 agreement that stated such decisions can, in fact, be made on a majority rules basis (they are producers on the project and also have approval from bassist Glen Matlock and the estate of late-bassist Sid Vicious).
"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," Lydon's statement continues. "Time will tell."
Jones and Cook told the court they had never evoked the majority rules clause because they wanted to preserve a good relationship with Lydon. The judge upheld the agreement and noted that Lydon had already "signed away his power to control the use of music rights" to publishing and music companies like Warner Chappell Music and BMG.
Lydon concluded his statement by emphasizing to Pistols fans that despite being the lead singer, songwriter, frontman and face of the band, he is not involved in the Pistol miniseries and therefore "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."
Cook told the court that he and Jones "always wanted to work harmoniously" with Lydon, but the singer "can be a difficult character" who likes to feel in control of the band. He suggested that Lydon might feel blindsided by the project because of how the other members have treated him in the past. "Maybe Steve and I have been too nice to John over the years in trying to maintain good relations and that we should have been tougher," Cook said.
Since the Pistol miniseries is "an important personal project for Steve," Cook added that they were hopeful Lydon would duly return the support he's received in the past.