Former Sex Pistols Suing Johnny Rotten Over TV Show Song Rights
Two former Sex Pistols members are suing singer Johnny Rotten over whether the influential punk band's songs should appear in the upcoming Pistol, an FX series portraying the English rockers' 1970s ascent.
As reported by the Associated Press on Thursday (July 15), the legal quarrel arises from the Sex Pistols alumni's stalemate on the issue. Guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook want to include real Sex Pistols recordings in the Danny Boyle-directed show. Rotten, whose real name is John Lydon, does not.
Lydon, also the creative force behind Public Image Ltd, made his stance abundantly clear in April when he called the imminent retelling a "disgrace." He went on to say, "I think that's the most disrespectful shit I've ever had to endure. I mean, they went to the point to hire an actor to play me, but what's the actor working on? Certainly not my character. It can't go anywhere else [but court]."
True to his word, the matter has indeed landed on the bench. But Edmund Cullen, a lawyer for Jones and Cook, argued in London's High Court on Thursday that a 1998 band agreement gives licensing request decisions to all former Sex Pistols under a "majority rule basis." Cullen also said Jones and Cook have support from the band's former bassist Glen Matlock and the estate of late member Sid Vicious.
But Lydon has rejected requests to use the group's songs in Pistol. "It isn't going to happen," the singer said of the show overall in April. "Not without a huge, enormous fucking fight. I'm Johnny, you know, and when you interfere with my business, you're going to get the bitter end of my business as a result."
Cullen added this week that the Jones and Cook currently have a "brittle and fractious" relationship with Lydon. Mark Cunningham, Lydon's lawyer, argued in court that Pistol portrays the singer "in a hostile and unflattering light," the series apparently at one point describing him as "the annoying little brat with the great bone structure who's always asking for more."
FX revealed the first on-set images from the show in March. Lydon is portrayed by Anson Boon (Shadowplay, The Winter Lake), Jones by Toby Wallace (Babyteeth), Cook by Jacob Slater, Matlock by Christian Lees (Sun Records) and Vicious by Louis Partridge (Enola Holmes, Medici). The six-episode series finds its basis in Jones' 2018 memoir, Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol. It's due to air sometime next year.