Before I move on to other topics, I wanted to just mention a few other brief thoughts that I had while reading John Lydon’s (Johnny Rotten) book Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs:
1. I found the level of violence directed at the Sex Pistols to be interesting. They were under constant threat of violence, especially after releasing their single God Save the Queen. Lydon was actually stabbed outside of a studio. Imagine that being directed at a band now. Imagine any young band with a sizable following actually taking any stances that got under people’s skin now, without just doing something for pure shock value. I’m sure if I thought long and hard I could come up with someone, but the pickings are slim. There are bands that seem to have provocative politics, but they are delivered in such a way as to not be very obvious or effective.
2. I found it interesting that although the Johnny Rotten character came authentically out of John Lydon’s own personality, Lydon claims that certain things he did were based on Richard III, especially Laurence Oliver’s portrayal. There were also other things that became signatures of Lydon that were just because of pure luck, or bad luck. Most people remember the stare that Lydon had on stage. This was due to poor eyesight that he acquired because he had meningitis as a child.
3. Steve Jones is a very underrated guitar player. His tone is amazing and his solos are very memorable. One of my favorite guitar solos ever is his solo on EMI. It’s amazingly simple, the kind of thing that a beginning guitar player could learn, but the sound of it and the phrasing make it seem as if an explosion is going off.
4. Also notice that for being a so called punk band, the Sex Pistols tempo is often quite slow, comparatively to other punk music. Anarchy in the U.K. is actually mid tempo. It’s sense of danger comes from the lyrics, the singing, and the attitude of the playing.
5. A great album like Never Mind the Bollocks could only come about, at least most of the time, through a true band. This is due to a group of individuals that had different influences that complemented each other. None of the members ever created an album that sounded just like it on their own. It was the different personalities coming together at that one place and time. Often people in bands, or any collaborative effort, don’t take into account how even the lesser members of a project can influence something in a positive way. It is often the differences between people that create a wider palate and make a work more interesting than any one person can. Anyone that thinks the Sex Pistols were the creation of McLaren are way off and the music alone is the proof.