AUDIO: No Sex Pistols 40th reunion, says John 'Rotten' Lydon ahead of Sheffield O2 Academy PiL show

Punk rock legend John 'Rotten' Lydon - as he now likes to be called  - has ruled out a Sex Pistols reunion to celebrate the 40th anniversary next year of their iconic album.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 6th June 2016, 9:07 pm
Updated Monday, 6th June 2016, 10:43 pm
John 'Rotten' Lydon and his band PiL plays Sheffield O2 Academy on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.
John 'Rotten' Lydon and his band PiL plays Sheffield O2 Academy on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.

He says he would rather remain friends with old band members than go to war.

And the God Save The Queen hit maker, who brings his band Public Image Ltd (PiL) to Sheffield's O2 Academy on Tuesday night - June 7, 2016 - won't be accepting any offers of a knighthood.

Sign up to our daily Buxton Advertiser Today newsletter

Despite a campaign by fans to get one, for the man who inspired everyone to pick up a microphone and become a star, he says he doesn't want to be Sir Johnny Rotten.

"I don't want it. No. I'm John. I've got no grandiose ideas about myself. I don't mind pageantry but I don't want to be involved personally in pomp and circumstance and self aggrandisement. No thank you," he says bluntly.

"This is the problem I had at school and being thrown out because I wouldn't call anybody Sir. Not ever. Now, I have the attitude I'll call the dustbin man Sir, 'morning Sir', because I think they earn it. But the privileged classes. No f***ing way."

He's just turned 60 but John remains as outspoken, honest and sincere as anyone in the busines.

For years this complex anti-hero has felt misjudged. He says he's no monster and has proved he's no pop clown, revealing himself as an experimental music genius on record and bearing his soul, in his lyrics and autobiography, Anger Is My Energy - My Life Uncensored.

He's very much a man of his word. On his last visit to Sheffield to talk about his book, at the city's Off he Shelf book festival he promised to return.

And he's back with his band PiL, itself almost 40 years old, plugging tenth studio album What The World Needs Now, at Sheffield O2 Academy next Tuesday, June 7.

John said: "It will be high energy and 100 per cent commitment, honesty and integrity in the songs. I'm someone who deliberately turned away from becoming an idiot pop star and I've managed to survive quite well, without those trappings.

"I can still walk down to the local bleeding supermarket and buy my butter. It' very important to me. I need that sense of freedom and movement. I'm not one for hiding behind electric fences in huge estates, I'm a social creature. My songs are about my peoples, my family, friends and culture. I won't let that be taken away from me.

"I'll play quit a few songs off the new album. The way the album was recorded was very nearly what you would call live. We like to do that. That's what Public Image is, it's live performance. It sings of the vinyl and CD."

But there won't be any crowd-pleasing Sex Pistols classics such as Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the UK, God Save the Queen or Holidays in the Sun.

He doesn't feel a need to play them anymore and there certainly won't be a Sex Pistols reunion of surviving members to mark four decades next year since the release of chart-topper Never Mind the B******s. Here's The Sex Pistols.

"I don't want to. That's something I did with the lads. I don't ever like to step outside of that and take that away from them," he said.

"Every now and then I used to chuck in Anarchy for a laugh. But that's it. I don't want to disrespect them too much.

"I tell you, as a band, we were just always arguing and squabbling in them days. Now that we're not working together we can become friends again. I do like Paul Cook a lot and I like Steve and I want to view them as my friends.

"But as soon as we are together in any working relationship in turns into war. And I would rather have my friends, than making people bounce up and down to Never Mind The B******s Part 2.

In 2007 the Sex Pistoles re-recorded Pretty Vacant for a computer game, because the original master was damaged, then did some live dates on the back of it.

John says: "That's gone now. The last conversation I had with Paul, we decided it was just separating us and why bother? Paul comes to PiL gigs, we're mates and I want that more than anything.

"I want to remember them as friends.

"Musically I've gone off into far higher things, I think. I can't keep repeating the angst of it all that I was going through at 18. I have to deal with my life and as my age improves, so will my concept of writing about my life.

"I'm 60 and I feel very young and sprightly and I am representing what I am in music, as I am now and I do not want to go back and imitate the past. We've had fun doing that, but that was it."

He's no longer Johnny, but he has reverted to adding Rotten to his name on his latest live tour outing.

He explained: "I earned the right. It was a nickname given to me by Steve Jones when we first started the Pistols. I never liked it at the time but you know, when that band split up the management claimed they owned that nickname.

"I fought a court case to get it back. And ever since I've been quite proud of it. I achieved quite a lot as Rotten. He's part of my character."

He says he's planning to still be around to make music when he's 100 but when he does go he wants a send off with the same dignity and respect as shown recently by David Bowie.

John said: "I'm seeing my peers dying left right and centre around me. It's like existing in the moment in a musical graveyard. There's lots of buckets being kicked. It's sad and I miss every single one of them.

"The way Bowie sent himself off was with great dignity. He didn't arrange any elaborate funeral service, it was basically a pauper's grave. They came around with a wooden box and that was it, the end of it. That's class.

"I think that's the decent way. Don't drag it on. And don't blow it up into something that it isn't. There's great dignity in that and let people remember you as a live person, not a dead carcass."

What will they say about him when he's gone?

"It's him what did it," he laughs.

"If it was my quote it might be, 'Sorry officer, I was asleep at the time and I'm frightened of reprisals'. Anything you like. I'm not one for this graveyard thing."

* Tickets for PiL at Sheffield's O2 Academy are £29.81, including booking fee, available from the venue, call 0844 477 2000 or visit