I remember the first time I heard the Sex Pistols was on the old WHFS radio station, 102.3 FM “Home Grown Radio” in the 1970s. (Probably one of the best radio stations of all time, and not just in the DC area). My uncle bought me Never Mind The Bollocks for Christmas in 1977 – a well-worn LP I still own. Publicly, I hated the Pistols. I even won a National Council of Teachers of English writing award for an essay I wrote condemning the Sex Pistols as the dirty underside of the punk movement of which I held the Talking Heads up as the “intellectual” and respectable representatives. But like most everything I said as a teenager, that was total BS, because I played the record over and over, through high school and college. The sound was so tinny and unfiltered and unique, it was compelling.
In the 1980s Pistols lead singer Johnny “Rotten” Lydon formed Public Image Limited, a band with a completely different, suave, jazzy sound, and in my book one of the 10 or 15 best rock groups ever formed. The Sex Pistols were an angry teenagers’ band; PIL was a musicians’ band. By that time of course I had graduated to cassettes and PIL was on every party tape I made.
Well, I haven’t really done music per se for a decade or so, so I could not tell you what has been going on in the interim since my party-tape days ended. But I must say this interview with Lydon is one of the more intriguing historical pieces I’ve read in recent years.
Lydon and his wife, he tells me, were due to fly to New York on Pan Am flight 103 on 21 December, 1988. They missed the flight by minutes because Nora had packed late. Hours after take-off the plane exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing all those on board. ‘It was just chance. Sheer chance that we weren’t on board. Sheer chance that we weren’t both blown to bits. That, I can tell you, was one very sobering experience. I mean, that has an effect on you.
Read it all. If you are an old, wistful, new wave codger like me, you will definitely appreciate it. He has quite a story to tell.