In honor of the 60th birthday of John Lydon AKA Johnny Rotten, lead singer of both the Sex Pistols and Public Image Limited (PiL), I’ve compiled some of his best quotes and a playlist of some of his best interviews and TV appearances.
John’s cocky, outlandish and sometimes rude demeanor mark him as a fabulous wanker in the music world. Never afraid to speak his mind or throw around expletives like confetti at a parade, John is one of the most well-known Punk Rock icons of all-time.
You can always count on John to speak the truth, no matter what the subject – for me, and I’m sure many others out there, he embodies the true attitude and spirit of Punk.
So here’s to you, Mr. Lydon, on your milestone 60th birthday. May you be blessed with many more years on this planet! We all look forward to your next blunt and outrageous tirade!
I wanted to wear the most impenetrable suit of armour ever known to mankind. ‘Hello, Mr. Rotten…’ You can’t say anything about me. You can’t put me down in any way shape or form – I’m rotten to the core… you know, what’s left for you? Pleasantries? I suppose the worst insult you could sling my way is ‘Oh, he’s really nice, him.’
Rules are important, but they’re temporary and they’re always supposed to be changed.
I’ve turned arrogance into an art form, where it’s so absurd that it becomes comedy. But I’ve never done anything to hurt anybody or steal from anyone.
It’s a repressive society where you can’t be horrible, I’m not horrible, they made me horrible, I’m just honest.
Move to Italy. I mean it: they know about living in debt; they don’t care. I stayed out there for five months while I was making a film called ‘Order Of Death,’ and they’ve really got it sussed. Nice cars. Sharp suits. Great food. Stroll into work at 10. Lunch from 12 till three. Leave work at five. That’s living!
Gossip is a very dangerous tool. We should be more wary of the gossiper, and not the gossip they’re trying to relay to you.
I’m not this callous clown walking around laughing at life all the time. I’ve had some serious, serious problems in my life. But I’ve come out with a smile.
Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? Good night!
Sometimes the most positive thing you can be in a boring society is absolutely negative.
Music can describe emotions far more accurately than words ever can. As soon as I realised that, I knew music was where I wanted to be.
I’m no one’s lap dog, you can’t put me on a leash.
Punk was never about one particular clean-cut imagery… it’s about many, many individuals coming very loosely together.
I’ve done no harm to no one. In fact, I think I’ve improved the world.
You have moments of grief in life, and if you can put pen to paper and capture that, that’s something wonderful. I can revisit actual songs about past deaths, and I know that emotion is as true now as it was then.
Art should be life. It’s an imitation of life. It should have some humanity in it.
I don’t believe in anarchy, because it will ultimately amount to the power of the bully, with weapons. Gandhi is my life’s inspiration: passive resistance. I don’t want to live in the Thunderdome with Mad Max.
As a human being, I’m work in process.
Punk is a state of mind open to new ideas, with a desire to constantly evolve, to find the next step, not only in music but also in the world around us. When I wrote songs for the Sex Pistols, I wasn’t talking about chaos for the love of chaos. I was saying that the government and the institutions were misleading us.
Bloody learn to love each other properly.
It’s no good being nice and young and naïve. There’s no good in that at all. You’ve got to do it all yourself, and you’ve gotta learn quick. And you can’t look for sympathy either.
Love is 2 minutes and 52 seconds of squelching noises.
Listen, you know this: If there’s not a rebellious youth culture, there’s no culture at all. It’s absolutely essential. It is the future. This is what we’re supposed to do as a species, is advance ideas.
I don’t tolerate liars. When somebody lies to me, that’s really, like, just unbearable.
I never take any commitment lightly, and I certainly don’t take my wife lightly. I never did and I never will. That’s permanent. That’s true love.
People should never allow themselves to be dictated to by media.
Oscar Wilde turned the world upside down and was able to laugh at it, and hopefully by the time I’m 120 and worn out, that’s what I will achieve. I love being alive so much.
When I write, my brain moves faster than my hands so I’m always trying to picture things.
I’ve never done anything deliberately; I just speak my mind, and that is what I consistently do and will always do in any way shape or form that I can.
Words cannot express quite a lot of feelings, whereas a noise or tone or drone or sound, an accordion falling down a staircase, can somehow capture an emotion much better.
My words are my bullets.