LONDON He and his band have been the scourge of
the British establishment for decades, whether by swearing on
television in an age when it still shocked or mocking the
So it may come as a surprise to hear Sex Pistols frontman
John Lydon, or Johnny Rotten as he is more commonly known,
describe the punk music movement he helped pioneer as
championing "family values."
"Family values, unity, spirit, community. All these things
they try and steal away from us. That's punk," Lydon told
Reuters in an interview this week.
"There's hardly any equipment on stage because a serious
band don't require vast amounts of electronic gadgetry --
there's no fake, there's no nonsense," Lydon added at the
London launch of a DVD of the Sex Pistols tour in 2007.
"The songs are as saucy and bawdy as everyone in Britain
should always be. They're full of irony, fun and amusement."
The Sex Pistols are best known for hits like "Anarchy In
The U.K.," "Pretty Vacant" and "God Save the Queen," all from
their 1977 album "Never Mind the Bollocks ... Here's the Sex
Despite being the band's first and only studio album, it is
often named as one of the most influential in pop music
FRIENDS, FAMILY, FAMOUS
An audience of friends, family and British rock musicians
were in the audience at a screening of the DVD in a former
concert hall in north London, not far from where Lydon grew up
and where the Sex Pistols played one of their first gigs.
"It's one of the very first places that we could actually
play in as a Sex Pistol," he explained. "Most of the pubs and
clubs -- we were underage, you see, so they didn't let us in
and they didn't trust us."
In between footage of the Sex Pistols' 2007 performances,
band members Glen Matlock, Steve Jones and Paul Cook revisit
venues in Soho, London, and childhood haunts, while Lydon gives
a guided tour of the city from an open-top bus.
Throughout the tour, the 52-year-old lambastes much of the
glass-fronted, post-war architecture, and says the
gherkin-shaped Swiss Re tower should be blown up.
Today the Sex Pistols tend to be looked upon with a mixture
of nostalgia and affection, but in their heyday over 30 years
ago they were controversial and hated by many.
"At the time we were truly, totally hated and resented,"
Lydon recalled. "It's hard to feel fresh when 300 northerners
are throwing beer bottles at your skull and mean to damage you
The DVD is titled "There'll Always Be An England," a
patriotic war-time song which was also used on stage during
their tour. Lydon's commentary is peppered with references to
his working class roots and deep pride in London.
Asked what he thought about being an iconic symbol of
rebellion, he replied:
"I don't understand all that icon stuff, but if you're
offering it I'll have it. I don't need to be number one."