One minute, you're John Lydon, kid on the street and the next you're Johnny Rotten, prototype Punk Rocker.
Lydon's audition for the Sex Pistols consisted of his singing along with Alice Cooper's "School's Out" while it played on a jukebox in the clothing store owned by the Sex Pistols' manager/brain trust Malcolm McLaren. Having "passed" the audition Lydon soon became the infamous Johnny Rotten.
The amazing thing about John Lydon was he survived being the frontman for one of the most confrontational, aggressive and self-destructive groups in Rock history. While the other Sex Pistols played their parts with furor, especially bassist Sid Vicious, it was the Lydon who was the focal point.
Musically, the Sex Pistols were basic Rockers with severe limitations. No matter, Rotten's aggressive vocals, spitting lyrics about anarchy, destruction, abortion and just about every other taboo subject, made the Sex Pistols vital. "Anarchy In The U.K.," "God Save The Queen" and Rotten's rotten behavior got them bounced from a couple of record companies. But it was perfect for the Punk Rock image.
When the Sex Pistols inevitably disintegrated and Rotten went back to being John Lydon, he was able to separate himself from the debris and start Public Image Limited. PiL's best was "Metal Box" in '79. There were several outstanding tracks including "Death Disco," "Bad Baby," and "Radio 4." While PiL continued into the '90s, they never topped that album. Lydon then went on to launch Love Spit Love.
Providing a career retrospective of sorts, Lydon received the Icon Award for his songwriting at BMI's London Awards ceremony in '13. "John Lydon is a true icon whose influence on music, fashion and art has been felt around the world," said Del Bryant, president of BMI.
Originating the "crash and burn" school of Rock, the Sex Pistols weren't around all that long but still managed to make their mark. It all comes down to their debut "Never Mind The Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols." Raw, angry and featuring "God Save The Queen," this is it. It also contains "Anarchy" and "Pretty Vacant." "The Great Rock & Roll Swindle," includes both live and studio tracks. While continuing the Sex Pistols' manic drive, it's a step down from their debut. Of all the live albums floating around, "Live At Chelmsford Top Security Prison," is the best. Solo outings by Sid Vicious and Steve Jones are forgettable. Manager McLaren did a little better with two decent albums "Fans" and "Round The Outside! Round The Outside!" Lydon fared best of all with Public Image Ltd.