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"I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die..." --John Lydon Punk has been romanticized and embalmed in various media. An English class revolt that became a worldwide fashion statement, punk's idols were the Sex Pistols, and its sneering hero was Johnny Rotten. Seventeen years later, John Lydon looks back at himself, the Sex Pistols, and the "n "I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die..." --John Lydon Punk has been romanticized and embalmed in various media. An English class revolt that became a worldwide fashion statement, punk's idols were the Sex Pistols, and its sneering hero was Johnny Rotten. Seventeen years later, John Lydon looks back at himself, the Sex Pistols, and the "no future" disaffection of the time. Much more than just a music book, Rotten is an oral history of punk: angry, witty, honest, poignant, crackling with energy. Malcolm McLaren, Sid Vicious, Chrissie Hynde, Billy Idol, London and England in the late 1970s, the Pistols' creation and collapse...all are here, in perhaps the best book ever written about music and youth culture, by one of its most notorious figures.


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"I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die..." --John Lydon Punk has been romanticized and embalmed in various media. An English class revolt that became a worldwide fashion statement, punk's idols were the Sex Pistols, and its sneering hero was Johnny Rotten. Seventeen years later, John Lydon looks back at himself, the Sex Pistols, and the "n "I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die..." --John Lydon Punk has been romanticized and embalmed in various media. An English class revolt that became a worldwide fashion statement, punk's idols were the Sex Pistols, and its sneering hero was Johnny Rotten. Seventeen years later, John Lydon looks back at himself, the Sex Pistols, and the "no future" disaffection of the time. Much more than just a music book, Rotten is an oral history of punk: angry, witty, honest, poignant, crackling with energy. Malcolm McLaren, Sid Vicious, Chrissie Hynde, Billy Idol, London and England in the late 1970s, the Pistols' creation and collapse...all are here, in perhaps the best book ever written about music and youth culture, by one of its most notorious figures.

30 review for Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs

  1. 4 out of 5

    Harry Whitewolf

    You can argue that punk began in America, but you’d be wrong. Punk didn’t even begin with the Sex Pistols. It began with John Lydon. It maybe ended with Lydon, before punk even became a scene, too. First off, let’s get what I didn’t like about this autobiography out of the way. This book is called ‘Rotten’, so obviously it’s about Johnny’s time as a Sex Pistol, rather than about Lydon himself and his other ventures; although there is a lot of information about his upbringing and so on, as you’d e You can argue that punk began in America, but you’d be wrong. Punk didn’t even begin with the Sex Pistols. It began with John Lydon. It maybe ended with Lydon, before punk even became a scene, too. First off, let’s get what I didn’t like about this autobiography out of the way. This book is called ‘Rotten’, so obviously it’s about Johnny’s time as a Sex Pistol, rather than about Lydon himself and his other ventures; although there is a lot of information about his upbringing and so on, as you’d expect. But I still wanted a lot more of the man, more than the Pistol. I wanted to get to know Johnny better and I felt like I didn’t learn a huge amount more about him than I already knew, but that’s not to say there’s not a lot of insightful stuff along the way. A lot of the time though, it didn’t feel like this was Johnny’s book. It’s co-authored with two writers, and much of the time it felt like they had just transcribed what Lydon had said on tape, rather than it being written by the man himself. The book also has a hell of a lot of other contributors, including Paul Cook, Chrissie Hynde, Julian Temple, Steve Severin and Johnny’s dad. The idea of breaking up John’s prose with segments from these people who were there at the time works in its intention: it helps to give a different side of the same story. But, for me, it just broke up the prose too much – especially when there are whole chapters written by these guys. It’s supposed to be an autobiography, after all. All that aside, if you want to read about the Sex Pistols story, you probably won’t get better than this book. And even though much of the information was covering old territory that every punk fan knows, it was all delivered in a raw way that brought to life that exciting time in the mid-seventies when, led by Lydon, kids started “doing it for themselves”. Lydon’s full of contradictions: he wanted to inspire anyone to pick up a guitar and join a band, as a backlash to broken Britain and the Rick Wakeman type music and post-Beatles fandom of the time, but he never wanted to create a scene. It was about doing your own thing, not following the crowd; or following Lydon. John’s therefore rather dismissive of such great bands as The Clash. But you can’t want to start a revolution of inspiring kids to be in a band and speak their own truth and at the same time hate the scene that you’ve helped to create, ‘cos that’s an oxy(they made you a )moron. Without the Pistols, there wouldn’t have been Sham 69, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Undertones etc. And I know I play those bands a lot more than I do the Pistols. Being a part of the indie author scene, I was noticing some parallels between Lydon’s rebellious Do It Yourself approach and the books by indie authors who are doing the same, (Where else do you see people denouncing the monarchy in this modern age of royal-love from the media?) such as (my good friends) Rupert Dreyfus and Andy Carrington. Twenty-first century Britain mirrors the mid-seventies in a lot of ways, with cuts being made ‘cos of austerity and the poor getting poorer, and mainstream media ignoring No Future grassroots scenes. It feels like some indie authors are rebelling, by using the tools that the digital age has given us, in exactly the same way as the likes of Lydon did, with other tools, back in the day. Punk never went away, even if it changed over time to become just another music scene. Greats like Tim Armstrong and Green Day (not to mention non-punk-with-punk-attitudes bands like Rage Against The Machine and Public Enemy) have kept it alive over the years. However, the true spirit of punk, that was the Sex Pistols, has never quite happened in the same way again – but with the advent of the internet, perhaps we’re seeing a new form of punk that we haven’t actually named yet (and maybe we shouldn’t name it anyway). The new punk incorporates new independent media outlets like The Canary, the Twitter crowd of lefties and us lot of rebellious indie authors. Punk has always been misunderstood by the mainstream media and your average middle-class Joneses too. When they think of punk, they think of spitting, hard-nut youths with green hair that hate everyone and everything. Nothing could be further from the truth. Punk gave more women the opportunity of being in a band, punk helped to create equality between the black and white youths of segregated Britain, punk helped to bring straight and gay people together (which developed into the New Romantic scene), punk was about loving one another. “What the fuck, Harry? Punk was about love? You sure about that?” Yeah, I am. I’ve never known more of a loving group in my life than the punk-hearted people I’ve known. Uniting. That’s what punk was about (“If the kids are united…”). PiL were better than the Pistols (and more punk than the punk bands that were emerging at the time in the aftermath of the Pistols’ demise) and I want to get to know John Lydon better, so I’m gonna get around to reading his other book ‘Anger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored’, where hopefully I’ll get to know more about the philosophy and politics of Lydon. That’s what I wanted more of in ‘Rotten’, but this book is still a great read. They couldn’t sing. They couldn’t play. (Once Glen Matlock had been ousted anyway – poor ol’ Glen. I once saw him playing a short acoustic set in Borders bookshop to a crowd of about only fifteen people.) But boy, did the Pistols shake things up and produce one of the most classic albums of all time. The world wouldn’t be the same if the Pistols had never formed. God Save John Lydon.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    Any Old Way You Like It There are three musicians (with respect to whom).. sorry, I'll start again.. John Lennon, John Lydon, Noel Gallagher... I would listen to everything they ever said and read everything they ever wrote, if only I could get my hands on it. My, What a Big Sex Pistol You Have People were scared of the Sex Pistols and terrified of what they might do to the music industry. This is Rotten to the core. More, Please We need something like this to put the wind up us again. We need more peo Any Old Way You Like It There are three musicians (with respect to whom).. sorry, I'll start again.. John Lennon, John Lydon, Noel Gallagher... I would listen to everything they ever said and read everything they ever wrote, if only I could get my hands on it. My, What a Big Sex Pistol You Have People were scared of the Sex Pistols and terrified of what they might do to the music industry. This is Rotten to the core. More, Please We need something like this to put the wind up us again. We need more people this savvy in the music industry. No we don't, we need more people like this making and distributing their own music. October 24, 2011

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gen

    This book is utterly fantastic. I read this when I was 15 and was obsessed, not with the Sex Pistols but John Lydon as a person, his views and how he lives his life. With the help of many of his musician friends (NAMELY Chrissy Hynde who was everywhere from 1970-1990), he tells his life story from growing up in Finsbury Park to PIL, up to it's publishing in 1994. I think the main point to make is that this is not another "totez punk" autobiography, John Lydon is far more intelligent and anarchic This book is utterly fantastic. I read this when I was 15 and was obsessed, not with the Sex Pistols but John Lydon as a person, his views and how he lives his life. With the help of many of his musician friends (NAMELY Chrissy Hynde who was everywhere from 1970-1990), he tells his life story from growing up in Finsbury Park to PIL, up to it's publishing in 1994. I think the main point to make is that this is not another "totez punk" autobiography, John Lydon is far more intelligent and anarchic than anyone will ever give him credit for. This is a truly insightful read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I bought this about 6 years ago when I was a young impressionable 15 year old. I read it like the bible. I was never really into the punk scene, but it FASCINATED me. I began to show up my punker friends with my Sex Pistol knowledge. And it really helped me figure out a lot of things. I began to carry this book wherever I went. It had notes upon notes in it, underlines, circles, everything! I studied this book more than any of my textbooks. Unfortunately I gave it to a friend to read and her mot I bought this about 6 years ago when I was a young impressionable 15 year old. I read it like the bible. I was never really into the punk scene, but it FASCINATED me. I began to show up my punker friends with my Sex Pistol knowledge. And it really helped me figure out a lot of things. I began to carry this book wherever I went. It had notes upon notes in it, underlines, circles, everything! I studied this book more than any of my textbooks. Unfortunately I gave it to a friend to read and her mother found it at a very inopurtune time and discarded it. The thing is I am Mormon, raised Mormon, and love being Mormon. So was my friend, but she was fighting it. She didn't believe and that's totally fine with me, but her parents had issues and felt that it was inappropriate. See the thing with reading a book like this when you're 15 is your maturity level. I saw the terrible things that happened in that book as a result of drugs and though "Oh okay, bad, don't do that". Others saw it as "OOOOh! Let's try that! Sid Vicious did it!". So I think I am going to rebuy this book because it's really important to me to own this book. I love music, I love people and it hit me at a really influential time in my life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Marlene♥

    on Friday, November 28, 2008 I wrote about this book: Well I am very disappointed with it. The main problem was Johnny Rotten himself. He is constantly bragging about himself and thinks he is God or something. Nobody else does any good except for him. All the band members were bad, all the other bands sucked. (yawn) Plus he is also constantly contradicting himself. lol. Can't take this serious. Another annoying thing, the story repeats itself also every time because everybody gets a say. And eve on Friday, November 28, 2008 I wrote about this book: Well I am very disappointed with it. The main problem was Johnny Rotten himself. He is constantly bragging about himself and thinks he is God or something. Nobody else does any good except for him. All the band members were bad, all the other bands sucked. (yawn) Plus he is also constantly contradicting himself. lol. Can't take this serious. Another annoying thing, the story repeats itself also every time because everybody gets a say. And even though I lived the same kind of life as he and his friends did, I thought it was boring. End conclusion. What a boring book. I've lived this life, lived in a squad with other punks , visited the gigs of all the bands he is talking about, but Rotten is too annoying, every band sucks according to him. Plus it was very repetitious.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    First off, I have to admit that Lydon is right at the top of the list of people who have influenced me and who I hold in the highest regard. This book is entertaining, intelligent, and honest. Lydon is a guy who can laugh at himself. He is also a good storyteller; he has the classic Celtic style courtesy of his Irish roots. So many artists from this era are dead and gone, if only one could survive to be the official voice of the first punk wave, I am glad it is John Lydon. Funny how a very small th First off, I have to admit that Lydon is right at the top of the list of people who have influenced me and who I hold in the highest regard. This book is entertaining, intelligent, and honest. Lydon is a guy who can laugh at himself. He is also a good storyteller; he has the classic Celtic style courtesy of his Irish roots. So many artists from this era are dead and gone, if only one could survive to be the official voice of the first punk wave, I am glad it is John Lydon. Funny how a very small thing can influence a person many years later.....I am pushing 50 and still refuse to vacation in the Caribbean because of "Holidays in the Sun"......I don't want to holiday in other people's misery. (the fact that I am not a fan of sun, sand and surf might also have something to do with it) I would be interested in reading anything else he might publish, and hope he writes another book sometime soon.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    “Any kind of history you read is basically the winning side telling you the others were bad.” If that doesn't perfectly describe this book, I don't know what does. I am of two frames of mind thinking about this book. One is that I found John Lydon's stance on the entire punk scene to be outstanding, and one that I agree with also, so I'm biased. When the punk scene started it was something completely different than what it evolved into and a lot of punks now don't seem to realize that. The fact t “Any kind of history you read is basically the winning side telling you the others were bad.” If that doesn't perfectly describe this book, I don't know what does. I am of two frames of mind thinking about this book. One is that I found John Lydon's stance on the entire punk scene to be outstanding, and one that I agree with also, so I'm biased. When the punk scene started it was something completely different than what it evolved into and a lot of punks now don't seem to realize that. The fact that it is a scene now is the greatest indicator of that. Punk's origin wasn't about looking and thinking the same to fit in with a group. I respect Lydon for recognizing that and harping on it so much throughout the book. What wasn't interesting was how repetitive and bitter he still was about the Pistols. I won't fault Lydon for his bitterness, I'd be bitter as hell too, but 200 pages of incessant whining about it is more than my patience can take. The book starts to lose it's emphasis on the contribution of the Pistols and turns into a giant manifesto on why Malcolm McLaren is the worst person on the planet. But hey, he doesn't harbor any feelings of hatred toward him. Ha. I guess you should expect no less from Johnny Rotten though. Despite the overabundance of bitterness, I still enjoyed this read. It's written like John Lydon talks: brash, nihilistic, narcisstic and incredibly entertaining. It talks about the British punk scene like no other artist would be able to do in the same way. I may not agree with a lot of Lydon's "truths", but you can't deny that he was a major player in the punk world. This book is worth a read just for that aspect alone.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Barrow Wilfong

    I saw John Lydon on the Conan O'Brian show and was impressed with his thoughtful intelligence. He was also promoting this book, so I bought it. It is difficult to say whether I gained any insight to the Punk movement of the late seventies. After reading this book I conclude that everyone involved was a bunch of illiterate reprobates who were anti-everything, including each other. The Sex Pistols glorified in their disgusting shenanigans on stage, got lots of trash thrown at them while they were p I saw John Lydon on the Conan O'Brian show and was impressed with his thoughtful intelligence. He was also promoting this book, so I bought it. It is difficult to say whether I gained any insight to the Punk movement of the late seventies. After reading this book I conclude that everyone involved was a bunch of illiterate reprobates who were anti-everything, including each other. The Sex Pistols glorified in their disgusting shenanigans on stage, got lots of trash thrown at them while they were performing and, unsurprisingly imploded without hope of recovery only a couple of years after they began. Most people who are remotely interested in this genre are familiar with Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungeon and their fast track to perdition, but this book only speaks of them peripherally. I did find it ironic that they all hated Nancy so much because of her aggressive, abrasive and immoral character. Uh, isn't that the embodiment of the Punk movement? But they also hated her for getting Sid hooked on heroin. I personally think his mother, a heroin addict, and Sid's supplier, had something to do with that, although no doubt, Nancy accelerated Sid's race toward destruction, but the reality is, no one takes you where you don't want to go. The book is narrated by many people, not just Mr. Lydon, and I will give him credit that he does not censor anyone's commentary, even if it does not put him in a good light. Finally, I have to say I got tired of reading it, because regardless of what middle schoolers and emotionally immature adults think, dropping the F-bomb every other sentence and describing how you trashed people's houses or how many women you were with, is actually a banal read. I started racing through the last quarter just to finish it. I have already bought Lydon's second book, Anger is an Energy. He was older when he wrote it. Let's hope he's grown up a little as well.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    This is as honest as you'll get from John Lydon, no conning, no overdone punk rock grandstanding. Lydon talks about his spinal meningitis, his friends aka gang "The Johns" (incl. John "Sid Vicious" Richie) and Siouxie Sioux's delight in owning home appliances. Funny and sad and honest all the way.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Everett Darling

    Who knew Lydon was such a good writer? -Anyone who´s listened to his songs. I have a few questions; how can the difference between holding individuality as the highest goal fit with the seemingly contradictory purpose of making music and fashion that is understandable to everyone, spanning through the range of economic and social classes? And all the music that does that, these days anyway, is Pop or Top 20 Hip-Hop, boasting individual stars as benign as flowers, and challenging the status-quo ab Who knew Lydon was such a good writer? -Anyone who´s listened to his songs. I have a few questions; how can the difference between holding individuality as the highest goal fit with the seemingly contradictory purpose of making music and fashion that is understandable to everyone, spanning through the range of economic and social classes? And all the music that does that, these days anyway, is Pop or Top 20 Hip-Hop, boasting individual stars as benign as flowers, and challenging the status-quo about as much. And the individuality that is presented is marketed, bought and sold, and replicated for society by top-dog execs. with profits on the mind, not social change or personal rebellions. And this is the music that spans economic and social classes. I don´t like that.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emmett Mulligan

    One of the best music autobiographies I've read so far. Very eye opening. Whatever you think of the man himself or the legends that surround him, he comes across as humble (despite the bragging) intelligent and every bit as chaotic as you might imagine. Whip smart and with a fantastic sense of humour and the absurd. It's even worth reading just to get to the final line. One of the best ways to end on a high note (of sorts) ever!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rick Brindle

    A very entertaining biography from one of the men who made punk happen. John Lydon writes exactly like he speaks, and you get the feeling he's sitting in your living room, talking to you when he tells his story. You might not like some of it, you might not agree with some of it, but this is John Lydon, warts and all, telling his story as it happened. Authentic, funny, honest.

  13. 4 out of 5

    East Bay J

    My initial introduction to The Sex Pistols came about by way of a Rolling Stone TV special on rock music. I must have heard The Sex Pistols previously, but there was something about seeing them perform “Anarchy In The U. K.” that cemented this band as something I desperately needed to check out. It was late but I convinced my folks to take me to the record store so I could buy Never Mind The Bollocks. Oddly enough, I also purchased the first Montrose LP on that trip. I guess the sound of a guitar My initial introduction to The Sex Pistols came about by way of a Rolling Stone TV special on rock music. I must have heard The Sex Pistols previously, but there was something about seeing them perform “Anarchy In The U. K.” that cemented this band as something I desperately needed to check out. It was late but I convinced my folks to take me to the record store so I could buy Never Mind The Bollocks. Oddly enough, I also purchased the first Montrose LP on that trip. I guess the sound of a guitar imitating a bad motor scooter was as intriguing at the time as free, fierce, revolutionary rock ‘n’ roll. Because The Pistols weren’t “punk” in my mind when I took the cellophane of that copy of Bollocks and set it spinning on my turntable. I wasn't really aware of “punk” at the time. Vaguely, perhaps, but all that would come later when I was old enough to hang out with my miscreant friends outside the house. At the time, The Pistols were just another band and I experienced them accordingly. Did I like this album? Yes? Did it speak to me? Yes. The guitars sounded incredible and that voice! What the hell was that? Loved it. I thought Bollocks was the greatest thing I’d heard in a long time and it has become, in my mind, one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll records ever made. John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten was the spitting, writhing, angry mouth of The Sex Pistols. As a kid, he elicited no small amount of hero worship in me. I thought he was just perfect. He spoke his mind, he didn’t do what he was expected or told to do, he was brutally honest about the world as he saw it and he made no apologies for his outspoken behavior. Perfect! That ain’t a bad role model! If I rationalized or even ignored some of his nastier moments in tearing people down or making interviewers remarkably uncomfortable, it was because we forgive the transgressions of our heroes, often too quickly and easily. Besides, taken on the whole, what were a few rude words? I’ve never quite understood the backlash Lydon has received. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a club or party and had to listen to someone go off about Johnny Rotten, the sellout, or what a poseur he is or whatever. Personal attacks on a stranger. Nonsense. Out of all of the punk old guard, who sold out less than Lydon? Who did what they wanted to do, regardless of fans desires or record label expectations? For that matter, who never tried to be part of any sort of movement (“punk” or otherwise) when all the rest of the bands in England were banding together like cattle and having a go at this punk thing? I’ll never understand the criticisms of Lydon. He can be in all the butter commercials he wants, as far as I’m concerned. He’s still one of the best and brightest to come out of the “entertainment industry” in my lifetime. Rotten is, to me, an incredibly insightful journey into the time that was The Sex Pistols era. All the mountains of books that have been written about The Sex Pistols have amounted to a lot of hearsay, massive amounts of revisionist history and no clear picture of the people or their motivations. Hell, with McClaren in the mix, “truth” becomes as questionable a term as “punk.” Not much meaning there. What this book does is at least clear the waters as to what motivated The Pistols and what roles were really played. Because, whatever horrible things Lydon might be, he’s not a liar. You sense a very deep resentment and indignation over having his life and history manipulated by so many. In much the way The Filth And The Fury wiped clean the messy slate left by The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle, Rotten brings some much needed levity to the void left by the hoards of Sex Pistols books. I’m not saying all the books are bad, just that this one was made necessary by their existence. Perhaps the second great function of Rotten is to reveal a very human side of Lydon’s character, one he rarely let the public see in PiL interviews. Reading about his childhood, his meningitis, his youth, gives you a far more complete understanding of John Lydon, the human being. Seeing his vitriol and righteous anger tempered by his human needs and emotions paints a far more revealing picture. And, lest we judge Lydon for hogging the spotlight in this project, input from a dozen people who were there at the time gives the reader a wider perspective. I’ve read Rotten a handful of times since it was published in 1994 and different things strike me as important each time. This time around, I picked up on a lot of what Lydon has to say about the early scene he and The Pistols were part of, how it wasn’t called “punk” until much later and that, by then, it was more or less a mainstream phenomenon. Those are my words, not Lydon’s. He talks about the ten or twenty people who made up the initial “movement,” before it could ever be called a movement. Then everyone and their mother found out about it and wanted to be punk so it progressed to the clubs filling up with clones in uniforms. And, though he doesn’t say much about it in the book, you have to figure he sees “punks” walking around today and is likely equal parts disgusted and amused. I think he’d say something like, “Get your own movement, make your own scene, don’t do what everyone else is doing, do what you want to do.” Lydon recalls learning in college that putting Shakespeare in modern language would cause the writing to “lose its point and purpose.” “It’s the same logic as to why you can’t live out a seventies punk rock environment today in the nineties. It’s not valid now and it doesn’t connect to anything around it.” That’s one of the most perfect and accurate comparisons I’ve heard regarding “punk.” After finishing the book, I got on youtube and watched a few hours worth of interviews with Lydon. I like the older Lydon. He's more well rounded, not so angry, not so antagonistic. Some of those early PiL interviews are so uncomfortable, if often funny. He seemed to turn a corner in his thirties where he let go of a lot of the venom in favor of getting his point across. I think it suits him. Regardless, I remain impressed and enthralled with this man all these years later. The best interview footage I found was this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C0Pr... Ricky Lake just giggles through the entire thing. It's hilarious. This is the worst one I found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4spFiI... Puts forth a lot of nonsense, as narrated by Kiefer Sutherland. They should have given Kiefer some accurate notes... Rotten is an incredibly interesting read. A little social commentary, a look into the English class system, some fine historic perspective and lots of good stories. Some great photos, too, that weren’t published before this book came out. And through it all, the voice of Lydon, the not so omnipotent narrator. I think it’s an absolute treat and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  14. 5 out of 5

    J.P.

    Enjoyable yes, noteworthy no. I wasn't expecting previously untold revelations or learning lots I didn't already know but besides detailing his childhood and what everyone was wearing there's not a whole lot of information here. I did discover that a chain was Sid's weapon of choice. We all know the Sex Pistols didn't get along. It takes all of about 5 pages before John throws Glen Matlock under the tour bus for his opinion on what the group should be like. Had this book spent as much time on th Enjoyable yes, noteworthy no. I wasn't expecting previously untold revelations or learning lots I didn't already know but besides detailing his childhood and what everyone was wearing there's not a whole lot of information here. I did discover that a chain was Sid's weapon of choice. We all know the Sex Pistols didn't get along. It takes all of about 5 pages before John throws Glen Matlock under the tour bus for his opinion on what the group should be like. Had this book spent as much time on the group's antics it would have been more entertaining. The only stories that stuck with me were when Sid sees a Hasidic Jew dressed in traditional garb and he thinks it would look great on him so he goes to the store where the guy bought the outfit. The owner wisely refuses to sell him the clothes. The other was when John gets arrested and gives his name as Dave Vanian, the lead singer of the Damned. Better to have included stories like the day the Sex Pistols were signed to A&M which for me was the quintessential day in the life of the group. On the way over an argument ensues over who's got the best punk attitude. In the process Sid gets his shoes thrown out the window. On the way in he cuts his foot. Once inside, anarchy ensues. Sid none too pleasantly hollers for a bandage. John decides the décor can be improved by spray painting the walls. Paul plays frisbee with the company's record collection and Steve walks into the wrong loo and starts to have a go with the woman inside. To top it off the gang finds and makes short work of the booze meant for those covering the event. A&M figures it's best to cut their losses and drops them a few weeks later. Incidentally, the title refers to a sign John saw in a flat that was renting rooms.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marija *There's No Poetry In My Soul, Just A List Of Lies I've Told*

    What a great insight on the music industry of 70's. I recently got into Sex Pistols and when I saw this book on the book fair I just had to have it. It was a really fun and genuine book to read. Never realised that John Lydon could be such a good writer. I mean, he writes amazing songs but I never thought he could actually write a book. Very judgmental of me, but yeah... I guess I am judgmental after all.... The only thing I didn't like is that in basically 200 or so pages different people talk ab What a great insight on the music industry of 70's. I recently got into Sex Pistols and when I saw this book on the book fair I just had to have it. It was a really fun and genuine book to read. Never realised that John Lydon could be such a good writer. I mean, he writes amazing songs but I never thought he could actually write a book. Very judgmental of me, but yeah... I guess I am judgmental after all.... The only thing I didn't like is that in basically 200 or so pages different people talk about the same thing. It's really great knowing how different people from different sides viewed certain events, but really, those parts were kinda the same, only having slight differences from person to person. My favorite part of the book was the part after the Sex Pistols. Reading about Sid's death, about the break up, his relationship with Malcolm after all this time and how John formed Public Image Ltd. It's sad how a lot of people in that world is very hypocritical and basically don't care about the music and artists, just money. I love this book and am grateful for having the opportunity to read it. Things they did for music culture was very influential, though you can't find a band like them these days. There won't be anything like them ever again.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bosco Farr

    Near the end of the book Lydon writes the following line, "We're The Flowers In Your Dust Bin." If there is a better summation of the art of the Sex Pistols. I am unaware of it. I love this book. I love his revisionism. I love his unapologetic contempt. I love the style of his writing though I could do without some of the unnecessary repetition but I can live with it. Pair this up with England's Dreaming and I think you can know all the most important stuff about the original wave of UK Punk Roc Near the end of the book Lydon writes the following line, "We're The Flowers In Your Dust Bin." If there is a better summation of the art of the Sex Pistols. I am unaware of it. I love this book. I love his revisionism. I love his unapologetic contempt. I love the style of his writing though I could do without some of the unnecessary repetition but I can live with it. Pair this up with England's Dreaming and I think you can know all the most important stuff about the original wave of UK Punk Rock. The Pistols caused a tidal wave in pop culture and rock music. There was a tremendous price to be paid by all the participants. You'll get a good look at what that was and how much it cost all of them. Wonderful wonderful book. Full of antagonism, contempt, joy and thoughtfulness. If you have any interest in punk rock at all this is on your must read list.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Wow, Johnny Rotten is a bitter little monkey. Only about the first half of the book is actually about the Sex Pistols, and it was really more about the punk scene than about Rotten's experience as a Pistol. The last half of the book was about how much he hates Malcolm McLaren. You won the court case, Johnny, get over it already. He's a solid writer and an intelligent man - I'm disappointed because this book could've been so much more.

  18. 5 out of 5

    christopher

    If you looked up the word wanker in the dictionary, there would be a picture of John Lydon there. This book was saved from one star by being kind of funny from time to time and having tidbits of information about 70s London punk I didn't know before. Sure, I mean, he's been in involved with 4 or 5 classic records, but reading the rantings of an egomaniac is never a good time.

  19. 4 out of 5

    minnie

    Read this many years ago, I remember it as being a true account of the punk scene, 1977 and all that, as opposed to the glossed up media view of Punk.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Heather Schenk

    I Love this book. It is wonderful blunt writing at it's best. Johnny would be an interesting joy for most to spend some time with. I would love another(book) from him.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Zack

    http://www.examiner.com/review/no-iri... http://www.examiner.com/review/no-iri...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    “Anger is an energy,” John Lydon sang on Public Image Ltd.’s nihilistic anthem, “Rise.” That emotion courses through his memoir. Lydon spits anger at the church, the monarchy, the record business, his bandmates, & Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren. Surprisingly, Lydon doesn’t spare himself. At various times he laments his ugliness, his insecurity, & his impetuosity. But the book isn’t just 300 pages of spleen venting. It’s an exhilarating, insightful account of the rise & fall of inarguably t “Anger is an energy,” John Lydon sang on Public Image Ltd.’s nihilistic anthem, “Rise.” That emotion courses through his memoir. Lydon spits anger at the church, the monarchy, the record business, his bandmates, & Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren. Surprisingly, Lydon doesn’t spare himself. At various times he laments his ugliness, his insecurity, & his impetuosity. But the book isn’t just 300 pages of spleen venting. It’s an exhilarating, insightful account of the rise & fall of inarguably the most important British band since The Beatles. The book’s subtitle is something of a giveaway for what’s to come. Lydon situates his long-percolating rage in his childhood. As the son of Irish immigrants growing up in North London, he was used to seeing signs that read, “No Irish, no blacks, no dogs” hung in local shop windows. This cemented his outsider status at an early age, & that carried through his early unsuccessful experiences in education & work. Any memoir is a selective account of a life, but to Lydon’s credit, Rotten at times reads more like an oral history of punk music. In addition to Lydon’s narrative, we get interview transcripts from fellow Pistols Paul Cook & Steve Jones as well as other key figures from the time, including Chrissie Hynde & Billy Idol. And, crucially, the book closes with a chapter written by Lydon’s father that recounts his son’s devotion to his mother. The result is what makes the book so compelling: we come to see Lydon as a conflicted, infuriating figure that we both admire & revile. I’ve been a fan of Lydon & The Sex Pistols for 30 years. But I still learned some things: Fashion played a much larger role in punk’s genesis than I realized. Richard Branson played a pivotal role in signing the Pistols, which means he’s been around forever. No one – & I mean NO ONE – liked Nancy Spungen (the hanger-on allegedly stabbed to death by bassist Sid Vicious). My one criticism is that Lydon dwells too long on the court case that extricated the band from McLaren (we didn’t actually need to read so many affidavits). But if you’re a fan of The Sex Pistols – or punk music in general – this is a must read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jared Woods

    First and foremost, it is my duty to inform you that I’ve never worshipped the Pistols as highly as the punk bible teaches us to. I consider Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols to be one of the most criminally overrated albums ever made, the same song played over and over (even if sometimes that song sounds pretty rad) with less chords than I have fingers on one hand. And while I wholeheartedly respect their influential importance and cultural significance, aware that this band is so First and foremost, it is my duty to inform you that I’ve never worshipped the Pistols as highly as the punk bible teaches us to. I consider Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols to be one of the most criminally overrated albums ever made, the same song played over and over (even if sometimes that song sounds pretty rad) with less chords than I have fingers on one hand. And while I wholeheartedly respect their influential importance and cultural significance, aware that this band is solely responsible for an endless array of superior imitations, there is this weird Sex Pistols vs. Clash vs. Ramones vs. Stooges debate going on, to which I always place this group dead last, not even sorry. However, that does not detract from the soft spot I have for all classics as well as punk music itself, and so even if it took me decades to get round to, I finally bought my Rotten copy and read it whilst using a plaster as a bookmark, because that’s the extent of my anti-conformity in my old age. What followed was a tale that took me by total surprise, an autobiography set quite a measure above the pool of others I've swam in, which I’ve concluded comes down to following three main reasons: REASON NUMBER ONE: The whole story obviously takes place in London, and I live in London, which gave it an extra shot of thrill. I know those places! I see those places all the time! This shit happened right here! Home! Granted, this point won’t apply to everyone, but this is my review, so whatever. REASON NUMBER TWO: Johnny Rotten himself was exactly who I wanted him to be, without being at all what I presumed. His quick sentences and informal attitude are carefree and filterless, yet never coming across as the full-fledged narcissistic asshole I expected. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he probably is a full-fledged narcissistic asshole—he definitely unapologetically mentions how clever he is often enough—but this egocentric delivery makes for an even more enjoyable read in its own bitter charming way, unintentionally selling himself as a (somewhat) nice guy, one likeable character who is just about as smart as he think he is, which justifies the arrogance in a way, I guess? Maybe. Furthermore, he addresses his life issues so frankly and honestly without a scent of self pity, and that alone granted a contrasting read to almost all the other life stories I’ve had the pleasure of enduring, not a fish for sympathy or even an attempt in helping you understand where he is coming from, just a matter-of-fact this-is-the-way-I-am type of deal, take it or leave it. And I took it, coming out of the other side convinced that this dude is the real deal. And finally, REASON NUMBER THREE, the most significant point of all: this was not a self-centred exercise attempting to display the best version of himself for validation purposes, but rather an educational tale of punk rock itself from a person who was in the dead centre of it all, narrated by a mind that can accurately articulate the experience, designed to dispel the myths and humanise the legendary tale, not sugarcoating their status, rather destroying it if anything. Basically, it’s not an autobiography, it’s a textbook. And while Lyndon assumes you already know many of their backstories and feels no desire to elaborate on the details, he does an amazing job of catering to what readers want by exclusively focusing on the Pistols’ folklore, this book longer than the band's whole career, with hardly any mention to Public Image Ltd (for example), which I was definitely interested in, but (let’s face it) would probably be a relatively boring account compared to the Pistol magic, and not the purpose of what he was trying to achieve here anyway. Such a refreshing enlightenment on the musical subject was also approached in a fair manner, sticking to his integrity and void of any qualms against dissing people by name, yet allowing a large percentage of this book’s space for others to have their own say, no matter whether they contradicted or insulted the author, which I thought was a bold gesture. As a result, I grew a brand new appreciation and knowledge for the Pistols, but even more so, for the entire punk genre. The origin of the movement’s fashion and gig trademarks were much more crucial than I ever gave them credit for, which is even more important to acknowledge when you become aware of how much the later generations have distorted and got ludicrously wrong. On a side note: my obsession for Sid and Nancy was frayed and reduced to a puddle of pity thanks to these insights too, because while I still cherish their embodiment of punk coupledom, they were ultimately as dangerous and as useless as a safety pin piercing—easy to romanticise over, certainly, but more than likely no greater than an annoyance to anyone in their proximity. You see, it’s these types of realisations as to why people my age need books like this, not only to dissolve the fiction, but also to reveal to us just how huge the Sex Pistols and punk itself was for a short period of time back there. Because we weren’t there. This is the closest we are going to get. And I now know the genre was way more valuable on an artistic, political, and philosophical level than people give it credit for, even if it was all by accident. Not to mention, the scene was completely fucking chaotic, so violently filthy that I doubt many of the so-called “punks” of today would even survive a show. I like that too. Which is why, as I type this conclusion, I am currently slapping my face in shame that it took me so long to give this book a go. It was everything I craved, spoken by a voice that lead the masses by the septum, so clued up and really present to what was going on, a true icon with a writing style as punchy and as exciting as the very best, no questions asked. Not to mention, it almost worked like a semi-self-help book, reminding me to stop giving a fuck about anything, never to rely on anyone, do everything myself, and embrace absolute individuality, which was the true intended message of Rotten’s whole ethos, the fundamental basis of punk, now lost and exploited and generic and sad. As a result, I probably stand alone as I say this, but I do not care: it’s one of the most informative and rewarding autobiographies I have ever read, and effortlessly dancing at the top with the best.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Rotten: No Irish, no Blacks, No Dogs was really a fantastic read and such a fun surprise. He is super opinionated about everything and had loads of bones to pick but he is also unrelentingly tender about his own parents and not afraid to share the regrets he does have. I don't have a dog in the hunt about the origins of punk or whether the Pistols learned it all from Johnny Thunder or the New York Dolls or whatever but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it. I also liked that there were segments Rotten: No Irish, no Blacks, No Dogs was really a fantastic read and such a fun surprise. He is super opinionated about everything and had loads of bones to pick but he is also unrelentingly tender about his own parents and not afraid to share the regrets he does have. I don't have a dog in the hunt about the origins of punk or whether the Pistols learned it all from Johnny Thunder or the New York Dolls or whatever but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it. I also liked that there were segments written by others included in the book - a childhood friend, some of the other Pistols, journalist Caroline Coon, Chrissie Hynde - and sometimes their memories or recollections completely conflict with Lydon's. I'd forgotten that Lydon married Ari Up's (the Slits) mother Nora so that was interesting. She was significantly older than him - he and Ari were probably only a few years apart. Did everyone hate Nancy Spungeon? It seems so.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Veres Martin

    I’ve always considered myself as an honorary punk-rock kid since I was 12 or 13, but I was always bothered by the fact that I just couldn’t get into British punk bands like the Sex Pistols, The Clash or The Toy Dolls for example. So I thought I take a different approach and read Rotten’s book. I knew that John Lydon is a provocateur so I expected him to be this witty and reasoning, even though I knew he was misrepresented by the media just like the whole punk scene in general. It was a radical e I’ve always considered myself as an honorary punk-rock kid since I was 12 or 13, but I was always bothered by the fact that I just couldn’t get into British punk bands like the Sex Pistols, The Clash or The Toy Dolls for example. So I thought I take a different approach and read Rotten’s book. I knew that John Lydon is a provocateur so I expected him to be this witty and reasoning, even though I knew he was misrepresented by the media just like the whole punk scene in general. It was a radical experience for me to see his thoughts on the different subjects even if he writes about them in his “no future” bitter attitude. Rotten has his own personality, views, problems, and way of thinking, you either like him or not I think there is no in-between. As I said, he is a provocateur, a true punk, no doubt. He covers it all in the book, not only the history of the events but the reasons and the whys too, moreover it isn’t only about musical history but an intimate insight to the economic and social conditions of the 1970’s Britain through the eyes of Rotten, which obviously makes the reading more intriguing and informal. But, I expected more from the book however I’m glad that I gave it a chance. John’s attitude about the Sex Pistols and the early punk era almost ruined the experience for me. I respect his work as a member of the Sex Pistols, but I still dislike him as a person. But I would like to mention one thing, I would recommend the book to anyone, even if you are not interested in the punk scene or the musical history at all because it is fascinating writing by a fascinating person.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nerita

    2.5 I expected more from you Johnny.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bobette Giorgi

    You either enjoy Lydon's personality or not, there's no in-between. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I had in common with him, belief-wise, including his disdain for the accepted ways of being in this world, which amount to being nothing more than the goyim (my words, not his), as well as his attitudes towards love and how people tend to exalt it with little reason, just to fool themselves into it. The book's format is good, Lydon's writing followed by commentary by people who were around f You either enjoy Lydon's personality or not, there's no in-between. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I had in common with him, belief-wise, including his disdain for the accepted ways of being in this world, which amount to being nothing more than the goyim (my words, not his), as well as his attitudes towards love and how people tend to exalt it with little reason, just to fool themselves into it. The book's format is good, Lydon's writing followed by commentary by people who were around for the early days, like Steve Jones and Chrissie Hynde. BUT I felt like many more could have been involved to contribute; perhaps some were invited and declined? For the chapter on the Pistols' American tour, for example, it would have been great to get Joan Jett's commentary, as she was the Runaway closest to the Pistols, and she retained a friendship with Steve Jones beyond the 70's punk scene. Perhaps Joan was not fond of Lydon due to his and Sid's physical destruction of her apartment, or so I have heard. Plenty of good childhood stuff here, pretty shocking, too. The poverty level + no regulations had Lydon working as a dispatcher at 10 years old! He says he liked the job, he was good at it, and it gave him a sense of accomplishment. Way to see the upside of things! But darker instances such as his helping out his mum at very early ages during her several miscarriages had me wondering how children survive such things unscathed. It was just part of what he knew, like the meningitis he suffered that helped mold him into the person he is today. Lydon is a prick who still enjoys messing with people just to be an arsehole. For instance, how he challenges Hynde's vegetarian stance. Chrissie says it's Lydon being a manipulative jerk, it's just part of who he is. If you're looking for lots of dirt, it's not really there. Lydon was an outcast in his own band simply because he was misunderstood in many ways and tended to do his own thing. So he was left out of many decisions and even social events for it. He speaks some on Sid and Nancy, as does Chrissie Hynde, the general consensus being that Nancy was an unbearable waste who existed to bring Sid down with her, after she convinced him that he was the star of the band. I don't recall who said it now, it might have been Lydon or Jones (I already returned the book to the library), that he would not have been surprised if Sid killed Nancy that night just to shut her up. (Based upon what we know of Spungen, I'd say she had a mental disorder, most likely Borderline. That said, she was difficult literally from birth - the mother said Nancy would wake from the sound of ice clinking in a glass in another room - so "nature" or even a vaccine injury - played some part, and Nancy just got worse with age.) Nancy's own mother found her unbearable and it's hard for the reader to like Nancy (assuming you have read "And I Don't Want to Live This Life"). Overall a good read. Looking forward to finishing his second bio.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I enjoyed this one a lot! If you loved the punk rock thing as much as I did (and do), this is a must-read. I was a small-town girl in Indiana so I never got close to the actual deal, but I was an avid follower via magazines like Creem and Circus. I lived the experience vicariously. Reading an insider account from one of the founders of the movement was priceless. Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten) is a fascinating personality. He has plenty to say about his experience with the Sex Pistols and with Malcolm I enjoyed this one a lot! If you loved the punk rock thing as much as I did (and do), this is a must-read. I was a small-town girl in Indiana so I never got close to the actual deal, but I was an avid follower via magazines like Creem and Circus. I lived the experience vicariously. Reading an insider account from one of the founders of the movement was priceless. Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten) is a fascinating personality. He has plenty to say about his experience with the Sex Pistols and with Malcolm McLaren, not all of it good, but his intelligence and artistry shine through. He is truly one of the most intriguing characters in music history, in my opinion. He was and is a provocateur. He likes to push the boundaries of convention, but he also loved his Mum and Dad very much, and they supported him in his efforts. I loved the commentary from people like Chrissie Hynde, Billy Idol, and of course, Steve Jones and Paul Cook. What a scene that must have been! I liked this from Chrissie: "John's a bastard, but there's still something sweet and tender about him." That is the impression I got from this book. I would probably bore him to death but then love it when he told me to fuck off. It was very sad to read about his friendship with Sid Vicious (named after John's hamster--Sid's real name was John Simon Ritchie) and Sid's downward spiral. There was obviously great affection there but Sid really had a hard time dealing with the sudden fame. And everyone loathed Nancy Spungen. There was something in this book that challenged my long-held beliefs. I have always felt that punk rock sprang from New York City, specifically the Ramones. While that is definitely the case, and the Ramones had an album out before the Sex Pistols did, it seems that the London scene wasn't influenced by the New York scene and arose spontaneously at almost the same time. Both Lydon and Paul Cook claim that they did not listen to the music coming out of NYC and that it all arose from their own working-class situation. Fascinating! Did you know that Lydon once had a cat named Satan? Highly recommended to anyone who loves punk rock. I look forward to reading Lydon's more recent book. He has a lot of interesting things to say.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I read this when it first came out and I thought it was amazing. An inside look at the Pistols from Rotten himself. It makes sense that Rotten would be the one to write to write this book and as I read it again I was a bit disappointed because it wasn't as great as I remember. The problem doesn't lie with Rotten though. Being a fan I expected the attitude and the ego, but what I found a bit boring was the history lesson on punk. We all know how important the Pistols were and the detailed histor I read this when it first came out and I thought it was amazing. An inside look at the Pistols from Rotten himself. It makes sense that Rotten would be the one to write to write this book and as I read it again I was a bit disappointed because it wasn't as great as I remember. The problem doesn't lie with Rotten though. Being a fan I expected the attitude and the ego, but what I found a bit boring was the history lesson on punk. We all know how important the Pistols were and the detailed history becomes a bit bogged down with other peoples recollections of not just the Pistols but the entire scene. The people who might be offended are the Vicious fans. He's not thought of too kindly here and the overall feeling is that he was an idiot who was easily influenced. Nancy ruined Sid and the sentiment is told by everyone who remembers him. He became just another rock cliche and no one was really surprised by it. As it is Rotten's book is full of the attitude that one expects from the Pistols. You get the inside story of not just the band but the entire punk movement. The story does drag a bit but fans of Rotten and the Pistols should read this at least once because The Sex Pistols were and important part of music history. Just be warned that some stories seem to be a bit redundant and with so many people adding to the story it does get a bit muddled ad boring which should never be attributed to The Sex Pistols.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nana

    Being a teenager who did not grow up the Sex Pistols era, and hense didnt know much about it to start with, this book was fascinating. I've always been intrigued by the Pistols and their contemporaries, so when I saw this book at a local used bookshop, I had to grab it. Good choice on my part. John Lydon is a witty, entertaining narrator with an attitude, and this history/retrospective takes you through his life pre Pistols, their career, eventual demise and loose ends (and lawsuits) following i Being a teenager who did not grow up the Sex Pistols era, and hense didnt know much about it to start with, this book was fascinating. I've always been intrigued by the Pistols and their contemporaries, so when I saw this book at a local used bookshop, I had to grab it. Good choice on my part. John Lydon is a witty, entertaining narrator with an attitude, and this history/retrospective takes you through his life pre Pistols, their career, eventual demise and loose ends (and lawsuits) following it. You truly get to get a feel for the dreary, depressing era from which punk was born, from one of, if not the, central figure of it. It's truly intriguing and interesting. Lydon shares not only his experiences from the time but his opinions on music, life, Britain, and a large matter of random things that come up. You get the sense though he was perceived as this horrible influence, this anarchist making destructive music, that he is incredibly intelligent. He brushes the cobwebs from all that's been said and assumed about the punk movement, and tells you its true message. His opinions are definitely a highlight of this novel. If you want a definitive history of the Sex Pistols, and a engrossing trip back to London the 1970s, this book is the way to go,

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