Punk rock legend John ‘Rotten’ Lydon – as he now likes to be called – has ruled out a Sex Pistol’s reunion to celebrate the 40th anniversary next year of their iconic album.
He says he would rather remain friends with old band members than go to war.
And the God Save The Queen hit maker, who brings his band Public Image Ltd – also known as PiL – to Sheffield’s O2 Academy next week, will not be accepting any offer of a knighthood.
Despite a campaign by fans to get him one, he says he does not want to be Sir Johnny Rotten.
“I don’t want it,” he says. “No. I’m John. I’ve got no grandiose ideas about myself.
“I don’t mind pageantry, but I don’t want to be involved personally in pomp and circumstance and self aggrandisement. No thank you.
“This is the problem I had at school, being thrown out because I wouldn’t call anybody Sir.
“Now, I’ll call the dustbin man sir, ‘morning sir’, because I think they earn it.
“But the privileged classes, no way.”
He has just turned 60, but remains as outspoken, honest and sincere as anyone in the busines.
For years, this complex anti-hero felt misjudged.
He is no monster and has proved he is no pop clown, revealing himself as an experimental music genius on record with PiL and bearing his soul, in his lyrics and autobiography, Anger Is My Energy – My Life Uncensored.
He is also a man of his word.
On his last visit to Sheffield to talk about his book, at the Off the Shelf book festival, he promised to return.
And he is back with his band PiL, itself almost 40 years old, plugging tenth studio album What The World Needs Now, at Sheffield’s O2 Academy on Tuesday, June 7.
John says: “It will be high energy and 100 per cent commitment, honesty and integrity in the songs.
“I’m someone who deliberately turned away from becoming an idiot pop star and I’ve managed to survive quite well, without those trappings.
“I can still walk down to the supermarket and buy my butter. I’m not one for hiding behind electric fences,
“My songs are about my peoples, my family, friends and culture.
“I’ll play a few songs off the new album. The way it was recorded was very nearly what you would call live.”
But there won’t be any crowd-pleasing Sex Pistols classics such as Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the UK or God Save the Queen.
John does not feel a need to play them anymore and there will not be a Sex Pistols reunion of surviving members to mark four decades next year since the release of chart-topper Never Mind the B******s. Here’s The Sex Pistols.
John says: “I don’t want to. That’s something I did with the lads. I don’t like to step outside of that and take that away from them.
“Every now and then I used to chuck in Anarchy for a laugh, but that’s it. I don’t want to disrespect them too much.
“As a band, we were always arguing and squabbling in them days. Now that we’re not working together we can become friends again. I do like Paul Cook a lot and I like Steve Jones and I want to view them as my friends. But as soon as we are together in any working relationship it turns into war.
“And I would rather have my friends, than making people bounce up and down to Never Mind The B******s part two.
“Musically I’ve gone off into far higher things.
“I can’t keep repeating the angst of it all that I was going through at 18. I’m 60 and I am representing what I am in music, as I am now.”
He is no longer Johnny, but he has reverted to adding Rotten to his name.
He says: “It was a nickname given to me by Steve. I never liked it at the time but he’s part of my character.”
n Tickets for PiL at Sheffield’s O2 Academy are available, priced from £26.50, from 0844 477 2000 or Academy Music Group