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John Lydon denounces new Sex Pistols compilation

By | Published on Friday 1 April 2022

John Lydon

With Danny Boyle’s Sex Pistols biopic TV series ‘Pistol’ set to arrive on Disney+ next month, Universal Music has announced a new compilation to coincide with it. And everyone’s happy about that. Well, everyone except John Lydon, of course.

statement on Lydon’s Facebook page reads: “Universal Music Group have announced the release of a new Sex Pistols compilation entitled ‘The Original Recordings’. For the avoidance of any doubt, John Lydon has not approved this compilation and does not endorse or support it. He has not approved the artwork or tracklisting”.

“[Lydon] and his team were not involved in producing this compilation and consider it substandard compared to previous Universal releases since 2012”, it concludes.

The 20 track compilation includes the bulk of The Sex Pistol’s one and only album ‘Never Mind The Bollocks… Here’s The Sex Pistols’ – one notable exception being ‘EMI’, the album’s closing track that hurls insults at the former major label which is now owned by, oh yes, Universal Music.

Bulking it out are tracks from ‘The Great Rock & Roll Swindle’ soundtrack – including covers of The Monkees’ ‘(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone’ and Eddie Cochrane’s ‘C’Mon Everybody’ – and a few b-sides.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that Lydon has come out against the compilation, given its close association with ‘Pistol’. Last year, the vocalist attempted to block the TV show – which is based on the autobiography of guitarist Steve Jones – from using the band’s music.

The dispute between Lydon and his former bandmates – heard by the high court in London – centred on whether or not any one member of the Sex Pistols had the power to veto a sync deal.

Jones, backed by drummer Paul Cook, said that an old band agreement meant that sync deals could be issued if a majority of band members agreed. Lydon argued that the band had always operated on the assumption that unanimous consent was required for such deals. However, the court confirmed the old band agreement was nevertheless still in force, depriving Lydon of any veto right.

Following the ruling, Lydon issued a statement on his website, claiming that – despite the fact that he was “the creative force of the Sex Pistols” – he “was asked to allow the Sex Pistols works to be used without any prior consultation or involvement in the [‘Pistol’] project”. Therefore he “took a stand on principle for what he sees as the integrity of the Sex Pistols legacy and fought for what he believed and continues to believe was right”.

In their own statement responding to Lydon’s, Jones and Cook said: “Despite John Lydon’s comments on his website, we reiterate that he was informed of the ‘Pistol’ TV series, offered meetings with the director and to be involved in the show months before principal photography began. He refused these offers and we were saddened he would not engage and at least have a conversation with the director Danny Boyle and co-showrunner Craig Pearce”.

“John Lydon sold his rights to control the use of these songs in the 1990s in return for money”, they went on. “The majority rule agreement existed as a result – so no outside party could dictate the use of the band’s music. And to have a mechanism in place if one member was unfairly blocking the decision making process – which is what happened in this instance”.

‘Sex Pistols: The Original Recordings’ is set for release on 27 May. Meanwhile, ‘Pistol’ will arrive on Disney+ on 31 May.