Artist News Business News Legal Media

John Lydon lawyer says he wasn’t aware of 1988 band agreement until a previous licensing dispute

By | Published on Friday 23 July 2021

John Lydon

A lawyer who represents John Lydon yesterday said that he’d been working for the musician for four years before even being aware of any 1988 band agreement between members of the Sex Pistols that allows for licensing deals to be done if a majority of said members agree. His client, he added, has never been able to find a copy of the agreement in his files.

Lydon’s former bandmates Steve Jones and Paul Cook are now seeking to enforce that agreement, of course, in order to issue a sync licence that would allow the band’s music to be used in a new TV series based on Jones’ memoir ‘Lonely Boy: Tales Of A Sex Pistol’. They say that only Lydon is currently blocking that sync deal, but that under the terms of the 1988 agreement he doesn’t actually have a veto.

According to Law360, Lydon’s lawyer Alexis Grower – a consultant with SSB – told the court yesterday that there was no mention of the band agreement when he first started working for the musician in 2010. He first became aware of it in 2014 when there was a dispute over a deal to allow T-Mobile to use footage of the band as part of a marketing campaign.

It was Clintons lawyer Peter Button – in his role as a trustee of the Sid Vicious estate – who made him aware of the agreement. Grower says that he responded by stressing that the Sex Pistols had always made licensing decisions on a consensus basis, citing examples of previous situations in which one or another member of the band had blocked a licensing request.

He then informed Button that Lydon would likely take the matter to court if the Sid Vicious estate sought to enforce the 1988 agreement in relation to the T-Mobile deal. During his testimony, Grower added that Lydon had tried to find a copy of the agreement in his files but without success.

The fact that the agreement has not been enforced in the past has already come up during the court hearing on the big Sex Pistols sync deal bust up. Cook told the court that the other members of the band had never forced the matter before because they suspected it would result in conflict with Lydon. He added: “Maybe Steve and I have been too nice to John over the years in trying to maintain good relations and … we should have been tougher”.

Jones and Cook’s representative in court, Edmund Cullen, yesterday stressed that, while his clients had never enforced the agreement, Lydon’s team had never formally challenged it either, even once Grower had made them aware of it in 2014.

For his part, Lydon told the court earlier this week that he has no memory of signing the 1988 agreement, that legal documents terrify him, and that he clearly didn’t know what he was doing when he did sign the document.

Counter to that claim, in their original lawsuit Jones and Cook said that the agreement was actually instigated by Lydon. Basically, he wanted to sell his North American publishing interests and the majority rule commitment was a quid pro quo for the rest of the band agreeing to that.

The case continues.