You can't write the history of music without acknowledging the contributions of Johnny Rotten (as he was known with the iconic Sex Pistols). After all, how many punk-rock musicians are immortalized in a Neil Young song "My My, Hey Hey Out of the Blue?" And how many groups that were around for less than three years earned enough street cred to earn a spot on a list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time?" Rolling Stone magazine ranked them No. 58 in 2004.
The Sex Pistols released just one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, in 1977. The album topped the British album chart, thanks to timeless songs like "Anarchy in the U.K." and "God Save the Queen."
The group broke up in 1978 after a turbulent U.S. tour. There was no way that lineup which included Rotten, Steve Jones and Sid Vicious, was going to stay together for long. Even though they have reunited on numerous occasions, Rotten, who has gone by his given name John Lydon since the Pistols broke up, told me they won't be getting back together again.
"The passion is gone," Lydon said. "There's no need for it. We don't want to write new songs so what's the point of getting back together? It would be an easy enough thing to do. The money would be there, but I'm sorry. I'd rather squeak on old floor boards than grab the money."
Lydon is promoting the Oct. 15 show at Royale Boston of his longtime group Public Image Ltd. in support of their album This is PiL. It's the group's
"It was a record company and corporate way of thinking that stifles me. For two decades, nobody budged. All they needed to do was get money on the table, and I found it. That freed us from the contract," Lydon told me. "When the record company won't back you, there's no way to put music out there. They used to say that the revolution would not be televised, but now the revolution would not be released."
Lydon formed his own record label and recorded the album, which was more taxing than he imagined. "It's difficult when there are just a handful of you (working for the record company). You end up working 24 hours a day and on top of that you have to go on stage and perform to the best of your ability."
Lydon's career is remarkable considering the overnight success story that the Sex Pistols proved to be some 35 years ago, followed by the instantaneous freefall into oblivion, but he has no regrets. "I'm not ashamed of anything I've ever done. I'm proud of all of it," Lydon said.
Never mind the bollocks, indeed.
Public Image Limited, Royale Boston, 279 Tremont St., Monday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m. Tickets $30 at www.ticketmaster.com.