Sex Pistols show reveals band’s ‘lasting power’ – despite Johnny Rotten trying to stop it

Entertainment

Perhaps a show about the founders of punk was never going to be without controversy.

Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon, better known as Johnny Rotten, tried to stop the rest of the group using the band’s music in new series Pistolbut the court ruled against him.

Guitarist Steve Jones told Sky News he wishes the frontman had chosen to be involved.

“He’s a big part of Sex Pistols,” he said. “But, you know, it’s about my book, and it’s just too bad that he wasn’t interested in being involved.

“He probably thinks that we’re slagging him off on it – not at all, [it’s] the opposite, we’re just showing how great he was.”

The drama – which is based on Jones’ memoir – is directed by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle. It tells the story of a band unwilling to adhere to standards set by 1970s society.

Fifty years later, their ability to address important issues still resonates – something which isn’t lost on the filmmaker.

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“One of their most powerful and disturbing songs, which dominates episode three, is Bodies, which is partly about abortion,” Boyle said.

“The song was made in 76 or 77, and Roe versus Wade was 73 I think, and is now under attack in America.

“So you realise that the anger with which they approach their material, it’s permanent, it has a lasting power.”

Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious in Pistol for Disney Plus Pic: Miya Mizuno/FX
Image:
Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious in Pistol. Pic: Miya Mizuno/FX
Pic: Miya Mizuno/FX
Image:
The series is available on Disney+. Pic: Miya Mizuno/FX

‘Too real for the fame’

While the actors playing the lead roles were born long after the Sex Pistols broke up, the legacy of the iconic group – who only released one album during their two-and-a-half year career – isn’t lost on them.

“They were authentic, they were true, and they were real or too real for the industry,” said Maisie Williams, who plays the model known as Jordan who attended many of the band’s early gigs.

“Too real for the fame and the level to which they rose, I guess.

“And nowadays, I think that it is much harder to find that kind of authenticity and even if we do, perhaps we just don’t trust it, and we can’t believe that it’s real.”

Maisie Williams as Jordan in Pistol for Disney Plus Pic: Miya Mizuno/FX
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Maisie Williams as Jordan in Pistol. Pic: Miya Mizuno/FX

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Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who plays Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, says he’s not sure artists like them exist in the modern music scene.

“They were so much of that time, of that moment, and I think that’s why it kind of came and went so quickly because you can only destroy something once,” he said.

Their music career may have been fleeting, but with this show bringing the band’s story to a new generation, the Sex Pistols – and indeed the punk spirit – live on.

Pistol is out on Disney+.

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