John Lydon Tells the Courts His Contract with Sex Pistols Is Like "Slave Labour"
The singer is being sued by his bandmates for refusing to allow Danny Boyle's TV show to use their music
Published Jul 21, 2021With Sex Pistols now in a full-blown legal war over Danny Boyle's upcoming TV series about the band, frontman John Lydon has compared the contract dispute to "slave labour."
As previously reported, Lydon — a.k.a. Johnny Rotten — is currently in the courts battling his old Sex Pistols bandmates Steve Jones and Paul Cook, with the singer refusing to allow Boyle's Pistol production to use the band's music.
Jones and Cook, who are entirely onboard with the show, are arguing the band made an agreement in 1998 that allows decisions regarding licensing to be determined on a "majority rules basis." Lydon, however, disagrees.
Today Lydon told a court in London that the 1998 BMA deal was "like a total trap or prison," likening it to "slave labour," the BBC reports.
"The BMA has never been applied in anything we have ever done since 1998," he said. "I don't understand how Steve and Paul think they have the right to insist that I do something that I so morally heart and soul disagree with without any involvement."
He added that the TV show was "the most disrespectful shit I've ever had to endure" — a sentiment that echoes previous comments from Lydon.
Lydon's lawyer also has argued the drama, which is based on Jones' 2018 memoir Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol, paints the singer in "a hostile and unflattering light."
In court today, Lydon continued: "I care very much about this band and its reputation and its quality control and I will always have a say if I think anything is being done to harm or damage [it]. I don't want anything I'm involved in to victimize any one of us. It would destroy the whole point and purpose of the band and so I don't understand the BMA... I don't remember signing it."
He added: "You can't let your history be rewritten for us by a complete stranger with no interest in it. This is my life here. This is my history. I didn't write these songs [for them] to be given off to nonsense."
In response to Lydon's testimony, Edmund Cullen — the lawyer representing Jones and Cook — told the court that Lydon comparing the agreement with his bandmates to "slave labour" showed "how deeply you regret having signed the BMA."
Cullen added: "Given that you regard it as slave labour, you will do whatever it takes to try and get out of it."
As previously reported, Pistol — which being made for the Disney-owned channel FX — will star Thomas-Brodie Sangster as Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, Tallulah Riley as Vivienne Westwood, Christian Lees as Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, Iris Law as Soo Catwoman, Toby Wallace as Steve Jones, Anson Boon as Johnny Rotten, Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious and Jacob Slater as Paul Cook.
The court has yet to make any judgements in the case.