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Interview:
John Lydon favors PiL over (Sex) Pistols
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Sex Pistols' landmark -- and sole -- album, "Never Mind the Bollocks."

But John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, wants no part of the celebration, turning down all reunion offers -- including an invitation from organizers of the Summer Olympics Games in London that was intriguing until they required the provocative punk group to make some changes to its material.

"Their approach was wrong," recalls Lydon, 56, who's currently touring with his post-Pistols band Public Image Ltd. (PiL), which released "This Is PiL," it's first studio album in two decades, this year.. "Censorship mattered more than the content of the Pistols. If you're going to be celebrating what is great about Britain, the honesty of the Sex Pistols is one of those things. If you censor the words of any one song, you're killing the honesty and I couldn't tolerate that.

"From my point of view we said we didn't want nothing to do with them. Such is the world we live in...Right now I'm living in the world of Public Image Ltd., and I'm happy to be there."

Lydon -- who splits his time between homes in New York and Los Angeles -- re-launched PiL in 2009, after a 17-year hiatus, with former group members Lu Edmonds on guitar and Bruce Smith on percussion, plus new bassist Scott Firth. The quartet toured for a couple of years to get itself in shape for "This Is PiL," and with the group's new lease on life, Lydon says he wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

"It's always been very much luck of the draw," explains Lydon, who's hosted some 39 musicians in PiL's various incarnations. "It's always about getting the right bunch of characters -- not so much playing skills as the character of the people involved, and that changed as the music itself changed.

"It's taken me 30 years -- 30 years! -- to really understand that you don't have to be in a band with animosity towards each other and be able to enjoy this. Every other outfit I was in was always at loggerheads, so this feels like quite an achievement."

Public Image Ltd. performs Friday, Oct. 19, at the iLounge in Clutch Cargo's, 65 E. Huron St., Pontiac. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30, and tickets for the Royal Oak Music Theatre, where the show was originally scheduled, will be honored. Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.clutchcargos.com/ilounge.

Web Site: www.clutchcargos.com

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