As previously reported, Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook have filed a lawsuit against singer John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) over the right to use the band’s music in “Pistol,” a new miniseries based on Jones’ memoir “Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol.” Now, Lydon has fired back by referring to the band’s 1998 agreement as “a total trap or prison” and likening it to “slave labor.”
Jones and Cook’s lawyer Edmund Cullen previously told a judge at the High Court in London that the aforementioned agreement allows members of the group to use songs on a “majority rules basis” and that they have the support of bassist Glen Matlock and the estate of the late Sid Vicious. However, Lydon claimed that the other members of the band needed his permission to use their music. His lawyer Mark Cunningham also noted that Jones’ memoir portrayed the singer “in a hostile and unflattering light.”
Lydon has since commented further during a court appearance today (July 21):
“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 [bandmember agreement]… I don’t remember signing it.
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.”
According to BBC News, the frontman also added that the agreement had not been applied since it was signed and that “all decisions” regarding the group’s music and imagery were previously made with “unanimous” agreement. He continued:
“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.
My fear is that they’re demanding that I agree to sign over the rights to a drama documentary that I am not allowed any access to.
I don’t think the [bandmember agreement] applies. I didn’t ask for this court case, it was brought to me, so I will naturally defend myself.
There is no point in me being here or ever was if it is the case that I can just be completely outvoted by the vested interests of all in one management camp.”
Earlier this week, Cook also told the court that the group had “always wanted to work harmoniously,” but were forced to take legal action against Lydon, so their music can be used in the aforementioned series. He went on to say that Lydon “can be a difficult character and always likes to feel that he has control.” Cook also added that the “majority rules agreement” was never used before because he “thought that [their] relationship with John would get worse” if they evoked it. He continued:
“Maybe Steve and I have been too nice to John over the years in trying to maintain good relations and that we should have been tougher.
I am unhappy that he would behave like this over an important personal project for Steve, particularly as we have always backed his personal projects.”
The news of the lawsuit broke after Lydon slammed the series, which he called “disrespectful.”