SEX PISTOLS' JOHN LYDON loses legal battle to stop band's music being used in new biopic miniseries
According to the BBC, SEX PISTOLS frontman John Lydon has lost a legal battle over the right to use the band’s songs in the upcoming biopic miniseries about the U.K. punk legends.
“Pistol” is a six-episode series about SEX PISTOLS guitarist Steve Jones. It is based on Jones‘s 2018 memoir “Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol” and it is being helmed by Academy Award winner Danny Boyle, who serves as executive producer and director.
Jones and former SEX PISTOLS drummer Paul Cook have argued in court that an agreement they signed with Lydon meant decisions regarding licensing requests could be determined on a “majority rules basis.”
Lydon, for his part, that the bandmember agreement had not been applied since it was signed more than 20 years ago and that “all decisions” about the use of SEX PISTOLS music and imagery had been made with “unanimous” agreement.
However, a judge ruled on Monday that the contract was valid and active, and that the majority of the band could overrule any individual member’s veto.
The judge, Sir Anthony Mann, also pointed out that Lydon “had actually signed away his power to control the use of music rights” to publishing and music companies such as Warner Chappell Music and BMG.
Lydon retained “only qualified rights of approval which could be overridden if he was being unreasonable”, the judge said.
“It may be that those companies, for their own reasons, chose to seek his permission from time to time, but ultimately they could act as they saw fit.”
In a joint statement after the ruling, Jones and Cook told the Press Association: “We welcome the court’s ruling in this case. It brings clarity to our decision-making and upholds the band members’ agreement on collective decision-making.
“It has not been a pleasant experience, but we believe it was necessary to allow us to move forward and hopefully work together in the future with better relations.”
Last month, Cook told the court that he and the other members of SEX PISTOLS had “always wanted to work harmoniously” but were forced to file a lawsuit against Lydon in order to make it possible for the group’s music to be used in the TV show. He added that Lydon “can be a difficult character and always likes to feel that he has control” and explained that the “majority rules agreement” was never used before because “I thought that our relationship with John would get worse when we used it”.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
In April, Lydon reacted to publicity shots promoting “Pistol”, telling The Sunday Times: “I think that’s the most disrespectful shit I’ve ever had to endure. I mean, they went to the point to hire an actor to play me but what’s the actor working on? Certainly not my character. It can’t go anywhere else [but court].”
Lydon also claimed that he has never been contacted by Boyle about “Pistol” even though the two had met during preparations for the 2021 London Olympics opening ceremony.
He added: “Sorry, you think you can do this, like walk all over me — it isn’t going to happen. Not without a huge, enormous fucking fight. I’m Johnny, you know, and when you interfere with my business, you’re going to get the bitter end of my business as a result. It’s a disgrace.”
A spokesperson for the “Pistol” production told The Sunday Times that Boyle reached out to Lydon‘s management company about the planned series but “ultimately direct contact was declined.”
“Pistol” was created by Craig Pearce and written by Pearce and Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Jones, Boyle and Pearce serve as executive producers alongside Gail Lyon, Anita Camarata, Tracey Seaward, Paul Lee, Hope Hartman and Wiip. The series is produced by FX Productions.
Anchored by Jones‘s memoir, which offers a fascinating new perspective on one of rock’s greatest ever stories, “Pistol” moves from West London’s council estates, to Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren‘s notorious Kings Road SEX shop, to the international controversy that came with the release of “Never Mind The Bollocks”, which is frequently listed as one of the most influential albums of all time. Their single “God Save The Queen” was banned by the BBC and reached No. 1 on the U.K.’s NME chart, but appeared at No. 2 on the official U.K. singles chart, leading to accusations that the song was purposely kept off the top spot. For the only time in chart history, the track was listed as a blank, to avoid offence to the monarchy.
“Pistol” stars Toby Wallace (“Babyteeth”, “Acute Misfortune”) as Steve Jones, Anson Boon (“Crawl”, “1917”, “Blackbird”) as John Lydon, Louis Partridge (“Enola Holmes”, “Medici”) as Sid Vicious, Jacob Slater as Paul Cook, Fabien Frankel (“The Serpent”, “NYPD Blue”) as Glen Matlock, Dylan Llewellyn (“Derry Girls”) as Wally Nightingale, Sydney Chandler (“Don’t Worry Darling”) as Chrissie Hynde, Emma Appleton (“The Witcher”, “Traitors”) as Nancy Spungen, and Maisie Williams (“Game Of Thrones”) as punk icon Jordan.