ROTTEN by John Lydon

ROTTEN

No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An insightful look at punk rock's--and his own--beginnings by former Sex Pistols' lead singer John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten), with some help from enemies and friends. Lydon has a harrowing story, and he tells it with all the rage and disdain that marked his early music. A youthful sufferer of spinal meningitis, he returned home from a long hospitalization at age seven with no memory; his mother spent her evenings for two years outfitting him with a life, telling him all she knew about the world. A poor, hunchbacked adolescent, Lydon suffered shyness and explosive anger; his intensity overpowered all who approached him. His book is a loose series of reminiscences that spares no one--least of all his friends--its honesty and occasional contradictions. He tells how he named Pistols' bassist Sid Vicious for his hamster; how he tried to kill Sid's girlfriend Nancy; how lead guitarist Steve Jones stole equipment for the Pistols; of having his father sleep with his fans; and of being stabbed by royalists enraged by the group's hit ``God Save the Queen.'' Lydon offers plenty of insight into the punk subculture itself, including punk fashion, which flourished and died in just two years in the late '70s and had colorful (not all black-clad) beginnings; the class barriers punk straddled; the opportunities it afforded women, historically marginal to British pop; and the enormous degree to which the music industry--which quickly co-opted punk's energy and narrowed its meaning--influences English life. Included is testimony from Lydon's father and rockers Chrissie Hynde, Billy Idol, and others; a track-by-track analysis of Pistols recordings; and a reading of affidavits in Lydon's suit against former manager Malcolm McLaren for back pay. Though disorganized, occasionally repetitive, its pages afroth with revolting, delightful anecdotes, this book is an informative document and great fun to read.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1994
ISBN: 0-312-09903-7
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1994




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