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Sex Pistols riff in dispute over use of songs
Writer and musician John Lydon Pic; Shutterstock

23 Jul 2021 / global Print

Former Sex Pistols in dispute over use of songs

The Sex Pistols' drummer and guitarist are suing their former bandmate John Lydon over the use of songs in a television documentary directed by Danny Boyle, the London Times reports.

London-born Lydon — whose parents were from Galway and Cork— has tried to block the Pistols’ back catalogue from being used in a six-part TV series scheduled for broadcast next year on a Disney-owned channel.


Lydon is the author of the acclaimed 2014 autobiography Anger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored, among other writing, and has had a long post-Pistols career with Public Image Ltd.

Lydon suffered from childhood spinal meningitis which left him in a coma for months, from which he woke up with no memory.

He relocated to Los Angeles, following what he described as low-level police harassment in England in the years after the Sex Pistols gained notoriety.

Pistol is based on the 2016 memoir Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol by guitarist Steve Jones, who is joined in the action by drummer Paul Cook.

Representing Jones and Cook in the High Court, Edmund Cullen QC told the judge, Sir Anthony Mann, that band relations were ‘brittle and fractious’.

Lydon (65) has said he will not approve licences for the music to be used unless ordered to do so by a court.

He told the court this week that the TV series is  “disrespectful”.

He called the lawsuit “poison” and a “trap” and added: “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.”

Majority decision

Cook and Jones have said a band member agreement (BMA) was formed in 1998 to enable licensing decisions to be made on a majority basis.

“The BMA has never been applied in anything we have ever done since 1998,” Lydon said on Wednesday.

Cullen said that the issue was whether Lydon was in breach of that agreement or whether, as the former Pistol contends, the licences cannot be granted without his consent.

Representing Lydon, Mark Cunningham QC said in written arguments that his client considers that Jones’s memoir “depicts him in a hostile and unflattering light”.

The case continues.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland