"Virgin Fucking Records!"

First published in F&F 3, August 1997
© 2000 Fodderstompf.com / F&F Publishing

Fodderstompf: I first published this article in the F&F fanzine in 1997, but I still think it's fair comment, so three years later I've republished it on the site…

By Scott M

"No more Virgin records, hoo-fucking-raa" sung John Lydon at the end of PiL's version of 'EMI' during the 1992 'That What Is Not' tour. And for once I totally agreed with PiL doing a Pistols cover. EMI had just bought Virgin and PiL found themselves without a record company (by mutual consent according to Lydon) right in the middle of a world tour. This meant PiL had to play what was left of the tour (UK, South America and The Reading Festival) off their own back and forced the cancellation of the single 'Covered'. But PiL had left Virgin, good ridance!

In 1993 John signed to Atlantic/East West records as a solo artist and used the proceeds of the deal to build his own home studio (Rotten Studios). Brilliant I thought, a new record company. Hopefully one that would support him and see him make a return to the spotlight. BUT NO! After a year or so, apparently unhappy with the Atlantic deal John bought himself out the contract. And in 1995 after a chance meeting with EMI chief Ken Berry, John resigned to Virgin America. Arghh! WHY John? Virgin!

You would have thought that with the treatment PiL got in 1992 and their past record of bad promotion with PiL product, Virgin would be the last label he'd sign to. I can only presume that the forthcoming 'Filthy Lucre tour' had something to do with it. And you can't even say Virgin made a particularly good job of that. They release an album that's already been put out live on Radio 1 and expect it to sell! They hardly pushed the boat out with promotion either, did they? One 'TOTP' performance is nothing for a band of the Pistols stature. Well, anyway that's been and gone. So has 'Psycho's Path' and unless you read F&F you probably wouldn't have noticed. Virgin's lack of promotion hit an all time low (and that's saying something) and therefor so did record sales. I know 'PP' was never going to be number one, but Virgin could have pushed it further than a couple of low key ad's in the music press and some air-play on the 'Evening Session' (who would probably have played it anyway). Don't tell me that with some decent air-play 'Sun' wouldn't have been a hit; that's what record company pluggers are for.

John didn't even do the usual barrage of press and TV interviews; that's what record company press are for. They didn't even know what to promote it as. A Virgin spokesman was quoted as saying the album was "Very techno-y" that shows you how much they knew about it. Right up until May this year every time I phoned Virgin they didn't even know John was on the label (and you need to remember he re-signed in 1995). Every time I phoned it was always the same, "Can you give me a release date for John Lydon's solo album", "He's not on our label, it was only for the Pistols", "Yes he is..." They didn't have a fucking clue.

Prior to the release of the album there was no advertising and absolutely no info in the music press. If I hadn't phoned Virgin in June even I wouldn't have known it was due for release in July until I saw it (badly) reviewed in the 'NME'. It's a disgrace. I still don't think the album went top 75, but you can't tell me John's that unpopular. When you look at the money Virgin must be chucking away on utter shite like the Spunk Girls and the Boring Stones, you can't say they can't afford to promote him. As I said before I didn't expect the album to be number one, but the top forty has to be a realistic target for someone like John Lydon. I suppose it's easy to blame Virgin for everything but his management (and John himself) have to take some of the blame for not getting him a better deal and a higher public image. I think that applies to all the Sex Pistols, not just John...

As far as I know, John's deal with Virgin was only for one album, lets hope so. John, do us all a favour and go somewhere where they'll support you. How about Creation? You could do a lot worse.


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