NME, February 23rd, 1980

Transcribed (and additional info) by Karsten Roekens

© 1980 NME


*(left out: a report on a drug bust on The Clash in Portsmouth on 10 February 1980)

by Adrian Thrills

More iniquitous and intimidating though was the police invasion three days later of John Lydon's home, the second such raid in a month.

At 6.30 a.m. on the morning of Wednesday February 13 (unlucky, etc... ) the occupants of the Chelsea house, who include PIL guitarist Keith Levene, were awakened by what the Virgin press release describes as "a loud and frenzied knocking at the door."

Before anyone could get to the door it was hacked down by an axe-wielding cop – one 'Jumbo', as he's apparently known to his colleagues. Eleven uniformed police then invaded the house, to be met at the top of the stairs "by an understandably worried Lydon who, not knowing what was going on, was holding a ceremonial sword while prepared for the worst."

After causing considerable disruption to the premises the only "illegal" object that could be found was a miniature teargas container. These pen-shaped objects can temporarily blind an attacker, whilst also staining the assailant's face for identification purposes. One would have thought that a fellow like John Lydon, who has suffered physical attacks in the past, might feel justified in possessing such a "protective security spray". Besides, in the United States and possibly in Europe, where a fan made a present of the spray to Lydon, they are perfectly legal.

No matter. Lydon was taken to Chelsea Police Station and eventually released with no charge being preferred. He must however report to the station on March 13, by which time forensic tests will have been carried out on the device.

The Virgin press release points out that "when the band's publicist rang Chelsea Police Station, inquiring as to the circumstances surrounding the detention of Lydon, he was met with 'Oh, you mean that Mr Lydon!' The inquiry seemed to be treated as a matter of some humour by the officer concerned."

The Thrills memory banks flicker to the 'Groupie Cops' of the late '60s, who so delighted in busting rock stars...


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