John Lydon: Sex Pistols, PiL & Anti-Celebrity
an unauthorised biography of John Lydon

Ben Myers

Independent Music Press, 2004

260 pages

review by Scott M, January 2005
©2005 / F&F Publishing

John Lydon: Sex Pistols, PiL & Anti-Celebrity an unauthorised biography of John LydonLet me start by saying this isn't the worst book in the world. With the exception of a few silly mistakes, and some over intellectualising, it's a pretty decent account of John's Lydon's post-Pistols career to date. Though, possibly the biggest reason for this is that the majority of the information and research is lifted from Fodderstompf. I can't say I'm surprised… 

The author, claiming to be big fan and not journalist (a standard industry tactic) contacted me last year and asked if he could use "some" stuff. I said no. I wasn't gonna have all our hard work plagiarised or misused without seeing it in context. And quite frankly, why should I do someone else's job for them? Still, it didn't stop him. And to add insult to injury he doesn't even credit the site, or any other site. The quotes might be credited to other sources (if at all), but trust me I know what I've wrote. When you spend 2 weeks typing up an interview you tend to remember little things about it…

In truth there's not really that much exclusive interview material lifted from the site, but trust me it is there. The bulk of the research comes from the chronology and archive press interviews (etc). And while much of that information is not strictly ours, we found it and made it available. No one except me knows how hard Karsten worked on the chronology, he deserves credit (and not as a Dutch journalist). With the exception of chunks of John's own book and The Filth and The Fury film - which are mysteriously credited from other places - hardly any other sources are used for research throughout the book. Of course, this is an unauthorised biography, you do kind of expect that kind of thing…

The author seems to genuinely respect and admire Lydon and that does come through. Though at no point did he actually speak to him. He claims he tried, and we'll have to take his word on that. But at the same time he does say he has no need to meet Lydon, which is a strange contradiction, especially about someone you just wrote a book on.

Given many of the misconceptions and mistakes in the book, if I really wanted, I could tear it to ribbons, but as I've said earlier it's not the worst book ever. It's better than the normal pap written about John Lydon. It's not bitter or snidey. And it also gives a potted PiL history which doesn't resort to the normal "first three albums only" cliche, so he gets pass marks for that, if nothing else…

I don't want to sound overly bitter, cos honestly I'm not (well not that bitter), the whole point of the site(s) is to spread accurate information. At least now when journos do their research it's taken from a good source, but there is a limit, and in my opinion this book borders on taking the piss. Above all it's shocking lack of respect. And, it's one thing to copy, it's another to actually understand…

If you read Fodderstompf / regularly - and pay attention - this book won't really tell you anything you don't already know. If you're a fair weather fan it could be quite interesting, but you'll save yourself £12.99 by just having a proper look round the site.

The written word isn't necessarily a lie; more a fraud…


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