Research by Karsten Roekens and Scott M, plus contributors…
Radio Bournemouth - Lydon interview.
'Musik Express / Sounds' (Germany) - John Lydon interview. Conducted prior to the October 1983 Rockpalast TV appearance.
'International Musicians and Recording World' magazine - PiL interview.
JANUARY / FEBRUARY
Early in the year Lydon and Atkins, augmented by session musicians, begin to record a new PiL album at Maison Rouge Studios in London. Lydon stated years later, "It´s just me giving orders and them receiving them. There was no feedback. If I had a crap idea, the crap idea would go onto vinyl almost directly." Martin Atkins: "You can hear John and I struggling with this huge deal we signed..."
'NY Rocker' magazine - John Lydon interview. The interview includes an interview excerpt with Harvey Keitel regarding Lydon's casting to 'Order of Death'. "My first impression of John was that he was a sensitive, serious-minded person. And it quickly became apparent that he thinks very differently than a lot of people. To think he is playing himself in the film would be to do him a great disservice."
The release of 'Bad Life' on 7" and 12" single (Virgin. VS 675).
'NME' review 'Bad Life'.
The recording for the video for 'Bad Life'.
'Bad Life' enters the charts, peaking at number 71 and remaining in the charts for two weeks.
'Down Beat' magazine in the US publishes a review comparing the 'Love Song' single and 'Live in Tokyo'.
Around this time John Lydon leaves New York and moves to Pasadena in Los Angeles.
Channel 4, Earsay. John Lydon interview and UK premiere of 'Bad Life' video. Asked about the new album Lydon explains: "It should be out in about two weeks I hope. It should have been out a lot sooner, but you see I had a kind of serious legal situation with Virgin that delayed the release."
'Record Mirror' - John Lydon interview and front cover. "I'm white, I love reggae, I love jazz, soul, I like lots of rock and I love lots of all types of music, and I see no reason to imitate any of those forms. I stand up for what I'm into, which is myself. I want to do something which I have always wanted to listen to, and that's somewhere inbetween all those forms of music. That hasn't been done so far, so I think I deserve respect. I think I've got it."
The release of 'This is What You Want, This is What You Get' (Virgin. V 2309). PiL's first studio album in over three years. The album receives mixed reviews, and is often regarded, perhaps unfairly, as PiL's weakest studio album.
Keith Levene: "I think they made a much worse record (than 'Commercial Zone'), but that was the one they put out." Pete Jones: "Personally I thought 'TIWYW' was pure shit."
'Melody Maker' reviews 'This Is What You Want...'
Smash Hits magazine - Lydon Interview.
'This Is What You Want...' enters the charts, peaking at number 56 and remaining in the charts for two weeks.
Joolz - Radio 1, Peel Session featuring Jah Wobble playing bass on the tracks, 'Tattoo' & 'What Have We Done'. Recorded 21st July.
The second pressing of the (unofficial) PiL 'Commercial Zone' album (black sleeve / proper logo) is released via Keith Levene and distributed by Important Records Distributors Inc. The album (recorded 1982-83 at Park South Studios) had recieved a limited edition release in November 1983; also via Levene. This issue has a slightly altered tracklisting to the previous release but features the same tracks. (See Miscellaneous Discography for more info).
"Keith Levene, "I did an independent deal and they pressed up about 30,000 copies of this record. Then, Richard (Branson) just sent these guy a writ, telling them to put a stop to it... I thought I still had a deal with Virgin. Legally I did, and they just put me on the shelf for a good four years. And they were scaring other record companies from signing... (instead) I was really getting heavily into computer graphics and software. I just said fuck it and left it."
'Backbeat' magazine publishes a review comparing 'This Is What You Want...' and 'Commercial Zone'.
'BAM' magazine publishes an interview with Lydon.
SUMMER / AUGUST?
Lydon and Atkins start to put together a new touring band, they audition various musicians at The Palace in Pasadena, California. Among the perspective recruits is Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame. After a storming jam session with Martin Atkins Flea is immediately offered the job, however, he declines stating that he was a big fan of the 'Flowers of Romance' album and only wanted to jam with the band!
Atkins, and PiL manager Larry White, spend around a week trying to persuade him to change his mind, telling him: "Listen, this Chili Peppers thing is going nowhere. The best thing you can do is come out with PiL!" Keith Levene later claimed: "Flea auditioned, but when he found out I wasn't in the band anymore, he just said no. I was quite pleased by that!" However, Flea has stated that he didn't join because he wanted to do his own thing and not be part of a sideshow.
Flea later played with Levene on his 'Violent Opposition' album. 1999 also saw Jah Wobble & Deep Space support the Chili Peppers in France... Documented PiL fans The Red Hot Chili Peppers have also covered 'Religion' & 'Poptones' live.
BAM magazine - Lydon Interview. When asked if the album is more "accessible" Lydon comments: "More poppy? It wasn't deliberate. It was just a bunch of songs that had been floating around and we just put them together, and they seem to work best as two different sides. There's the 'What You Want'-side and there's the 'What You Get'-side."
'Sounds' - Keith Levene interview. He publicises the release of 'Commercial Zone', and also mentions two musical projects he is working on; using aliases on both of them, the Ninja and the Nerd, respectively. Neither of these projects are realised.
Channel 4, New York (NBC), Live at Five - John Lydon interview. Apparently John gives presenter Sue Simmons a (hilariously) hard time.
OCTOBER 16 - NOVEMBER 17
PiL US Tour begins at Portland, USA (see Gig List for full dates).
The Current - Lydon Interview.
John Lydon flies from his Pasadena home to New York. He enters Bill Laswell's Green Point Studios to record a single with hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa.
Afrika Bambaataa: "I met John Lydon in the summertime. I was introduced to him by Bill Laswell, it was great meeting him 'cos I had most of his previous work. I have Sex Pistols records, PiL records and I saw him in 'Corrupt' [Order of Death] and on his videos. I've always thought he looked real good and I really liked the rhythms on all the PiL records."
New York, Beacon Theatre.
This show marks a turning point for PiL. After the gig Martin Atkins speaks to a representative of Elektra Records who tells him in no uncertain terms that the just released 'This What You Want…' album is already considered "dead", and the company will not fund further touring in the US on the back of it. Instead Atkins is asked what will be next for PiL. Atkins: "Elektra Records had lots of ideas for the 'new direction'... It was very, very depressing... Things were so bad that I said, look I'll still do Australia and Japan but things are so bad I'm leaving the band."
The change of direction is already underway; support at this gig comes from Afrika Bambaataa, who has just recorded a new "punk-funk" single with John Lydon, and Bill Laswell, set for release in December.
BBC, 'Old Grey Whistle Test' - Lydon interview; via phone.
EON-FM, Australia, Trish Mulholand Show. Lydon interview; via phone.
OOR Magazine, Holland - Wobble interview. His last major music feature for nearly 4 years.
'Aquarian Weekly' magazine, USA - John Lydon interview!
'LA Weekly' - Lydon interview.
Pasadena, Perkins Palace.
This is a special 'just-for-TV' gig for US show 'Rock of the 80's'. A five song edit is later broadcast. The set includes 'Bodies'.
LA, Olympic Auditorium.
Police are injured by youths throwing rocks and 10 people arrested in a riot outside the venue.
Jah Wobble plays a reunion gig with Can at Stollwerck, Cologne, Germany. Jaki Liebezeit later commented: "The next day Wob collected the money from all of us and left for Amsterdam. I couldn't understand his behaviour. I was convinced he'd become a heroin addict. Later I heard he'd become an alcoholic and given up music. Then I heard he'd gone to work in the London Underground. I thought that was it..."
Adverts start showing on Aussie TV for the PiL tour; part of the advert features 'Anarchy in the UK' by the Pistols...
Lydon and Atkins hold a press conference at the Brisbane, Top of the Town to announce details of their Australian tour.
DECEMBER 14 - JANUARY 5
PiL Aussie Tour begins at Festival Hall, Brisbane (see Gig List for full dates).
3-PBS-FM, Melbourne, 'The Roadrunner Punk Show' - Lydon and Atkins interview.
Aussie TV 'Countdown'. John Lydon interview. He announces PiL plan to go "Straight into the studio to record an even better album than 'This is What You Want' after the tour".
'Good Afternoon Australia' - Lydon interview.
SPEX magazine, Germany - Wobble interview.
The 12" release of Time Zone - 'World Destruction' (Virgin. VS743) (see Lydon discography for full info). A one-off single featuring John Lydon and Afrika Bambaataa. The 7" release will follow a week later.
Afrika Bambaataa: "I was talking to Bill Laswell saying I need somebody who's really crazy, man, and he thought of John Lydon. I knew he was perfect because I'd seen this movie that he'd made, I knew about all the Sex Pistol and Public Image stuff, so we got together and we did a smashing crazy version, and a version where he cussed the Queen something terrible, which was never released."
John Lydon: "We went in, put a drum beat down on the machine and did the whole thing in about four-and-a-half hours. It was very, very quick."