1986 Chronology

Research by Karsten Roekens and Scott M, plus contributors…



John Lydon's court case against Malcolm McLaren and Glitterbest finally comes to the High Court in London. McLaren agrees an out of court settlement to hand over control of Glitterbest and Matrixbest to John Lydon, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and the Estate of Sid Vicious (handled by his mother Anne Beverley). The remaining Pistols walk away with a sum around £880,000 which the receiver has collected over the last seven years. Lydon tells the waiting reporters: "You don't ever try to cheat me!"

The band later set up their own company "Sex Pistols Residuals" to handle all Sex Pistols recordings and monies.


Radio 1, 'Saturday Live' - John Lydon interview, including a recording of him outside court: "It's good to win!"


The release of 'Rise' (aka Single) on 7" & 12" (Virgin. VS 841).


'Sounds' review 'Rise'.


The recording of the promo video for 'Rise' in London. Directed by Peter Care.


Radio 1, 'Saturday Live' - Lydon interview.


The release of 'Album' (Virgin. V 2366). The cassette version is titled 'Cassette', the CD version 'Compact Disc'.


Channel 4, 'The Tube' broadcast a brief edit of PiL on 'Check it Out' 2nd July 1979 much to the studio's amusement!


'NME' - Lydon interview. Paul Morley attempts a stitch-up and adds suitably snide comments later (as Lydon predicts in the interview). The front cover also declares "Here's Looking at 40" (Lydon had literally just turned 30).


'City Limits' magazine - Lydon interview.


'Melody Maker' - Lydon interview.


'Sounds' - Lydon interview. First of a special 2 part interview.


'NME' review 'Album'.


'Smash Hits' - Lydon interview.


'Album' enters the charts, peaking at number 10 and remaining in the charts for six weeks. The album peaks in the US at number 115.


'Record Mirror' - Lydon interview.


BBC1, 'Top of the Pops'. PiL mime to 'Rise'. With Lydon finding himself with a hit single – but still in the process of putting together a new PiL – a "band" is quickly put together just for the show. There are around seven people on stage including: Don Letts & Leo Williams (both of B.A.D), Bruce Smith – one of two drummer's; along with Hugo Burnham (Gang of Four) – plus an unknown female fiddle player, and Kevin Armstrong on guitar.


KERRANG! - Lydon Interview.


With the aid of Lydon's manager Keith Bourton, guitarist Kevin Armstrong begins to assemble a new live PiL line-up in London. Armstrong brings in his friend Lu Edmonds (guitar, keyboards), then Bruce Smith (drums) is recruited. Smith recommends Allan Dias (bass) who he has worked with before.

Prior to the tour Kevin Armstrong pulls out the band to go on tour with Iggy Pop. He is replaced by John McGeoch; which turns out to be another huge turning point for PiL. Mcgeoch would go on to form a formidable partnership with Lydon and PiL, and is widely regarded as their most important collaborator; post Keith Levene. McGeoch's arrival helped change the whole sound and outlook of the band. McGeoch, together with Allan Dias, would form the backbone of the "new" PiL, contributing song-writing and acting as a full member.

McGeoch later joked, "Well, I'd been living off Public Image guitar lines for years, so I thought it was time that I finally sealed and signed the document. Now I'm playing Public Image lines for John, as opposed to any other sort of pretender." McGeoch had previously been approached to join PiL as far back as 1983. McGeoch: "I met John Lydon in New York in 1982* [sic], which he denies. He asked me to join PiL like this: "I hear you want to work with me?" / 'Could be'. / "Don't could be me!" / So I didn't 'could be' him!"


US premiere of 'Hollywood Vice Squad', a movie directed by Penelope Spheeris for which Keith Levene composed parts of the score.

Levene is still living in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, together with rock journalist Shelly da Cunha (who he later marries after the breakdown of his first marriage). He collaborates briefly with the young Red Hot Chili Peppers; Flea, Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons guest on two Levene solo tracks ('I'm Looking for Something' & 'If 6 was 9') which are recorded at Brett Gurewitz's studio in Hollywood. Levene: "I met them and said it straight to Flea and Hillel - 'You, me, studio, tomorrow', and that was it."

In return Levene produces a few demo tracks for the Peppers which unfortunately have been lost since. Their bassist Flea remembers: "We got in the studio to demo a few things with Keith Levene, the great guitarist from PiL. That was an intense chemistry of people working together, he was far from the babysitting type figure we might have needed at the time. What a bunch of freaks we were. He used to yell at the bewildered engineer angrily 'Just mash it up! Mash it up I say! I want to move air!' Our working relationship did not last too long, I wonder whatever became of the tapes we recorded with him."


John Lydon, brandishing a machine gun, makes a (very) brief cameo appearance in the promo video for B.A.D's 'Medicine Show'. Joe Strumpet and Paul Simenon also appear in the promo.


Announcements appear in the music press for the new UK PiL tour.


The promotional release of the promo video for 'Home'; directed by Willy Smax.


The release of 'Home' on 7" & 12" (Virgin. VS 855).


'Rockpool' - Lydon interview.


'Home' enters the charts, peaking at number 75 and remaining in the charts for one week.


'Smash Hits' review 'Home'.


ITV, 'Chart Show' broadcast the promo video of 'Home'.


PiL begin their UK tour at Victoria Hall, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent (see Gig List for full dates).
At John McGeoch's suggestion PiL start with Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir' (a set opener throughout the year). During the first song 'FFF' someone throws a bottle which hits Lydon on the head. He immediately stops and challenges the "coward" to show himself.

Despite of this the band continue and play a lengthy set including a mixture of older PiL material such as 'Annalisa', 'Poptones' and 'Flowers of Romance' as well as a healthy selection of new tracks from 'Album'. The band are well recieved by the crowd and they pick up good reviews, which continue throughout the tour.

MAY 10

ITV, 'Get Fresh' - John Lydon interview (Children's Saturday morning TV). Speaking of the violence the band have encountered on the tour so far, Lydon comments:"There was one young fool that threw a bottle and hit me in the head in the first six seconds at the first gig, you know, just a one-off I hope..."

MAY 10

No.1 Magazine - Lydon Interview.

MAY 10

'Rockline', France - John Lydon interview. The programme also shows footage of a wax dummy of Rotten / Lydon in the Paris Virgin Megastore.

MAY 16

Piccadilly Radio, Manchester - Lydon interview.

MAY 20

BBC2, 'Old Grey Whistle Test' - PiL perform live versions of 'Home' & 'Round'.

MAY 24

'Melody Maker' - Lydon / PiL interview. Speaking of the band John McGeoch comments: "I think we're working more together as a band than PiL ever had in the past. All five of us are quite involved in what's going on onstage, as opposed to John plus backing band. There seems to be more room too, even with the old songs. We are almost loose onstage, and I think it's going to show when we start writing the new PiL album at the end of the tour..."

MAY 27

London, Brixton Academy
"Still gobbing. This is the last time I'm ever going to play London again, you do not deserve me. You are filth, you are a product of the Daily Mirror and you deserve what you get. Die bastards!"
So, John Lydon addresses members of the audience at this volatile PiL gig. Lydon's 1986 home-coming almost ends up in a riot, due to certain "punx" who were out to wind him up and just cause trouble. It's certainly an eventful gig, and more reminiscent of Sex Pistols USA 1978, than eighties PiL. It's absolute chaos in places, at one point Lydon even offers to fight one of the offenders on stage. "You deserve nuclear war, you really do!"

MAY 28

Short European Tour begins at Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands (see Gig List for full dates).


'Melody Maker' & 'NME' publish reviews of the eventful Brixton gig.

JUNE 1 - JULY 15

US Tour begins at Hartford, USA (see Gig List for full dates).
Having been dropped by Elektra Records in the USA, PiL have to tour North America at their own expenses, leaving the band in debt for several years.


Radio Toronto - John Lydon interview. An edit of this interview is later included on a US Virgin promo CD single for 'Don't Ask Me'. "We've a world of masturbators out there and then there's PiL".


'Musician' magazine, USA - Lydon Interview and front cover. The journalist also speaks to John's father. There is also a separate Lydon and Laswell interview about the recording of 'Album'. Lydon: "We were determined to get the best drum sound we could, but that doesn't come cheaply. We had an awful budget, ridiculous. Arcadia gets $800,000, and we had two sixteenth of that. Outrageous!"


'Tip' - Lydon interview.


KROQ LA, 'Jed The Fish' - John Lydon & Bruce Smith interview.


Short European Tour begins at Seaside Festival, De Panne, Belgium (see Gig List for full dates).


Belgian TV, 'Roxbox' - Lydon & McGeoch interview.
During the interview John has a go at U2 for ripping off '4 Enclosed Walls' on their track 'Bullet the Blue Sky'. He also has a little pop at studio engineer Nick Launay who worked on 'Flowers of Romance' for using the same PiL drum sound on Phil Collins hit 'In the Air Tonight'. "Public Image. Often imitated, never surpassed".


'Creem' magazine - Lydon interview.


Canadian TV, 'The New Music' - Lydon & McGeoch interview. This interview is later re-broadcast in 1994.


Donauinsel Festival, Vienna, Austria.
Guitarist John McGeoch is hit in the face by a two litre bottle of wine. He requires 40 stitches, and the remainder of the European tour is cancelled.


Radio London,' Cowboys & Indies Show' - John Lydon & Bruce Smith interview.


(venue known) Switzerland.
John Lydon later wrote in his autobiography, "PiL were playing a nightclub in Switzerland. In trots Mr. Bowie. He made his way backstage. It's two minutes before we go on'. Hi, I'm Dave Bowie, and this is my son. He'd like to meet you'. I don't know anyone who could deal with that shit two minutes before going on. We're just going up the stairs,and I had to cope with this. I wasn't rude to his son. His son had never do me any harm. But to him - blank. 'Now if this was your gig and I came back, would you have me thrown out?' I walked away and left it at that. And I'll bet he would have. Again and again."

David Bowie also commented on the incident in February 1987,"He (his son) really liked PiL, until he saw them, which was unfortunate. I thought the last album was great, but we went to a bad show. The whole thing was so tired. There was no enthusiasm in the band or the audience." Two sides to every story...


The 'Album' tour ends. The live PiL clicks so well that Lydon approaches the band to form a new full-time PiL line-up. Allan Dias: "After we finished touring 'Album' John said, listen, do you guys want to form a band because this is a good thing, he felt it, and we all felt it. And he was so equitable about it that he split the band to the five of us, and we each had 20% up and down on everything. I thought what a great thing, a great gesture. That he would bring us in like that, it was phenomenal".


'Melody Maker' - Lydon interview.


The release of the PiL promo video collection 'Videos'(Virgin. VVC 144) (see video discography for full info).



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