John Lydon calls Sex Pistols fame 'hell on earth' and claims band 'did the dirty' on him

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 04: Singer John Lydon of the Sex Pistols attends the Los Angeles premiere of the EPIX Original Docu-Series
John Lydon in 2019. (Michael Tullberg/FilmMagic)

Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon has said being in the band was "hell on earth" and has hit out at his bandmates for "doing the dirty’ on him with new biopic series Pistol.

Lydon – known as Johnny Rotten during the Sex Pistols’ heyday – has been embroiled in a public feud with the remaining members of the group over the upcoming drama.

Read more: John Lydon reportedly excluded from Sex Pistols series because he is ‘too difficult to work with’

After losing a court case against his bandmates earlier this year to stop them using his music for the project, Lydon has reflected on his time in the band and claims his experience was far from the "glory days" most assume.

Millions of pounds worth of memorabilia burnt by the Sex Pistols' manager's son
Sex Pistols (PA)

“I don’t know that there was much glory. It was mostly hell on earth,” he told Metro.

“There was constant pressure but I got to write the songs I wanted to write, got those lyrics out to Joe Public and Joe Public was very nice and appreciated it.

Read more: Sex Pistols singer John Lydon refused to be portrayed in The Crown

“But then I had a media and a police force who did not appreciate it. I was discussed in the Houses of Parliament under the treason act.”

Lydon said the court case put him in a “financial hole” but that he was “resilient”, and claimed that rather than refusing the music for Pistol, he wanted to know more about the project but was denied access.

Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon, also known as Johnny Rotten arrives at the Rolls building in central London on July 22, 2021. - Lydon is in court to fight two former Sex Pistols band members over the use of their songs in an upcoming television series. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
John Lydon outside the Rolls building in London in 2021. (Justin Tallis/AFP)

He said: “They did the dirty on me. For three years his project was going to exclude me,” he said.

“I only found out in January and they took me to court a month and a bit later under the guise that I denied them access to the songs.

“I denied nothing. All I did was ask what was going on and to this day I’ve received no information at all.”

Read more: Queen should speak our English, says Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten

He also criticised filmmaker Danny Boyle for his involvement in the project and for excluding him.

In response to his comments, a spokesman for the series told the paper: “John Lydon sold his rights to control the use of these songs in the 1990s in return for money.

“The majority rule agreement existed as a result – so no outside party could dictate the use of the band’s music. And to have a mechanism in place if one member was unfairly blocking the decision-making process – which is what happened in this instance.”

File photo dated 10/03/77 of the Sex Pistols, signing a new recording contract with A&M Records outside Buckingham Palace in London. (left to right) Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Sid Vicious and the group's manager Malcolm McLaren. A legal fight between two former Sex Pistols band members and frontman Johnny Rotten over the use of their songs in a television series has begun at the High Court in London. Issue date: Friday July 16, 2021.
Sex Pistols signing a recording contract outside Buckingham Palace in London in 1977. (PA)

Pistol is based on the memoir Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol by guitarist Steve Jones.

The six-episode mini-series was ordered by US network FX, and stars Anson Boon as Johnny Rotten, Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious, Toby Wallace as Jones and Jacob Slater as Paul Cook.

Maisie Williams is also set to appear as fashion icon Pamela Cooke, with Emma Appleton as Nancy Spungen.

Pistols has not yet been given a release date.

Watch: Steve Jones: John Lydon has self-esteem issues