Rotten judgment: UK court rules against Sex Pistols singer
LONDON (AP) — A British judge ruled Monday that songs by punk trailblazers the Sex Pistols can be used in a forthcoming TV series despite the opposition of former frontman John Lydon.
Ex-Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook sued the singer, once known as Johnny Rotten, after he tried to block the music’s use in “Pistol,” a Disney-backed series based on a memoir by Jones.
Lydon said during hearings at the High Court last month that he “heart and soul” opposed the music’s use in a show he considered to be “nonsense.” He has previously expressed concerns the series will show him in a negative light.
Lydon said the songs could not be licensed without his consent, but Cook and Jones claimed that an agreement dating from 1998 allowed a majority decision.
Judge Anthony Mann agreed the pair were entitled to invoke “majority voting rules” as outlined in the band agreement. He said Lydon’s claim that he was not aware of the details or implications of the agreement that he had signed was “a convenient contrivance.”
“I reject the suggestion made by him that he did not really know or appreciate its effect,” the judge said.
Cook and Jones welcomed the ruling. They said the court battle “has not been a pleasant experience, but we believe it was necessary to allow us to move forward and hopefully work together in the future with better relations.”
“Pistol” is being made for Disney subsidiary FX and is directed by Danny Boyle, the Academy Award-winning director of “Trainspotting” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Formed in London in 1975, the Sex Pistols energized and scandalized the British music scene with songs such as “God Save the Queen” and “Anarchy in the U.K.”
The band split up in 1978 after releasing one album, and bassist Sid Vicious died the following year. The surviving members have reunited for several concerts, most recently in 2008.
“Mr. Lydon has not shrunk from describing his difficult relationships with the other members — difficult in different ways with different members — and that has persisted even through their comeback tours in the 1990s and 2000s,” the judge said. “It persists today.”