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Johnny Rotten Interview August, 2007, NYC

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Published on Sep 7, 2007

What becomes a legend most? It depends on how accurate the legend is in relation to the person.

In the case of John Lydon, you might start with his autobio "Rotten: No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish" discounting of course, the myth that's always created whenever we attempt to write about ourselves. Still, it's an interesting and very honest story, and it sheds light on his individuality and goes a long way in loosening up the dogma that Punk as a music became, and reminds us of the funkier, disaffected angels that inform whatever Punk as a philosophy was, and hopefully, continues to become.

So when you consider Lydon the person and realize that he was more a catalyst than a dogmatist, the idea of him judging a talent show (Bodog.com's $1 Million Battle of The Bands) isn't really so anomalous, although talent contests by definition would instantly seem counter-intuitive to punk's attempted destruction of the rock star deity and the bloated corporate label.

Of course, punk never completely accomplished this, maybe cuz once one person does something new, either a) everybody copies it to the point of redux, or b: everybody worships the originator to an unreasonable point or conformity. Punk as music has suffered both fates at times, tho punk as philosophy has certainly had a considerable, if not total, impact - probably because the philosophy existed long before the music.

Coincidentally, while working on this I received an email from a publicist a bout a contemporary band that the late Mr. Tony Wilson said made him feel the same excitement he'd felt at the Sex Pistols' first show, which of course is a legendary event that I simply have to ask Lydon about. And of course, Lydon initially declines the offer, and rightly so, before sharing very lucid thoughts about punk as philosophy -- and then tearing into Green Day, whose platinum record adorns the room we find ourselves in. At one point in this interview another platinum record on the wall haloes him and he seems a saint of rock and roll. At another camera angle, the shiny circle looks like a saw blade slicing into his head. Lydon certainly suffered both fates and lived to not tell about it if he doesn't want to, but thankfully, he shares a lot in this conversation and I'm very grateful.

In the past few weeks, I've taped interviews and/or performances from several different legends; Rock Steady Crew's Crazy Legs; Morrissey; Siouxsie Sioux; and Mr. Rotten himself, (video from all coming soon) and it's interesting to see the extent some are, and others aren't, wiling to discuss the days/play the songs from the time when they made their first mark. And they each have a right to share as little or as much from their past as they choose.

But of course, this video interview is about more than the past, or talent contests; it's about what it should be about when The Fates throw you in the Green Room with Johnny Rotten. Yes, he explains the seemingly-contradictory act of Judging Music in his classic, anarcho-individualistic terms. But he also looks at Richard Branson and the late Tony Wilson, while also throwing in an appreciation for Stephen Colbet, and a love of vinyl records, and whatever else he feels like contemplating.

As for his own "career", he's actually been very busy with this talent contest which (like most contests these days) has proven to have legs and is on FuseTV which i've never seen ('dont have cable). He's also done a lot of narration for nature programming (again, check your expectations at the door). So the guy's always moving forward, tho' he also doesn't rule out the possibility of touring again with PIL or The Sex Pistols. I think he should do both, and soon.

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