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Johnny Rotten: I’ve never set out to be provocative or shocking

Tom Horton, PA
·2-min read

Former Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten has said he has never set out to be provocative or shocking.

The singer, whose real name is John Lydon, said he is surprised that anyone would be shocked by his work.

The Sex Pistols wrote punk hits including Anarchy In The UK and God Save The Queen, a subversive take on the national anthem.

John Lydon
John Lydon (Yui Mok/PA)

Lydon told the PA news agency he has “never strived” to produce provocative or shocking material.

“I just said it as I feel it and see it and understand it, and that is about it really,” he added.

“I don’t involve any personal agendas so my motivation would never be to shock, not ever.”

He added he is “surprised that people are shocked by what I do”.

John Lydon
John Lydon said he is surprised that anyone would be shocked by his work (Ian West/PA)

“I think I’m basically a common sense kind of fella who just wants to tell it as I see it,” Lydon said.

Lydon, who looks after his wife Nora, who has Alzheimer’s, also discussed the role of carers in society.

He called them “warriors” and “absolutely beautiful people” who deserve more respect and better pay.

“To do that, to care about your fellow human being, these are the people I have envy for.”

He added it is an “incredible vocation” and it “should be one of the more highly paid jobs”.

John Lydon
John Lydon is embarking on a book tour in autumn 2021 (Yui Mok/PA)

Lydon said he and his wife are “semi-isolated” at home in the US because of coronavirus.

They have “lived an awful long time together and we have looked out and cared for each other for an awful long time and nothing could change or interrupt that”, he added.

However, he added that lockdown restrictions should not have been imposed and concerts should still be able to take place.

“I think it should have been business as usual and try and work out exactly what this virus is before we started destroying any concept of a society,” he said.

“They shouldn’t shut down anything until we really know what it is you are dealing with.”

Lydon’s new book I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right is available from October 15 and can be pre-ordered from his website at johnlydon.com.

He is embarking on a book tour in autumn 2021.