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Court Rules Johnny Rotten Can’t Keep Sex Pistol Tunes Off TV Show

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Johnny Rotten, the legendary Sex Pistols frontman whose real name is John Lydon, won’t be able to keep the influential punk band’s real music from being heard in FX’s Pistol, the upcoming miniseries that dramatizes the English rockers’ bratty 1970s peak.

That’s after the musician and fellow former Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook were locked in a legal stalemate throughout the summer over whether to allow their music in the show. The guitarist and drummer, respectively, both wanted Pistol to include their tunes — Lydon, as he aired quite publicly, did not.

In April, the onetime Sex Pistols singer, who’s also the creative force behind Public Image Ltd, called the imminent retelling a “disgrace.” He went on to say, “I think that’s the most disrespectful shit I’ve ever had to endure. I mean, they went to the point to hire an actor to play me, but what’s the actor working on? Certainly not my character. It can’t go anywhere else [but court].”

To court it went, where on Monday (Aug. 23), per Classic Rock, a judge in London’s high court ruled that a standing contract between the Sex Pistols was valid and active. As previously reported, it stipulated band members have majority rule over a minority member in music licensing decisions.

The judge, Sir Anthony Mann, also underscored that Lydon “had actually signed away his power to control the use of music rights” to publishing companies such as Warner Chappell and BMG over the years, another blow to Lydon’s defiant show of refusal, as Blabbermouth reported.

Last month, Lydon likened the group’s licensing agreement to slavery. Addressing Pistol director Danny Boyle in April, the singer said, “Sorry, you think you can do this, like walk all over me — it isn’t going to happen. Not without a huge, enormous fucking fight.”

He added, “I’m Johnny, you know, and when you interfere with my business, you’re going to get the bitter end of my business as a result.”

FX revealed the first on-set images from Pistol in March. Actor Anson Boon (Shadowplay) plays Lydon, Toby Wallace (Babyteeth) is Jones, Jacob Slater is Cook, Christian Lees (Sun Records) is bassist Glen Matlock and Louis Partridge (Enola Holmes) is Sid Vicious.

The six-episode series finds its basis in Jones’ 2018 memoir, Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol — it’s due to premiere sometime next year.

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