There’s Something Rotten About Johnny

Johhnny RottenI discovered the Sex Pistols when I was 13… 1983. In other words, way after the fact. I was about to start high school. At the time, I was just surprised that my brother was listening to it, it wasn’t like anything else he played at home. But that exposure was the harbinger of what was to become.

I really discovered rock n roll in the mid 80’s. At an all-boys school during the height of the state of emergency in South Africa, the one thing we can and did do was seriously get into music. The post-punk era of rock was fertile ground for a gang of somewhat alienated teenagers to get lost in and we got good and lost.

As an adult I look back on those days as the fire that forged large parts of my personality foundation. I (and we) chose to self-identify out of the herd and thus set in motion a series of social and environmental processes that help result in, well, me.

34-years later I will meet Johnny Rotten in person for the first time. He is a key speaker at the PROMAX BDA Europe 2017 conference. The form his main appearance will take is an hour-long interview on stage in front of around 1 000 people. An interview with me.

There is no doubt in my mind that my teenage exposure to punk rock is part of what motivated me to pretty much only ever do my own thing, to make music, to make books and to remain self-employed on the fringes of the mainstream in the society I grew up in. It is an awesome privilege to have this job to do.

I need to ask him about creativity and his creative process and obviously his history and therefore his perspective on the world that we live in now.

We are the generations to witness our childhood Idols turn into Elder Statesmen in public. While Facebook seems to be an endless obituary right now, it is only logical: it follows on from the huge boom in popular youth culture that started in the 60’s. In the coming years, it will only get worse.

What’s great about this interview is that it is an opportunity to stand with someone who was on the other side of the mirror during that explosion, who got to shape some of its course and who was responsible for a body of the work it contains. What is his perspective on all this?

Rock and roll is full of myths (a bit like medical practice) and its always better not to believe what you read about people, what they say and how they are as humans… But I am intrigued and I am hoping to hear some real gems from this man’s mouth.
How much of a myth is our idea of what it takes to be a star?
How much is just dumb luck in being chosen to be the one the powers that be mould?
How much is raw, oozing talent?
I hope to find out.

Do you have any pressing, intriguing questions you’d like to ask Mr. John Lydon? Add them into the comments section below, I’d love to hear them and there is a chance I can use them in the interview. Have to make sure I don’t come across as pretty vacant, because this will be no holiday in the sun.

Come on, give me a hand!

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4 Responses

  1. Richard

    I’d be very interested to hear what he believes the new punk is – shock and awe have been overdone…how does he think today’s spratlets should be trying to get the attention of the establishment? Is it even worth it? Did punk (and all other forms of musical social protest) essentially fail?

  2. Loudine Heunis

    Probably not an original thought, but I’d be interested in his take on the ways in which the musical slant of an era influences (and of course, is influenced by) the social, political and cultural landscape it springs from. Nothing exists in a vacuum, as we know, and music as an art form gives a very vocal (ha!) expression to what the youth of the day is thinking and feeling. It seems to me that the origins of rock in the 50s, the peace & love movement of the 60s, psychedelic rock, grunge – all of the iconic musical movements of each generation – couldn’t have happened without that particular environment that gave it life or brought it to the fore.

  3. David Chislett

    Yeah, I am definitely going to ask him about his take on current youth culture, smart phones, social media and ‘hipsters.’

  4. David Chislett

    Oh yes, there will definitely be questions going to this issue… I am also fascinated to hear what he thinks about exactly what you ask here!

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