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John Lydon reveals record label woes led to butter adverts and 'I'm A Celebrity'

The Sex Pistols and PiL frontman opens up in candid new interview

Andy Willsher/NME
Photo: Andy Willsher/NME
John Lydon has discussed the legal battles he faced with record label Virgin which led to his decision to appear on reality TV and endorse a popular brand of butter.

The Sex Pistols and PiL frontman became a regular face on the televisions of Britain in the past decade since becoming the face of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and appearing alongside Katie Price and Peter Andre on ITV's I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!. Speaking to Clash about the problems he faced with PiL's back catalogue, Lydon admitted that he took the advertising deal to be able to buy back the rights to the band's songs.

Claiming that he was denied the opportunity to make music from the Sex Pistols, Lydon says: "I was trapped from what seemed to be a great promise from the beginning. The deal with Virgin, for instance, turned into a musical death trap for me. It was a shackle; they wouldn’t release records from me, they wouldn’t fund me, so I could literally not function and I had to go outside of music to raise any kind of money at all."

Though his advertising deal was forced upon him, Lydon is effusive in his praise for the campaign. He said: "The money for the butter ads wasn’t huge but it helped me put something up against the outstanding debt, and I could start crawling my way slowly and surely out of those constraints. I could then basically buy myself out of those restrictive contracts. When I worked with the butter people, they gave me a free hand. I enjoyed working with them very, very much, and there was a lot of mutual respect. But it wasn’t done for any scandalous reasons. It was quite anarchistic of them to want to connect themselves to Mr Rotten."

However, Lydon was less complimentary of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!, saying that the tabloid coverage of the reality show painted him in a less than truthful light in the media.

Earlier this year Lydon divulged the fact that Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones paid for Sid Vicious' legal fees when he was arrested for the murder of Nancy Spungen in 1978.

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