Sex Pistols sue John Lydon over music licensing for Danny Boyle’s biopic series

The frontman has refused to license Sex Pistols' songs for the biopic series 'Pistols'

Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon is being sued by two former bandmates after refusing to license the group’s music for inclusion in Danny Boyle’s biopic series, Pistols.

Guitarist Steve Jones – whose 2016 memoir, Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol, serves as the basis for the show – and drummer Paul Cook are legally challenging Lydon’s veto, with their lawyer Edmund Cullen appearing in the High Court yesterday (July 15).

As per The Associated Press, Cullen said a band agreement made in 1998 stated that decisions about licensing requests could be determined on a “majority rules basis”.


The band’s original bassist Glen Matlock, and the estate of late bassist Sid Vicious, both support the inclusion of Sex Pistols’ music in Danny Boyle’s show. However, Lydon argues that the licensing can’t be granted without his consent.

His lawyer, Mark Cunningham QC, said that Lydon felt Jones’ memoir “depicts him in a hostile and unflattering light”, referring to a passage in the book that describes him as an “annoying little brat with the great bone structure who’s always asking for more”.

The case is expected to continue into next week.

Directed by Boyle (Slumdog Millionnaire, Trainspotting), the six-part series stars Game of Thrones Maisie Williams as Jordan Mooney (AKA Pamela Rooke) and Babyteeth‘s Toby Wallace as Jones. Anson Boon will play Lydon, while Louis Partridge depicts the late Vicious.

It is expected to be broadcast on Disney-owned channel FX next year.


Lydon first took issue with the biopic back in April, calling it the “most disrespectful shit I’ve ever had to endure”. He told The Sunday Times that neither his participation nor consent was requested, and revealed he was looking to take the filmmakers to court.

In May, Mooney told The Sun that Lydon hadn’t been included in the show’s development because he was “too difficult to work with”.

“He would just be a saboteur and he wouldn’t bring much to the table,” she revealed. “John argues for the sake of arguing. He’s a difficult person and I can’t say that part of him has changed at all.”

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