John Lydon reveals Chinese government requested his lyrics before approving PiL gigs

The former Sex Pistols frontman is given all-clear to play shows in Beijing and Shanghai this weekend (March 30, 31)

John Lydon has revealed that he had to send every lyric he has ever written to the Chinese government for approval before Public Image Ltd. were given permission to play in the country.

PiL are due to perform at Beijing’s Yugong Yishan on March 30 and Shanghai’s Mao Live House on March 31, however, Lydon’s lyrics – including The Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy In The UK’ and ‘Pretty Vacant’ – had to be vetted by China’s Ministry of Culture prior to the dates being confirmed.

Vetting by the Chinese authorities for foreign bands and artists isn’t uncommon and has resulted in many big names, including Oasis, being refused entry into the country to perform.


Speaking about the process, John Lydon told NME: “The Chinese Government asked me to send every lyric I have ever written, and they surprisingly approved me. They have either incredible good taste or they have no idea what I’m going on about. I can’t wait to find out.”

When asked if he was surprised to be given the all clear, Lydon joked that it may be part of a cunning ruse to snare him. He added: “Well, I hope their prison food is better than elsewhere. I’ve been in jails all around the world. I’m due an update.”

Earlier this year, it was reported that authorities in China had allegedly hardened their stance on foreign performers after Elton John dedicated a concert in Beijing to artist and political activist Ai Weiwei.

According to reports, John finished his November 2012 performance in Beijing by saying the show was dedicated “to the spirit and talent of Ai Weiwei”. Officers wanted John’s manager to sign a statement saying the dedication was inspired only by admiration for Ai’s art.

Similarly, Bjork was condemned for shouting “Tibet! Tibet!” while performing in Shanghai in 2008. Speaking about her comments at the time, a spokesperson for the ministry of culture in China stated: “[her] political show has not only broken Chinese laws and regulations, and hurt the feeling of Chinese people, but also went against the professional code of an artist.”