Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs (John Lydon autobiography, 1994)

Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs
Hodder & Stoughton, March 17th 1994

John Lydon’s first autobiography mainly concentrating on Sex Pistols. First published in 1994 the book also includes contributions from Paul Cook and Steve Jones; together with various friends, family and associates such as John Rambo Stevens, Julien Temple, Chrissy Hynde, Billy Idol, and more…

Originally Published 1994
St Martin’s Press (USA)
Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
Republished by
Plexus Publishing (UK)
Picador (US)

John Lydon with Keith & Kent Zimmerman

“The Sex Pistols were gaudiness incarnate. Musical vaudeville. Evil Burlesque.”
John Lydon

Dear World:

You cannot separate the Sex Pistols from the real world, which is what past publications have tended to do. In order to understand why people do what they do, you must first understand why they’ve done it, who they are and where they come from.

The trouble with rock journalism in general is this; they settle for a narrow point of view, completely missing out on the humanity of the subject matter. In actuality, so-called ”rock icons” are just people. We have family. He have people we care for. We have points of view and prejudices, just like everybody else.

Point #1. Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs is the no-bullshit account of the Sex Pistols from my own point of view. I’m not saying I’m completely correct, because in reading the book, you’ll notice more than a few contradictions. That is what makes the book valid. Contradiction is the art form.

Point #2. In order to be accurate, I’ve taken several extra months to deliberately eliminate a single point of view format in favour of the larger picture. Hence the use of extra voices like Billy Idol, Chrissie Hynde, my father, best friends, worst friends, and people I hardly know. This leaves a tapestry for you to unravel.

Point #3. This is not just a music book. Music must reflect life, and life must come first. As someone born in the late fifties, going through the sixties as a child, observing the feminist movement as a pre-teen, seeing the mistakes of others, observing drastic political changes in youth culture and watching most of them fail, as chance would have it, we put a band together out of the debris. The Sex Pistols dismissed traditional sexual and racial role-playing.

Point #4. Individuality is a major theme of the book. It is a tragedy of modern life that individuality is perceived as, at best, an art form, and at least, an outcast. Fashion follows individuality, and never the other way around.

I hope you enjoy Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs because certainly the alternative is lies and exaggeration. This book is neither ghost-written, nor is it a publisher’s delight. My friends and I, Keith and Kent Zimmerman, have assembled something I consider honest and real.

The written word need not be a lie…

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