Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon — better known as his alter ego Johnny Rotten — has lost his legal battle against bandmates Steve Jones, the group’s guitarist, and drummer Paul Cook over a contract setting out how the 1970s punk band agrees to license its music.
The decision means that Jones and Cook can now license the band’s music for Danny Boyle’s FX adaptation of Jones’s memoir, “Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol” despite Lydon’s veto.
Lydon objects to his characterization in Jones’ book and has claimed he had no idea a show was in the works until very late into proceedings. He had intended to veto use of the band’s music being licensed to FX for the series.
The show has been filming during the pandemic and stars Anson Boon (“1917”) as Lydon and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“The Queen’s Gambit”) as the band’s former manager Malcolm McLaren. Boyle directs while Craig Pearce (“Moulin Rouge!”) and Frank Cottrell Boyce (“Doctor Who”) have written the screenplay.
The legal wrangle revolved around a 1988 contract signed by Lydon, Jones and Cook that said licenses for the music could be granted by agreement from the majority of the band. Jones and Cook brought the lawsuit to enforce the contract. Lydon argued the contract had never been adhered to and any request for licenses were therefore subject to members’ individual vetoes.
After Jones and Cook took the dispute to London’s High Court last month, a judge has now ruled that the contract is in force and that the majority of the band can overrule any individual member’s veto.
During the trial it emerged that Lydon had previously vetoed use of the band’s music in Netflix drama “The Crown” over concerns that producers planned to “distort history.”
“We welcome the court’s ruling in this case,” Jones and Cook said in a statement. “It brings clarity to our decision making and upholds the band members’ agreement on collective decision making. It has not been a pleasant experience, but we believe it was necessary to allow us to move forward and hopefully work together in the future with better relations.”
More to come.