“Pistol” is directed by Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) and has been filming over the course of the pandemic. It is due to air on FX, which is a subsidiary network of The Walt Disney Company.
Lydon, better known as his on-stage persona Johnny Rotten, was sued by his former bandmates – guitarist Steve Cook and drummer Paul Jones – after he vetoed use of the band’s music in the series, which is based on Cook’s memoir “Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol.”
“For more than 23 years the Sex Pistols have operated on the basis of unanimous decision making,” a representative for Lydon posted on the punk singer’s website. “The Disney production is the first time that the unanimous approach has been ignored.”
“It is disappointing that a High Court judge has decided that John Lydon is bound by an undated agreement signed in 1998, which imposes on the Sex Pistols a majority rule arrangement in place of the unanimous decision making process that has been followed for 23 years.”
“Looking forward, there is great uncertainty about what the majority rule approach might do to water down and distort the true history and legacy of the Sex Pistols. Time will tell.”
“Whatever Disney does, it is doing it without John’s involvement or creative approval. John is powerless to prevent any distortion of the true history of the Sex Pistols and whatever results will be at the wish of the majority only.”
The dispute centered around a contract signed in 1998 in which the band agreed that any decisions would be made by the majority vote. However Lydon argued that in practice this had never been followed and that any objection by a band-member – for example when Lydon objected to the Sex Pistols’ music being licensed in an episode of “The Crown” – was adhered to.
Cook and Jones took Lydon to court to enforce the contract and earlier this month a High Court judge found in their favor, stating that Lydon’s evidence was “implausible.”
“I am the lead singer and songwriter, front man, image, the lot, you name it. I put it there. How is that not relevant? It is dumbfounding to me,” Lydon said on his website. “It is so destructive to what the band is and so I fear that the whole project might be extremely negative. How can anyone think that this can proceed without consulting me and deal with my personal life in this, and my issues in this, without any meaningful contact with me before the project is announced to the world. I don’t think there are even words that I can put forward to explain quite how disingenuous this is. As I said in the lyrics of ‘The Order of Death,’ This is what you want, this is what you get…”
In the series, Lydon will be played by Anson Boon (“1917”) while Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“Love Actually”) stars as the band’s erstwhile manager Malcolm McLaren.