Sex Pistols in legal dispute over Danny Boyle’s new TV serieson July 16, 2021 at 8:44 am

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Steve Jones and Paul Cook sue John Lydon over the use of the band’s songs in Danny Boyle’s Pistol.

Johnny Rotten (left) and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols in 1978

image copyrightGetty Images

A legal battle between three former members of the Sex Pistols has begun in the High Court in London.

Guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook are suing frontman John Lydon to allow the use of their songs in a new Danny Boyle-directed TV series, Pistol.

The show, which is being made by Disney, is based on Jones’s memoir.

But Lydon – aka Johnny Rotten – has said he is not prepared to approve the necessary licences for the punk band’s music unless ordered to by a court.

The Sex Pistols blazed a trail for UK punk in the 1970s, with a short but explosive career which included classic tracks like Anarchy in the UK, God Save the Queen and Pretty Vacant.

The six-part show, based on Jones’s Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol, has reignited longstanding feuds among the surviving members of the band.

On Thursday, Mark Cunningham QC, representing Lydon, said in written arguments that his client believes the book “depicts him in a hostile and unflattering light”.

Edmund Cullen, the lawyer representing for Jones and Cook, called the relationship between the former bandmates “bitter and fractious”, noting how there had been failed attempts to resolve their differences.

Actors Louis Partridge and Emma Appleton, aka Sid and Nancy, seen on the set of Pistol in April

image copyrightGetty Images

Mr Cullen said that under the terms of a band agreement made in 1998, decisions regarding licensing requests could be determined on a “majority rules basis”.

He said Lydon was the only member of the band who was preventing the songs from being used by Oscar-winning director Boyle. Former bassist Glen Matlock and the estate of the late Sid Vicious support the licensing, he noted.

In a Sunday Times interview in April, Lydon said the script has been written and an actor selected to play him without his participation or consent, and that he had been put “in a corner like a rat”.

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