Driving Mr. Rotten: John Lydon cruises L.A., slams Green Day, takes credit for Lady Gaga

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Johnny Rotten has lived in Los Angeles for the last two decades, and for a time considered his post-Sex Pistols project Public Image Ltd to be an L.A. band, he told The Times recently when he loaded into the passenger side of an old Volvo to get ferried to a video interview downtown. If any of that information is news to you, the video above will perhaps serve you well. In it, Lydon, whose work with the aforementioned two bands transformed rock music in myriad ways over the course of the 1970s and ‘80s, is his typically acerbic self.

The punk archetype, who turns 55 on Monday, pulled no punches over the course of two hours in the car and at The Times building, especially when the subject of the current breed of punk bands came up. Specifically, Green Day, whose music Rotten apparently dislikes.

Said Lydon when asked about his inheritors: ‘Many of the punk bands are cop-outs and imitators and have made it easy for the likes of Green Peace -- Green Day, who I hate. I really ... I can’t stand them. To me, they’re like coat hangers, and haven’t earned the right, they haven’t earned the wings, to be wearing the mantle of punk. They haven’t had to go through the violence, and the hate, and the animosity that us chaps way back when had to put up with. We had to fight for every single footstep.’

And Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ on Broadway? Don’t get him started:

‘I don’t think I’ve done anything good if it ends up with Green Day on Broadway. But I have done something good that Lady Gaga is so quite as mentally insane as she is. There’s someone out there -- yeah, ultimately just shock, but the lyrics are so good. They really are. And so every now and again, as corrupt as the music industry is, there is one in there that can manipulate it properly. She’s one. So applause to her.’

Read the full feature about John Lydon’s Los Angeles here.


-- Randall Roberts