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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 February, 2004, 13:59 GMT
John Lydon: Still rotten
John Lydon and Jordan
John Lydon shocked some viewers with his latest TV outburst
Former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon - formerly known as Johnny Rotten - has walked out of ITV reality TV show I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here.

Lydon may be approaching 50, drive a Volvo, enjoy scuba diving and have made his fortune from property deals - but the spirit of Johnny Rotten still lives on.

His expletive outburst live on I'm A Celebrity... has reminded viewers of The Sex Pistols' infamous foul-mouthed appearance on Bill Grundy's TV show in 1976.

Then, the nation was outraged and "the filth and the fury" was examined in close detail on front pages the next day.

This time, the nation hardly noticed and fellow Celebrity contestant Jordan's chest was examined in close detail on front pages the next day.

But that is more of a sign of how society has changed - not Lydon.

The Sex Pistols outside Buckingham Palace
The Sex Pistols signed a record contract outside Buckingham Palace
He still has the vitriolic anger, venomous humour and vehement dislike of anyone or anything he does not respect.

He says he "learnt hate and resentment" at school, where the nuns who taught him called him "dummy".

Born in London to Irish immigrants, he was put back a year at school after being struck down with spinal meningitis aged seven and spent the next six months slipping in and out of a coma.

When he recovered, much of his memory had gone and he had to be taught to talk again.

After being expelled from school, he went to technical college - where he met John Ritchie (later known as Sid Vicious) - and became known on London's King's Road for his green hair and "anti-fashion" dress sense.

He was recommended to Malcolm McLaren, who ran the punk clothes shop Sex with Vivienne Westwood and was putting a band together.

The Sex Pistols
The Sex Pistols cashed in on their notoriety for the Filthy Lucre tour
Lydon was asked to audition - but responded: "What for?" When he did audition, it was found that he could not sing very well - but McLaren loved his style and attitude.

The Sex Pistols were born, rocketing into the public consciousness and striking fear and confusion into the hearts of older generations and establishment figures.

There were many outcries - when a girl was blinded during their 100 Club gig, after the Grundy appearance, when they released God Save the Queen - and they were dropped by record companies when the going got too hot.

But Rotten, as he was then known, refused to compromise his attitude and actions, and walked out on the group after just two years with the words: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

He founded another group, Public Image Limited, which allowed him to combine punk rock with his interest in experimental and exotic sounds.

John Lydon
Lydon released one solo album, which flopped
They enjoyed critical and commercial acclaim in some quarters, despite a backlash from punk supporters.

After the final Public Image Limited album was released in 1992, Lydon wrote his memoirs - titled Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs - and worked on a solo album.

But the Sex Pistols always cast a shadow over everything he did - and in 1996, he and his former bandmates decided to cash in on their continuing notoriety with a reunion tour.

"We have found a common cause, and it's your money," he sneered.

And when the tour went ahead, Lydon was no less acerbic, angry and explosive on stage than he had been 20 years earlier.

Another reunion gig took place in 2002 to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee - and the silver jubilee of their God Save the Queen single, which was re-released and reached number 15 in the charts.

But even when Lydon has been away from the public eye, he has not been forgotten - being named among the 100 greatest Britons for a BBC survey later that year.

And with his appearance on I'm A Celebrity..., he has reminded the country he is still here, still angry and still determined to play by his own rules.

Lydon quits I'm a Celebrity show
05 Feb 04  |  Entertainment
ITV apologises for Lydon outburst
04 Feb 04  |  Entertainment
The legacy of punk
20 Jan 04  |  Magazine
Former Sex Pistol joins Radio 2
21 Oct 02  |  Entertainment
Lydon plans jubilee party to remember
30 Apr 02  |  Entertainment


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