Legal name: John Joseph Lydon
John Joseph Lydon (born 31 January 1956), also known by his former stage name Johnny Rotten, is an English singer, songwriter, and musician. He is best known as the lead singer of the punk rock band Sex Pistols from 1975 until 1978, and again for various revivals during the 1990s and 2000s. He is the lead singer of the post-punk band Public Image Ltd (PiL), which he founded and fronted from 1978 until 1993, and again since 2009.
There has been a recent revival of a 1980s movement to have Lydon knighted for his achievements with the Sex Pistols, even though he has declined efforts to award him an MBE for his services to music. In 2002, he was named among the 100 Greatest Britons following a UK-wide vote. Q Magazine remarked that "somehow he's assumed the status of national treasure".
Lydon's image and fashion style led to him being asked to become the singer of the Sex Pistols by their manager, Malcolm McLaren. With the Pistols, he penned singles including "Anarchy in the U.K.", "God Save the Queen", and "Holidays in the Sun", the content of which precipitated the "last and greatest outbreak of pop-based moral pandemonium" in Britain.
The band caused nationwide uproar in much of the media, who objected to the content of Lydon's lyrics and the band's antics, which included swearing on live television, in which Steve Jones called Bill Grundy a "fucking rotter". Due to the band's appearance in the media, Lydon was seen as a figurehead of the punk movement. Despite the negative reaction that they provoked, they are now regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music.
Lydon left the Pistols in 1978 to found his own band, Public Image Ltd, that was far more experimental in nature, and which was described in a 2005 NME review article as "arguably the first post-rock group". Although never as commercially successful as the Pistols, the band produced eight albums and a string of singles, including "Public Image", "Death Disco", and "Rise", before they went on hiatus in 1993, reforming in 2009. In subsequent years, Lydon hosted a number of television shows in the UK, US, and Belgium, as well as writing two autobiographies: Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs (1993), Anger is an Energy (2014), and producing some solo musical work, such as the album Psycho's Path (1997). In 2005, he released a compilation album, The Best of British £1 Notes.