Sex Pistols' John Lydon Compares Contract Dispute to 'Slave Labor'

Johnny Rotten has compared a Sex Pistols contract disagreement to "slave labor" in court.

The former punk rock frontman—whose real name is John Lydon—has slammed a contract agreement with his former bandmates over permission for their music to be used in a TV series, titled Pistol.

Drummer Paul Cook and guitarist Steve Jones want tracks to be used in Pistol, an upcoming TV show about the band directed by Danny Boyle.

They argue that the band member agreement (BMA) created in 1998 means decisions regarding licensing are taken on a majority basis.

However, in a court appearance on Wednesday, Lydon branded the TV show, "the most disrespectful s*** I've ever had to endure."

In a witness statement, per PA, Lydon said: "The BMA has never been applied in anything we have ever done since 1998.

"It also seems completely unnecessary because there is no point in me being here or ever was if it is the case that I can just be completely outvoted by the vested interests of all in one management camp... and there is no way around that.

"That is like a total trap or prison and my fear is that they're demanding that I agree to sign over the rights to a drama documentary that I am not allowed any access to.

"To me that smacks of some kind of slave labor."

John Lydon
John Lydon of Public Image Limited performs in support of the band's "What the World Needs Now..." release at Ace of Spades on November 28, 2015 in Sacramento, California. Getty Images/Tim Mosenfelder

He also added that he doesn't understand how his former bandmates "think they have the right to insist that I do something that I so morally heart and soul disagree with, without any involvement."

Lydon went on to admit that that legal documents "terrify" him and that he "didn't understand" what a BMA was when he signed it.

Edmund Cullen, who is the barrister representing Jones and Cook, said that Lydon's reference to "slave labor" is a sign of "how deeply you regret having signed the BMA."

He added: "Given that you regard it as slave labor, you will do whatever it takes to try and get out of it. You will do whatever it takes up to and including giving false evidence."

To which Lydon responded: "False evidence? I'm sorry, how? Where?"

He added: "I don't think the BMA applies and so I would resist that. I didn't ask for this court case, it was brought to me, so I will naturally defend myself."

Jones said at the hearing that he thinks Lydon is "a total d***," and added: "This is not about slagging anyone off in this TV series at all."

Pistol is expected to air on Hulu in 2022.