John Lydon ran out of ideas since Pistols split, claims Vivienne Westwood

John Lydon ran out of ideas after the Sex Pistols split, according to Vivienne Westwood

Legendary designer and Dame, Vivienne Westwood, claims Johnny Rotten hasn’t evolved since the Sex Pistols in new documentary, Wake Up Punk.

John “Johnny Rotton” Lydon ignited the music world in the ’70s, trailblazing new frontiers that inspire artists to this day.

But according to designer Vivienne Westwood, the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd frontman, is all out of original ideas.

Vivienne Westwood in the 70's
Credit: Robin Laurance

If the Pistols became the sound of punk from 1976, then Westwood was the wardrobe. Co-owned by the Sex Pistols’ manager, Malcolm McLaren, Westwood’s iconic Let It Rock store opened in Chelsea, London, in 1976.

The name of the store was soon changed to Sex, which was borrowed by McLaren to inspire the Sex Pistols’ iconic name.

The store was only operating between 1974-1976, but its impact is still felt around the world. The rebellion and expression in their clothes allowed youth to express themselves and feel like walking pieces of art.

By contrast, the Pistols suddenly broke up in 1970, after a mere three-years together which saw the release of just one album. Lydon went on to form Public Image Ltd, and Vivienne Westwood’s career soared, expanding from punk clothing, to become a designer of high fashion. As a result, her name is now legend.

A new documentary directed by Nigel Askew, Wake Up Punk, dropped today, in which Westwood criticises the frontman for his lack of input since the manic years of the late ’70s. Speaking with the NME, the Dame expressed that Lydon: “Lost his mojo in recent years.”

“I think John Lydon was a sensation,” she continued. “I think he was so convinced of himself and his ideals – and I believed in him. He latched onto the idea that the people who run the world and caused the Vietnam War were still the same people in charge – and that’s why we talked about anarchy.”

“Once the Sex Pistols folded, he didn’t have any more ideas. We had something to talk about and you don’t just get ideas, they don’t fall from Heaven.”

The documentary follows both Westwood and her two sons, Ben and Joe, as they candidly discuss their own relationship with Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, and their memories from the punk era.

A similar 6 part series series called Pistol, directed by Danny Boyle is soon to be released. The series was berated by Lydon, calling it a “middle class fantasy,” and telling his former bandmates that “they can fuck off.”

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but whether or not you agree that Lydon’s work has dropped in quality since his days as the Sex Pistols’ frontman, it speaks volumes that a band with a three year career is still relevant enough for a documentary forty years later .