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Family: John Lydon

There was such a concision and maturity about the Sex Pistols’ lyrics, yet you were only nineteen or twenty when you wrote them.

I could always read and write. I was a fluent reader and writer at four and then meningitis of course at seven put me right back. There but for the attention of my mum, I’d still be like Dummy Dumb-Dumb, which was my earned nickname.

Did your love of reggae come to you when you were young?

Very young. Finsbury Park used to be called the melting pot because of all the races and creeds and colours, and when you’re brought up in that environment, you really don’t understand the racism that comes from outside of that area.

Going to school with kids from different ethnic backgrounds, you don’t get it.

No. Multicultural has always been my background. And because my mum and dad were well into music, that helped me somewhat. The only time I was ever let in a nightclub, I’ve got to tell you, without any trouble in England, was bringing my mother to Tramp with Gary Glitter. And we met George Best.

What a night. To be able to introduce your mother to George Best, you must have been made up.

I knew she had cancer then, you see. We knew, but that was very early, early stages. She was ill all the time. My mum was ill for a great deal of my childhood.

That couldn’t have helped when it came to dealing with all the other shit that was coming at you from all directions.

That’s right. But you still have to put up with it. There’s a really old song, and I love it. I can’t remember who did it… it was probably Max Bygraves. Smile Though Your Heart Is Breaking

Do you ever get to go and watch the Arsenal these days?

No, but I’m still a season ticket holder. Haven’t been to the new ground at all. My brother looks after the tickets and he passes them on to his kids, which is… right. I don’t know, people are complaining about the atmosphere there.

_Can you still feel at home in Finsbury Park? _

I don’t go there much. Everybody’s moved out. There’s a few lads there, and when I do go down I meet me old tribe.

Home is where your people are.

Yeah. It’s not so much the buildings. Which is a pity, because it would be nice to have terra firma, but I find that the firmest thing you can rely on is people’s heads, and that’s it. It doesn’t matter where they live… It’s mentality and honesty, actually.

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 19 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.