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John Lydon loses court case against ex-bandmates, freeing up use of Sex Pistols’ music in Danny Boyle biopic

Sex Pistols
(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Music by the Sex Pistols can be used in Danny Boyle’s forthcoming TV biopic about the London punks despite ex-vocalist John Lydon’s objection, a London High Court judge has ruled.

Lydon’s former bandmates, guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook, took the singer to court after he attempted to ban the use of songs written and recorded by the iconic punk quartet in Danny Boyle’s TV drama Pistol, which is based upon Jones’ acclaimed memoir Lonely Boy

Lydon's lawyer had claimed the drama portrays the singer in “a hostile and unflattering light”: Lydon previously referred to Pistol as “disrespectful shit.”

Speaking as if addressing Danny Boyle during a Sunday Times interview earlier this year, the singer said, “Sorry, you think you can do this, like walk all over me – it isn’t going to happen. Not without a huge, enormous fucking fight. I’m Johnny, you know, and when you interfere with my business you’re going to get the bitter end of my business as a result. It’s a disgrace.”

Jones and Cook argued that the group members had an agreement that decisions over music licensing would be taken on a “majority rule basis”, and claimed they had the support of former bandmate Glen Matlock and the estate of the late Sid Vicious in their claim.

In his ruling today (August 23), Sir Anthony Mann found the pair were entitled to invoke this majority voting rule against the singer, under the terms of a band member agreement (BMA).

No transmission date has yet been set for Pistol, which has been adapted for television by writers Craig Pearce (Strictly BallroomThe Great Gatsby) and Frank Cottrell Boyce (24 Hour Party People), who also worked with Boyle on the staging of the theatrical opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics.