Lydon on band tensions that inspired Anarchy

John Lydon has recalled the political landscape and inter-band tensions that inspired the Sex Pistols hit Anarchy In The UK.

As the 1976 single approaches the 40th anniversary of its release in November, Pistols frontman Lydon – aka Johnny Rotten – says it was about the band’s own problems as much as it was about the country’s issues.

He tells Mojo: “Anarchy In The UK came from all the despondencies and discrepancies within the band in the early days. There were some really bad moments and everyone was always on the verge of quitting, except me.

“I felt under serious pressure – and so did others, I think – and was trying to coin phrases and write words that would unite us as a band, as we were so bitterly opposed to each other and Anarchy In The UK was the end result.”

Social unrest also played its part in Lydon’s writing process though. He adds: “The ideas in that song had been rattling around in my head for years, but I had never had an outlet. Then there I was all of a sudden, a singer in a band.

“The people running the country at that time were running it into the ground, with a pompous us-and-them attitude that Margaret Thatcher would come to exemplify. Young people were constantly being told that they had no future.

“They certainly had no money. I had to bunk on the subway just to get to rehearsals. There would be trash everywhere, it felt like the downfall of Western civilisation – we’re talking race riots, the National Front.

“It was a society facing imminent collapse, so I threw ‘anarchy’ into that mix, even though there weren’t that many anarchists running around at the time.”

Lydon’s PiL released their latest album What The World Needs Now… last year.

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Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.