When John Lydon brutally compared Billy Idol to Cliff Richard

John lydon

A multitude of diverse factors and social conditions, including growing youth unemployment, a change in the political environment, the emergence of art schools, and the squat culture, all contributed to the punk rock revolution of the mid-1970s. The music scene’s total rejection of popular culture and music, however, is arguably its most well-known feature. Punk rockers, such as the sardonic frontman of the Sex Pistols, John Lydon, might as well have been the devil himself, given the calibre of the artists that filled the top 40 singles chart.

Ironically, punk’s rejection of popular culture contributed significantly to its success. A whole generation of young people, both domestically and internationally, experienced a sense of alienation from the glitz and glamour of Top of the pops. There was a desperate need for aggressive, political music in the 1970s, especially considering the dismal state of England. This was to balance out the likes of Cliff Richard and his witty pop-rock records. For numerous individuals, the introduction of Sex Pistols provided the solution to their desire for something more truthful.

The Sex Pistols, produced by Malcolm McLaren, a clothes salesman and aspiring music mogul, rose to prominence as the face of the London punk scene. They contributed significantly to the dissemination of the anarchist, rebellious, and anti-authority message. Of course, John Lydon, the band’s passionate frontman, is primarily responsible for their success. Lydon, known on stage as Johnny Rotten with the Pistols, greatly influenced punk rock’s aesthetic and demeanor. Lydon frequently treated audiences with the same contempt he held for the monarchy and government.

After the punk movement’s initial boom faded, Lydon has essentially seized every chance to disparage his peers. Lydon has attacked bands like Blondie, The Clash, the Ramones, and many more in innumerable interviews, live appearances, and even his memoir. The charge of “selling out” is one of the harshest insults for the original wave of punks. Lydon has been known to level that accusation frequently.

In a recent instance, Lydon escalated this insult to a whole new level by drawing comparisons between one of his fellow original punk rockers and Cliff Richard, who is, despite what Rik from The Young Ones may say, about as far from punk authenticity as it gets. The frontman of Public Image Ltd was less than complimentary when discussing Generation Sex. This punk supergroup was made up of Billy Idol and former members of Generation X and Sex Pistols, last year.

He began, “Good luck to them,” then clarified, “but come on, boys, get it together.” The supergroup made their debut at Glastonbury 2023, performing a mix of Generation X and Sex Pistols songs. Regarding Billy Idol’s participation, Lydon remarked, “We used to call him the Cliff Richard of punk. What has poor Billy taken on“? Given his efforts in the punk scene, which is worlds apart from Cliff Richard’s bland Christian rock. Idol cannot be overly excited about that moniker.

To be fair, Lydon did add that Idol “was such a nice fella and easy to get on with”. So, it’s evident that their differences aren’t that great. However, it appears that the frontman of Public Image Ltd is not too fond of Idol’s music or his new arrangements of songs that Lydon performed live with the Pistols.

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