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Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs Paperback – February 15, 1995

4.3 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Much has been written about the Sex Pistols. Much of it has either been sensationalism or journalistic psychobabble. The rest has been mere spite. This book is as close to the truth as one can get ... This means contradictions and insults have not been edited, and neither have the compliments, if any. I have no time for lies or fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die."

So writes author John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, in his introduction to the book Rotten, an oral history of punk: angry, honest, and crackling with energy. Seventies punk has been romanticized by the media and the up-and-coming punk bands of today, but the sneering, leering disaffection of that time has been lost. Now, Lydon candidly and at times, dare we say it, fondly looks back at himself, the Sex Pistols, and the "no future" attitude of the time. Rolling Stone calls Lydon a "pavement philosopher whose Dickensian roots blossom with Joycean color," and the San Francisco Chronicle calls Rotten an "invaluable [book] ... sheds welcome light on that short period of great music and spasmodic cultural change."

Bollocks you say? Read, sneer, and enjoy or die.

From Publishers Weekly

Britain's short-lived, notorious late-'70s punk band the Sex Pistols has become one of rock 'n' roll's greatest legends. But it's time to set the record straight, writes Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, frontman for the Pistols and author of the controversial songs--"Anarchy in the U.K.," "God Save the Queen"--which made his band an immediate sensation. In his engagingly nasty and unexpectedly witty autobiography, he seeks to demythologize the Sex Pistols by suggesting that punk rockers are just like the rest of us, people with families, friends and financial troubles. Vitriolic about the British class system and the music industry, Lydon is nevertheless unabashedly affectionate when discussing his own family. And his depiction of Sid Vicious, his ironic bandmate who has been alternately romanticized and maligned for his addictions to heroin and self-mutilation emerges as a touchingly helpless figure. Lydon's account of the Sex Pistols' demise is one-sided and his narrative rambles at times, but textual anarchy seems appropriate in the context. He augments his personal perspective with the disparate impressions of his fellow bandmates and associates to make his memoir a convincingly candid account of the Sex Pistols as working-class stiffs who mainly wanted to shake things up a bit and inadvertently stumbled across rock 'n' roll sainthood. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (February 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031211883X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312118839
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,457,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
At long last, John Lydon (aka, Johnny Rotten) has opened up, nearly twenty years later. The Sex Pistols remain one of my favorite bands, and Johnny Rotten one of the more interesting media figures in the pop culture, so I devoured this book. It combines first-person accounts of all sorts of punk notables and wannabes, and the observations of Lydon himself, co-written by Keith and Kent Zimmerman. I'll admit a bias up front - so much of the history of punk has been obfuscated, I value anything that comes along. I was eight at the time the Sex Pistols did their thing, and I remember being scared when I heard the names "Johnny Rotten" and "Sid Vicious" - I didn't know who they were, but they seemed scary names (and remember, this was before MTV), and the radios weren't playing them - they were phantoms and boogeymen, and all the adults seemed scared of them. I remember when I was a teenager, finally buying their album, and thinking, "What's the big deal? This music rocks!"
I'm glad to see some light shed on this period by one of the people at the center of the media storm. Lydon fills the book with tart observations - he retains his spite and anger and seems as volatile as ever. At the same time, I feel like he's pulling one over on the rest of us. Some of his recollections seem contradictory - perhaps very real to him, but everybody knows that one's perception of things changes over time. There's a subjective quality to this account that makes me long for corroboration. Some of the first-person commentary does back up Rotten's assertions, but I get the feeling there's impression management occurring (check out Goffman's "Impression Management" and you'll know what I'm talking about).
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Format: Paperback
The constant criticism of this book is what is perceived as Rottens one sided ego about the events that created the Sex Pistols and the movement that would become punk in mid 70's England. What these critics fail to realize is that the book is from his point of view which he has had to become very defiant over due to all of the mis-information that has been reported over the years. This book represents his chance to set the facts straight and you can feel the underlying frustration that obviously drove him to write this book as you read the pages. Rotten explains in plain facts the atmosphere in England in the Mid 70's and the conditions that would combust into what the press would end up dubbing "punk rock". Reading this book allows outsiders to really understand what was going on beyond the masses of mohawks and leather jackets that would later cast the movement in a generic style void of it's original creativity. The book is hard to put down and provides a ton of laughs to go along with the vivid picture of life for the young working class Brits frustrated with a system too willing to wallow in drudgery and maintain status quo. Many at the time thought that Rotten was trying to insight anarchy when he was only trying wake the sleeping masses up to come alive and create change for the better in a time when England needed it most. A great companion with this book is the documentary "The Filth and the Fury".
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Format: Paperback
First, I wish to take issue with other reviewers who admit to knowing absolutely nothing about the '70s London punk scene, yet feel qualified to critique dear Johnny's representation of it. The picture painted in this book matches up quite well with all the others I have encountered in my journey to understand this punk world that I unfortunately am too young to have been a part of. From "The History of Rock and Roll" documentary to the Clash's autobiographical documentary ("Westway to the World") to books and essays by and interviews with people who were actually there (Jon Savage's "England's Dreaming," Mikal Gilmore's essays and articles from "Night Beat," Greil Marcus's work, etc.), John's portrait of the scene flawlessly fits in with the others. As far as I am concerned, it positively reeks with accuracy.

Second, yes, John Lydon is obnoxious. It's not a secret that you're letting anyone in on. He knows it and takes pride in it, and his fans know it and love him for it. He is superior and he hates everything and he really is a c*nt (sorry if you disapprove of the language, but it's how the man describes himself). If you don't like him, that's just fine by both him and me. Punks didn't put much stock in trying to be liked by anyone. If you're trying to learn more about the scene, that's one key fact you should be getting out of this text.

Third, if you don't know what the Ramones "stood for," you obviously should have started out with something much more elementary in your "School of Rock--Punk" lesson. The Ramones stood for a return to the '60s. They wanted to take rock back to the happy place it occupied when it was synonymous with pop music, which is a noble quest. However, I suspect most of Mr.
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Format: Paperback
I must say that I thought it was just a biography of the Sex Pistols, when it actually is an autobiography of Johnny Rotten, but it's great anyway. It's not only John's point of view about the band and all the controversies involved, but also the point of view of other people close to the band. It's quite easy to read, as John makes an amazing use of the words -everything he tells seems to be amusing!

It isn't wll-written, in the sense that John has written everything that would come to his mind, but I find it more real like that. I guess you'll agree.

To sum up, highly recommended ;)
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