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Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  5,798 ratings  ·  197 reviews
"I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die..." --John Lydon

Punk has been romanticized and embalmed in various media. An English class revolt that became a worldwide fashion statement, punk's idols were the Sex Pistols, and its sneering hero was Johnny Rotten.

Seventeen years later, John Lydon looks back at himself, the Sex Pistols, and the
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 15th 1995 by Picador (first published March 1994)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,798 ratings  ·  197 reviews


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Harry Whitewolf
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
You can argue that punk began in America, but you’d be wrong. Punk didn’t even begin with the Sex Pistols. It began with John Lydon. It maybe ended with Lydon, before punk even became a scene, too.

First off, let’s get what I didn’t like about this autobiography out of the way. This book is called ‘Rotten’, so obviously it’s about Johnny’s time as a Sex Pistol, rather than about Lydon himself and his other ventures; although there is a lot of information about his upbringing and so on, as you’d
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Ian "Marvin" Graye
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: muse-ik, reviews
Any Old Way You Like It

There are three musicians (with respect to whom).. sorry, I'll start again..

John Lennon, John Lydon, Noel Gallagher... I would listen to everything they ever said and read everything they ever wrote, if only I could get my hands on it.

My, What a Big Sex Pistol You Have

People were scared of the Sex Pistols and terrified of what they might do to the music industry.

This is Rotten to the core.

More, Please

We need something like this to put the wind up us again.

We need more
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Gen
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is utterly fantastic.

I read this when I was 15 and was obsessed, not with the Sex Pistols but John Lydon as a person, his views and how he lives his life.

With the help of many of his musician friends (NAMELY Chrissy Hynde who was everywhere from 1970-1990), he tells his life story from growing up in Finsbury Park to PIL, up to it's publishing in 1994.

I think the main point to make is that this is not another "totez punk" autobiography, John Lydon is far more intelligent and anarchic
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Amanda
Mar 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
I bought this about 6 years ago when I was a young impressionable 15 year old. I read it like the bible. I was never really into the punk scene, but it FASCINATED me. I began to show up my punker friends with my Sex Pistol knowledge. And it really helped me figure out a lot of things. I began to carry this book wherever I went. It had notes upon notes in it, underlines, circles, everything! I studied this book more than any of my textbooks. Unfortunately I gave it to a friend to read and her ...more
♥ Marlene♥
Apr 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs
on Friday, November 28, 2008 I wrote about this book:

Well I am very disappointed with it. The main problem was Johnny Rotten himself. He is constantly bragging about himself and thinks he is God or something. Nobody else does any good except for him. All the band members were bad, all the other bands sucked. (yawn) Plus he is also constantly contradicting himself. lol. Can't take this serious.

Another annoying thing, the story repeats itself also every time because everybody gets a say. And
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Erika
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
“Any kind of history you read is basically the winning side telling you the others were bad.”

If that doesn't perfectly describe this book, I don't know what does.

I am of two frames of mind thinking about this book. One is that I found John Lydon's stance on the entire punk scene to be outstanding, and one that I agree with also, so I'm biased. When the punk scene started it was something completely different than what it evolved into and a lot of punks now don't seem to realize that. The fact
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Holly
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
First off, I have to admit that Lydon is right at the top of the list of people who have influenced me and who I hold in the highest regard.

This book is entertaining, intelligent, and honest. Lydon is a guy who can laugh at himself. He is also a good storyteller; he has the classic Celtic style courtesy of his Irish roots.

So many artists from this era are dead and gone, if only one could survive to be the official voice of the first punk wave, I am glad it is John Lydon.

Funny how a very small
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Sharon Barrow Wilfong
May 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
I saw John Lydon on the Conan O'Brian show and was impressed with his thoughtful intelligence. He was also promoting this book, so I bought it.

It is difficult to say whether I gained any insight to the Punk movement of the late seventies. After reading this book I conclude that everyone involved was a bunch of illiterate reprobates who were anti-everything, including each other. The Sex Pistols glorified in their disgusting shenanigans on stage, got lots of trash thrown at them while they were
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Andy
Dec 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rock-sleaze
This is as honest as you'll get from John Lydon, no conning, no overdone punk rock grandstanding. Lydon talks about his spinal meningitis, his friends aka gang "The Johns" (incl. John "Sid Vicious" Richie) and Siouxie Sioux's delight in owning home appliances. Funny and sad and honest all the way.
Everett Darling
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Who knew Lydon was such a good writer?

-Anyone whos listened to his songs.


I have a few questions; how can the difference between holding individuality as the highest goal fit with the seemingly contradictory purpose of making music and fashion that is understandable to everyone, spanning through the range of economic and social classes?

And all the music that does that, these days anyway, is Pop or Top 20 Hip-Hop, boasting individual stars as benign as flowers, and challenging the status-quo
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Emmett Mulligan
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-stuff, favorites
One of the best music autobiographies I've read so far. Very eye opening. Whatever you think of the man himself or the legends that surround him, he comes across as humble (despite the bragging) intelligent and every bit as chaotic as you might imagine. Whip smart and with a fantastic sense of humour and the absurd. It's even worth reading just to get to the final line. One of the best ways to end on a high note (of sorts) ever!
Rick Brindle
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, biography
A very entertaining biography from one of the men who made punk happen. John Lydon writes exactly like he speaks, and you get the feeling he's sitting in your living room, talking to you when he tells his story. You might not like some of it, you might not agree with some of it, but this is John Lydon, warts and all, telling his story as it happened. Authentic, funny, honest.
East Bay J
My initial introduction to The Sex Pistols came about by way of a Rolling Stone TV special on rock music. I must have heard The Sex Pistols previously, but there was something about seeing them perform “Anarchy In The U. K.” that cemented this band as something I desperately needed to check out. It was late but I convinced my folks to take me to the record store so I could buy Never Mind The Bollocks.

Oddly enough, I also purchased the first Montrose LP on that trip. I guess the sound of a guitar
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J.P.
Dec 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, punk
Enjoyable yes, noteworthy no. I wasn't expecting previously untold revelations or learning lots I didn't already know but besides detailing his childhood and what everyone was wearing there's not a whole lot of information here. I did discover that a chain was Sid's weapon of choice. We all know the Sex Pistols didn't get along. It takes all of about 5 pages before John throws Glen Matlock under the tour bus for his opinion on what the group should be like. Had this book spent as much time on ...more
Marija *There's No Poetry In My Soul, Just A List Of Lies I've Told*
What a great insight on the music industry of 70's. I recently got into Sex Pistols and when I saw this book on the book fair I just had to have it. It was a really fun and genuine book to read.

Never realised that John Lydon could be such a good writer. I mean, he writes amazing songs but I never thought he could actually write a book. Very judgmental of me, but yeah... I guess I am judgmental after all....

The only thing I didn't like is that in basically 200 or so pages different people talk
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Bosco Farr
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: punk
Near the end of the book Lydon writes the following line, "We're The Flowers In Your Dust Bin." If there is a better summation of the art of the Sex Pistols. I am unaware of it. I love this book. I love his revisionism. I love his unapologetic contempt. I love the style of his writing though I could do without some of the unnecessary repetition but I can live with it. Pair this up with England's Dreaming and I think you can know all the most important stuff about the original wave of UK Punk ...more
Sarah
Feb 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Wow, Johnny Rotten is a bitter little monkey. Only about the first half of the book is actually about the Sex Pistols, and it was really more about the punk scene than about Rotten's experience as a Pistol. The last half of the book was about how much he hates Malcolm McLaren. You won the court case, Johnny, get over it already.
He's a solid writer and an intelligent man - I'm disappointed because this book could've been so much more.
christopher
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
If you looked up the word wanker in the dictionary, there would be a picture of John Lydon there. This book was saved from one star by being kind of funny from time to time and having tidbits of information about 70s London punk I didn't know before. Sure, I mean, he's been in involved with 4 or 5 classic records, but reading the rantings of an egomaniac is never a good time.
minnie
Dec 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Read this many years ago, I remember it as being a true account of the punk scene, 1977 and all that, as opposed to the glossed up media view of Punk.
Heather Schenk
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I Love this book. It is wonderful blunt writing at it's best. Johnny would be an interesting joy for most to spend some time with. I would love another(book) from him.
Jared Woods
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First and foremost, it is my duty to inform you that I’ve never worshipped the Pistols as highly as the punk bible teaches us to. I consider Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols to be one of the most criminally overrated albums ever made, the same song played over and over (even if sometimes that song sounds pretty rad) with less chords than I have fingers on one hand. And while I wholeheartedly respect their influential importance and cultural significance, aware that this band is ...more
Neri.
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5
I expected more from you Johnny.
Bobette Giorgi
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
You either enjoy Lydon's personality or not, there's no in-between. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I had in common with him, belief-wise, including his disdain for the accepted ways of being in this world, which amount to being nothing more than the goyim (my words, not his), as well as his attitudes towards love and how people tend to exalt it with little reason, just to fool themselves into it.

The book's format is good, Lydon's writing followed by commentary by people who were around
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Beth
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this one a lot!

If you loved the punk rock thing as much as I did (and do), this is a must-read. I was a small-town girl in Indiana so I never got close to the actual deal, but I was an avid follower via magazines like Creem and Circus. I lived the experience vicariously.

Reading an insider account from one of the founders of the movement was priceless. Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten) is a fascinating personality. He has plenty to say about his experience with the Sex Pistols and with Malcolm
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Michael
Feb 08, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this when it first came out and I thought it was amazing. An inside look at the Pistols from Rotten himself. It makes sense that Rotten would be the one to write to write this book and as I read it again I was a bit disappointed because it wasn't as great as I remember. The problem doesn't lie with Rotten though. Being a fan I expected the attitude and the ego, but what I found a bit boring was the history lesson on punk. We all know how important the Pistols were and the detailed ...more
Nana
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Being a teenager who did not grow up the Sex Pistols era, and hense didnt know much about it to start with, this book was fascinating. I've always been intrigued by the Pistols and their contemporaries, so when I saw this book at a local used bookshop, I had to grab it. Good choice on my part.

John Lydon is a witty, entertaining narrator with an attitude, and this history/retrospective takes you through his life pre Pistols, their career, eventual demise and loose ends (and lawsuits) following
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Greta is Erikasbuddy
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've really been in a biography kick this year if you have been keeping up with me.

I found this book extremely interesting. And I thought it was very sweet to know how close Lydon was with his mother.

I also found the bits about Sid and Nancy to be very eye-opening.
And Lydon is right. That movie did romanticize drug use. I'm not saying it's a bad movie. But it might have been even more impressive if they had asked Lydon to consult rather than (as he says) someone from The Clash.

I'm interested in
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Kevin Tole
Nov 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: auto-biography, music
I started writing a crit of this then managed to blow it all away somehow. Silly me - so this will be short and sweet.

The main problem here is that JL whilst being the most intelligent of the Pistols and probably of the punk movement in general right from it's start before it was even termed 'punk', is at the same time completely disingenuous and somewhat 'liberal with the veracite'. It's also ghostwritten. He should take the time to write it himself.

Its still a decent document of the period but
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Kristen
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
Rotten is a fantastic autobiography that captures the sometimes harsh, sometimes gross, sometimes hilarious voice of its author. Like the cut up letters on the Pistols's album covers, Rotten reads a bit like a collage. Lydon's almost stream-of-conscious narrative is interspersed with quotes from his contemporaries in the British punk scene, and a few of the chapters are actually narrated by others -- including Lydon's father, wife, and some of his bandmates. The book also paints a vivid picture ...more
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John Lydon is best known by his former stage name Johnny Rotten who was the lead singer of the 1970’s punk rock group the Sex Pistols. He is the lead singer of the punk band Public Image Ltd (PiL) which he founded. Lydon is also a visual artist.

In 1995, Lydon published his autobiography Rotten - No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, which dealt with his early life and career in the Sex Pistols. His
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“If you are pissing people off, you know you are doing something right” 50 likes
“Any kind of history you read is basically the winning side telling you the others were bad.” 11 likes
More quotes…