What I do know, having hung out with him for an afternoon, is that he's still always spoiling for a fight. As we're about to say our goodbyes, he pulls a sheaf of faxes out of his pocket. They are complaints, e-mailed to his manager, John "Rambo" Stevens, who lives in Arkansas, complaining that PiL [his band - EoZ] will shortly be performing in Israel. One, from a fan called Lawrence Casin, declares: "I will destroy all my albums and paraphernalia that I have collected over the years if you bastards play that hell hole."And how does the newspaper follow up on that comment?
Most musicians, particularly those who have been around for 30 years, wouldn't let hate mail upset them. They probably wouldn't even read it. But John's anger is genuine. He wants me to record it, for posterity. "I really resent the presumption that I'm going there to play to right-wing Nazi jews," he tells me. "If Elvis-f***ing-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he's suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him. But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won't understand how anyone can have a problem with how they're treated."
That's our Johnny Rotten. Always lively. Always entertaining. Often wrong. But, whatever you may think of him, never afraid to stick that bog-brush haircut exuberantly over the parapet.