Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Johnny B. Gooner

"Here's Johnny!": John Lydon, Sex Gunner

It was just another dull Tuesday night watching telly when I switched to the Fox Soccer Channel's Fox Football Fone-In show and was elated to see John Lydon - former Sex Pistol frontman Johnny Rotten - sitting in as a special guest and talking footy. Though he now lives in Los Angeles, Johnny is still a huge fan of north London's Arsenal Football Club. It figures that that the erstwhile Pistol is a Gunners fan - or, in the parlance of footy fanaticism, a Gooner. It even works metaphorically! And, naturally, he is a slagger of Arsenal's nearby rivals Chelsea and - especially - Tottenham Hotspur (boy does he hate them!), the team that famously inspired Dave Clark to start The Dave Clark Five.

I've always liked Johnny Rotten. Though he couldn't sing worth shit and his post-Pistols band PiL (Public Image Limited) was rubbish, Johnny was the frontman's frontman, a bonafide rebel spirit who had true presence, gave great interviews, and never was at a loss for words. Clever lad, that; as good at supplying copy for the press as former Gunner Freddie Ljungberg was at supplying the ball for Thierry Henry in the penalty box. He was disarmingly, even brutally, honest, and at times made me wince when he skewered some poor TV host or journalist (think back to his notorious non-verbal appearance with PiL cohort Keith levene on Tom Synder's Tomorrow Show or his refusal to lip-synch "Poptones" with PiL while running wild in the audience on Dick Clark' American Bandstand).

We've all heard Johnny slag the Pistols and hype PiL and we all know how he turned down showing up for the Pistols' Rock & Roll hall of Fame Induction. But I never knew about his love of English football. This was something new - and interesting!

As he told his hosts, "Arsenal has always been a team and a spirit. Arsenal is the beautiful game. What people don't understand about Arsenal is that to us it is both beautiful and" - here he looked over at co-host and Blues booster (or is it Blooster?) Nick Webster - "It is a game - not a business like our Chelsea man over here."

Asked about the England national team's 2-1 loss to Germany last week, Johnny couldn't resist a dig at England's goalkeeper Chris Robinson, whose club team just happens to be Tottenham. "Well, that Spurs keeper didn't help us much, did he?" Of course, Johnny gave his props to the German goalie, Jens Lehmann, who protects the net for Arsenal - though he's let in a few howlers in his first two games this season.

"He's an excellent goalie," Johnny opined. "Though he does seem to save his best for Germany." This last with his trademark ironic dare-glare.

Other footy remarks from Johnny...

Thierry Henry: Arsenal's superstar striker left for greener pastures at Barcelona and Johnny said it was time. "Look he's done his time at Arsenal and it's a good move for him. And let's face it last season wasn't that good for him, was it? And besides, all that ballet style and holding his hand to his ear after scoring goals, that was a bit..."

David Beckham: Johnny lamented that Beckham's team the L.A. Galaxy was so lame (I think he said something to the effect that First Division Southhampton were better), saying he didn't hold it against Beckham for going there because, "Becks is alright...I don't believe he has a bad bone in him" but adding, "But it's not bloody football they play on the Galaxy is it?"

Some Veddy Rotten Viddies

Here's Johnny giving historian Marc Reynebeau and his Belgian TV crew a tour of his old Manor in Finsbury Park, starting at Arsenal's old Highbury grounds (they've since moved to Fly Emirates Stadium):

And here's a vintage Johnny Rotten moment at the 2001 Q Awards, where he lauds Kate Bush and invites everybody to shut up and get pissed! Even Oasis goon Liam Gallagher looks sedate, standing in the shadows (as he should before a true frontman with legitimate panache). As Neil Young sang, "The King is gone but he's not forgotten/This is the story of Johnny Rotten."

Related Links:
Arsenal Celebrity Support Series: Johnny Rotten
John Lydon on the Tom Snyder Show
PiL on American Bandstand


Anonymous Anonymous said...

PiL were not rubbish, perhaps your music taste is rubbish

7:50 PM  
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