Guitar Aficionado

Sex Pistols’ John Lydon: “Nirvana Ripped Us Off”

It wasn't the music that got him unnerved.

PHOTO: Richard E. Aaron | Getty Images

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By Christopher Scapelliti

Onetime Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon recently told Pitchfork he was less than pleased when Nirvana released Nevermind, their classic 1991 album. It wasn’t the punk-influenced music he objected to. It was the title, which he felt was a blatant ripoff of the Pistols’ 1977 release, Never Mind the Bollocks.

“I remember being very angry at their album title being Nevermind,” the Public Image Ltd. singer tells Pitchfork. “I thought, ‘Nevermind? Have you lost your bollocks or something?’

“I was drawing a line on it all, perhaps too sharply,” he admits. “But I have to say, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is one of pop music’s all-time greatest. That song is firmly embedded in my psyche.

“So I forgive them. Most bands can’t come up with one complete song, and sometimes one is enough. By ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ [from 1993’s In Utero], it was all starting to sound a bit suicidal. I felt it coming.”