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(Credit: Charles Peterson / Sub Pop / Press)

Music

The reason why Mark Arm and Green River trashed John Lydon's dressing room

In terms of alternative rock heroes, you don’t get much more revered than Mark Arm. The eloquent frontman of the Seattle grunge heroes Mudhoney is one of the most well-respected voices in modern rock and has enjoyed a career that many can only dream of.

Notably, Arm’s pre-Mudhoney group, Green River, are hailed as one of the first grunge bands alongside the likes of Malfunkshun, Soundgarden, and Skin Yard, and to many, it was around their breakthrough that some of the most critical facets of what would become known as grunge would crystallise.  

After Green River split in 1988, Arm and former Green River guitarist Steve Turner enlisted drummer Dan Peters and former Melvins bassist Matt Lukin and formed Mudhoney. With things moving quickly, in August 1988, local independent label Sub Pop released the band’s now-iconic first single, ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’, which became a college radio hit and exposed listeners from across the country and in Europe to the band. The following year the band released their self-titled debut album, and in 1991, they released what is ostensibly their masterpiece, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. 

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Whilst the early ’90s brought unprecedented success for Arm and Co., in Green River, he’d already achieved plenty, regardless of the fact that they only released two EPs and one album. A highlight of their consequential career was supporting John Lydon’s post-Sex Pistols outfit, Public Image Ltd, in Seattle. However, this is rock and roll. Things did not go to plan, and Green River ended up trashing PiL’s dressing room in what is now a notorious tale.

In a 2021 interview with Kerrang, Arm cast his mind back and revealed that he was angered by the fact that one of the most iconic punks of all time, John Lydon, was in fact, a little bit of a diva. This was sacrilege to Arm and his bandmates, who were unwavering adherents of the punk creed. Arm recalled: “It just seemed like there was a bit too much of the rock star crap happening. To us, punk rock was like this anti-rock star, egalitarian thing, and it was weird to find out that someone who you looked up to, John Lydon, was a man who insisted on certain creature comforts, and was maybe somewhat pompous.” 

However, there was one saving grace of the experience. Arm met the legendary guitarist John McGeoch and was able to tell him that he was a lifelong fan of his work, and it seems that this interaction is something that he cherishes. He said: “But one thing was cool, [guitarist] John McGeoch was in the band, and I got to tell him I loved his work with Magazine and Siouxsie And The Banshees. He was sweet, and totally taken aback that some kid in a far-flung place had any idea who he was. So, it wasn’t all terrible.”

I’d be interested to hear what exactly the creature comforts John Lydon demanded were, but we’ll leave that up to the imagination. Given his consistently surprising nature, this could literally be anything, ranging from a back massage before a show to a flask of hot cocoa afterwards.

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