Johnny Rotten and Pink Floyd have two very different musical philosophies that make you assume that they would never be able to work together and, in certain aspects, you’d probably be right. However, the collaboration of dreams/nightmares nearly became a reality after Roger Waters asked Rotten to work with Floyd.
The former Sex Pistols frontman famously donned the ‘I Hate Pink Floyd’ t-shirt during his old band’s anarchic heyday, but as he matured he grew to love the group and perhaps always did deep down. The somewhat one-sided rivalry between the two group’s was largely because of what the Sex Pistols believed Pink Floyd represented rather than who they actually were.
Floyd were perfectionists and intellectuals who were perceived by Sex Pistols to be part of the elite, a factor which wasn’t helped by Roger Waters being the only member from the classic-era lineup who was not privately educated. The band represented the polar opposite of the brash, rebellious sounds that were offered up by the Rotten fronted Pistols and Floyd were an easy enough target to attack.
In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, however, John Lydon talked about his admiration for Floyd and even disclosed that Waters once invited him down to perform live with him. “You’d have to be daft as a brush to say you didn’t like Pink Floyd, they’ve done great stuff,” Lydon explained.
Despite saying he did like the band, he still maintained that they had a “pretentiousness”. He added: “There was an aura of ‘Oh, we’re so great there’s no room for anybody else,'” he said.
“[And] they’ve done rubbish too,” he continued in typically honest fashion.
He then said that when they are not on stage, Pink Floyd are “not [pretentious] at all, there was kind of a misreading and a misrepresentation in the press and they’re not holier than thou … Dave Gilmour I’ve met a few times and I just think he’s an all right bloke.”
Lydon then made the revelation that a couple of years previously, a time when the surviving members of Pink Floyd came to Los Angeles, he was asked if he wanted to perform some of Dark Side Of The Moon on stage with Waters. He revealed: “They asked me would I come on and do a bit of [it] with them”.
“The idea thrilled me no end,” he said. “I came so close to doing it… [but ultimately] it felt like I was trying to set myself up as some kind of pretentious person. I’m wary of the jam-session end of things.
“I just don’t want to do it,” he said. “But I wanted to do it. But just not when 20,000 people were there. I’d have gone to a studio and played around with it there. But not for the bigger picture. Privately, I’d love to go into the studio and do something with the album with them.”
The collaboration could have gone down perfectly or terribly, there certainly would have been no inbetween and it helps enhance the legacy of the Sex Pistols that Lydon didn’t betray his younger self by teaming up with Roger Waters.