Johnny Rotten might be the punk archetype, but underneath all that bravado and swashbuckling cocksureness, there’s a softer side to Lydon — even though it rarely comes out to play, his love of Kate Bush proves that it’s hiding away somewhere inside.
You don’t get artists often further away on the musical spectrum than the former anarchic Sex Pistols leader and Kate Bush. Undoubtedly both musicians have earned their place in the history books. However, Rotten swung his way, punching and kicking into public consciousness akin to a drunk arguing with the doorman to be allowed back into the pub. Bush, meanwhile, gently arrived by the back door.
She is one of the finest songwriters, not just from her generation, but of all-time. Her ability to turn any theme or subject into a beautiful track is almost unparalleled, matched by her magnificent vocal range that is the definition of heavenly. In comparison, Rotten will be the first to admit that his vocal range is ‘limited’, which is why when he wrote a song influenced by Bush, and he even offered her the chance to make it her’s.
Rotten has previously spoken at length about his love for Bush, once detailing his admiration for her inspiring debut album, The Kick Inside, from 1978. He said: “It’s very hard for me to prepare for something like this because I collect non-stop, discover new things every day, and take music very seriously. I hate the technological rip-offs that pass for music formats these days and go back to vinyl to hear a good record because the sound is always so much fuller.
“I don’t even like listening to music in the car. But it would be ridiculous not to mention Kate Bush as someone who creates a powerful dreamscape and a great mood, but I also love Traffic, the pop textures of Marc Bolan, and all kinds of techno.”
That isn’t the only time that Rotten has professed his love for her prowess. The former Sex Pistols leader also opened up about the time she refused to sing a track that he’d written with her in mind. In her defence, it was about the Brazillian parrot trade, which explains her refusal.
“I love and adore Kate Bush, I’ve always been a fan of hers,” Rotten exclaimed. “I almost worked with her once. I was obviously just a tad too on the crazy side. She asked me to put some song ideas together. I did and it was about rescuing parrots from the parrot trade in Brazil. I called it ‘Bird In Hand’. She said, ‘Um, not what I had in mind, John!’ I think she was looking for a ballad. The right idea but the wrong time, maybe.”
The chances of Johnny Rotten and Kate Bush ever joining forces are dramatically slim. For starters, Bush is an imperial songwriter in her own right, and if she’s going to sing something which another soul has penned. I will hazard a guess that it would need to be about something more profound than a track about the Brazillian parrot trade. Then again, Kate Bush could sing the phonebook and would be a ravishing, captivating listen, which now leaves me yearning to hear her take on ‘Bird In Hand’, but something tells me that day somehow won’t come.