If ever there was a musician who can say, “I did it first,” it is the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones.
The cocksure guitarist — with Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious (RIP) and several other members — kicked off the British punk movement with the singles "Anarchy in the U.K." (1976) and "God Save the Queen" (1977), to say nothing of their single full-length album, “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.”
Tues. Jan, 17, 7 p.m. The Strand, 828 Broadway Wed., Jan 18, 7 p.m. Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington
Since the Pistols broke up after just two and a half years in 1978, Jones has played guitar for Iggy Pop, appeared in the Showtime series “Californification” and currently hosts a radio show on LA’s KLOS 95.5 FM. He’s also penned a long-awaited autobiography, “Lonely Boy: Tales of a Sex Pistol” that, along with music and mayhem, finds him discussing his multiple chemical addictions, his abusive childhood, kleptomania, and how he conquered them all.
We chat with Jones ahead of his signings at The Strand and on Long Island about challenging cultural norms, his famous reputation for sleeping with everyone (even his bandmates’ girlfriends), and why he doesn’t miss any of it.
How would you describe the impact of the Sex Pistols?
Well, it all came from us, right, punk? We did one album and I don’t think there’s another one like that that had so much meaning. Or impact. Definitely it was one of those albums and one of those times that shifted gears from the norm. I’m proud to have been a part of that for sure.
It’s pretty clear from “Lonely Boy” that you don’t yearn for the old days.
I’m just not a nostalgic guy about anything. I just want to move forward, really. I don’t get attached to things. I sell everything that I have. My relationships are brief except for those with my closest oldest friends, I’m just not Mr. Nostalgia, alright?
Who do you think, musically, shares the rebellious edge the Pistols had?
I mean, there are good punk and bad punk bands, new and old. I’ve interviewed Pete Townsend and Iggy Pop on the radio show. I still love my old Eddie Cochran records.
In the book, you talk about hooking up with Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders and bandmate SidVicious’ notorious girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. What do you recall about them?
Chrissie’s in the book. Nancy — just bad vibes really, just bad vibes, man, She was pushy. She wanted to be famous. She was hard with nothing to offer. She was not someone you really wanted to hang out with. Yet, I’m sure that underneath all that bullshit, there was a sweet girl somewhere. She just seemed like such a lost soul who wanted to do something with her life in an odd way. She was obviously damaged — like me — more so than most though. She brought this weird energy to every situation, and Sid just gravitated to her. It was the heroin that was the worst part of them.
Malcolm McClaren was the Pistols’ manager, who notoriously stole money from you guys. Yet, you have a soft spot for him in the book, why?
Malcolm was not everybody’s cup of tea, but he was lovely to me and intelligent too, a real intellectual. What I liked is that he showed me a different side to life that I never knew prior to that. He was my buddy long before the Pistols started. I know that Malcolm effed things up and the money went missing, but so what? I have a hard time NOT being a fan of his.
Fast-forwarding to the present, why did you go into radio?
It was an accident, a fluke; I got asked, I answered, and people responded to it. That’s what made me keep on doing it. Half the thing with me is that knowing people dig it, appreciate what I do. There are plenty of days that I don’t want to go into the station — today, for example. I had four days off for the holiday an’ now it’s, ‘Oh, f—, I have to get it up for that again.’ But it can be quite lovely. There are worse things that I can think of to do, however.