Sex Pistols in legal battle over music licensing for new Danny Boyle series

The Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook are suing frontman John Lydon over the use of their songs in Pistol, Danny Boyle’s forthcoming TV series about the band.

Lydon has said he will not approve the licences for Pistol to use the band’s music unless he is ordered to by a court.

Pistol is based on Jones’s 2016 memoir, Lonely Boy. Lydon’s lawyer, Mark Cunningham, said that his client believes the book “depicts him in a hostile and unflattering light”.

Edmund Cullen, representing Jones and Cook, said the relationship between the former band members was “bitter and fractious” and that they had been unable to resolve their differences.

As bassist Glen Matlock and the estate of Sid Vicious approved the use of the songs in Boyle’s show, Cullen said that, as per a band agreement made in 1998, decisions regarding licensing requests could be determined on a “majority rules basis”.

Boyle’s six-part series is to be broadcast on Disney+. Frank Cottrell-Boyce is writing the series alongside Craig Pearce. Maisie Williams will play punk icon Jordan. Toby Wallace, recently seen in Australian film Babyteeth, will play Steve Jones. Newcomer Anson Boon is to play John Lydon. Shooting commenced earlier this year.

On the announcement of the series, Boyle said: “Imagine breaking into the world of The Crown and Downton Abbey with your mates and screaming your songs and your fury at all they represent.

“It is the detonation point for British street culture where ordinary young people had the stage and vented their fury and their fashion, and everyone had to watch and listen and everyone feared them or followed them.”

In an Observer review of Jones’s memoir, Jude Rogers described the guitarist’s story as “often eye-wateringly funny”, albeit with “many moments of poignancy” as he touches on sexual abuse, maternal neglect and a stint in a remand centre.

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