Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol
by Steve Jones
Da Capo Press
Although they were only a band for two and a half years, and only produced four singles and a single album, one cannot imagine popular culture today without the Sex Pistols. Between John Lydon (nee Rotten) various tomes, and original bassist Glen Matlock’s I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol, the history of the band, and the stirrings of punk have been hashed and re-hashed many times, but guitarist Steve Jones gives us perhaps the most honest look at what brought the band together on Lonely Boy : Tales From A Sex Pistol.
“Jonesy’s” majestic guitar, coupled with the rage and angst of Rotten are why the band is still such a strong force, decades past their brief career. To listen to Never Mind The Bollocks today still gets the blood riled up, a call to arms against the drab, a profane, angry spew from disregarded, forgotten youth. It’s as near a perfect album and moment that punk ever gave us.
Steve Jones tale of those times is brutally honest, starting with his sexual abuse as a child and his forays into crime (both as a thief and a peeping tom), that led to, as he puts it, a “lonely boy”. England of the ’60s and ’70s, despite “Swinging London” and the hippies, was a dreary place without much hope for the youth. Jones made due stealing from neighboring houses (and graduating to musical instruments, such as guitars of Ron Wood and Mott the Hoople), and hanging about at clothing shops, such as “Let It Rock” (later “Sex”), run by the infamous Malcolm McLaren. It was around this time that the Pistols were born, as The Strand, with Jones’ childhood chum Paul Cook on drums. Once McLaren saw them, the rest, as they say, is history.
But Steve Jones life is not only the Pistols, and his account of life afterwards – from homelessness to drug addiction, failed bands and his current success with his radio show, “Jonesy’s Jukebox”, delivered in his unabashed style, is riveting. He pulls no punches in speaking of his past (he doesn’t seem to care for Lydon, and feels the Pistols ended when Sid Vicious entered), or himself and his failings, and it’s this open honesty that gives you a glimpse behind the man, and the movement that he was influential in starting. Essential reading for those of us who still feel chills when “Holidays In The Sun” comes rumbling out of the speakers.