Even though I am a heavy metal and rock chick at heart, with my all-time favourite band ever being Queen and my all-time favourite singer ever being the love of my life Freddie Mercury, I also love other music genres. One of those genres is punk rock; I am a huge fan of bands like The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Stranglers. But I especially love The Sex Pistols and John Lydon.

So when I discovered by sheer chance that John Lydon was coming to Huntingdon Hall in Worcester for his spoken word tour entitled “I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right”, I knew I had to go and see him. This show that Lydon is currently taking around the UK is inspired from the opening line from one of the most recognisable songs of Lydon’s band Public Image Limited (or PIL) called “Rise”. It is a song I know well and love.

I booked my ticket over 10 months ago and I paid extra for the “meet and greet” option, so I had the chance of meeting the great man himself. Now I’m the first to admit that John Lydon or The Sex Pistols isn’t for everyone and John in particular can be like marmite. He is often seen as opinionated, brash, outspoken, and uncouth, but those are the very things I love about him the most. I love that he tells it like it is, and that what you see is what you get.

Or is it….

I arrived at Huntingdon Hall in Worcester last Thursday evening for the event sporting my Sex Pistols T-shirt and beyond excited at the prospect of meeting him. After a short wait, I finally got my chance to meet him, and he did not disappoint! He signed one of his pieces of artwork for me (I need to get a frame for it now) we chatted for five minutes about The Sex Pistols, how right he was about various things (John famously tried to call out the behaviour of Jimmy Saville and others at the BBC in 1978, but the BBC didn’t listen to him, and instead cancelled him). John could be wrong, or could be right, but in the case of Jimmy Saville he was 100% right.

Buzzing from the excitement of meeting him, I then had a soft drink in the bar area and chatted to a few others there who had met him while waiting for the main event. The evening was split into two parts – the first one delves deeply into his childhood and what it was like for him growing up, into his time with the Sex Pistols and PIL, and his marriage of 42 years to his wife Nora. This was all told by John against the backdrop of a series of photographs to illustrate what he is talking about, and some truly gobsmacking, dramatic and touching moments from throughout his life emerged. He talks a lot about the lie that is white privilege, and if you listen to John talking about what it was like for him growing up, and about some of the harrowing things he shared that he endured as a child, especially around being there for his mother when she suffered through two miscarriages, you can’t help but get exactly what he means.

The second half consisted of a Q&A session, where John asked the audience to write down a series of questions which he would answer in his own unique, honest and colourful way. While responding to the live Q&A session, his answers were often hilarious. John didn’t pull punches at all in his answers, many of which related to lots of different aspects of his life and career, like how he felt about Danny Boyle’s Disney+ “Pistol” series or something completely unrelated to it, like his love for many different types of music genres or his respect for Abba, for example, among other topics.  

From time to time in the first half of the show and between his real-life stories of loss and trauma, to dilute the mood with the crowd, he would be the John Lydon we all know and love and would throw in his so much loved C*** swearword and belch into the mic to the audience while drinking a bottle of Corona beer, while saying, “you f**kers paid for this,” meaning the beer, but this just made us all laugh and love him even more.

While talking to the audience John made it very clear that some of the songs he had written in his long-standing career, between his time with The Sex Pistols and Public Image Limited, were the result of the direct experiences and trauma that he lived through. Having been through so much trauma in my own life, I knew that his intent was not to try and gain sympathy from the audience, but rather to help them understand the place where he came from, where he got to in life and how experiencing such trauma shaped his life.

And one of the biggest trauma’s he went through had me in floods of tears.

He talked a lot about his marriage of 44 years to his wife Nora, about how traumatic it was when she passed away in 2023 from Alzheimer’s Disease, how much he looked after her when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and how much he missed her. The pain of her loss to John was so evident; he actually cried when talking about her, and about how privileged he felt to be her carer when she was so ill, and how empty his life is now she has passed on. His pain and the sense of loss was palpable, this was a man who had lost his wife only a short time ago, and who was still grieving massively for his loss. Anyone, and I mean anyone, who has lost a loved one like that will understand the pain.

During the Q&A one of the audience members asked John who he talks to and who he confides in, especially as the loss of Nora was so visibly raw….and his answer surprised me.

“I talk to you all,” he replied.

And then it hit me – the UK tour that John is doing is his therapy. The audience was his therapy. We were all, in our own small way, helping him to heal after the loss of Nora, we were helping him to navigate his grief. This is something else I could relate to, because after I lost my much loved and wanted only son to stillbirth in 2013, I threw myself into my work in cyber security and into creating “Frankie’s Legacy” in my son’s memory. It all helped me to heal after the loss of my only son, and in some ways I am still healing over 10 years later, but throwing myself into my work helped me massively.

It is absolutely evident that the last year of John’s life has been particularly hard for him, especially with the loss of his beloved wife Nora and also from the loss of his best friend John, who was affectionately known as “Rambo” because of his long army service. The “I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right” Tour was Rambo’s idea, he came up with the concept, he put it together, got it off the ground, and just as John started it, he passed away. John said he felt he should continue the tour in Rambo’s memory, and unconsciously the tour became John’s therapy, giving the audience a glimpse of the real John Lydon as well as the outrageous, outspoken, raged, and uncouth artist we know and love from The Sex Pistols. The artist who said the “f” word on live TV on the Bill Grundy show, and the artist who famously wrote and released “God Save The Queen” at the time of Queen Elizabeth II’s silver jubilee celebrations in 1977.

While it was important for John to share the pain and the trauma he endured throughout his life, it was also important for him to show a piece of Johnny Rotten, the rebellious and outspoken musician, and we saw both sides of him in spades. And for that, I love him so much.

John Lydon is continuing his tour at various venues across the UK, find out more on his website here.