STEVE JONES, THE SEX PISTOLS’ guitarist and songwriter, has spoken of the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his stepfather, the feelings of worthlessness it left him with, and how it likely drove him to make his mark in such an unforgettably powerful way.
“I think it was important to let you know where I came from and what pushed me to start the Pistols,” he tells MOJO’s Bob Mehr. “That shitty upbringing definitely steered the way. I think music’s in my blood. But guys get angry when they get fucked with. I should add that ain’t a requirement to start a band.”
It seems to explain a lot about the previously somewhat inscrutable guitarist, especially what MOJO writer Pat Gilbert has memorably described as his “strange energy” and delinquent sexual appetites.
Jones, whose surprising new memoir Lonely Boy is out now, provides fresh perspectives on the rise and fall of Sex Pistols, and his subsequent slide into life-threatening addictions, in the issue of MOJO that’s on the shelves in the UK now.
“That period was horrible for me,” he says of the Pistols’ aftermath. “I didn’t give a shit about the music, I just wanted to get high. All I cared about was not feeling anything. I think it was my shit from growing up. That was it. I couldn’t deal with reality.”
In a rollercoaster read leavened by Jones’ robust sense of humour, the guitarist talks about heroin, sex addiction, Bill Grundy (“It’s all down to the Blue Nun,” he explains), the solo records, Bob Dylan, his recent renaissance as a West Coast radio personality and Instagram star, plus the ongoing problems in his relationship with John Lydon.
“I wish behind closed doors we could be real with one another,” says Jones regretfully. “That never really happened. And I don’t want to say this in a disrespectful way, but I’ve never met anyone with such low self-esteem. He always has to be on. He can’t let his guard down with anybody.”
The new MOJO magazine – also starring Kate Bush, The Band, The 50 Best Albums Of 2016, Oasis’s Be Here Now flameout, a free CD of dream pop gorgeousness, and the last interview with Pete Burns – is out in the UK now.
STEVE JONES PORTRAIT: Davis Factor