In the 1970s the Punk scene in Britain, as well as in most part of the world, would describe their ideology as simply anti-establishment. No less, no more. So when the Sex Pistols members Johnny Rotten, Paul Cook and Steve Jones at some point all shared on stage in a Pink Floyd T-shirt with the words ”I HATE” on top he immediately turned Pink Floyd to a love-to-hate example among not only the working class sub cultures like Punk but also among many ”established” intellectuals and music critics.
Suddenly it became haute couture to like Punk and to dislike sophisticated and talented, really talented, bands in general and Pink Floyd in particular. As critic Stuart Berman had written; ”Pink Floyd represented everything Punk was not: musically skilled, conceptually ambitious, filthy rich, tastefully bearded.”
When asked if the T-shirt was his own, John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten replied: “I’ve no idea where I got it from, it being green, which was an oddity … not my colour. It might have been something I nicked off a stall.”
“Listen, you’d have to be daft as a brush to say you didn’t like Pink Floyd,” Lydon explained to the Quietus. “They’ve done great stuff. They’ve done rubbish too. Dark Side of the Moon I love. But I go right back to when they were with Syd Barrett. But I grew up with all kinds of music.”
This wasn’t Lydon’s opinion in the mid-1970s, when he was Johnny Rotten – and famous for wearing a T-shirt reading “I HATE PINK FLOYD”. The problem, as he said in the interview, was the band’s “pretentiousness”: “There was an aura of ‘Oh, we’re so great there’s no room for anybody else.’ But you know, I’ve met members of the band and I get on alright with them because they’re not like that at all. There was kind of a misreading and a misrepresentation in the press and they’re not holier than thou. In fact they are just like thee and thou.”
The PiL-leader and Sex Pistol also revealed that he turned down the invitation to perform with Floyd frontman Dave Gilmour in Los Angeles in 2008: “Dave Gilmour I’ve met a few times and I just think he’s an alright bloke … when they came to LA, they asked me would I come on and do a bit of Dark Side Of The Moon with them and the idea thrilled me no end.
“Well no, it would have been very, very neat but it stunk a little in my head of ‘What am I doing here?’ I came so close to doing it … it felt like I was trying to set myself up as some kind of pretentious person. I’m very wary of the jam session end of things. I just don’t want to do it. But I wanted to do it. But just not when 20,000 people were there. I’d have gone to a studio and played around with it there. But not for the bigger picture. Privately. I’d love to go into the studio and do something with the album with them.”
David Gilmour, on Johnny Rotten wearing an “I HATE PINK FLOYD” t-shirt: “I thought the Sex Pistols were rather good. I’ve been on a show with Johnny Rotten – it was at Sadler’s Wells – and he said he never really hated Pink Floyd and actually he was a bit of a fan. I confess to not having entirely believed it in the first place. I mean, who could hate us?” – Q Magazine, June 1999.