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John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten
© Reuters / John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten
Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten to be named icon of music

(Reuters) -- Johnny Rotten may not like it, but he is starting to become Johnny Icon.

The 57-year-old frontman of the anarchic 1970s punk band the Sex Pistols is to receive an award for his contribution to music from the music rights organization BMI, although he angrily rejected previous honors.

Singer-songwriter John Lydon, who went by the name Johnny Rotten as he belted out songs like "Pretty Vacant" and "Anarchy in the U.K.," will be presented with BMI's Icon Award at a gala in London on Oct. 15.

Lydon, with his trademark orange hair, and the Pistols are credited with launching punk rock in Britain and inspiring scores of other musicians with their expletive-ridden, anti-establishment rage.

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"John Lydon is a true icon whose influence on music, fashion and art has been felt around the world," Del Bryant, BMI president and CEO, said in a statement.

Lydon was not immediately available to comment on the award, but news of the honor was posted on his website and tweeted by his current band, Public Image Ltd., suggesting he had accepted.

This would contrast with 1996, when Lydon called the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a "p--s stain" when it was announced the Sex Pistols would be inducted into the Ohio museum, which adds several new acts to its ranks each year.

But Lydon does appear to have mellowed over the years.

In 2004, he appeared in the U.K. reality TV show "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!," in which participants face jungle conditions, and in 2008, he appeared in a much-maligned ad for British butter, later insisting he was proud to boost the image of a U.K. brand.

He came under fire in Australia earlier this year, accused of sexism after telling a female presenter to "shut up when a man is talking." He later apologized, saying his only enemies are governments and institutions, not women.

The BMI said its Icon award recognized musicians who have had "a unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers." Previous recipients include Van Morrison, Bryan Ferry and Queen.

The Sex Pistols formed in 1975 and sparked controversies galore, with their appearances often resulting in chaos. The BBC refused to air the 1977 song "God Save the Queen," released at the time of Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee.

The band's sole studio album, "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols," from 1977, led to an obscenity trial.

Lydon left the Sex Pistols in 1978, announcing their demise, to form his own band, Public Image Ltd. The group disbanded in the 1990s but reformed in 2009. The Sex Pistols released their first album in 20 years last year, prompting a U.S. tour. Lydon performed last month at Britain's biggest music festival, Glastonbury.

Jul 19, 2013 1:15PM
Wow, this is just error riddled.  In addition to the 1996/2006 error, the Sex Pistols did NOT release their first album in 20 years last year.  That was PiL.

♫The king is gone, but he's not forgotten...
This is the story of a Johnny Rotten♫

Jul 18, 2013 10:57PM
It was 2006, not 1996 when they declined their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of SHAME.
Jul 18, 2013 10:02PM
Iam Erican, I only have one thing to say to you and your comment, "SHUT UP WHEN A MAN IS TALKING"!!  Hahaha, cause you don't have a nut one if that's what you think!
Jul 18, 2013 7:46PM
He got one thing right..........the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a P**S Stain!
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