By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Long-lost copies of the lyrics of hit songs of the controversial 1970s punk group the Sex Pistols found in an attic in Coolock are set to fetch substantial sums from fanatical followers in Japan this week.
Cork-born leader singer Johnny Rotten (John Lydon) left them in the house in Dublin when he was over scouting for recording studios for the final recordings of the group’s only album, “Never Mind the Bollocks,” and ended up being jailed for six months.
Patrick O’Donnell, who was then a joint promoter for the band, said his mother, Sally, found the box of papers while cleaning after the death of his father.
“She didn’t know what they were,” O’Donnell said. “We are more than lucky she didn’t throw them out.”
O’Donnell flew to Tokyo Monday with Rotten to sell the documents and they plan to share the proceeds. “I will also be bringing my mum for a holiday in Donegal this summer,” O’Donnell said.
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There are 10 songs in the handwritten collection, including the lyrics of “Anarchy in the UK,” “God Save the Queen,” “Pretty Vacant,” “New York” and “No Feelings.”
“Anarchy in the UK,” their initial hit single was banned by radio stations in Britain and led to the band being dumped by their first
Their next hit, “God Save the Queen,” sold 150,000 copies in a single day and went to No. 1 but was also banned by BBC radio.
O’Donnell said the documents had remained in Coolock as a result of an incident when Rotten was sentenced to six months after a row broke out when they were having a few drinks in the city.
“John wasn’t any part of it, but in those days he had red spiky hair and, unfortunately for him, one of those involved in the row was an off-duty Garda,” O’Donnell said. “He was given six months in Mountjoy. Richard Branson came over and the judge asked him to pay _5,000 into the St. Vincent de Paul Society box.
“It had been the first time John had been home since he was a child and he was so freaked out by being banged up in prison that he left Ireland immediately he got out.”
Rotten never picked up his box of belongings. They ended up stored in the O’Donnell’s attic.
O’Donnell said Sid Vicious had just joined the band at the time and his signature on some of the copies of the lyrics is written in blood.
“He was trying to impress the other members of the band, so he cut himself and used his own blood to sign them,” O’Donnell said,
Vicious was the most notorious member of the group. On an American tour in 1978 he was accused of murdering his American girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. He died of a drug overdose while out on bail.
O’Donnell said the lyric manuscripts could fetch anything from _30,000 to _70,000 from memorabilia-hungry Japanese fans. They already have a guarantee of _30,000 but hope to push the price up.
“It’s big business there,” O’Donnell said. “Any Pistols memorabilia is worth a fortune. It is the only country in the world where they clone themselves on band members. They now only clone themselves to look like them but also their home and their way of life.
“The Sex Pistols stuff is worth money mainly because there was a death and destruction in the band, John being from Ireland, the fact that the lyrics were so good and the LP went straight in at No. 1 without any radio play — all that sort of thing.”
The prospect of the cash from the find has already led to O’Donnell getting one item on his wish list: tickets to the Celtic-Rangers final in Glasgow.