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So there we are, all the excitement and madness has calmed down and we can get back to the mundane drudgery of life. I had a lovely Christmas thank you; nice and quiet, which generally how it is most of the time out in the country.

So we’re back on it, we have some decent gigs lined up this year with Department S taking us out and about round the country and over to Germany in March. It’ll be like a saga holiday coach tour!

There will be news regarding remixes and releases soon, and we will be giving the latest album another push so expect non stop posts from me about it all as we go.

We are looking to shoot a new video this month, a no expense spent budget for this….. Only joking, should be a good one, shot by the same gang who did the latest Ruts DC videos.. Cool stuff indeed.. Now where’s my makeup?




New Album Complete

At long last, 9 months in the making, the new Department S album is complete and I have sent files for mastering by Pete Maher who has mastered tracks for some great bands over the years. Just waiting on sleeve design then we’re done! Some pre release promo copies will be available shortly.

When All Is Said and All Is Done

It’s a 10 track full length album, to be released by our good selves on my JAM UK label both digitally and In good old CD format. A limited edition vinyl release is planned for later in the year.

It’s an album with a few surprises, there are tracks that we have been playing live over the past year, some brand new tracks and a couple of studio tracks as I call them where we have pushed things in a different direction. We have a great contribution on saxophone by Sean Freeman who plays with Level 42 amongst others. All in all, it’s a complete work, and as producer, I took responsibility for the overall sound as well as writing for the album. There are some interesting sounds weaves in amongst the traditional guitars bass drums format and I have put some musical references in some songs that will be interesting to see if anyone spots them!

We managed to make this on a very tight budget, mixing at home allowed us to greatly reduce recording costs, the technology nowadays is superb and very powerful, but it was still a challenge to get everything sounding right.

Phil Thompson on guitars, Alexander Lutes on drums and Eddie Roxy on vocal duties made massive contributions to the songwriting and playing and it will be great to get it out there.

Tonight, we are playing our first gig of the year supporting The Godfathers along with Eight Rounds Rapid who I’ve seen before and are rather good. This all takes place at The Garage London which is a venue I like. Plenty more gigs through the year are planned so get out there!


Johnny Tales #8


9.10.82 BOSTON, THE CHANNEL, USA (2 shows)


There we are then, 26 gigs over the delightful jaunt round the USA and Canada. We went to some interesting places, not that I was much interested in taking the local sights at all. Despite the days of hanging around and terminal boredom, I couldn’t whip up much enthusiasm to be a tourist. Even when we drove to Canada and got stopped at the border crossing at Niagra none of us could be bothered to get out of the car to look at the falls, preferring to sit in silence in the car instead… What a twat. We did manage to squeeze in a few Brian Brain dates along the way which were fun up to a point.

Despite all the problems, I don’t regret the decision to join PiL, nor the decision to leave. It was an experience never to be repeated, and I’ve managed to dine out on it for the last 32 years or so. People are genuinely interested in the tales which I’m always willing to talk about.

After settling back home and trying to get my own thing together, failing to gain any interest from record companies and the like, I decided to take a break from it all and didn’t bother trying to start or join a band for years. I always kept playing bass though, noodling about in the comfort of my own home and I did buy some four track recording equipment to play with but nothing really came of that. I never spoke to anyone from the band, I moved home and was pretty much untraceable, bearing in mind this was before the world opened up like a can of worms with the wonders of the World Wide Web.

I got married and started a family, responsibilities and priorities changed from then on, and I focused on enjoying the time watching my kids grow. They were surrounded by my guitars and I always encouraged them to enjoy music without forcing them to suffer music lessons with some stranger. They have all grown to be musically inclined, quite naturally, and they manage to enjoy playing music without it taking over their lives. They all understood the value of education and went on to study at UK Universities.

In the nineties, I decided to get a home computer. We had always used top of the range machines at work and thought it was time to get hooked up and find out what all this internet thing was about. I soon found that modern computers, despite their limitations, could be used to to record music, I bought a Yamaha SW1000 SG sound card and began learning all about midi as well as audio recording. I also found the limitations too, of hard drives, unexpected crashes, sofware glitches, blue screens and the like but it was fun learning and I spent hours hunched over the keyboard after the kids went to bed, the sound of the dial up modem whistling away…. Nobody could ever phone me, the line was always taken up by the modem!

One of the first things I recorded in the digital world was a cover of a PiL song. I always liked Blue Water.. It appeared on the flip side of Love Song and I liked the time signature and mood of it. My version was eventually released when Martin Atkins put together a PiL tribute album of cover versions. I put out an EP called “Twisted” on CD which wasn’t bad considering the limited technology I had available to record it.

I made contact with Martin again at Invisible Records after tracking him down on the Internet. We have remained in contact ever since but we only met in person when he came over to do some Damage Manual dates. I remember asking him how he still did it, how he was still motivated to go out and tour and sit in shitty dressing rooms surrounded by idiots. “Pete, it’s a job” he said. I then saw for the first time things with greater clarity. It was a shit job, a shit job that I chucked in for a better one and I was glad. I originally started playing not because it was a job, but because it was exciting, it moved me, it was a great big adventure at a time when I didn’t give a fuck about anything. I had no responsibilities, all I had to do was play, take drugs, get drunk and act the prick…. That wasn’t a job! The thought of it becoming so would have horrified me.

But I continued to feel the need to be creative, hence the little home studio I built myself. I eventually built my own computer with enough computing power to run Pro Tools, the same recording software used in many studios round the world and it enabled me to record at much better quality with a higher track count. I was being contacted by people from all over the world; Australia, USA, Europe and began contributing to other peoples recordings or doing complete remixes for them. Very few of these earnt any money but I wasn’t bothered about that. I was earning decent money at my day job so could afford to do these recording jobs for free. I was more than happy to help others and spent many an hour taking a poor track I’d been sent and turning it into something reasonable.

I was contacted by three people that really changed things for me; a French guy name Fred Suard who asked me to collaborate on some tracks and Mikee Plastik (aka Media Whore) from Florida who wanted to do the same. I also met up with an English guy called Clem Chambers who was part of a duo called Chill Bill and was doing some interesting electronica.

Fred and I became The Creepy Dolls and our studio project released two EP’s.. Grand Finale and Spit. Fred’s guitar work really bowled me over. He would send just the guitar tracks and I would do the rest, programming drums, playing bass and guitars then writing and singing the vocals. I loved doing the Creepy Dolls material, it just seemed so easy, Fred really brought out the best in me.

Mikee did the same, his material was a bit more leftfield but we suit each other in that we seem to have the same approach. It makes working on projects so much easier when there is a connection, it’s always a pleasure with Mikee and we have co-written stuff for film as well as collaborated on remixes for others.

Chill Bill was something else again borne from a solid connection of minds. This was something different again being purely electronic music that Clem was sending me. But I managed to combine elements of real guitars and bass with decent vocals and we released under the name Pete and Charlie. I did receive a phone call from Keith Levene out of the blue, asking me to play bass on his latest project. It sounded very much like the phone call I had with him In1982 prior to joining PiL, telling me that “this is it” “it’s really gonna happen and I want you on board” kind of thing… All bollocks. I agreed to help on his recordings but told him I probably wasn’t gonna play live and we eventually fell out over some silly Twitter comments that he took too seriously…. Told me to fuck off and that I’m a bald cunt. Seriously.

So I had loads of projects going on, having great fun along the way and learning a lot about recording too. It amazes me that it’s so easy to have the same recording power of a top studio in your laptop at home. I did all my recording in the early days at analogue studios, mostly 8 or 16 track, sometimes the luxury of a 24 track studio but these were expensive and you didn’t have time to fuck about. I was always happier in a studio environment rather than live, twiddling knobs and getting involved in experimenting with new software and such… Anything with buttons switches and knobs!

Sadly, my first marriage ended around the time of the Creepy Dolls release which is probably why the lyrics are a bit dark! But I soldiered on regardless, it was always good material for lyrics!… I remarried, but that ended in disaster too!

I had no intention at all of stepping on the live stage again. It kind of came out of the blue. I had made contact with the lads from Department S and went to see them live a couple of times. Their guitarist at the time also played for Back to Zero (part of the mod revivalist gang) and he mentioned that they needed a bass player for a few dates and would I be interested. I did give it some thought, but the kids were older, I was single again and I thought “fuck it why not?” I thought that I would do the first gig in Stoke and if I really hated it, I wouldn’t do any more. We set out some rehearsals and duly played a gig, my first in 32 years, at a pub in Stoke. It went really well, I was brilliant of course. There were plans to do more dates but the band took a back seat so they never happened. But I enjoyed the show, two of my kids came to see me and we had a great evening. I was reminded though of the things I didn’t like about playing live at small venues. No dressing room, shit food, lots of hanging around waiting for the pa to turn up, not enough time for a Soundcheck etc etc…… It’s a lot of effort just to play for an hour, then there’s the drive home in the morning.

It didn’t put me off, and when Department S asked me to play some live shows with them I didn’t hesitate to say yes. They were a much better proposition than Back to Zero, having had chart success back in the day we had some leverage… The thought of playing “is Vic There?” On the live stage was too good to turn down and we duly began rehearsing for dates in London and Rebellion festival in Blackpool.

So, here I am. Back playing in a band again. Some things never change though, band members still come and go and have their petty squabbles but I am playing with some very talented musicians now who are nice people too. None of the hang ups and egos of teenagers like there was back in the day. Much more civilised. Who knows where or when it will end but I’m enjoying it immensely, to a level I could only dream of in 1982 and I am much better equipped to deal with idiots or wankers who try to mess me about… Yes, all very satisfying.

I still have lots of remixes and contributions going on and I love it, playing live is a joy (mostly) and I’m probably playing better now than I ever did. I’m gonna ride it baby!


I’ll just give my official low down on the relationships I had with the PiL boys… Just so you know and that there is no ambiguity.


I genuinely had a soft spot for John and despite being a complete arse most of the time, to work with, he was brilliant. Not once did he ever tell me what and not what to do or play. He left that completely up to me and for that as a shy young boy, was really helpful. I tried to get through to the inner John, but he wasn’t having any of it, preferring to keep me at arms length. He had his moments when he tried to intimidate me but that was mostly before I was in the band and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. He had absolutely no musicality about him whatsoever, totally and utterly tuneless but he can write some decent lyrics that boy, some really great lines came from his pen and I loved listening to him deliver them live when he was on form.


Keith was always the problem In PiL not just for me but for everyone. It was always somebody else’s fault and he didn’t like hearing otherwise, such a sensitive boy. He had his problems with various substances, like we all did, but he really struggled at times and it made working with him a fucking nightmare. You never knew what Keith you were gonna get, playing live you could pretty much ignore it and carry on but in the studio it was fucking awful, really hard to understand what the fuck he was talking about half the time. I wouldn’t work with him again if he was the last guitarist in town and waved a suitcase full of money at me. Despite all that, I genuinely feel sorry for him because his contribution to music has been immense and he doesn’t always get full credit for that.


Martin was a mate and I never had a problem with him. He was out for himself regardless and I’m ok with that. Genuinely a decent bloke who deserves full credit for his achievements and his contribution over the years. It’s a shame we never got to work together again coz we were a decent rhythm section I reckon.




Johnny Tales #7


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Once I’d moved into the roadie’s apartment, things were less stressful, but I was now cut off from everyone in the band. Martin was still at the Loft with John, Keith was living with his now wife, and I was with my girlfriend stamping on cockroaches at the apartment. We decided to tackle the roaches by buying a “bug bomb” which for those that don’t know is like a large aerosol of bug killer that once you press the nozzle, it stays on until the entire contents of the can are discharged, essentially fumigating your apartment. The place was awash with the little bastards, didn’t see them much during the day but if you got up at night time and switched a light on, you’d see hundreds of them scurrying back behind skirting boards or kitchen fascias. So imperceptibly quick you almost didn’t see them. But they were there, even inside the bread wrapper when you came to make toast In the mornings not that I told the girlfriend, she refused to go into the kitchen after dark. So anyway, we set this fucker of a roach bomb off and went out for the evening. Upon our return, I thought we’d be rid of them, but the sight that met us was straight out of a horror movie. The whole apartment floor was covered with dead or dying roaches, there were thousands of them, I kid you not. A lot were dead but about 25% were still alive, on their backs writhing about all legs and antennae twitching. It was fucking gross. We then spent the next three hours clearing the dying detritus and mopping up the greasy film of bug killer that covered every surface. “You don’t get this in England” I said to myself.

A day or two later I was hanging around with nothing to do, there were no rehearsals, there was little point, not many gigs planned and recording had stopped for a bit. I was looking to go out and see about scoring some coke to alleviate the boredom and this set off a little alarm bell In my head; “Hang on Pete, taking a bit of Charlie after a gig is one thing, scoring during daylight coz you’re bored is another” It really was a stupid idea and I was left thinking what the fuck I was doing in this mess. Luckily, I stopped myself taking that stupid step off the abyss that so many around me had done.

We were due to fly out for a gig soon after, I think it was in Boston and we had flights booked that afternoon. Bob Tullipan called me to arrange a pick up at a local intersection for the run to JFK. I don’t remember how, but I ended up waiting at the wrong intersection for the rest of the band and in the days before mobile phones, there was no way to communicate. We eventually found each other but we were woefully late for our flight. As I climbed into the van, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Everyone was obviously pissed off that I had delayed everyone but nobody said anything. They just sat there and sulked like a bunch of spoilt kids not getting their own way. Fuck ’em.

The conversation was stilted, but at some point, there was a conversation about the tour of Japan that we had been planning. Keith was not happy and was waffling on about who was travelling on the tour. Nora was going, as was Bob Tullipan’s girlfriend Maureen and Keith’s wife Lori. “But” he said “we don’t want your girlfriend to come with us, she’s going to be a liability” well fuck me! That sounds fair! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, they were planning to swan off to Japan with their partners, but I had to leave mine in New York on her own? Insinuating that because she could knock back the drugs like the rest of us it was going to be a problem? Really? If Keith had been sitting within an arms length I think I would have turned round and decked the cunt there and then. Everyone else was silent, no one spoke up so I joined the silence, all the way to Boston, but I was fucking livid.

When we got back to NYC, I was feeling pretty low. I kept having this inner turmoil of wanting to go out and score coke and knowing it was a bad idea. I was thinking of home and of sitting in my favourite English pub drinking a pint of decent ale… It was calling me home! The more I thought about it the more I was being drawn back to England. The thought nagged my mind for a couple of days and one morning I said to my girlfriend “Shall we go home?”
She was keen too, but said that the decision was my call. And I called it.

I went out the next morning and with my last remaining cash bought the tickets back to the UK for the next day. I already had the return portion of my air ticket so just had to find a cheap one-way seat for the girlfriend which was easily done. We packed our bags and asked the roadie to give is a lift to the airport the next day but not to tell anyone about it and we all went out for one last farewell drink.

The next day I felt better about the whole thing, knowing that a decision had been made. I didn’t want to run off without telling anyone so just before we left for the airport I called Martin. I was quite prepared to make the UK trip a temporary one, and I honestly thought that if I could just have a break from it all and clear my head, then I would gladly come back for the Japan trip if the details about who was travelling in the entourage could be ironed out but my call to Martin ended that thought.

“I’m leaving Martin, I’m going back to the UK and I’m leaving now” he was shocked and I could here him relay the message to John who was in the room with him. All I could hear was John ranting and raving, throwing things around and he screamed “Bollocks” down the phone at me. Wasn’t quite the grown up discussion I envisaged! So that was that then, I said a quick goodbye to Martin, hung up and got in the car to the airport.

As we soared at 30,000 feet back across the Atlantic I had time to reflect on what I had just done. I was giving up playing for one of the world’s most infamous bands and working with a great punk icon…. I seriously questioned whether it was the right decision. It was. It’s testimony to how crap things really were working for that band that I was willing to give it all up but I had stuck it out for months and tried my hardest to put up with all the internal squabbling, childish behaviour and drugged up discussions whilst all the time not being paid nearly enough for my troubles.Yes, it was the right thing to do.

I arrived back to the grey UK landscape and as I arrived home it felt like a weight had been lifted from my weary shoulders, I had the pint I craved, and a few more, then watched the Grand National on the telly. I had fuck all to show for my trip, and I was back at my mums house as I had nowhere else to go but I was happier than I had been for months. I was left with a suspicious nature though; if someone was genuinely nice to me I thought “what are they after?” Because that’s what I had put up with with PiL, endless people trying to get to Johny Rotten through you, they would befriend you just because you were close to John and they wanted access

Shortly after I got home I heard that Keith had also left the band. I wasn’t surprised by that. I guess if he had left before me I might have stayed! PiL had imploded again, not for the first time and nor would it be the last. This is Not a Love Song was released soon after and was a bit odd hearing that played so often on the radio as it was clearly my bass work on the recording but I was kind of proud about the fact that I played on PiL’s highest charting UK single (it still remains so to this day).

Later still, I got to hear Commercial Zone that Keith had released unofficialy, and I was struck by how incomplete it sounded. A truly inept representation of what could have been. The new official PiL album “This is What You Want, This is What You Get” followed thereafter and was even worse. The famous cabaret band dragging PiL to new depths of low. I was surprised to hear a song that I had wrote with Martin was on the album; “Solitaire” came about from a riff I used to play at sound checks, clearly written by me, there must have been no doubt in the PiL camp that I had written it so I was pretty pissed off that there was no writing credit for me on the album. Cunts. I did consider taking legal action to address the wrongdoing but I was advised that although I might be successful in getting my dues, it would cost me an arm and a leg to do so, probably more than I would ever recoup in lost royalties so I had to let it drop. Given the low sales of that album, it wouldn’t have amounted to much, but it was the principle more than anything else.

I got a call from an old acquaintance soon after I got back. Kim Wilde was looking to do a European tour and needed a bass player. I had worked with the brass section from Q Tips who had laid down brass on the Brian Brain track ” Funky Zoo” (they were great and did the session in record time for about 30 quid) One of them (I think was Steve Farr but I’m not sure now) was now working for Kim and had remembered that I could play a bit of funky bass which was just what they needed for the tour. I was asked to go for a rehearsal but I was so pissed off following the PiL debacle that I turned it down flat. I had underestimated how badly I was affected by playing with that shower of shit and now here I was turning down a chance to play with another huge well known act. It would have been a great chance to make some connections in the UK and Europe but I just couldn’t face going through it all again even though It was a paying job (£400 a week I seem to remember).

I did start work on my own material though. I spent some time recording in a little local 8 track studio to try and get some demos on tape. It didn’t really work out too good and was little more than basic ideas. I did have a few meetings with record companies who were interested in talking to me due to the PiL connection but I soon found out just how little the music business thought about them. PiL and Lydon in particular were not everyone’s favourite by a long chalk, I got the feeling that the were viewed as a bit of a joke. I was asked to come up with some properly recorded and finished product then they would talk to me again. I didn’t have the money nor by now, the inclination to do so. I effectively retired from the music business.

So that was that.. It was over, I had cashed in my PiL chips and got nothing, there was no hounding of my door for a story or more offers of work, no one was interested. I got a job working for a large multi national company in Harrow and for the first time in years had a regular wage coming in. It felt good to go to work and get paid at the end of every week. I was working amongst some of the dimmest people I had ever met so I soon got promoted to senior positions, it was easy to shine, and eventually I was supervising large numbers of staff earning some decent money. I ended up staying with the company for 25 years, and I would recall tales of my days in PiL when asked by my workmates “What’s Johnny Rotten really like?” Or they would get it wrong and say “You used to play in the Sex Pistols didn’t you Pete?” Ha ha…. For some, I would ham it up and embellish the stories, I would tell them about the time we were driving by car to a gig and John spent the whole journey picking snot out of his nose and wiping it on the inside of the windscreen, by the time we arrived the window was covered in Johnny Rotten snot. Filthy fucking childish behaviour that warranted a mouthful of abuse a smack in the mouth or both . Nobody said a word, you couldn’t say anything to John and were expected to tolerate his vileness.

On the same trip, john and I went to the restroom at a roadside stop, I stood at the urinal having a piss, John locked himself into the adjacent cubicle and moments later he shouted “Here, have some of this.. ” and he threw a wad of toilet paper under the door covered in shit and blood, he was obviously needed some Preparation H in there. “You filthy Cunt” I shouted back and went out to the car disgusted .

At another food stop diner, John smeared chocolate cake all round his mouth and chin, he looked like a five year old and was acting like one to boot. Not funny, pathetic attention seeking bollox. Later on at the hotel, I said something that riled him, can’t quite remember what it was but it must have been something innocuous. He was holding a dining knife in his hand and he grabbed me from behind and pushed it hard into my back. “Fuck off John, what you playing at” he wasn’t gonna do much damage with a butter knife but he was pushing hard and held me tight round the neck… just to prove his dominance. I quickly broke free, grabbed his little travel bag and held it over the 8th floor balcony threatening to drop it into the street below. I would rather have dangled him over the balcony to be honest, but I thought better of it least it landed on someone’s head.

John would try and intimidate any journalists he met, his passive aggressive stance was sometimes funny if the journalist was being a twat but sometimes I felt sorry for the poor guy on the receiving end if they were young and inexperienced. I saw young kids who might be new to the game shaking with fear as John fixed them with his icy black stare and ordered them to ask a decent question. Pure pantomime, but mostly he was just being a cunt. I think it was Wobble who describe him as being a genius on stage, a complete cunt off it…. That was about right..

To be continued….

Photos courtesy Maureen Baker

Copyright Pete Jones J.A.M UK 2015
Contact me at: jabberjab@hotmail.com20150419-175658-64618462.jpg


Johnny Tales #6


….I was settled in at the Iroquois Hotel along with Martin Atkins and the recording sessions continued sporadically, some of which were terse to say the least but we had the first gig planned for Roseland in NYC 28th September (1982) so some rehearsals were in order. We set up camp in a downtown rehearsal space and dived straight into the PiL back catalogue. It was pretty obvious that the material wasn’t going to be a challenge and Martin and I thundered through the old tunes. I was replacing Wobble and his distinctive sound but wasn’t prepared to replicate his style totally; the new material we were recording was moving in a different direction and I wanted to reflect that. Bob Miller, the sound engineer who was handling our sound live as well as in the studio, had never heard Metal Box which I found extraordinary. So he wasn’t trying to recreate the old PiL sound with loads of fat heavy bass but we did use sub bass speakers live that could be switched in and out at the appropriate points, a compromise of sorts. Anyway, I let everyone else get on with the “sound”, I just played. John had just returned from his foray into the acting world with his part in a truly awful film, “Cop Killer” (alternatively titled “Order of Death”) with Harvey Keitel for which he had been paid $10,000 so had a bit of cash to keep him happy and he was ready to wail. At this point, things were getting desperate, Virgin records had practically disowned the band by pulling the advance for a new album and we were told to deliver the album in full. In other words, pay for it yourself! The way PiL worked in the studio was guaranteed to hike the studio bill to silly levels despite Bob Tullipan securing a cheap rate as he knew Bob Kalina, the owner of Park South Studio. There was never any structure to a recording session, no completed songs to record. It was endless hours of noodling about experimenting with bits and pieces of ideas while the tape ran. Eventually, out of the chaos some sort of song would emerge. Martin and I did a couple of sessions on our own and recorded “Miller High Life” and “Solitaire” on our own. There was talk of a deal with Stiff records for distribution and publishing in the States for a new record, but someone had forgotten that there was still an agreement in place with Virgin for future releases so that idea was kicked out. You couldn’t make it up!

So it was a cursory run through of the old stuff, most of which didn’t have much verse chorus structure; you started playing something like “Death Disco” or “Careering” and kept playing until someone decided John had wailed enough lyrics… It could be 5-8 minutes depending on the mood. This way of playing was new to me but at the same time quite liberating. There was never any set list planned either, we decided on the opening number just before going on stage and the rest was sorted in between songs. Sometimes, either Martin or I would just start playing a song at random and that was that.. Chaos. But it didn’t matter, that was what PiL were, breaking the boundaries and structure. John was very clear, never judgemental. “You wear what you like, play what you like” was his mantra. He never gave comment, good or bad, on your playing. In that respect he was easy to work with, just a complete arse off stage.

One evening drinking after rehearsals at the Danceteria John and I had a chat at the bar.. Conversations with him were often stilted and awkward, not because I was in any way in awe or scared of him, it was more he had piss poor social skills and was vey wary or defensive talking to anyone. Anyway, he let his guard slip for a moment and said he was really pleased I was on board and he was glad that we were in a position to start gigging “I’m glad you’re ‘ere”….. He avoided eye contact, that was reserved for intimidation, he couldn’t look at you while saying something sincere. That actually might have been the longest conversation I had with him the entire time I was there. One time we stopped for a coffee somewhere on the road and we sat down together at a table. I said something to John, can’t remember what, but it was just small talk. “This sounds like a false conversation to me” said he. What can you say back? Resisting the urge to smack my boss in the fucking mouth, I got up and walked away. And that was often the case, you’d get some stupid inane bit of conversation from him, then he would destroy it with an even more stupid comment. John had an annoying habit of saying “Drop Dead” to anyone if they said “see ya” or “goodnight” or whatever… Yeah, funny the first time, but not every fucking time someone went off to their room. The social skills of a moron, or was he just playing the “Johnny Rotten” persona to anyone he met? Who knows? But the constant child like behaviour was bloody infuriating, as was watching people running round after him pandering to his demands.

John would keep his very close circle of friends and everyone else outside that was fair game and not worthy of much respect. His closest ally was his partner Nora who I really liked. She was the opposite to John and we had a lot of fun when she joined us on the road, completely bonkers. I could never see what she saw in him but there you go… Still together after all those years… Sort of.

Anyway, the internal dynamics weren’t my fucking issue, Martin was still a mate and ally and I thought, well, fuck the rest of you and your immature hang ups, just pay me and I’ll play. There was a lot of tension before the Roseland gig, PiL hadn’t appeared in 17 months since May the previous year at the Ritz gig where it all ended in chaos. Roseland was a sell out crowd and the place was rammed as we took our places behind the stage curtain and you could feel the anticipation from the crowd on the other side. We struck up a new song “Where are you?” (A song about Jeanette Lee who mysteriously left the PiL camp just as Kop Killer was completed shortly before I arrived) as the curtain opened and the response from the crowd was electric and they surged forward en masse. The sound was great, the reception was perfect and Lydon was at his caustic best, he turned round and looked at me through the chaos, eyes wide with a big grin on his face, he loved it. PiL were back in business.

All the bollox vanished when we were on stage, it didn’t matter a toss, the buzz you get playing a crowd like that is indescribable and I hadn’t experienced that before. I could hardly believe my eyes when I started playing the opening bars of “Public Image”, the power of 16 notes!.. A huge roar of recognition arose from the crowd and as the crowd surged forward again it was like the Anfield terraces from the seventies! The barrier at the front of stage gave way under the crush and it was unbelievable that nobody was badly hurt. I felt that tingle up the spine, hairs standing on end moment that was better than any drug and I loved it. It was easy too, the songs were piss easy to play and only a handful of songs had any structure to worry about. I could just stand there and watch Lydon play the crowd and do his stuff.

Back then, John still had charisma by the bucket load and those that came to see the Johnny Rotten Roadshow weren’t disappointed. All eyes were on John, he would bum cigarettes off the crowd, chat to the front row in between songs, stare down anyone who was giving him stick and best of all, go ape shit at anyone who spat. He had great wit, gave good verbal and was sharp as a nail when he barked his derisive comments at the crowd. It was mesmerising and I would just stare at the spectacle to which John often said “Why do you look at me funny on stage?” Well, it was fucking first class entertainment John, that’s why! It would have been easy money had I been paid. I found it hard not to laugh at it all but I kept a steely glum face… Trying to be cool, inside I was laughing my bollox off.

The next month we had 7 gigs booked, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington and a couple of dates in Toronto. This was hardly a punishing tour schedule and we would usually head back to New York in between dates. I thought this was madness. The cost of getting band and crew to a city, hotels, food etc for the entourage was huge, let alone the drugs bill on top. I questioned why we weren’t playing more often, we were getting something like 12-15,000 dollars a night, we should have been milking the cash cow while we could. The answer I got was from Keith; “We want every gig to be an “event” not just another gig like everyone else”. What?!!! At this point we were just like any other fucking rock band not a circus but it made no difference. The idea was to play different venues than other bands, bypassing the usual promotors and we did play some interesting smaller sell out venues. We went on playing dates here and there, recording shit in between, it was suicide financially. We played 5 dates in November, 5 in December, 1 in January, 4 in February…. Can you see the problem with that? Keith’s idea of an “event” was to put a sign at the front of the venue that said “You are now entering a Commercial Zone” another poorly executed half baked idea. Bob Tullipan was effectively managing the band and his assistant Maureen Baker was taking photos. She was constantly clicking away at gigs, backstage, wherever and in the days pre-digital. So much so that we often thought she had no film in her camera and was just posing. She ended up taking hundreds of excellent photos which I didn’t see till years later. She took some superb candid shots some of which have been used all over the world.

So there was I in amongst this maelstrom getting bits of cash here and there, just enough to get by. I was still at the Iroquois Hotel but Martin had left there to go and stay at the Loft with John. Smart move on Martin’s part, never one to miss an opportunity to leg himself up the career ladder, being 24/7 with John gave him a chance to have a position of greater influence. I didn’t think it was possible for him to get further up John’s arse than he already was but he was going to give it a go and I don’t blame him for doing that, I couldn’t do it, but hey, you gotta get on. It was the start of a split in the PiL camp; Keith was living with his girlfriend Lori Montana at her apartment on 5th Avenue. (They got married while I was there and John was best man… Strange little affair and surprise surprise, it didn’t last long.) Lori played bass for a band called Pulsallama who supported PiL in NYC.

So I was on my own at the Iroquois Hotel and by this time I had flown over my girlfriend from the UK so there were now two mouths to feed and money seemed to be getting harder and harder to get hold of. I was getting hassle from the hotel about the $2000 bill not being paid up and I kept giving excuses as their threats became more and more serious. It came to the point where the hotel were going to seal our room with all our stuff in it until the bill was paid. Like holding your belongings hostage! This meant that we could only leave the room one at a time, if we both went out, we were fucked. I had $12 in my pocket, back then worth about 6 quid and I was getting nervous! I called Keith to let him know I was walking up Shit Street and needed some cash, his reply floored me “We’re all individuals in this band. So you’ll have to sort it out” I was gobsmacked and tore into him. His suggestion, which wasn’t ideal but it got us out of a jam, was to move into his apartment. Essentially doing a runner from the hotel, so over the next couple of days, we moved most of our stuff out bit by bit down to Keith’s. So as not to arouse suspicion from the hotel it was all done in small bags a bit at a time, last thing to leave being my bass guitars. I left some clothes there, and never did get them back. The hotel bill was paid weeks later, after we’d left I believe.

So yeah, fucking great, sleeping on Keith’s pull out sofa bed. Rock ‘n’Roll. It was a small apartment at #1 5th Avenue, a swanky address, and a very nice, but very small apartment. It wasn’t ideal, but it gave me a chance to get to know Keith a bit better and we even managed to have a few laughs! Fancy that eh? Laughing. We also discussed what PiL was about and we had some very enlightening discussions over dinner. Keith said that I was very much part of PiL, not just a hired hand, just as much as anyone else, and that my contribution was just as important. I couldn’t agree with him though, I maintained that PiL was really about him and John, it was the chemistry between the two of them that was in essence, the heart of the band. Anyone else was just making up the numbers and basically session musicians. We debated that point for some time without resolution but at least we understood each other a bit better. His wife Lori put things into a different context though; she said that the problem with the band was that John was gay and in love with Keith and it was his jealousy that was causing all the problems. Well, that was news to me! But keith seemed to be buying it, or at least, didn’t counter a different argument. Personally, I cared not a jot if John was gay, still don’t. It was said by some that his relationship with Nora was just a front, a sham, to give a respectable gloss to the Rotten persona.. I had no idea what was truth or fiction from one day to the next, pure pantomime and it was all starting to stink like a rotten fish.

During my time at Keith’s, I could tell he was having trouble with some of his demons, I would often hear him sobbing at night behind closed doors, he was having a real internal battle but never confided to me in any detail, he had his wife to cry on. There was a lot of drug use going on, it seemed that we were all doing something and I was no exception. I hated taking anything while playing, as I’ve said, it makes your playing really shit. Others weren’t so fussy, sometimes I wouldn’t understand what anyone was saying, they were so out of it, serious stuff. Anyway, we stayed at Keith’s for a few weeks until we moved uptown to stay with one of the road crew, again, not ideal but we had our own bedroom and it was better better than being crammed in with Keith. It was over run with cockroaches, like a lot of Manhatten, just another piece of shit to put up with. Playing live whilst off your head wasn’t a problem for some. Martin and I would get wrecked after the show. The nature of the songs having little structure meant that Keith could play his guitar parts over the solid back beat without worrying too much what he was playing. He just mostly had to generate noise and this would vary night to night depending how out of it he was.

The sporadic nature of the gigs continued. As did sporadic payments of cash, not nearly enough as I deserved. PiL had original wanted Bill Laswell to fill the bass slot but couldn’t afford him! So I guess I was the cheaper option. The constant chasing for scraps of money here and there was really pissing me off. We played further dates in L.A. San Fran, Seattle, Atlanta and more dates round the Eastern seaboard. In-between the PiL dates we managed to squeeze in a few Brian Brain dates. There was some talk about Brian Brain supporting PiL but thankfully, that idea was quickly scuppered. It was during these dates that I decided to quit Brian Brain. We were playing at the City Gardens in Trenton and halfway through the gig I was suddenly hit by an immense feeling that what we were doing live was an absolute pile of fucking shit. It hit me like being hit with a lump of wood round the back of the head, but before that I had been relatively happy playing with Martin and Bobby. But I was now embarrassed to be on stage performing those shitty songs with Martin rolling about like an idiot, I felt ashamed and couldn’t wait to get off stage. I told Martin later that I’d had enough and I think he had sensed that I wasn’t into it any more and I left the band with no malice. We had a good run with Brian Brain and three trips round the States was a fucking hoot, all silly madness, fuelled by drunkeness and fun. For that I am eternally grateful to Martin for making it happen. I never really did appreciate that fully at the time. Brian brain continued in my absence with Margot Olavrria taking over bass duties. She had been an original member of The go-Go’s and was living with my old school pal from the UK Geoff Smyth. He joined at the same time as second guitarist.

So I just had to concentrate on PiL, we had a few more dates booked in the States and we were starting to talk about going to Japan. Now that was something I was looking forward to! I had always dreamt of playing there, seeing a different culture, what an opportunity. I was prepared to continue to put up with the shit for the opportunity. The internal politics were still crap, the Levene/Lydon division was getting worse, Martin was piggy in the middle. All I wanted to do was play, the hour on stage was a respite from all the other shit going down and they were always good gigs. Unlike the Brian Brain shows, there was always guaranteed a crowd, it was always interesting and despite the lack of structure, always enjoyable. Off stage it was a different matter and I soon realised that despite the lure of going to Japan, the politics and inner wranglings were going to come to a head and it was all going to end in tears……

To be continued

Copyright Control Pete Jones J.A.M. UK 2015
Email: jabberjab@hotmail.com
Thanks to http://www.fodderstompf.com






Johnny Tales #5


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…. So there I was, at 30,000 feet, 24 years old, on my way to NYC to join PiL and had a few hours to consider what was coming. I knew Martin well and we got on so I didn’t have any worries in that respect, I had confidence the rhythm section was gonna be spot on. Martin and I had been playing together since 1978 and we knew each other’s playing, reaching that intuitive stage where you kind of know what’s coming next. As I have said, John I knew was an arse from previous encounters but he didn’t scare me none, I was big enough to take care of that and Keith was the unknown part of the equation but hey, how bad could he be? I didn’t like the music, or half the band. (I thought the drugs might be good and plentiful though, and on that score, I was right.).

I was heading into the Unknown without anything in a contract. I didn’t know how long I was going for, how many gigs were planned? what was the recording plans? was there any split on publishing? how much was I gonna get paid? I was a bit naive and just assumed that Virgin records were behind it all and that money wasn’t going to be a problem. How fucking wrong was I? The last PiL performance had been the infamous riot show at the Ritz so I wasn’t even sure what the fuck we’d be playing live or what format the shows would be.

I was also going away from all my friends and family as well as long term partner, not knowing when I would return. But it was what I had wanted all these years; to be playing for a name band, recording and touring as a professional and being paid well for it with a bit of recognition and fame thrown in, it’s what I had dreamed of. I had been playing for 6/7 years and had done pretty well, but not broken through from scratching around earning a crust here and there. (For example my first ever “wage” turned pro playing for The Bob Lewis Band in 1979 was a £30 bag of hash… I didn’t get an option to ask for cash, take it or leave it. The same bunch of crooks asked me to join The Jags but I turned them down, I didn’t fancy the prospect of a bag of weed a week as payment). Driving up and down the UK playing in front of nobody for £30 wasn’t much fun either. At one point I had £1.70 to my name, living at my mums and not even being able to afford the bus fare into Watford let alone having money to spend down the pub when I got there.. It was fucking grim. So here was the chance to break free and break through and although it wasn’t my ideal band of choice, it was a much better prospect than any available alternative!

I touched down at JFK late in the afternoon and Martin had arranged to meet me. I was booked into the Infamous Iroquois hotel where I had stayed previously with Brian Brain. That was a great hotel back then; rooms were cheap as chips and all the touring bands stayed there partying aplenty. I would get phone calls to my room that were meant for Mick Jones of The Clash, much to my amusement. The switchboard couldn’t cope with more than one Jones at a time! It was as grimy as eighties New York itself and it’s sad to see it is now just another swanky boutique hotel for those that can afford the squeaky clean New New York prices… Progress.

So a grinning Atkins was there when I eventually emerged from the usual grilling from immigration, despite my work visa being in order and we jumped in a yellow cab to Manhatten. “We’re going straight to the studio” says Martin. I was a bit taken aback having just got off a 6 hour flight and being a bit pissed.. “What, right now? I was hoping to have a lie down” said I. “They’re keeping the studio session open for you to come in and play some bass so were going straight there”. Unbelievable. This was going to be jumping in at the deep end. Martin spent the rest of the journey trying to sing me the bass line to the new song they wanted recorded, no mean feat for both of us considering he was tone deaf and couldn’t sing a melody to save his life but I caught the gist of it and off we went to Park South Studios to meet the gang.

As we arrived at the studio, there was a bunch of guys from some poor band who had studio time booked and were waiting patiently for PiL to finish up. They would be waiting a long time and eventually had to go home, their recording session ruined before it had even started. PiL had trumped their session, in part waiting for me, and I thought “Fuck, that’s not very nice” and genuinely felt sorry for those guys who had their big day scuppered .

I walked into the control room where I met Keith Levene, Bob Miller the producer a well as a couple of other faces and was surprised to see Ken Lockie was there who I hadn’t seen since I left Cowboys International two years previously, small world. The pleasantries were short and stifled, and within minutes was given a bass guitar and told “play along to this”. The tape started and we worked laying down the bass for Mad Max. There was already a bass line written and played by Keith, but it was a bit ragged and not particularly well played being out of time in places. You could get away with that on guitar but not bass. The bass was slightly off tuning wise too so I played it tighter in with Martins clockwork drums and In tune! We did take after take after take.. On and on through the night with Keith at the mixing desk making the tiniest of adjustments to things on the fly.. “Aimless fucking knob twiddling” I called it, endless tedious fiddling around with fuck all time after time. I was fucked and was offered something to keep me going which I refused. I never took drugs in the studio, ever, it’s hard enough playing straight but on drugs, you just play like a cunt even though you think you sound the best thing on the planet, bad news. But there was plenty of it going round and I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. After a long while, John Lydon suddenly appeared from behind the mixing desk where he had been lying down. I hadn’t seen him there and he never offered me the courtesy of saying hello when I arrived either… Playing the cunt as usual, and he had to make his grand entrance. The fortieth take was no better than the first and eventually we finished in the early hours of the next day and I caught a cab in a daze to the Iroquois.

What the fuck was I getting into? I wasn’t impressed with what I had seen and heard so far in the studio, it all seemed so directionless and chaotic, no plan, no ideas, no production no discipline and it was typical of how the recording process was going to continue with this band. I saw some of that during the recording of Flowers of Romance and it looked like it nothing had changed. But I thought, oh well, if they want to spend wasted hours fucking about in the studio then so be it, what did I care? Well, little did I know at the time, but that’s where most of the money was going, to pay the studio bills. So I was going to be working my arse off to playing live to pay the stupid wasted studio time… One day in and things didn’t look good. The first gig was planned in three weeks, 28th September at Roseland… We had some rehearsals to do….

To be continued
Copyright Pete Jones J A M Uk 2015
Contact me jabberjab@hotmail.com





Johnny Tales #4


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Martin Atkins was the proverbial okey cokey drummer for PiL; he was in out in out shake it all about and was sacked on a almost weekly basis by Keith, then reinstated before being sacked again. While all this was going on, we were busy playing and recording for Brian Brain. I had been touring with Cowboys International while Martin was on the first PiL USA tour. The CI lineup was led by singer songwriter Ken Lockie and included Stevie Shears (ex Ultravox) on guitar, Paul Simon on drums and a prick on keyboards who I can’t remember but was a right little cunt. I’ll save that sad little story for another day but suffice to say, after the tour we weren’t gonna be playing together again and the band duly split there and then, never to play live again. Ken I was to meet later in a rather surprising way.

So concentrating on the Brian Brain shenanigans was the only gig in town and we managed to play many a gig causing much hilarity on the way. We had a couple of jaunts to Holland and eventually, 4 visits to the states as well as numerous shitty gigs up and down the UK. By May 1982, the 4th US tour was over and we had recorded Funky Zoo, which was arguably just nudging above mediocre which for us was good! In June that year, Argentina had given up fighting for the Falkland Islands and personally I was glad of that. (While we were in the states a couple of drunken knife wielding locals made us stay In a bar with them while they shouted insults about the Queen at us. One of them wanted me to cut my own wrist with his knife… A bit extreme but hey ho, I lived to tell the tale) Anyways, we had heard that Secret Records had signed a publishing and distribution deal with Virgin which should have been good news, but like a lot of promises it came to nothing as nobody really wanted to touch us with a barge pole. I was well and truly down in the dumps and seriously thinking of chucking it all in.

Martin stayed in the states and had hooked up with Johnny Lydon again, I think he only got sacked 4 times that month but in August, totally out of the blue, Martin called me and asked if I’d be interested in joining PiL for some US dates. I was so pissed off at this point, I said I’d think about it, Keith Levene was well miffed that I didn’t throw myself at his knees in gratitude but I honestly thought that PiL were shit.

24 hours later, I agreed to fly out and join the band in New York so I went out and bought all the PiL albums to learn the songs. I started playing bass in 1972, and for my sins, my formative playing years were against a backdrop firmly rooted in prog rock, Chris Squire was my hero so my aspirations for playing bass technically went far beyond what Wobble had played on the PiL albums. I think I learnt the PiL back catalogue in an afternoon, and that included lunch, and I was a bit wary about playing what I thought was bollox on a live stage. I really wasn’t looking forward to it at all.

But Martin was my mate, I knew his drumming would be good and that together we could polish the turd and make it sound ok. Anyway, the whole live thing was all about Johnny Rotten, that who people were turning out to see, Anyone that missed the Pistols furore was coming to see what all the fuss was about. Everything else was secondary.

It took some time to sort out a visa and a plane ticket for me, more time spent sitting at the American embassy with my finger up my arse, but, eventually it was sorted and off I went. With all the self nagging doubts and dislike of the music, I probably wasn’t in the best frame of mind from the start…. When I got to the other side, things took a strange turn from the off..

See next instalment of Johnny Tales for more!
Contact me on jabberjab@hotmail.com if you have any comments or questions.20150320-162829-59309429.jpg




Johnny Tales #2


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So, the Flowers of Romance did eventually get finished, thanks to a kick up the arse from Martin Atkins and the studio skills from Nick Launey who produced the album. The Manor sessions were complemented by a couple of weeks at the Townhouse where Martin added further to the album. No sooner had the sessions been completed at the end of October then Martin and I went off to the United States for the first of our Brian Brain jaunts to the big new world.

Martin had given Birth to the Brian Brain idea off the back of his association with PiL, being the eternal opportunist he figured that this would give him a passport to greater things. In a way he was right, it seemed booking gigs in smaller US clubs was a breeze and from his tiny flat in Willesden, by hook or by crook, he managed to cobble together some dates and once the visas were sorted off we went!

We made 4 separate visits to the states during the early eighties plus we did further dates while Martin and I were both playing for PiL. They were always mad car crash tours, fuelled mostly on alcohol, bluff and bravado but we had a real hoot along the way. John Lydon turned up at one of the gigs, midway through our cover rendition of PiL’s “Careering”.. Much to Martins surprise and embarrassment. Of course, it would have been hilarious had John had the bottle to get onstage and perform it with us properly but he preferred to mosh around the front of the stage acting the goof instead.

We met up with John at a later date, in a club somewhere in NYC, where he joined us for a couple of beers. I said hello and as I had heard that he was now living in NYC asked him where he was living. “In a loft space on the Lower East Side, near the river” was the reply. Now I didn’t know that this particular area wasn’t the most salubrious in Manhattan, and that the back of his building was a frequent hang out for gay sex encounters so I casually remarked “Oh, that sounds nice” quite innocently and not really knowing what else to say. John immediately span round, fixed me with that wide dark-eyed stare of his and through taught lips hissed “Don’t play that fucking game with me sonny” and held my gaze until I looked away.

This was John all over, he thought I was taking the piss (I wasn’t) and his immediate reaction was to attack. I found it all too funny so just smiled and walked away to get another beer. It was the second time he had spoken to me and both times he had strayed into smack in the mouth territory. At that point, ending up as his bass player was the furthest thought from my mind and was left thinking he was a complete and utter cunt.

Johnny Tales


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These stories of mine first appeared on my website back in the day when I had a website. Due to apathy, and a lack of interest in anything I let the website fall into disrepair to be honest, the technology was moving on at such a pace I couldn’t keep up. I mean, a bit of HTML I could cope with, but beyond that it was a mystery. I couldn’t afford to pay someone to do it for me and in the end, who gave a fuck who Pete Jones was?

What did seem to be popular on my old site were the “Johnny Tales” which were my little anecdotes from back in the day of my involvement with Public Image Limited, the events leading up to my playing for the band, and my eventual exit.

So, I have decided to resurrect the stories, rewritten for the modern age (coz the originals are lost on a floppy disc somewhere). So here it is, the complete account of my involvement with one of the World’s most iconic bands.


I first met Mr Lydon at The Manor studios in Oxford whilst the Infamous Public Image Limited were recording their much acclaimed album, Flowers of Romance. However, whilst I was there, very little progress had been made on the recording front, with the band having been ensconced within the four enclosed walls for some considerable time without contributing much in terms of output.

At that point, I had known Martin Atkins for some time; we had played previously in a local Watford band called “The Hots”, Martin had joined the band after he answered our ad in Melody Maker and we had played the London club circuit for a while. He left that band once he got the opportunity to join PiL, again, after answering an advert in Melody Maker. He then went off to tour the USA with PiL in 1980. Shortly thereafter, I joined Cowboys International for a European tour for a few weeks and upon my return we met up, and Martin invited me to join him at The Manor one aftennoon.

The Manor was Virgin Records’ studio of choice for rostered bands like PIL; the studio was well equipped and the facilities for the bands were sumptuous. The kitchen was well staffed, it had a nice snooker table and the lounge areas we’re well appointed.

I had a listen to what had been recorded so far, and I was underwhelmed by what I heard. The best track I was given privy too was a Beatles cover version of Twist and Shout which had Johnny singing over the original Beatles backing… It was shit.

There were other bare bones recordings that ended up becoming the finished album but it was hard listening, all bits if ideas without any cohesion. I formed a view that it needed a swift kick up the pants to get something good enough for an album and it was Martin who gave it just that by putting down some some slamming drums for “Four Enclosed Walls’ and “Banging the Door”. I believe that that if Martin Hadn’t got involved at that point, the album wouldn’t have even been finished.

As it was, the band were lounging around doing fuck all when I arrived and I was introduced to John by Martin in the lounge area. “Alright John?” I said. “Yeah” said he, then, coughed up a large clump of phlegm, from the back of his throat and deposited it at my feet in the middle of a sumptuous Persian rug that adorned the lounge. After a short pause, I gave him that “What are you? Some sort of cunt” look then got up and walked out. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be impressed or intimidated……… I was neither, and it pretty much summed up in that one moment, all that Johnny was about and I saw through it all, for he was rotten, well and truly Rotten.