Credit where credit is due, it’s down to the beady eyes of Dave Carroll from La Rocka, who spotted the striking similarity of this mid-century American tux with one worn by John Lydon on the Sex Pistols 1977 Swedish tour. Both jackets are cut from a yellow silk damask fabric with black silk revers, and turn back cuffs. Lydon’s undoubtedly an original 50s one also, has been modified by being crudely cropped in half, turning it into an almost razored bolero.
Dave thinks this more than likely came from the Let It Rock shop. A legendary but short-lived McLaren Westwood venture at 430 Kings Road, opened in 1971 it morphed into Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die, in 1972.
The only discernible difference between the two jackets being that ours has an interrupted curved turn back cuff, whilst Rotten’s appears to be a full barrel cuff. The jacket is at first glance an unlikely choice for a Punk frontman, with its connotations of louche Las Vegas lounge lizard, atomic Americana, and banal game show host, but ultimately it’s inspired as it also shares some of the Edwardian Teddy Boy detailing oft referenced by the Sex Pistols. It also pre-empts the tacky glitz and phoney materialism of Rotten’s post-Pistols incarnation in Public Image Limited. In a snapshot, it shows Punk at its most surprising and creative, proving it wasn’t all just black leather, zips and safety pins.
Words by Simon McLean / John Lydon photographs © Ulf Petterson 2012 / sex-pistols.net