Sex Pistols’ John Lyndon Was Furious Over Nirvana’s Use of ‘Nevermind’

By Amanda Wicks

The Sex Pistols’ John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten detailed some of the records that have most shaped him, and even though he cited Nirvana’s “Smell Like Teen Spirit” as one such song, it turns out he was pretty angry with the band for a while.

Related: Prince, Nirvana, N.W.A. & More Have Songs Added to GRAMMY Hall of Fame

Speaking with Pitchfork, Lydon discussed how he thought Nirvana was copying the Sex Pistols when they named their 1991 album Nevermind. It felt oddly close to the Sex Pistols’ 1977 album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. “I remember being very angry at their album title being Nevermind,” he admitted. “I thought Nevermind? Have you lost your bollocks or something?”

Even though he was initially upset with their album’s title, he eventually came to see the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the fierce sound it offered. “I was drawing a line on it all, perhaps too sharply, but I have to say ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is one of pop music’s all-time greatest,” he said. “That song is firmly embedded in my psyche. So, I forgive them. Most bands can’t come up with one complete song, and sometimes one is enough.”

All’s well that end’s well. Even over 20 years later.

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