Throwback Thursday: That Time Johnny Rotten Was on ‘Judge Judy’
Imagine this: You're the former frontman of one of the most provocative bands in history and 20 years later, you're resolving a small claims case with a former band member on a nationally syndicated television show. Some people would feel like their star might've fallen, but not the Sex Pistols' John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten). Back in 1997, when producers of Judge Judy learned about the dispute, they asked him to air his dirty laundry on an episode of the show and Lydon immediately accepted. "I love this country!," he proclaimed.
Here's how it happened: Lydon had put together a backing band to support him on a tour in support of his 1997 solo album Psycho's Path. Lydon hired drummer Robert Williams (who might be the only person on the planet who can claim to have worked for both Captain Beefheart and Pee-wee Herman). But, according to a Virgin Records press release promoting the Judge Judy taping, "During rehearsals, Williams' behavior became increasingly provocative, adversely affecting the camaraderie of the band." With no time to find a replacement, they went ahead with him anyway, but scheduled a dinner meeting to discuss the matter with Williams.
What happened during that meeting is what led to the lawsuit. Williams claimed he was fired while Lydon said he quit; Williams also claimed he was assaulted but Virgin said he bumped his head on Lydon's chin. And so the two parties found themselves in the syndicated television chambers of the esteemed Judge Judith Sheindlin, who referred to Williams as a "nudnik" and scolded Lydon when he resorted to classic Johnny Rotten behavior (blowing his nose loudly and interrupting the proceedings).
When it was all over, Lydon cracked wise with a nod to the recent O.J. Simspon murder trial, "Now I'm going to get on with my life. We're going after the real killers."
Did Williams get the $5,000 in damages he was seeking? You'll have to watch the video to find out.