Public Image Ltd. (PiL) was formed in 1978 by sex pistols vocalist John Lydon, guitarist Keith Levene and bassist Jah Wobble (John Warden).

In the early days, PiL had an experimental sound and were regarded by critics to be one of the most innovative bands of the post punk era. Lydon was becoming disillusioned with Punk and could see that it was becoming everything that it protested against. Everyone was starting to look like each other, wearing a uniform and conforming to a particular style which was fast becoming a cliche.

After leaving The Sex Pistols, Lydon was forbidden to use the name Johnny Rotten by Malcolm McClaren, and he was also pretty broke. He went to Jamaica to listen to dub-reggae producers and gained much inspiration from them. Being in PiL meant that he no longer had to conform to a particular style or be the puppet of McClaren.

For their first album Public Image: First Issue, the band had spent most of their recording budget before it was completed, leading to half of the album being written and recorded in a rush. On its final track "Fodderstrompf", you can hear the sound of a fire extinguisher putting out a fire that Lydon had lit in the studio while high on drugs. Indeed, it is believed that all four band members were on some kind of drug at this time. The album was released on 8th December 1978.

Drummer Jim Walker left the band early on in 1979.

Levene and Wobble had left the band by 1984, leaving Lydon in control of their sound and direction.

PiL had been inactive since 1992, but in September 2009, it was announced that Lydon will reform the group for a small British tour in December. PiL headlined the Heineken Music Conference 2010 Festival in August 2010 at Tel Aviv in Israel.

John Lydon became more well known during the latter part of the 2000's for his appearances in "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here" on ITV1, and in an advert for Country Life Butter (other brands are available).

    The singles

  • "Public Image" - 1978 UK #9
  • "Death Disco" - 1979 UK #20
  • "Memories" - 1979 UK #60
  • "Flowers of Romance" - 1981 UK #24
  • "This Is Not a Love Song" - 1983 UK #5
  • "Bad Life" - 1984 UK #71
  • "Rise" - 1986 UK #11
  • "Home" - 1986 UK #75
  • "Seattle" - 1987 UK #47
  • "The Body" - 1987
  • "Disappointed" - 1989 UK #38
  • "Warrior" - 1989
  • "Don't Ask Me" - 1990 UK #22
  • "Cruel" - 1992 UK #49
  • "Acid Drops" - 1992 did not chart
  • "One Drop" - 2012 did not chart
  • "Out Of The Woods" / "Reggie Song" - 2012

        Studio Albums
  • "Public Image: First Issue" (1978 UK #22)
  • "Metal Box" (1979 UK #18 - U.S. #171)
  • "Flowers Of Romance" (1981 UK #11 - U.S. #114)
  • "This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get" (1984 UK #56)
  • "Album" (1986 UK #14 - U.S. #115)
  • "Happy?" (1987 UK #40 - U.S. #169)
  • "9" (1989 UK #36 - U.S. #106)
  • "That What Is Not" (1992 UK #46)
  • This Is PiL (2012 UK #35


PiL at Wikipedia

Official PiL Website

PiL at Myspace


Public Image: First Issue


The band's debut single "Public Image" was penned by John Lydon while he was still in The Sex Pistols. It received much praise from the critics and reached #9 in the UK and #15 in Ireland. The lyrics reflect the exploitation Lydon experienced by Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McClaren and also the media.

"RISE" (1986)

Rise was written by John Lydon (Johnny Rotten in the Sex Pistols) about the rise of apartheid in South Africa, which was a prevalent issue in the 80s. The song was one of the group's biggest hits and reached No.11 in the UK in 1986.

Public Image Limited

The sleeve of the 12" single for "Rise". The 7" just featured the word "single".


Reaching No.5 in the UK charts in 1983, this was PiL's biggest hit. With it's amusingly blatant lyrics, the song lampooned the idea by critics that the band were moving towards a more commercial sound.



Flowers of Romance was the band's fourth single release and reached #24 in the UK. It was the title track from the album which was released in April 1981, and focused heavily on drums and percussion, as did other tracks on the album. This has a very familiar style to Adam and The Ants.

The album cover from Flowers of Romance


This was the first single to be released from PiL's 2012 album This is PiL which was released in May and reached #35 in the UK album charts. By the way, the video is working, it is just showing a blank screen as the first frame for some reason.