Music News: God save the Queen, says Johnny Rotten - in all sincerity


John Lydon
John Lydon at The Current (Nate Ryan/MPR)

God save the Queen, says Johnny Rotten — in all sincerity. John Lydon, known as Johnny Rotten during his days with the Sex Pistols, says that he hopes in the event of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, the band's iconic/ironic song "God Save the Queen" isn't misused to suggest contempt for the queen as a human being.

"That's about a political situation and the demand for obedience to a monarchy I don't believe in," said Lydon in a recent podcast interview for the Quietus, with reference to the song. "But that's a human being and I would sorely miss her as a human being on planet Earth." (Pitchfork)

Today's Bowie news

Despite the endorsement of David Bowie’s estate, a giant lightning bolt sculpture proposed for Brixton has fallen well short of its £900,000 fundraising goal. Fans pledged only £50,000, and since the goal was not met, none of the funds will be taken. (Billboard)

On the other hand, if you've been wanting a watch bearing the face of Bowie circa 1974, you're in luck. Designers Raymond Weil have unveiled a timepiece that has the blessing of Bowie's estate: "a Swiss Made timepiece that celebrates the legendary icon's musicality, style and unmatched innovation." (Pitchfork)

Happy birthday, Sarge!

The Beatles’ classic album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band turns 50 on June 1, and the band's home town of Liverpool is pulling out all the stops to celebrate.

"The city announced Wednesday that it has commissioned 13 artists to create works based on the album's 13 tracks," reports Billboard. "There will also be a singalong by 64 choirs of the jaunty 'When I'm Sixty-Four.' The works will have their world premieres at venues across Liverpool between May 25 and June 16. On June 1 [...] the city will host a fireworks extravaganza by French pyrotechnic artist Christophe Berthonneau." (Billboard)

Eurovision drama

The wildly popular Eurovision international music contest is scheduled to take place May 13 in Kiev, Ukraine — and Ukrainian authorities have already banned the Russian entrant from entering the country. Singer Yulia Samoylova previously performed in Crimea — a territory annexed by Russia in 2014 — without passing Ukrainian border controls, an act that local authorities find unacceptable. (New York Times)

Rufus Wainwright plans orchestral show

Rufus Wainwright has announced a four-night stand in Havana, Cuba. "During the four-night event," Rolling Stone notes, "scheduled September 21st to 25th, the singer-songwriter will perform two concerts: a private, solo show and a public event featuring a full orchestra and local musicians."

"I've played with orchestras all over the world, and it's a very powerful experience that I'm excited to try in Havana," said Wainwright in a statement. "Cuba is a complete and utter revelation in terms of its historical treasures, vibrant presence and interesting future."

The Courtneys talk Minnesota — and "Minnesota"

Vancouver rockers the Courtneys told City Pages about the origins of their new song "Minnesota." Singer-drummer Jen Twynn Payne says, "It's about one of my best friends who moved away. But at the time I wrote those lyrics, it was a few years ago, and he actually wasn't moving at all at the time, never mind to Minnesota. But then that is actually what ended up happening. So it was kind of like a weird premonition that he would move to Minneapolis."