Book Review: Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol

Steve Jones

Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol

A dog-eared tale now frayed around the edges, four Cockney kids are thrown together in perverse London clothes shop by a haberdasher espousing art school politics. Out of their disgust with England's mid-Seventies social decay and rock & roll's increasing irrelevance emerged a sonic fury that forever radicalized the form. Outlaws at home and abroad, even the Sex Pistols fell prey to music industry pressures, after which they all had to figure out life beyond punk. Lonely Boy, foundational Pistol Steve Jones' memoir, is therefore something of a minor miracle. For one thing, the guitarist was functionally illiterate until his 30s, when he invested some royalties into tutoring. Pretty typical of a background proving more Dickensian than even that described in bandmate John Lydon's two autobiographies. Bastard son of a boxer father who disappeared early, molested young and neglected by elders who essentially ushered him into a life of petty crime by example, Jones' life pivots when Pistols svengali Malcolm McLaren channels his waywardness into playing his pilfered equipment. An acute sensitivity shines through the thuggishness, as demonstrated by the subject eventually shaking off addiction and attempting to make amends with his burglary victims. Now comfortable in his skin as a celebrated L.A. deejay, Steve Jones wrestles triumph from tragedy with wit and warmth.

Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol

by Steve Jones
DaCapo Press, 308 pp., $26.99

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Steve Jones
Holiday in San Antonio
Holiday in San Antonio
The night the Sex pistols went off at Randy's rodeo

Margaret Moser, Jan. 10, 2003

An Immense World of Delight
An Immense World of Delight
Where in the World Is Mother Nature?

Roger Gathman, June 30, 2000

More Music Reviews
Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way
Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way
The Parrothead behind the empire

Doug Freeman, July 21, 2017

Rock & Roll Books
Play It Loud
Play It Loud: The Epic History of the Style, Sound, and Revolution of the Electric Guitar

Michael Toland, Dec. 9, 2016

More by Tim Stegall
Old Settler’s Platters
JD McPherson
Undivided Heart & Soul (Record Review)

April 20, 2018

Texas Platters
All Opposed
No Class (Record Review)

April 13, 2018


Steve Jones, Sex Pistols, John Lydon

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2018

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle