The Sex Pistols: It happened here
These days the area is well known for charity muggers, but back in 1975, if you‘d walked past the Dianetics Information Centre at 68 Tottenham Court Road, you might have been coaxed in by none other than Johnny Rotten, singer with a then unknown band called the Sex Pistols
Nowadays a large number of musicians are fully paid up members of L Ron Hubbard’s mysterious and much-mocked organisation, from Beck and Isaac Hayes to Elvis’s widow and daughter. Of course, John Lydon wasn’t quite so enamoured.
The Pistols had finished rehearsing one day at their squalid base in Denmark Street and wandered up Tottenham Court Road for a cheap vegetarian curry at a restaurant recommended by manager Malcolm McLaren when they found themselves accosted by Scientologists. For want of anything better to do, they wandered in. According to Glen Matlock in his autobiography,
‘I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol’, he walked out in disgust after being asked for £10 an hour for sessions where he could learn about his ‘emotional problems’. Apparently Steve Jones and Paul Cook were not quite so cynical; they immediately called McLaren to ask for the money required to set them on the right path. He told them not to be so stupid and hung up.
Characteristically, it was Lydon who turned the situation to his advantage. He somehow managed to convince the Scientologists that he believed their talk of ‘auditing’ and ‘thetans’, and for a couple of days they actually gave him a job, standing on Tottenham Court Road, pushing leaflets on passersby and trying to persuade them to come in and find enlightenment. Matlock recalls asking him: ‘Don’t you think you’re exploiting those who are least able to handle it?’ Lydon’s response? ‘It’s not my fault if people are stupid.’
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