Sometimes a rock autobiography works because it reveals that a great lyricist’s way with words translates well to prose. However, as I recently learned from reading I Am Brian Wilson, a convincing translation of the writer’s peculiar communication idiosyncrasies is often what’s really needed. I didn’t want Melville-level wordsmithery from the cat who wrote “He sits behind his microphone-JOHNNY CARSON!—he speaks in such a manly tone—JOHNNY CARSON!”, and I sure don’t want it from the guy who called Bill Grundy a “fucking rotter” on live TV either.
As the host of his own radio show, Jonesy’s Juke Box, ex-Pistol Steve Jones is not exactly an uncomfortable communicator as Wilson famously and endearingly is. In fact, Jones is quite comfortable communicating anything and everything about his checkered past. Those who pick up memoirs because memoirs tend to be lurid will not be disappointed by Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol. Each page squishes with smack addiction, sex addiction, nonces, compulsive wanking, peeping, vacuum fucking, bread fucking, and/or kitten strangling. However, it is Jonesy’s creative thievery that stands out most among his crimes. He nicked Ron Wood’s portable TV, Keith Richards’s coat, Ariel Bender’s guitar, Bryan Ferry’s tuner, and half of Bowie’s stage gear. That alone would warrant a memoir.
Of course, its Jones’s time in The Sex Pistols that probably sealed the book deal, though Lonely Boy is the rare rock auto-bio that is often least interesting when focusing on its subject’s music. But that may just be because I never gave much of a toss about the Pistols. It can also get tiresome during the druggy/recovery passages, but that’s only because you’ll find that kind of stuff in every memoir ever written. Nevertheless, Jones’s unapologetic yet disarmingly humble and really funny voice make Lonely Boy readable all the way through. Plus, steering clear of the atrocities on his appendix list of things that are not Rock & Roll (examples: sandals; selfies; cunts who get your signature on stuff then sell it on ebay…) constitutes a pretty good life plan.