Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon enters Eurovision running for Ireland

Lydon's band PiL will be competing to represent Ireland in Liverpool <i>(Image: Sale/Waterside)</i>
Lydon's band PiL will be competing to represent Ireland in Liverpool (Image: Sale/Waterside)

For most people, the name John Lydon brings to mind a snarling, punk provocateur.

In his Johnny Rotten persona, he was seen as an anti-establishment figurehead. The Sex Pistols frontman caused outrage with his sneering expression, lyrics like ‘God save the Queen/She ain’t no human being’ and an infamous appearance on Bill Grundy’s talk show that led to the headline ‘THE FILTH AND THE FURY’.

Lydon is an altogether more complex and intriguing character than the punk caricature that stuck in people’s minds, and after decades spent upending expectations his career is set for another twist.

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What’s happened?

In a tweet posted on Monday morning, Lydon said: “PiL will be competing to represent Ireland at Eurovision 2023 with their new single Hawaii” and promised it would be “a PiL song like no other” .


After leaving the Sex Pistols in 1978, Lydon formed post-punk band Public Image Limited with Keith Levene, Jim Walker and Jah Wobble. 1979’s Metal Box remains one of the era’s most acclaimed albums, and despite various line-up changes they continue to make music 45 years since their inception.


While London was born in London, his mother is from Cork and his father from Galway.


PiL’s is one of six entries competing to be Ireland’s representative at the main event, which will be hosted by Liverpool on May 13, with semi-finals held on May 9 and May 11. Other hopefuls include indie-pop band Wild Youth and singer-songwriter Leila Jane.

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What’s the song about?

It’s a love letter to Lydon’s wife Nora, who is living with Alzheimer’s.

“It is dedicated to everyone going through tough times on the journey of life, with the person they care for the most,” explained the 66-year-old, adding: “it’s also a message of hope that ultimately love conquers all.”

Lydon has spoken movingly about his role as a carer. Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain in 2021, he said: “For me it’s a journey I have to travel and I’m not going to abandon her.”

When will they discover their fate?

PiL and the five other contestants will face off on the Late Late Eurosong 2023 Special, which will be broadcast by RTÉ on February 3.

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If Lydon and PiL make it to Liverpool, whose footsteps will they be following in?

Ireland last won the competition in 1996 with The Voice by Eimear Quinn, although that year’s competition is perhaps most fondly remembered for Fathers Crilly and McGuire’s stirring rendition of My Lovely Horse.

Less successful was Dustin The Turkey’s 2008 entry Irelande Douze Pointe, which ironically failed to qualify.