Lonely Boy

Tales from a Sex Pistol


By Steve Jones

Foreword by Chrissie Hynde

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Without the Sex Pistols there would be no punk. And without Steve Jones there would be no Sex Pistols. It was Steve who, with his schoolmate Paul Cook, formed the band that eventually went on to become the Sex Pistols and who was its original leader. As the world celebrates the 40th anniversary of punk — the influence and cultural significance of which is felt in music, fashion, and the visual arts to this day–Steve tells his story for the very first time.

Steve Jones’s modern Dickensian tale began in the street of Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush, West London, where as a lonely, neglected boy living off his wits and petty thievery he was given purpose by the glam art rock of David Bowie and Roxy Music. He became one of the first generation of ragamuffin punks taken under the wings of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood.

In Lonely Boy, Steve describes the sadness of never having known his real dad, the abuse he suffered at the hands of his stepfather, and how his interest in music and fashion saved him from a potential life of crime spent in remand centers and prisons. He takes readers on his journey from the Kings Road of the early ’70s through the years of the Sex Pistols, punk rock, and the recording of “Anarchy in the UK” and Never Mind the Bollocks. He recounts his infamous confrontation on Bill Grundy’s Today program — the interview that ushered in the “Filth and the Fury” headlines that catapulted punk into the national consciousness. And he delves into the details of his self-imposed exile in New York and Los Angeles, where he battled alcohol, heroin, and sex addiction but eventually emerged to gain fresh acclaim as an actor and radio host.

Lonely Boy is the story of an unlikely guitar hero who, with the Sex Pistols, transformed twentieth-century culture and kick-started a social revolution.




One of the main things I remember about growing up in West London in the 1960s was the corrugated iron, that and the odd Ford Anglia driving about. There were building sites and debris everywhere – it was like the whole place was falling down around us. And the corrugated iron was a real nause (i.e. a fucking pain in the arse) to climb over. It was eight feet high and sharp enough to cut into your hands as you pulled yourself up to the top. It was almost like those builders didn't want me to get in there and develop my driving skills by hot-wiring bulldozers to smash up their tea huts, the inconsiderate cunts.

You didn't see a lot of film stars on the mean streets of Shepherd's Bush in those days, even though the BBC TV studios were just around the corner. So when Jack Wild – the kid who played the Artful Dodger in Oliver! – walked past the end of my road, one day in the late 1960s, that was always going to be something which caught my eye. I was already a bit of an artful dodger myself by that time – maybe not picking a pocket or two yet, but certainly giving the odd stolen bike or brand-new train set fresh from the Hamleys stockroom a good home. But I wasn't looking at Jack as a criminal role model. All that interested me was the fact that he was famous – if it'd been Elsie Tanner from Coronation Street walking down my road, I'd have been just as excited.

Me and a few other kids cottoned on to who he was and started following him. I suppose this wasn't anything too weird in itself, just the common reaction any thirteen-year-old might have to someone they recognised from a film or off the TV – wanting to be as close to him as possible in the hope that some of the magic might rub off. But I always had to push things one stage further. One by one, all my mates dropped away, but I carried on trailing him, like he was Peter Pan or something. I'm not sure why now. I guess I was just more strongly drawn than they were to that special quality stardom gave to him.

Jack Wild was a couple of years older than me, but he wasn't much bigger than I was. He didn't look nothing special – he wasn't wearing his top hat or anything. It's just that when you're one of those kids who has that sense of yourself as being trapped and maybe a bit lonely, if you see someone who seems like they've got it all sorted, you think if you can just be close to them everything will be all right and all the pain you feel will just go away.

I don't know what he thought about me following him. I guess it freaked him out a bit, especially with all that corrugated iron along the sides of the road that he'd never have been able to escape over. At that time my mates and I were part of the first wave of skinheads; listening to Motown, Ska and Blue Beat, loving the music of people like Prince Buster who we'd picked up on from the West Indian kids who lived around us. So if Jack had turned round to sneak a glance at me – trying to look casual while he did it – he'd have seen me bowling along behind him in my oxblood Dr Marten boots with the space-age soles you could see through. I polished the shit out of my first pair of those. I'd have probably been wearing some nice Sta-Prest or Prince of Wales check trousers as well, and one of the crisp Ben Sherman shirts I'd go all the way to Richmond to nick from a shop called Ivy League.

He probably felt quite relieved when I finally gave up the pursuit about a mile further on. In later years I'd cross a lot of lines to get close to people I thought could fix me, but I hadn't started boozing yet by this time, so I still had a few boundaries left. Jack Wild would be off to Hollywood a short while after, but I don't think his story ended too happily. A lot of those child stars seem to have tragic lives in the end, don't they? Fame fucks them up at an early age, but when you're busy envying someone you never think about the fact that they might have problems of their own.

As a kid I used to have fantasies where I would imagine having different parents. I'd see people in films or on TV shows and think, 'Why can't I be in their family?' Diana Dors, who was kind of the English Marilyn Monroe, she was one of them. I would spend ages thinking about how much better off I'd be if I was her kid: 'Let me be with Diana, instead of these parents I've got.' The funny thing is, I don't even think it was a sexual thing at the time, I just didn't like my shit life and I was looking for anything I could grab onto to get me away from the place I was in.

It's not like I had the worst childhood ever. You hear horrific stories of kids going through way worse abuse than I did, and I'd hate it to look like I'm trying to put myself on that level. What I do know is how much things that happened when I was a kid fucked me up – still now, to this day. Of course the chemistry of everyone's brain is different, so some people might deal with a lot worse and come out fine, and others could have it really easy and still feel very hard done by. All I can tell you about is my own experiences, and given how dodgy my memory is, I can't even be too sure about some of them.

I ain't got a clue what my story is gonna look like once it's all set down on paper. I haven't got any kind of agenda at the outset, beyond a few things I want to set straight, and maybe hoping I'll be able to make a bit more sense of how different stages of my life fit together. One thing I'm pretty sure of is that I'm not going to come out of the whole thing smelling of roses.

You know that bit in A Clockwork Orange, where the main guy has his eyes forced open to make him feel like shit every time he remembers what a rotten cunt he was? That's pretty much how writing this book is going to feel for me. Obviously no one's forcing me to do it, and I've had my share of good times as well, but now I can't be doing with my old shenanigans any more it does sometimes make me feel almost physically sick to think of some of the horrible shit I used to get up to.

Even though it's been half my life since I first stopped drinking and taking drugs, I still wake up in a cold sweat sometimes, thinking about all the things I've done that I'm not proud of. But if I made a big song and dance about holding myself accountable for every new crime against humanity as I commit it, this book would get very boring very quickly. So I'm going to have to ask you to take it on trust from the kick-off that I'm trying to be a less despicable person these days, and then anyone who wants to judge me can do so at the full-time whistle.

One thing I can promise you is that I won't be pontificating about how everyone else needs to get sober. I don't give a fuck if other people wanna get high. I've had my go and now it's your turn – knock yourself out if that's what you wanna do. Of course if someone else can relate to my experiences and by some miracle that helps them to be less of an arsehole than I was, then that's all well and good. But I don't want to be that cunt where it's like, 'Oh, he was a rock and roller, but now he's telling everyone else how to live.' Fuck that preachy guy. He's the last person I want to be. Just because I eventually ended up following Jack Wild to Hollywood, that doesn't mean I bought a one-way ticket to La-La Land as well.

It'd be a few more years after bumping into the Artful Dodger till I met my own Fagin, aka Malcolm McLaren (who loved all that Dickensian shit). Once that happened, it was like ol' Jack had passed on the baton, and it wasn't long before our merry band of musical outlaws started picking record companies' pockets like there was no tomorrow. But by the time we'd realised that our light-fingered Svengali had spent all the loot on The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle – a film explaining how the whole punk thing was his idea and we were just a bunch of suckers who couldn't play – it turned out the joke was on us.

And as for the annoying little brat with the great bone structure who's always asking for more … well, let's leave Johnny Rotten out of this for a while, shall we? He's had his say a few times. Maybe enough times. It's my turn now. Because much as the Sex Pistols couldn't have existed without John – or Malcolm, or Cookie, or Glen, or even Sid – it was my shit upbringing that got the ball rolling. That's not me showing off, it's just a fact.


I was born in 1955 – around the same time as rock 'n' roll. I got my sense of rhythm from my mum, Mary Jones, who was a Teddy girl, so I was in her fucking womb when she was jiving down the Hammersmith Palais.

Teddy girls – and Teddy boys, which is what my dad was – were the first in the long line of British youth cults which would brighten up the post-war years. Their name was shortened from the Edwardian style of clothes they favoured (like drainpipe trousers and long, drape jackets) and they were the ones who started rioting to 'Rock Around the Clock' when the film Blackboard Jungle came out. It's no wonder I've got such a strong connection to all those old rockers from the early days – Eddie Cochran for sure, but not just him.

Up until the age of about six years old, my childhood was going pretty smoothly. OK, so my dad had fucked off without hanging around long enough to say hello to me, and at that time it was a bit of a no-no to be what was still technically known as 'a bastard'. But you couldn't really blame him, as I don't think he and my mum had been together that long when she got pregnant. And the household I lived in felt like quite a normal – even loving – home. You might say, 'How does a kid know what normal is, when they've got nothing else to compare it to?' But I think they just know. I certainly did.

My mum and I lived with my nan Edith and grandad Fred in a third-floor flat in Riverside Gardens, Hammersmith. It's that big brick Peabody buildings estate, near the bridge. If you were heading out of London towards Heathrow airport, you'd see the Hammersmith Odeon – or Apollo, as it is now – on your left as you drove west over the flyover, then our flats would be on the right as you come down off the flyover and the main road levels out. I say that as if it's changed, but they were still there last time I looked (although admittedly that was in 2008).

It wasn't just the four of us. My gran and grandad's three other children lived there too. I slept in a cot at the bottom of the bed my mum shared with her sister Frances. My gran and grandad had their own room, and my uncles, Barry and Martin, shared the last bedroom. The flat ran between two corners of the block, so one main window looked out over the flyover towards the Odeon (the scene of a few memorable adventures later on in my life) and the other faced the opposite way. There were no lifts, so you had to walk up the stairs to get there, but this was nobody's shithole. It was a proper Victorian housing estate – decent accommodation for decent working-class people who were getting by OK.

I'm not sure how the Joneses were keeping up with everyone else, though, because my grandad was a lazy cunt. The story was he'd avoided having to fight in World War II by putting his foot under a tram to mangle his leg. I don't know if that was true, but he certainly never worked the whole time I was there, maybe because of the same injury that kept him out of the army.

He just used to sit there in his chair all day smoking roll-ups while my nan went out to work cleaning other people's houses. He'd still managed to buy himself some wheels, though – an Austin A40 which started with a crank. Having a car parked in the square down below the flats was quite a status symbol at that time, even if it did always break down when he tried to drive us down to Brighton in it. Come to think of it, his leg couldn't have been that bad if he could still drive. I remember him sitting me in his lap sometimes and letting me steer when he'd take the car for a turn around the square – my first underage driving experience; maybe that's where I got the bug from.

Most of my memories of those times are happy ones. Like my nan giving me a bath in the sink, or making those amazing old-fashioned steamed suet puddings where she'd stretch a cloth over the top of the bowl and tie it with a piece of string. She'd fill the bowl with raisins and then cover the whole thing in treacle from a green and gold Tate & Lyle tin. There's some things which happened last week that I don't remember too well, but fifty-five years on I can feel how good that pudding tasted on my tongue as if I'm eating it right now.

My nan wasn't spoiling me, she was just doing what any normal grandparent (or parent, come to that) would've done – nurturing, I suppose, is what you'd call it. I don't remember my mum so much at this time, even though she was there. The flat was pretty crowded, so it was easy to lose track of people, but it's my nan I remember doing all the cleaning up and making the dinners and checking everyone was all right. She was great.

I got the feeling that my nan had always preferred boys to girls, and as a result her sons had probably got the lion's share of her attention. Maybe that was part of what my mum didn't like about my nan being so warm and loving towards me when I was little. It made her quite cold towards me when I was growing up.

All I knew about my dad (apart from the fact that he was a Teddy boy, which was how he and my mum had met) was that his name was Don Jarvis and he was an amateur boxer from Fulham. That was the only information my mum gave me then. I think I'd picked up that it wasn't a subject she was too keen to talk about, though I do remember going down to some kind of court at a very early age where my mum was hoping to get money off him. I don't think she had any luck, because they'd never been married and she was definitely having a good old moan outside the court after.

My family did like to complain, but there was a lot of laughter, too. My grandad was a grumpy old sod, but he was funny with it. He would sit me on his lap – there was no weird shit there, nothing noncey – and he had this rag that he used to blow cigarette smoke into and then hold it over my face. I fucking loved the smell of those cigarettes. Breathing in the smoke from that rag was one of the best and most comforting feelings I've ever known. When it got put back in the drawer I'd be shouting, 'Where's me rag? Where's me rag?' It wasn't just for special occasions, it was for all occasions.

I can see now that this was probably the start of my first addiction. I don't think it was just the nicotine I loved, it was the fact that my grandad cared enough to blow smoke into the rag just because he knew I wanted him to. Either way, I really craved that rag when I didn't have it, and it certainly didn't take me long to progress to a pack of Players No. 6 as soon as I was old enough to buy my own fags (although I did get into Gauloises for ten minutes at one point because I heard Ronnie Wood smoked them; they were a good strong smoke). A few years later, when I was on heroin, I'd be on five packs a day. You smoke a lot more once you're on dope. As if it's not fucking unhealthy enough already.

Obviously you don't see the nicotine pacifier recommended by too many parenting manuals these days, but to me it was part and parcel of what I look back on as really good times. Even though she wasn't exactly the maternal type, I think my mum and I got on OK at that stage. Once she got me a brand-new pair of Tesco bombers – just shit jeans – and plimsolls that were like Converse but weren't Converse. I used to love it if ever I got new clothes: I'd be on top of the world the minute I had a bit of fresh clobber on, and I felt like I could walk tall through the squares that linked up the different Peabody buildings.

There was a real sense of community on that estate. There was a boozer on the corner with an off-licence next to it, and when we'd take back the R. White's lemonade bottles to get the deposits, I'd sit outside the pub listening to the guy who played the piano. That's one of my first conscious musical memories, although there'd be plenty more to come (and a few unconscious ones to go with them).

I also loved going to the matinees at the ABC cinema, just round the corner on King Street, to see Commando Cody and all those shit Saturday serials. I preferred sitting in the back row, because I didn't want to be close to all the other kids, and for some reason I loved it when the geezer would come out between the films and go, 'Hey, kids, what do you think?' Then everyone would go home and you'd have to come back next week to see the spaceship with a little bit of string holding it up.

Looking back on them, these were some of the happiest days of my life. I'd made a few friends on the estate and started primary school at Flora Gardens in Ravenscourt Park down the road. My grandparents loved me. It was all good.

I think I'd still have ended up being an alcoholic even if I'd had more of a charmed upbringing and stayed with my nan and her steak and kidney pies till I was old enough to leave home. There were quite a few big drinkers among the men in my family, and I just had that obsessive–compulsive alcoholic gene from day one. That's nothing to do with scenarios that have unfolded in my life, it's just who I am, or that's what I believe, anyway. But I don't think the Sex Pistols would've ever existed – at least, not with me in them – if it wasn't for what happened to me next. Apart from anything else, the urge to look for a better life wouldn't have been there, because I'd already have had one.


So there I was, having a great old time in the shadow of the Hammersmith flyover, when all of a sudden this guy comes along and my life takes a turn to the dark side. Ron Dambagella his name was, and I think my mum met him at work. She'd had a few part-time jobs. I remember one as a 'telephone girl' – that meant cleaning other people's spit off the telephones in offices, which can't have been a barrel of laughs. But then she got something a bit more permanent at this factory making rubber components, I'm not sure if they were for shoes, or cookers, maybe both.

Anyway, after a while she got moved to a smaller workshop under the arches, right next to Flora Gardens, my first school. I think he was in charge of that place, and I always remember the two of them working there alone, because once they'd got together she used to tell me proudly, 'Ron's the boss,' and I used to think, 'You're the only ones there!' But when I asked my auntie Frances about this, which I had to do, because my mum and I haven't spoken for a few years and I wanted to make sure I've got everything as accurate as possible, she told me there were other employees as well. Apparently old Ron (and he was old – a good ten years older than my mum, anyway) had a reputation of being 'very flirtatious' with the female workers.

I'll have to go into a lot of detail about things that happened over the next few years, some of which will probably be quite difficult for anyone who was involved to read. But I want to say from the outset that I'm not doing this to make my mum look bad. I've absolutely no interest in coating her off (though my stepfather is a different matter). I understand that her life wasn't easy. She had me too young – when she was about twenty – my dad had left her, and she maybe didn't feel like she had too many options, so I can see why she might have lowered her standards a bit. She probably thought, 'Well, I've got this kid, which is baggage to a lot of men, and I ain't gonna get anyone better.' My mum was not a square, in fact she was kind of hip – she bleach-blonded her hair and had massive knockers – so I bet Ron couldn't believe his luck.

The first time I sensed something was going on was when my mum was walking me along King Street to school – she'd drop me off there on the way to work – and we stopped at a crossing. I can't be sure if this actually happened or if I've elaborated on my mental picture over time, but I do have a memory of the wind catching my mum's coat and blowing it open, and me thinking she didn't have anything on underneath – well, maybe stockings, but not a skirt. That momentary flash kind of spun me a bit, and when I was older I'd wonder if they were maybe up to some kinky shit at work. For the moment, though, I was only six years old, and my whole world was about to go down the toilet.

The next thing I know, this Dambagalla guy's in the picture. He never came up to visit at my nan's, but I guess part of the deal for my mum in getting a new geezer in tow was so she could get her own place. So we waved goodbye to happy times with my nice, nurturing nan and grandad, and began our shit new life in a one-bedroom basement flat at 15 Benbow Road, Shepherd's Bush. It wasn't much more than a mile away from where we'd lived before – I even stayed at the same school – but it might as well have been on the other side of the world.

Fuck, that place was grim. It was dark and damp and horrible and I was sleeping on a fucking camp bed at the bottom of what was now my mum and Ron's bed. The khazi was outside, and when the tin bath came out in the front room, I'd be the last one into the dirty water after he'd gone first and then my mum had followed.

When I've talked to Americans over the years about what being poor meant in Britain at that time, they've never quite seemed to get it. I don't remember having a fridge or a TV, no one ever had showers, and for hot water there was the sink with the Ascot heater above it. You'd put money in the meter to get the radiator on and most people would knock the lock off and keep putting the same 10p in. I remember when I first went to America in the late Seventies, even poor people who were near the bottom of the ladder seemed to take things for granted that I'd always seen as luxuries.

Where I grew up, it was fairly normal to turn a blind eye to the odd bit of opportunist thievery. If people were struggling to get by and could get away with nicking something every now and again to make ends meet, that was maybe frowned on a little bit but no one was really going to hold it against them. We were all living at subsistence level – in short, none of us had a pot to piss in – so I can understand now why when families went to the Tesco supermarket on King Street together I'd sometimes see them putting stuff under their overcoats. Maybe there was nothing left in the house for dinner and it was their only way to put food on the table. At the time, though, I didn't really get it. Maybe because it wasn't really talked about afterwards, I'd be thinking, 'What's going on here?'

Another time they had some kind of competition in Tesco's where they would read out a number over the PA and if it was your number you could win a prize. I don't know how it happened, but my mum or Ron must have known someone on the inside, because their number came up and they won something, but for some reason it was obvious that the whole thing wasn't legit and they got rumbled. It was all a bit of a farce and quite humiliating, but again because nothing was ever really explained to me, I found it all very confusing.


  • Radio X, 9/16/16
    "From being a young oik in Hammersmith to being a sex addicted, burnt out addict in L.A., Steve Jones has led a bloody interesting life. He was the man who kick started the Sex Pistols, one of the most influential bands in British music, and ended up as one of the least likely guitar heroes in rock 'n' roll."
  • "A raw, vanity-free dive into a life marred by an abused childhood, petty crime, and addictions to drink, drugs, and sex, but rescued by Jones's relentless aspiration for a better life."
    London Times Magazine, 11/5/16
  • "A hilarious and at times harrowing read."
  • "Jones's autobiography is anything but quaint.... His book's title speaks volumes, although these stories are told without sadness.... Through the fame years, Lonely Boy is often eye-wateringly funny.... He's 'a semi-retired sexual deviant who doesn't really act out so much any more,' which is sensible. His book's a delight."
    The Guardian
  • "A brutally frank autobiography."
    The Mirror
  • "The Sex Pistols guitarist details his life-an impoverished Sixties childhood, sexual abuse and dalliances with crime-in a way that is both moving and candid."—The Telegraph, "Top 50 Books of the Year 2016"
  • "An absolute riot of revelation...[Jones] owns up to his failings with a colourful candour that is moving."

    The Telegraph, "Best Rock Biographies and Music Books for Christmas 2016"
  • "Never Mind the Bollocks, here's a great Sex Pistols memoir...Paints a portrait of just how 'dangerous' punk rockers and punk music were in the UK during the mid and late '70s, when it always had a harder, more political edge than U.S. punk...Jones's memoir is-like a great punk-rock song-short, hard-hitting and Pretty Decent."

    Houston Press
  • "With his memoir,...Jones elucidates the Dickensian childhood that underpins his band's glamorous nihilism as well as the multiple addictions-heroin, alcohol, stealing, and sex-that almost took him to an early grave."

  • "A bloody good story...Jones' own voice speaks loud and clear throughout Lonely Boy, a brutally honest and level-headed memoir."
    Record Collector
  • "[A] funny, filthy-mouthed memoir."
  • "What's special about this book is its story arc, which will make the most hardened punk well up...A poignant, honest, drily humorous rump-fest from a lost soul found."

  • "A book that's sometimes raucously funny."—Uncut
  • "If you live in the Los Angeles area, you've probably heard Jonesy's Jukebox, the guitarist's popular radio show, and if that's the case, you already know how refreshingly honest and funny the guy can be. That's the same kind of energy he brings to Lonely Boy...His struggles with drugs, alcohol, and sex addiction are handled with the punk icon's irresistible storytelling style that combines raw honesty and un-PC humor."

  • "The book shows off Jones' wry humor and blunt assessments of himself as he parses his life...As a whole, the book provides a fresh look at the punk movement 40 years removed from the release of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols."
  • "[A] gleefully coarse autobiography...Throughout Jones' tome, he leans into the language of London's street culture...It's a tale told without censorship or self-pity...Ribald stories lurch across every page, making Lonely Boy a must-read."—New York Observer
  • "Lonely Boy is the complete autobiography: unfailingly honest, presented warts and all...The band, which for so many years has lived largely in lore, is humanized here. We get to see the people behind the group, the struggles that came with becoming a symbol for punk youth, and the effects of having to live up to that image...Lonely Boy is an eminently readable autobiography. Jones holds nothing back, his scars on display for all to see...Sex Pistols fan or not, Lonely Boy is an entertaining read that leaves no stone unturned."—A.V. Club
  • "Raw, open, and disarmingly honest...There's something very refreshing about Jones' honesty, and to hear the story of the birth, brief life, and grisly death of the Sex Pistols told in his voice-the working class scouse accent all but leaps from the pages-is a delight for anyone who cares about rock music at the end of the 20th century...He's witty, he's self-deprecating...Reading Lonely Boy, you can't help but feel compassion for Jones and his mates...The angst of end-of-the-century class-obsessed England in general and depressed urban London in particular, is palpable when Jones recounts his youth."—Buffalo News
  • "The cocksure guitarist...kicked off the British punk movement...He's also penned a long-awaited autobiography, Lonely Boy that, along with music and mayhem, finds him discussing his multiple chemical addictions, his abusive childhood, kleptomania, and how he conquered them all."—Metro New York
  • "A good read...Lonely Boy is in some ways a tragic story, and shows just how long it can take to even begin to undo the damage done by child sexual abuse...The book...shows that being a victim of child sexual abuse doesn't mean you can't go on to be a legend."—Male Psychology Network
  • "The story of the Sex Pistols has been told and mis-told several times. Maybe this book is the first one that explains where it all came from, not from someone's ego, or imagination, but from West London, retold by the only real member of the band...Very moving stuff."

The Portable Infinite
  • "Very personal."—US Weekly
  • "Lonely Boy is a times confessional, at others profane, it is often laugh out loud funny and on more than one downright sad. There is an unexpected level of emotion and honesty...While it features everything you'd expect from a rock star bio, it avoids the pitfall of becoming a cliché."—My Big Honkin Blog
  • "Details [Jones's] fast-paced life, a sweaty sex, drugs and rock and roll journey with dollops of humor, honesty and bratty tongue in cheek pathos."

  • Rock Cellar
  • "Fantastic...Jones confesses to the kind of sordid, outlaw upbringing that would make even Keith Richards blush...Lonely Boy is unique amongst rock star memoirs: Jones is the real deal, and he isn't afraid to put it all-the good, the bad, and the truly ugly-out there for all to see."

  • Esquire
  • "In his new memoir, Lonely Boy...Jones owns the band's history point by point, from its grittiest details to its echoing continuance in new music...Lonely Boy is exciting because it's about a Sex Pistol-singular, not plural. It isn't a timeline detailing the band's every move; it's far more captivating...Jones is an entertaining storyteller...Lonely Boy isn't contrived or dishonest-it's an open conversation about the experiences that were most important to Jones' development as a musician and person. The Sex Pistols created one of music's most memorable rebellions. This is the story of the musician who helped them make it." —Elmore Magazine
  • "Absolute unflinching detail, with a nod and a wink and a pinch of Cockney slang...[A] painfully honest...must-read memoir."—Noisey's VICE
  • "With characteristic candor, Jones shares the sordid details of his dysfunctional, working-class, West London upbringing...The book captures the hooligan panache and Cockney rhyming slang that have enthralled listeners of Jones' long-running KLOS (Los Angeles) radio show...For fans of punk history, and punk guitar, Lonely Boy is full of surprising little revelations...Lonely Boy is a close cousin to Dee Dee Ramone's 1997 'as told to' autobiography Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones...Both books are essential reading for anyone interested in the birth of punk rock."—Guitar World
  • "There are pungent anecdotes throughout the book...[Lonely Boy is] distinguished by Jones's sense of humor, his way with self-deprecating anecdotes and a candor that's as bracing as the opening riff of the Pistols's 'God Save the Queen.'" —Washington Post
  • "The book serves as both a history of the Sex Pistols and a personal journey through the life of Steve Jones...In this candid account of his life, Steve Jones shows how one boy from West London started an entire movement that would forever change the face of his generation, making Lonely Boy a must read for all fans of rock and roll. Delve into the deep, dark world of punk rock and pick up your copy today." —BackstageAxxess.com
  • "Punk music was once described as the 'sound of chaos,' and its reign on the charts was very brief...A new book by Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones offers tales from that time that will shock even the most jaded fan...It's a walk through musical history."—WABC TV
  • "The book, like few other rock chronicles of recent vintage, actually reads the way its subject thinks...And it's all written in an unaffected patois peppered with cockney slang and coarse language...The real meat of the book, naturally, is his recounting of the short history of the Sex Pistols. It's well-trodden ground, but there's actually some fresh insight to be found through Jones' lens."—Portland Mercury
  • "Filled with brutally honest accounts of [Jones's] life."—Los Angeles Daily News
  • "Chronicles the rise and fall of the punk band as well as a lifetime of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll."—New York Daily News
  • "Capture[s] what it was like to be a Sex Pistol in that upheaval of mad, tabloid-fed notoriety, fame and occasional violence in mid-'70s England...Jones, despite his womanizing and penchant for theft, is sympathetic and you're happy he has made it this far in one piece, sense of humor intact and destructive impulses at bay."—Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
  • "Brutally honest...Lonely Boy is not only the best of the Sex Pistols autobiography, it is among the best rock books ever. Jones has an amazing talent for storytelling and even it his memory was not the best at times, it is still an amazing story of survival in the heartless music business. And while Jones may have felt lost in the post-Punk 80's...[he] should be proud of himself for withstanding one of rock's most mythical, and trying eras."
  • "A sweaty sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll journey with dollops of humor, honesty and bratty tongue in cheek pathos."—Goldmine
  • "Lonely Boy pulls no punches."—LA Weekly
  • "Lonely Boy proves what [Jones's] listeners already knew-he's got more than his share of amazing stories, and an ability to tell them with wit and a survivor's sense of perspective, all of which make the book almost impossible to put down."
    Midnight to Six
  • "The book manages to be both comprehensive and conversational."—New Noise
  • "Lonely Boy is ultimately a tale of triumph, as Jonesy confronts his addictions, comes to terms with those who wronged him, and lands his first steady job as the host of his own radio show, Jonesy's Jukebox"—The Arts Fuse
  • "As someone who was there from the beginning Jones has many yarns to spin when it comes to sex, drugs and rock n' roll...A humorous, revealing and tough tell-all that gives the fan reader exactly what it wants but also would give the casual reader a unique look at what turns a young boy into a cat burglar, foul mouth yob, guitar legend, recovering addict and eventually a Hollywood celebrity."—Punk Globe
  • "A true-life survivor's story...An entertaining, informative, and sometimes shocking read."—Guitar Player
  • "Reveals the brief but impactful two-year history of the English punk band from the inside out...Jones is more than honest about his life and hides nothing...Any fan of the Sex Pistols should read this."—Curled Up with a Good Book
  • "Jones' memoir bristles with a vivid sense of time and place...The dishy account will interest fans of early punk rock." —Milwaukee Shepherd-Express
  • "A fascinating read, in part because Jones is a brilliant story-teller, but also because he's got plenty of stories to tell...As anyone who's listened to Jones long-running radio show (Jonesy's Jukebox) knows, he can be wildly entertaining. It should come as no surprise then that his memoir is just as compelling. It's been a long time coming, considering how many books have been devoted to Jones and his former bandmates over the years, but Lonely Boy was well worth the wait." —Blurt
  • "The story of a true rock survivor."—Goldmine
  • "[A] scabrously delightful memoir."—The Daily Beast
  • "The Sex Pistols guitarists tells his story of the band that caused a paradigm shift in music."

  • Music Connection
  • "In Lonely Boy, Jones chronicles his personal demons-including addiction, recovery, and relationships-as well as the struggles with those involved with the Sex Pistols. It's honest and vulnerable." —Los Angeles Times
  • "With a new memoir, the famed punk rocker airs some dirty laundry and sets the record straight...Jones confesses to the kind of sordid, outlaw upbringing that would make even Keith Richards blush...Lonely Boy is unique amongst rock star memoirs: Jones is the real deal, and he isn't afraid to put it all-the good, the bad, and the truly ugly-out there for all to see." —Israel Book Review
  • "[An] engaging memoir...[Jones is] a born storyteller... He has a way with sudden bursts of simple truths...He also sizes up the Sex Pistols better than anyone previously."—Waterbury Sunday Republican-American
  • "It is often said that without The Sex Pistols, there would be no punk rock, and as the founding guitarist of The Sex Pistols, a lot of rock music's roots go back to Steve Jones. In this memoir, the host of Jonesy's Jukebox covers all facets of his life-he has done plenty as a musician, producer, actor and host since the Pistols disbanded for the first time in the late 1970s-and fortunately, for our entertainment, he writes just like he speaks."—Downtown Magazine
  • "A sprawling autobiography that recalls his days growing up in London in the late '60s, to his present-day life as a DJ in California...The book [has] a certain authenticity that's sometimes lost with other ghost-written autobiographies."—PopMatters
  • "Grade-A f*cking refreshing...From the outset of his new memoir Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol, the guitarist and unlikely punk rock revolutionary tells his life story with the same maelstrom of honesty and audacity with which he has always played."—Mass Appeal
  • "An acute sensitivity shines through the thuggishness...Steve Jones wrestles triumph from tragedy with wit and warmth."
    Austin Chronicle
  • On Sale
    Apr 10, 2018
    Page Count
    352 pages
    Da Capo Press

    Steve Jones

    About the Author

    Steve Jones formed the Sex Pistols in 1975 with Paul Cook, Glen Matlock, and John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon (adding John Simon Ritchie, aka Sid Vicious, in 1977 after Matlock’s departure) and was their guitarist until the band broke up in 1978. He is a musician, record producer, and actor. Jones lives in Los Angeles where he hosts the radio show Jonesy’s Jukebox.

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