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John Lydon Was Torn Between Eurovision and Caring for His Wife’s Alzheimer’s Disease

Before losing out on his bid to represent Ireland in the competition, the former Sex Pistols member worried about taking a break from his wife after caring for her for five years

Public Image Ltd, the post-punk band founded by former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon, made an earnest bid to represent Ireland in this year’s Eurovision song contest. While performing “Hawaii,” a song written about his wife who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease five years ago, Lydon was also agonizing over the thought of leaving her side to compete.

“I have to bring this illness up to the public, but leaving Nora disturbs me,” Lydon told the Sunday Times. “It’s a rock and a hard place. But what do I do?” He questioned how he could go from caring for her around the clock to maintaining this separate obligation and wondered whether his ego would return in the process. “I’m unprepared,” he said.

The decision was essentially made for him when Public Image Ltd lost out to the Irish band Wild Youth. But even during his brief period of rallying for the band’s inclusion, Lydon was able to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease as he intended, even if on a much smaller scale than if they were to have made it to the main competition. He added: “We had responses from victims who said they were close to suicide but for this song.”

Still, Lydon has found himself deeply changed by the experience of taking care of his wife. “All the things I thought were the ultimate agony seem preposterous now,” he explained. “It’s shaped me into what I am. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. I don’t see how I can live without her. I wouldn’t want to. There’s no point.”


The frontman admitted that while the thought of not being able to fulfill the “adventurous” plans the couple made makes him “break into tears,” he reminds himself of his parents’ mantra: “Never show self-pity. Ever.”

“You make your commitment to a person, and nothing changes,” Lydon stated. “These are the cards life dealt.”

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