Nora Forster, the wife of Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon better known as Johnny Rotten, died this week following a years-long battle with Alzheimer’s.
On Thursday, the sad news of the music promoter’s passing was announced on Lydon’s official Twitter account. Sharing a photo of the punk rocker posing with his wife of almost 50 years, the tweet read, “Rest in Peace Nora Forster. It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news that Nora Forster—John Lydon’s wife of nearly 5 decades—has passed away. Nora had been living with Alzheimer’s for several years. In which time John had become her full time carer.” A second tweet added, “Please respect John’s grief and allow him space. Rest in Peace Nora. Heart felt condolences to John from Rambo and all at [John’s band, Public Image Ltd.] Official.”
Forster, who was a German publishing heiress, first encountered Lydon when she was living in London in the ’70s and working as a music promoter, providing financial support to up-and-coming punk bands like the Clash, the Slits, and, of course, the Sex Pistols. Lydon and the heiress first met in 1975 at Vivienne Westwood’s iconic store Sex, and would go on to get married in 1979. They remained married until Forster’s death and never had any children together. Ariane, Forster’s child from her first marriage and the co-founder of the band The Slits, passed away in 2010 at age 48 after a battle with breast cancer. Following her death, Forster and Lydon became the guardians of Ariana’s three children.
Lydon first revealed that he had taken on the role of full-time caretaker of his wife in a 2020 interview with The Mirror, explaining that he made the difficult decision because he didn’t want to “let anyone mess up with her head.” He continued, “For me the real person is still there. That person I love is still there every minute of every day and that is my life. It’s unfortunate that she forgets things, well, don’t we all?” Forster had revealed she was diagnosed with Alzeimer’s in 2018 the year prior. The singer added, “I suppose her condition is one of like a permanent hangover for her. It gets worse and worse, bits of the brain store less and less memory and then suddenly some bits completely vanish.”
He also explained that he was doing everything he could to give her the best possible care. “It’s quite amazing as the alleged experts we have had to deal with at enormous expense have said that they have been very impressed that she never ever forgets me, we are constantly there with each other [in her mind] and that bit won’t go,” he said. “Why pay for professionals to work on this when I think the message is a bit of love goes a long way.” Lydon added that the pandemic hadn’t changed much about their lives, as “I am under lockdown anyway because I am her full-time carer. I don’t need to go out and socialize with buttholes.”
In February, the Sex Pistols frontman told Rolling Stone that he feels like he’s achieved his goal of raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and “all the things I thought were the ultimate agony seem preposterous now.” He continued, “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.”