Lydon taking on King Herod role

Maldon and Burnham Standard: John Lydon is to play King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar. John Lydon is to play King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar.

John Lydon - the former Sex Pistols frontman who once famously claimed in his lyrics to be an "anti-Christ" - is to star in stage version of Jesus Christ Superstar.

The one-time punk idol will tread the boards playing Herod during a 50-city US tour of the show which was created by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

Lydon, who was known as Johnny Rotten during his Pistols days, is an unlikely addition to the show which features pop acts such as Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child and JC Chasez of the former boy band 'N Sync.

However he had spoken in the past, possibly in jest, of his desire to be in the show. At a 2003 music conference he was asked whom he would like to portray in a movie.

He responded: "It would be Jesus Christ. And I'll do the musical too."

The role of King Herod was played in the 1973 movie version by Josh Mostel - son of comic actor Zero Mostel - and former Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles has played the character during a UK arena tour when the musical was revived recently.

Lydon, 58, said of his involvement with the show: " I'm here to sing with the King of the Jews, who could ask for anything more?"

The singer was just 20 when he released the debut Sex Pistols single Anarchy In The UK which opened with the line: " I am an anti-Christ, I am an anarchist; d on't know what I want b ut I know how to get it."

Over the years he has gone from being considered an enfant terrible of the music business to becoming a familiar face to millions of viewers - albeit an affably cantankerous one - after taking part in I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here!, hosting wildlife shows and starring in a TV ad for butter.

He rose to notoriety in 1976 when he and the Pistols swore during a live TV interview and they caused further upset by provocatively released God Save The Queen at the time of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, scoring a number two hit.

Lydon quit the band after a disastrous US tour, forming the more experimental Public Image Ltd with whom he is still touring after reforming the band in recent years.

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