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John Lydon Spinal Meningitis: Sex Pistol Confesses Crushing Guilt Over Childhood Illness

Matt Carr, Getty Images

As reported by Spinner, John Lydon has been carrying around a guilty conscience for years. In a candid interview with the BBC, the Sex Pistols frontman admitted that a severe childhood illness could have not only killed him, but that the pain his condition caused his parents was almost too much for him to handle.

At 7 years old, Lydon was diagnosed with spinal meningitis, a condition that causes inflammation in the lining of the brain and spinal cord. He spent a year of his youth in hospital, suffering from hallucinations and slipping into a coma. Thankfully, the now 56-year-old singer got well and went on to become the rock icon he is today, but the worry he caused his parents Eileen and John Christopher Lydon gave him paralyzing guilt for years.

They were proud that I recovered from childhood illnesses where I very seriously could have died,” Lydon admitted. “Meningitis and a coma. No big deal, I got over it. There’s no self-pity about it. But you look back at that and think, ‘Oh what a burden on your parents!’ You feel guilty about it in your own self for years and years and years,” he revealed.

As he comes to terms with the “burden” he put on his parents, Lydon still faces residual side effects of the illness. He suffered such severe memory loss that at one point he couldn’t remember his own name. Still, the side effect has a positive effect of its own “That’s why I can’t tell lies to people — because I lost my memory,” Lydon confessed. “I know when people lie to you how hurtful that can be when you quite frankly don’t know your own name. You rely on every single word to be the truth.”

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