Happy Birthday, John Lydon: Musings about Musical and Religious Nonconformists

UNDER CONSTRUCTION…This is a draft post, started on Jan. 31, punk superstar John Lydon’s birthday (born 1956).  Is it a coincidence that Menno Simons also died on Jan. 31? Weird, right? What could be weirder? Answer: The fact that Menno Simons shaped his career as a religious reformer around his reaction against the legacy and memory of Jan van Leiden (aka John of Leyden)!

In 1989 music writer Greil Marcus wrote Lipstick Traces about the history of punk music. The book suggests a connection between John (“Johnny Rotten”) Lydon and John of Leyden/Leiden, the former self-declared king of Anabaptist Münster who was executed in late January 1536. The reason for the connection requires some discussion for it to make sense — beyond the similarity of names. I hope this fill in some details in the coming days. In addition to Marcus’s reasons, I will add some details about German music writer Harald Justin’s thoughts on the subject.In the meantime, I will add some notes about other noteworthy births or deaths on January 31 in the history of adult baptizers.

These include the death of Menno Simons on January 31, 1561 (https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Menno_Simons_(1496-1561)), and the birth of John Holdeman, an American Mennonite revivalist preacher, on January 31, 1832 (https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Holdeman,_John_(1832-1900)).