Former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon is mourning the death of his wife Nora Forster at age 80 following her long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The news of Forster’s passing was shared on the Instagram feed of Lydon’s band Public Image Limited in a post that 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.”
The punk icon and Forster were married for 44 years and Lydon had spent the past few years dedicating his public efforts to honoring his longtime love. Lydon, 66 — who was known as Johnny Rotten during his Pistols days — entered the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this year with a touching ballad, “Hawaii,” dedicated to his beloved.
“All journeys end/ Some begin again/ We’re here, you and me/ Hawaii/ Remember me,” Lydon sang over gently thrumming drums and a swaying arrangement in the song that failed to advance in the contest.
The notoriously irascible singer also dedicated his emotional run on The Masked Singer last year to the love of his life and told Billboard at the time that he agreed to slip into the Jester costume to make Nora smile.
“I thought it would be really good because it meant my lovely wife, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, might get a great sense of fun out of it if she managed to guess who it was,” he said. “We’ve lived together for 47 years, Nora and I, so she must have some clues as to who I am and what I can get up to.”
As for why he agreed to do the show after a lifetime of kicking against the mainstream, Lydon said it was love, after all. “This is a giggle, which I don’t mind sharing with the general public, but mostly because I want to see my wife happy,” he said. “Alzheimer’s is a very, very challenging illness. Any connection I can have to bring joy into her life I’m more than happy to do that. Those are my motives.”
According to the BBC Lydon met Forster — who came from a wealthy publishing family — at Vivienne Westwood and Pistol manager Malcolm McLaren’s punk shop Sex in London in 1975, just before the Pistols blew up. Their family ties to punk went deep, as Forster’s daughter from her first marriage to singer Frank Forster, Ariana, became better known as The Slits singer Ari Up; Ariana died from breast cancer in 2010 at age 48.
Earlier this year, Lydon told the Sunday Times that caring for his wife had elicited profound changes in him. “It’s hideous. So pernicious and vile to watch someone you love just slowly disappear,” he said, adding that their life together had been “worth every moment… No joy comes without pain, and boy do I know that now.”