Nora Forster, the wife of former Sex Pistol John Lydon, has died at the age of 80.
She passed away following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s; she was first diagnosed in 2018. The news was announced on Lydon’s social media.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news that Nora Forster – John Lydon’s wife of nearly [five] decades – has passed away,” the statement read. “Nora had been living with Alzheimer’s for several years. In which time John had become her full-time carer. Please respect John’s grief and allow him space.”
Forster, who was born in Germany in 1942, was an heiress to a wealthy publishing family. After school, she worked for a time for her father’s media company and then launched a career as a music promoter, working with acts like Jimi Hendrix, Wishbone Ash and Yes. She later moved to London, where she encouraged her young daughter, Ariane Forster — later known as Ari Up, singer for the Slits — to pursue music.
She continued to work in music in London, also helping to financially back bands like Sex Pistols and the Clash. She met Lydon at Vivienne Westwood‘s clothing store, Sex, in 1975. “She shone, she glowed, from way across the other side of the room,” Lydon wrote in one of his autobiographies. Nine years later, they married, eventually settling in California. In 2010, Ari Up died at the age of 48 after a battle with breast cancer, and Forster and Lydon become the guardians of her three children.
Since Forster’s 2018 diagnosis, Lydon has often spoken about Forster’s health struggles. “I know it’s going to deteriorate into something really, really terrible, but we’re facing it with a sense of dignity,” he told the Sunday Times in 2021.
“I mean, it would be easy enough to run away and say, ‘Oh, it’s not my responsibility; things aren’t the same.’ Bollocks to that. I’m John. When I make a commitment it’s forever and I stand by that and I’m very proud to do the best I can for her. We’ve been together now 45 years; we’re not going to change anything.”
When Lydon’s band Public Image Ltd. competed in the Eurovision song contest earlier this year, their song “Hawaii” was framed as a “love letter” to Forster. Lydon dedicated it to “everyone going through tough times on the journey of life, with the person they care for the most. It’s also a message of hope that ultimately love conquers all.”
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