PUNK legend Johnny Rotten is to take to the stage in Sunderland.
The Echo can reveal that Johnny, real name John Lydon, will headline this year’s Split Festival at Ashbrooke Sports Ground with his band Public Image Ltd (PiL).
He will close the Saturday segment of the festival with the latest line-up of the band he formed after the break-up of the Sex Pistols.
They will be supported by Pulled Apart by Horses, who appeared at Leeds Festival.
Speculation was rife that The Cribs would headline this year’s Split, which takes place from September 21 to 23, but organisers said they are looking forward to welcoming PiL to Wearside.
Barry Hyde, from The Futureheads, who is on the Split committee, said: “Finalising the line-up for Split this year has been a challenge to say the least.
“We’ve had some dead ends and red herrings, long shots and near misses but finally we’ve managed to get a band we would never have even dreamed of. Split is bringing a Sex Pistol to Sunderland, THE Sex Pistol. It’s a punk rock miracle and we are very excited.”
PiL were celebrated in the post-punk era for their experimental sound and, thanks to record Metal Box, have been listed by Rolling Stone magazine as having one of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
With little more than a month to go, organisers say they had to wait until Pulled Apart by Horses had completed Leeds before they could make the final line-up announcement due to their contract.
Ross Millard from The Futureheads, who is responsible for booking the acts, said: “It’s exciting for us to be bringing one of punk rock, and in fact Britain’s, biggest icons in Johnny Rotten to Split Festival.
“Having PiL at Split Festival is a huge coup for us because the band are iconic and hugely influential. They have integrity and a huge fan base.”
He added: “Pulled Apart by Horses are also a great addition for us as they are one of the most exciting new rock bands in Britain.”
The Futureheads will headline the Sunday, supported by St Etienne, with a host of other home-grown talent including Field Music and The Unthanks.
Emerging artists are also being given the chance to perform as part of the three-day festival which will include a food tent, folk and comedy tent and a vintage fair.
This year’s Split will kick off in style with a free film Friday showing Shrek and School of Rock on the big screen before dozens of music acts take to the stage on the Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets are £25 per day or £40 for a weekend ticket. Under-18s and students can buy tickets priced £17.50 for a day or £30 for the weekend.
l To book tickets, and for a full line up, visit www.splitfestival.com.