Born: 3 September 1955, London, England
Coming from a difficult home life, and uninterested in school, Steve Jones found himself drifting into petty crime as a teenager. While bunking off school in 1972 he decided to form a band with friends Paul Cook and Wally Nightingale. Steve was already something of a kleptomaniac, and music gave him a way to channel some of his over-exuberance. Musical equipment specifically. Legend has it Steve paid many famous rock stars a visit as the fledgling band began to acquire equipment.
It’s perhaps fate that someone who has inspired so many guitar players – and helped define the Gibson Les Paul guitar sound – actually started off as a singer before moving to the instrument after Wally’s departure.
After the Sex Pistols split in January 1978 Steve – together with Paul Cook – went on to release a series of Sex Pistols singles without John Lydon for use in Malcolm McLaren’s fictionalised satire of the Pistols story ‘The Great Rock n Roll Swindle’. Steve appeared in the movie playing himself and contributed lead vocals to many of the tracks used on the soundtrack album.
The pair then formed a new band The Professionals, releasing four UK singles and the album ‘I Didn’t See It Coming’ in 1981. The Professionals as “The Looters” also starred alongside actor Ray Winstone – and Paul Simonon from The Clash – in the cult 1981 US film ‘Ladies and Gentlemen The Fabulous Stains’.
When The Professionals split in 1982 Steve decided to stay in the USA. He relocated to Los Angeles and became an in-demand session guitarist – playing for the likes of Iggy Pop, Andy Taylor (Duran Duran), and even Bob Dylan – then signed a contract with MCA Records; releasing two solo albums between 1987-89.
Steve kept a low-profile in the early 90s before returning to the music scene with the Sunset Strip supergroup Neurotic Outsiders featuring Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum (Guns and Roses) and John Taylor (Duran Duran). Their self-titled album was released in 1996 just as the Sex Pistols returned for the ‘Filthy Lucre’ world tour.
As well as continuing session and production work Steve flirted with acting, appearing in films and TV shows before finding what he describes as his first proper job as DJ on the Los Angles based Indie 103.1FM. ‘Jonesy’s Jukebox’ began in 2004 and proved so popular it was soon made a permanent daily fixture. Steve’s light-hearted approach and non-playlisted musical selections – anything and everything from classic rock to new bands, back through disco and punk – made the show a breath of fresh air on commercial Los Angles radio. Several high-profile actors and musicians have appeared on the show; including each member of the Sex Pistols. The show later moved to KROQ then 95.5 KLOS.
Despite living on the other side of the world Steve and Paul remain firm friends and still sporadically record together. 2018 saw them team up with Billy Idol and Tony James from Generation X as “Generation Sex” for live shows in the USA. In 2015 Paul Cook reformed The Professionals with former bass player Paul Myers. Although Steve Jones supported the reformation, he decided not to return and was replaced by singer and guitarist Tom Spencer. He later guested on their 2017 album ‘What in the World’.
Steve’s “warts n’all” autobiography ‘Lonely Boy’ was published in 2016 and Jonesy’s Jukebox’ continues, week days noon till 2pm, on 95.5 KLOS. “They are letting me play whatever I want and that’s good for me.”
Further information: Jonesy’s Jukebox
Picture Credits: (Top to Bottom)
Steve Jones, Queen Elizabeth River Boat, River Thames, London 7th June 1977 © Dave Wainright