“To me, punk rock is the freedom to create, freedom to be successful, freedom to not be successful, freedom to be who you are. It’s freedom,” Patti Smith once said, and that’s something Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten has really taken to heart since his seminal band’s heyday. 

His latest weird venture happened this week when he was unveiled as the mystery guest on The Masked Singer, making him one of the most surprising stars to be revealed on the reality singing show.

The former anarchist was outed as the person inside the Jester suit on this season’s edition of the U.S. version. He was eliminated on the eighth episode of season six. The judges had guessed that the Jester was actually some other musicians, including Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ozzy Osbourne, although shouts of Elon Musk and Simon Cowell were further from the mark.

Before we all denounce Rotten – real name John Lydon – for forgoing his punk beginnings by appearing on such a mainstream show though, he told Billboard that he took on the role to honour his wife Nora Forster, who is battling Alzheimer’s disease.

“Someone contacted my manager and we discussed it and 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,” Lydon explained. “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.”

He continued: “I think you should make fun of everything you do. If you take yourself too serious there’s not much place of a place left for you in this world. You have to have a sense of self-deprecation.

I can’t bear over-arrogant, overindulgent people. I’ll tear myself down as much as anyone or anything else, probably more so. Hence that’s the sadness in that character, the joker.”

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Watch Johnny Rotten as the Jester on The Masked Singer:

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