Johnny Rotten ‘nearly brawled' with Phil Daniels after Quadrophenia snub

The punk veteran was Pete Townsend from The Who's first choice to play the lead role of Jimmy.

Sex Pistols singer Johnny Rotten came close to brawling with Quadrophenia star Phil Daniels after the actor beat him to the role of Jimmy in the cult film.

Punk rocker Rotten was Pete Townsend from The Who’s first choice to play the lead role in the 1979 feature, which was based on the band’s rock opera of the same name.

However, the role went to Daniels, who earned plaudits for his depiction of a scooter-riding mod in the 1960s escaping his humdrum life through a heady mix of parties, amphetamines and fights.

Only Fools and Horses the Musical – London
Phil Daniels (Ian West/PA)

Daniels’ co-star Trevor Laird said the rejection left Rotten feeling “a little bit squiffy” and that when the pair bumped into one another a fight nearly broke out.

Laird, who played Ferdy in the film, told the PA news agency: “I remember, which you might not remember, that after the film came out, us meeting Johnny Rotten somewhere, do you know what I mean?

“And he being a little bit squiffy about the film and everything and I think he threw an insult at Phil and Phil threw an insult at him and of course they backed down…”

Daniels replied: “But in punk rock, throwing insults at each other is kissing.”

Isle of Wight festival 2016
Pete Townsend of The Who (David Jensen/PA)

The actor, 60, also quipped that the producers had certainly “made the right choice” by picking him over Rotten, 63.

He said: “I can’t remember a lot about Quadrophenia to be honest.

“Whether I knew about Johnny… I think I might have heard that he…. I can’t really remember but all I know is that they made the right choice in the end.”

Inspired by The Who’s 1973 album of the same name, Quadrophenia – which also starred Sting and Ray Winstone – was released in 1979 to critical acclaim.

Set in 1964 against the backdrop of a burgeoning youth culture of mods and rockers, the Franc Roddam-directed film ushered in a mod revival in the late 1970s, giving a new generation a fresh appreciation of the music of that time.

Quadrophenia’s 40th anniversary celebrations air on Sky Arts and Now TV on Saturday September 21. The original film will also be screened in select cinemas this autumn.

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