30 years ago this week, Johnny Lydon was almost bombed out of the sky on Pam Am 103

At around 7 in the evening of December 21, 1988, Pam Am flight 103, a 747 bound for New York, exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. All 259 people aboard were killed along with 11 people on the ground.

The cause was a plastic explosive bomb hidden in a cassette player which had been checked in as luggage.

Johnny Lydon (Sex Pistols, Public Image, Ltd.) and his wife Nora were supposed to be on that plane, but Nora took so much time packing that they got into a huge fight. That, combined with the bad Christmas traffic to Heathrow, caused them to miss the flight.

Lydon said this to the Scottish Sunday Mirror: Nora and I should have been dead. We only missed the flight because Nora hadn’t packed in time. The minute we realised what happened, we just looked at each other and almost collapsed.”

The Four Tops, the Motown legends, were supposed to be on the plane, too. But there was a last-minute change to their schedule for recording a spot on Top of the Pops. They rescheduled to a later flight.

Another musician was not so lucky. Paul Jeffries was the former bass player for Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel and Be Bop Deluxe. He and his new wife, Rachel Jones, were flying to the US for their honeymoon.

Here’s Paul playing with Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel from 1974.


Another notable lucky celebrity was Kim Cattrall. She also rebooked to a later flight because she had to go to Harrod’s to buy her mother a teapot.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “30 years ago this week, Johnny Lydon was almost bombed out of the sky on Pam Am 103

  • December 22, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Its too bad he wasn’t on that plane

  • December 23, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    I think Jaz (of killing joke) wrote in a liner note or something he was supposed to be on it too. It seems quite a number of celebrities were booked on that same flight……


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