Nora Forster, a German-born publishing heiress and music promoter who gained fame as the wife of John Lydon — otherwise known as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols — and the mother of Arianna Forster, or Ari Up, the lead singer of the influential all-female punk band the Slits, died on Thursday. She was 80.
Her death was announced by Mr. Lydon on Twitter. “Nora had been living with Alzheimer’s for several years,” the announcement said. “In which time John had become her full time career.” He did not say where she died.
For more than four decades, music fans knew Ms. Forster as the emotional rock for the ever-volatile Mr. Lydon, who in the late 1970s became Public Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of British polite society for spitting invective in every direction, including the Queen’s, as the frontman for the incendiary punk progenitors the Sex Pistols.
When the band imploded after its brief, explosive career, he scarcely mellowed; he continued on as the creative force of the fiery post-punk band Public Image Ltd., or PiL.
Because of her husband’s enduring notoriety, particularly in England, Ms. Forster’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease unfolded as a public drama after he went public about her diagnosis in 2018.
“It’s vile to watch someone you love disappear,” he said in an interview with The Sunday Times of London in February. “All the things I thought were the ultimate agony seem preposterous now.”
Her illness, he said, had “shaped me into what I am.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever get over it,” he added. “I don’t see how I can live without her. I wouldn’t want to. There’s no point.”
The previous month, he had teared up when taking a more wistful turn in an interview on the television show “Good Morning Britain” about “Hawaii,” a haunting PiL ballad that he had written as a tribute to her and that was the Irish entry in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. (Mr. Lydon was born in England to Irish parents.) “Remember me,” Mr. Lydon sang, “I remember you.”
“I can see her personality in her eyes,” he said. “She lets me know that it’s the communication skills that are letting her down.”
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