Johnny Rotten turns full-time carer for wife Nora Forster as she battles Alzheimer's: 'She never forgets me'
Former Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten has revealed heartbreaking details about his wife Nora Forster's Alzheimer's diagnosis, including his new-found role as her full-time carer. Johnny Rotten (real name John Lydon) is one of the most well-known punk rock icons owing to his time fronting the Sex Pistols during the '70s, his rebellious persona and solo work and his outspokenness and often controversial statements. He has spent the larger part of the last few years caring for his ailing 78-year-old wife Nora Forster, whom he married in 1979.
Forster, a publishing heiress from Germany, was revealed to be in the mid-stages of Alzheimer's Disease in 2018 when Rotten shared details of her struggle with dementia during a radio interview. "The stress is killing me," stated the artist amid promotions for his documentary, 'The Public Image Is Rotten'. "It's not just the work," he clarified, adding, "but personal family issues of illnesses that are really, really serious to me." Following the revelation, Rotten began to take on more duties with regard to her care, eventually becoming her full-time carer as Forster's condition began to deteriorate.
"Nora has Alzheimer's... I am her full-time carer and I won't let anyone mess up with her head," Rotten declared in an interview published by The Mirror on June 8. But for the singer-songwriter and musician, Forster's illness does not mean their love has ended. "For me, the real person is still there," he said, adding, "That person I love is still there every minute of every day and that is my life."
"It's unfortunate that she forgets things, well, don't we all? I suppose her condition is one of like a permanent hangover for her. It gets worse and worse, bits of the brain store less and less memory, and then suddenly some bits completely vanish." He also shared that he had absolutely no intention to check her into a care facility despite the strain caring for her puts on both their lives, stating that despite how much she forgets, she continues to love him. The 64-year-old artist said he was amazed that his wife of 41 years "never ever forgets me", adding that they are spending their time together in lockdown at their residence in Venice, California. "I don’t need to go out and socialize with buttholes," stated the punk icon, adding that, for the couple, "a bit of love goes a long way".
Rotten also talked about being the stepfather to Forster's daughter Ari Up, the lead singer of the post-punk band The Slits who died from breast cancer in 2010. He then talked about being the guardian to Ari's three children — her twin teenaged boys, both of whom the couple took in back in 2000, and her third child who they began caring for after Ari's death. Speaking about the twins in a 2014 interview with The Guardian he said, "(Ari) let them run free. They couldn't read, write, or form proper sentences. One day Ari said she couldn't cope with them anymore. I suggested they came to us because I wasn't having them abandoned. They gave us hell, but I loved having kids around."
"It's something I feel I was trained for," he stated in his interview with The Mirror. "One of my jobs before the Pistols was looking after problem children. I'm a natural caregiver. I just can't help it."