Obituary – Nora Forster – Music Promoter Married to John Lydon for 44 years
Nora Forster, who has died aged 80, was an actress, model and music promoter who worked with acts that included Jimi Hendrix and Yes. She went on to provide financial support for nascent punk bands such as the Clash and the Slits – and the Sex Pistols, whose lead singer John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, became her husband.
Died: April 6th, 2023
Details of death: died after a five-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Nora Maier Forster was born 6 November 1942 in Munich, Germany, to a wealthy publishing family. Her father, Franz Karl Maier, worked as a “prosecutor who helped bring wartime Nazis to justice.” After the end of WWII, her father was later the editor and publisher of the newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.
Forster was educated in Munich, and was interested in music from an early age. After she finished school, she went to work for her father’s media company. Forster was a publishing heiress of Der Tagesspiegel; after the death of her father she inherited a large share of his AU$ 120 million fortune.
Forster began her work as a music promoter in Munich. Her home there became a meeting place for “rock royalty”. Some of the acts she worked with in West Germany were Jimi Hendrix, Wishbone Ash and Yes. She found German society to be too restricting, and decided to move to London with her daughter in the latter half of the 1960s.
Their first flat was located in a “cold, damp and dark” basement in West London, near the Chelsea football ground. Following that, they moved to a small house off Gowrie Road in South London. During this time she came to be called a “Punk Mummy Warrior” who guided her daughter Ari Up’s musical pursuits and supported the development of her band, The Slits, when Ari was just fourteen or fifteen.
Forster hosted numerous musician house guests, and among them was Neneh Cherry, the teenage step-daughter of Don Cherry. Cherry performed backing vocals with The Slits for a time. Rock journalist and historian Vivien Goldman stated that Forster was “a den mother to all the young punks.”
During the 1960s and 70s, Forster was part of the bohemian scene in London. Starting in the late 1960s Forster’s home in Shepherd’s Bush became a crash pad, salon, and meeting place for rock musicians including Joe Strummer of The Clash, Jimi Hendrix, Jon Anderson of the band Yes, and many other bands.
She helped to financially support the punk bands The Slits, the Sex Pistols and The Clash.
In 1970, Forster began to promote music gatherings in London.
In 1986, she was a major stockholder of Der Tagesspiegel, a West Berlin-based newspaper.
Personal Life and Death
Forster’s first husband was Frank Forster , a West German popular music singer, with whom she had a daughter, Ariane, better known as Ari Up, who was the frontwoman and singer of The Slits. When Forster’s daughter died in 2010 from breast cancer, Forster and Lydon became the guardians of Ari Up’s three children.
In 1975, Forster met John Lydon of the Sex Pistols in west London at Vivienne Westwood’s clothing store, Sex, on Kings Road. The store was co-owned at the time by rock impressario Malcolm McLaren who managed the Sex Pistols. In 1979, she married Lydon who was 14 years her junior. They married in Düsseldorf. Forster and Lydon moved to California in the 1980s. In 1988, Forster and Lydon were booked to travel on 21 December Pan Am Flight 103 that was bombed over Lockerbie, but missed taking the deadly flight due to packing delays. They remained married for 44 years until her death in 2023.
Previously, she was the girlfriend of musician and producer Chris Spedding.
Forster was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018. She lived in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, U.S. with Lydon who was her full-time carer when he was not on tour. In 2023, Lydon entered Eurosong 2023 as part of Public Image Ltd with the song “Hawaii”, a song dedicated to Forster.
Her death was announced on 6 April 2023; she was 80.
Date of birth: 6th November 1942
Date of Death: 6th April 2023 (aged 80)
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nora_Forster