“I’m writing a book! So what? I hear you cry”.
Well, every other fading rock star is writing a book and I thought it would be a good idea to get it all written down before my mind turns to mush and I forget it all. I haven’t finished it yet, as I tend to be a bit lazy about it all. I’m hoping it will be completed in 2019, probably towards the end of the year. It starts from birth, as it does for most people, and it hasn’t ended yet.. so let’s have a sample or two from its pages. When it’s completed, I’m sure you’ll hear all about it……
John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, the world’s greatest and most forthright punk icon, sat opposite me on a sumptuous leather sofa at Virgin’s Manor Studios in Oxford where Public Image Limited were in the middle of recording their much-acclaimed album Flowers of Romance. Very little progress had been made on the recording front, with the band having been ensconced within the four enclosed walls for some time without producing much in the way of output. John spent some minutes preening himself by running his fingers through his matted hair, poking around up his nose, scraping the rot off his teeth and examining whatever foul detritus he had found. Eventually, he looked across at me and said “All right?” then proceeded to cough up from somewhere deep in the back of his throat (probably deeper than that by the sound he made) a huge glob of green phlegm and spat it across the room where it landed at my feet with a thud. The pile of slime sat there glistening on top of the deep, luxurious pile of the exotic and rather expensive Persian rug. You dirty bastard, you filthy fucker. What a fucking rotter.
That was the first time I met Mr Lydon, and I was kind of hoping it might be the last. The comic book, peacock-punk display didn’t impress me none. I never thought in my wildest nightmares that a couple of years later I would be playing in his band, on tour in the USA, depressed and going out of my mind. An experience that very nearly killed me, pretty much destroyed what little confidence I had and it left me with mental scars that would take the best part of 25 years to get over.
“Why don’t you write a book about it?” The wise words spoken by my very good friend Irvine Hunter who I think, was sick and tired of listening to my endless and repeated tales of being a two-bob rock god as we sat talking shit down our local pub one afternoon. It’s something that I had been thinking about for a long time though; I had written a few tales years ago about my time with Public Image Limited, they seemed to go down well with those who read them, and in the back of my mind I had a vague notion that one day, when “It” was all over, I might write it all down.
Well, “It” isn’t exactly all over, not quite yet, but now I feel the time is right to capture all this shit before old age creeps up on me and slowly erodes those memories away once and for all. I have kept a rock diary since I started playing bass in the 1970s and it’s from all the subsequent angst-ridden scribblings that most of the content contained herein comes. So at least chronologically, I know it’s correct. I wrote down the dates of every scum toilet gig, every meeting, and every event as I experienced it at the time. Some events I recorded in great detail capturing the emotion I was experiencing, but others were just notes that I have had to subsequently embellish so I cannot verify if it actually happened that way or not.
So here it is, in all it’s gory detail, not just the story of my rise from obscurity to become a bit-player, a footnote to rock history, but also the tale of a very square peg struggling to fit a very round hole. It’s a rollercoaster tale of a shy young kid who struggles to become a struggling and barely mediocre musician with all the usual hang-ups of an “artiste”. Buckle up, grab a cup of tea and jump into the first verse. It will probably make more sense if we start at the very start.
From a Brian Brain tour…..
We decided to celebrate our fantastic USA tour with a party at the Rat club in Boston, you know, amongst all those friendly faces. We got there early and started hammering it straight away and we were soon bladdered. We were proud as punch and showing off to our friends, being those wacky, crazy English rock ‘n’ rollers. Yeah, we were soooo funny. Martin started to wind up the band who were playing by pulling on the singers microphone cable during their set, almost pulling him off stage. Marty was being a real jerk but of course we found it hilarious. Shortly after that Martin went for a piss and came back out a few minutes later with a dazed look on his face, a face that looked somehow not quite right. I thought I was seeing things through an alcohol haze as it looked like his face had been rearranged slightly. It had. Some cunt had followed him into the bog and smashed his face into the tiled toilet wall while he was mid-piss then after he fell to the floor, gave him a good kicking. It was alleged, many years later, that it was the infamous GG Allin that was the cowardly assailant but at the time we didn’t know who it was. Martin never saw it coming. But whomever it was did a very good job on the poor boy, breaking his nose and his jaw in two places and making him drink through a straw for the next couple weeks.
Another trip to the hospital and he had to endure the flight home in agony, sipping drinks and not talking, a real bum way to end what had been up to that point, by our standards anyway, a pretty successful tour. One broken nose, one broken jaw, 15 stitches in a head wound, overnight hospital stay, overdose of an unknown agent, a scratched cornea oh, and one smashed guitar. Well, what do you expect after 19 flights? It’s a good job we were insured huh? We thought we were, having given somebody cash before we left the UK to purchase the necessary insurance. Whoever it was, and I wish I could remember now what cunt it was that stole our money, never got it so we were there with no insurance cover at all though we didn’t know it until we got back. I don’t quite know how we managed to get all that treatment without paying for it, we weren’t asked at the time and I always thought it was because we were English and assumed to have the necessary insurance cover. We didn’t know and didn’t care, even when they suggested we have two sets of x-rays for our doctors back home we said yes, kerching-$$. For months afterwards, Martin and I received medical bills direct from the George Washington hospital for thousands of dollars that we never paid.