Tuesday, 31 July 2012


Pleased to report this month’s playlist is evenly split between the old and the new.

1.  Kenny Lynch – “Hey Girl” (1965)
This never gets mentioned in the same way as “Movin’ Away” but it has a similar feel and is almost as good. Beautiful production, string arrangement, and Lynch sounds more Chicago than Stepney.     

2.  Boogaloo Joe Jones – “Poppin’” (1970)
From Boogaloo Joe Jones’s 1970 Right On Brother LP featuring Charles Earland on organ and Pretty Purdie on drums. As funky as that sentence reads.

3.  Rodriguez – “Crucify Your Mind” (1970)
I first heard this in the new film about Rodriguez, Searching For Sugar Man, yesterday. I walked out of the cinema, straight to the record shop, and have played it twenty times since. (Listen).

4.  Howlin’ Wolf – “If I Were A Bird” (1971)
The Wolf’s second attempt to connect with the psychedelic heads came with his Message To The Young LP (“If you wanna wear short skirts, go ahead, I won’t mind”). It’s not as way out as Muddy Waters or Bo Diddley’s similar efforts but is a strong electric blues LP and in no way “dog shit” like he considered The Howlin’ Wolf Album that preceded it.

5.  Arthur Lee – “Love Jumped Through My Window” (1971)
Arthur alone with his guitar. I met him once. He wasn’t very friendly. Maybe he’d heard The Electric Fayre’s version of “My Flash On You” or our own “Arthur’s Song”. To my friend he said “get out of my face”. I’m still jealous. Love you Arthur.    

6.  Two Wounded Birds – “Together Forever” (2012)
Pitched between the Ramones and the Vaccines (but don't let that put you off), two minutes of unbridled surfin' fun, fun, fun.

7.  Beachwood Sparks – “Forget The Song” (2012)
From the opening strum, the pedal steel, the vocals, the harmonies this is heart melting stuff off album of the year contender, Tarnished Gold.

8.  Kontiki Suite – “Magic Carpet Ride” (2012)
Not the Steppenwolf song but unhurried, dandelion blowing psychedelia. Their other songs are even better which officially makes them the Monkey Picks British Band To Watch when their debut LP lands shortly.

9.  The Sufis – “Lemming Circle Dance” (2012)
The first couple of tracks on The Sufis album sound like The Piper At Their Satanic Majesties Gates of Dawn Request, which is fine, but then their own personality shines through with this far more interesting and experimental wig-out.

10.  Pussy Riot – “Holy Shit” (2012)
Having already spent five months incarcerated for performing this punk prayer protest in a Moscow cathedral, three young women from Pussy Riot are today on trial facing seven years in prison for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility”. Holy shit.

Sunday, 29 July 2012


Amongst the “could try harder” comments that peppered my school reports, one memorable assessment when I was 13 read “Mark is a cynic”. With that in mind I wasn’t expecting much from the Olympic opening ceremony beyond being able to post sarcastic comments on Twitter but it moved me quite unexpectedly and even more now I think back. Britons don’t usually display national pride well, it can come across wrong or make us feel uncomfortable, but this celebrated the people of Great Britain with imagination and humour. From the stylish way Mod of the Moment and genuine sporting great Bradley Wiggins casually rang the opening bell, the historic and cultural references in Danny Boyle’s spectacular show came so thick and fast it was hard to keep up. The best part of a billion viewers worldwide must’ve wondered what the devil was going on – this was about Great Britain, ignoring the 203 other competing countries - as it paid tribute to the Industrial Revolution, the National Health Service, the suffragettes, trade unions, immigrants disembarking the Empire Windrush, Steven Lawrence, Liberty, the victims of 7/7, Chelsea pensioners, Pearly Kings and Queens, Tim Berners-Lee, Ken Loach, even Clare Grogan and goodness knows who else. Having the Olympic flame lit, not by someone whose achievements are in the past but by seven young people whose time has yet to come was truly fitting. Bar the occasional Mr Bean moment and Muhammad Ali’s dreadful condition it was wonderfully done: innovative, surprising, inspiring and a little subversive. A little bit bonkers. Isn’t that what we should all aspire to? Educational and entertaining, I’d stick it in school curriculums tomorrow. The only one looking nonplussed was Her Majesty who idly picked her nails as her subjects paraded in front of her to the strain of Bowie’s “Heroes”. But she’s the Queen, and she don’t caaaare.   

The British music industry, the soundtrack to our lives, was loudly championed and not by fly-by-night Cult of Celebrity, Creations of Cowell either: The Who, The Kinks, the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Jam railing against kidney machines being replaced and guns, Blur, Prodigy, Amy Winehouse, right up to gutsy live appearances from the Arctic Monkeys and Dizzee Rascal. In the ancient Beatles versus the Stones saga, the Beatles came out top again, like they sadly always do, with Paul McCartney wheezing breathlessly under the weight of his hair extensions through “Hey Jude” for the finale. Think how much better it would’ve been for the Rolling Stones, celebrating their 50th year together, to have tapped out “Sympathy For The Devil” with 80,000 people joining in with the “woo-whos”. It would’ve been an improvement on “na-na-na-nanana-na” and Keef could’ve lit a giant doobie from the Olympic flame. 

From Brian Jones seeking out like-minded souls wanting to play “negro music” to their multi-million pound incarnation, the Stones represent a phenomenal British achievement in spreading rock ‘n’ roll throughout the world (ouch, that sounds like I’ve whored myself to a PR company, please forgive me). They didn’t invent it, didn’t do an awful lot with it to be honest, but they made it go a very long way with everyone from Howlin’ Wolf to you and I benefiting. They’re always knocked for being old duffers who should’ve packed in long ago but longevity in any relationship should be respected and admired. They’re in job they enjoy and do well - 2005’s A Bigger Bang is a far better LP than you might imagine. 

A new exhibition at London’s Somerset House displays 76 photographs from the official Rolling Stones 50 book, a weighty hardback tome featuring over 1000 pictures and costs thirty quid should your shelf need another Stones book; the exhibition is free and the majority of images here are from the 60s: the ill-fitting matching dogtooth jackets of 1963 to Brian’s sacking in 1969. Throughout that period they wore great boots and knew how to tie a scarf; important things. They were also a thorn in the backside of the establishment who harassed them and tried throwing them in jail. That same establishment now gives Mick a knighthood - and the BBC who once banned the Pistols’ “God Save The Queen” now blasts it to every corner of the world during the opening of the Olympics – so who was right? Those who go out on a limb achieve things. It’s easy to forget how surprising, inspiring and subversive the Stones and the Sex Pistols were; but they were, and we should be proud.      

The Rolling Stones 50 exhibition is at Somerset House, London WC2R 1LA until 27 August 2012, admission free. The Rolling Stones 50 is published by Thames and Hudson, priced £30. The Olympic Games is on your television until 12 August 2012.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

COUNTRY FUNK 1969-1975 (2012)

Have we had Country Funk as a genre before or is it the latest creation to shift neglected back catalogue by marrying two together? I think we've had it previously (even a band called it) but thankfully we haven't now gone down the route of joining parts of the words together to make Counk or Funktry. (Hmm, I quite like the sound of Funktry). It’s the job of record companies to make their product marketable so credit to the ever-reliable Light In The Attic Records in pulling together a solid compilation that unearths some surprises and is worth the money.

The artists come from range of backgrounds yet hit a similar low-down groove, not ever considering what it would be called and often different to the style they’re best associated with. This isn’t James Brown funk, and it’s not pedal-steel country either, more a funky kinda attitude, but more suede than sequins. Dale Hawkins’s opener, “L.A, Memphis, Tyler Texas” is a perfect example of meshing styles together: stabbing soul stew horns and southern style vocals. Bobby Darin’s lazy sounding drawl on the shuffling “Light Blue” is light years from “Mac The Knife” and is driven by a fat bass line reminiscent of Aaron Neville’s “Hercules” or something from Superfly. Link Wray’s incredible gospel shouter “Fire and Brimstone” sounds nothing like the guitar rumble than made his name and as I’ve said before I can’t hear it without imaging Bobby Gillespie flapping his outstretched arms in ecstasy. 

The drumming on Tony Joe White’s “Studspider” is breakbeat material with Tony even a one point coming close to turning into a human beat box. “Piledriver” by Dennis The Fox is taken from the same stream with Dennis coming on like a baggy Lee Hazlewood. Johnny Jenkins “I Walk On Gilded Splinters” is familiar but “Hawg Frog” by Gray Fox takes the gumbo further. 

Out of sixteen tracks there isn’t one that needs skipping. Not all are essential but they make for repeated listening and if there’s a volume two I’m riding in quicker than a horse in a star-spangled rodeo.

Country Funk 1969-1975 is released by Light In The Attic Records.

Sunday, 22 July 2012


So there I was, stood at the front of the stage. One mod among hundreds of rockabillys. For the first time in my adult life I felt like a man from the future instead of the past. These weren’t withered old geezers with ten-strand quiffs either but an almost entirely new generation: early 20s, female, and immaculately turned out in 50s lipstick, powder and paint. Easily the best looking audience I've seen for many a long year. 

This is good news for Wanda Jackson, although equally well known for her country sides it’s wearing her Queen of Rockabilly/Rock 'n' Roll crown that draws the UK crowds. To be able to see her perform in 2012 is in remarkable. Far be it for me to disclose a lady’s age but by her own admission on she cut her first record 58 years ago; hadn't heard of Elvis was when she first toured with him (soon got to know him though, and still has his ring); and didn’t even know what Rock ‘n’ Roll was when she first made it, knowing it simply as “that new music like Elvis sings.”

Wanda was sassy and ballsy back in the 50s and wild records like “Let’s Have A Party”, “Hot Dog” and the outrageous “Fujiyama Mama” displayed a fiercely determined streak. On Thursday that was still in evidence as a throat infection prevented her from singing the way she wanted but she battled through; always pushing herself, not chickening out of the more vocally demanding songs and encouraging her band to play louder, play harder, “blow me off the stage” she urged.  Through sheer force of personality – which she had by the bucket load – she turned in a hugely enjoyable show, chatting easily with the audience without once sounding like slick showbiz patter. And when she dropped her voice to the lower notes her unmistakable growl was still there. 

It’s always heartening when acts, regardless of age, keep moving forward and the selection of tracks from her 2011 album recorded with Jack White sat well with the classics; Amy Winehouse’s “You Know That I’m No Good” was inspired. The LP is The Party Ain’t Over. It sure ain’t.

Setlist: Riot In Cell Block #9, Rock Your Baby, I Gotta Know, Funnel Of Love, I Betcha My Heart I Love You, Good Rockin’ Tonight, Heartbreak Hotel, Shakin’ All Over, You Know That I’m No Good, Like A Baby, Fujiyama Mama, Mean Mean Man, I Saw The Light, Let’s Have A Party, Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On.          

Friday, 20 July 2012


There is much to enjoy in this clip, not least a guide to parenting 1967 style when it was perfectly acceptable to leave six doses of LSD hanging around your love shack for your small children to take. “He remained rigid for an hour or so,” says mum, “then he was just jabbering away.”  And to think as a kid I was grateful for a lime milkshake from Wimpy. Check out Allen Ginsberg dancing at the end; he'd had more than a milkshake.   

Monday, 16 July 2012


David Bailey is yer archetypal East End Boy Made Good.  His mother was from Bow; his father Hackney; grandmother Bethnal Green; and he grew up in East Ham which, if you’re asking me, is pushing the definition of the East End but that’s a whole other discussion, and as many photographs in this exhibition were taken in Canning Town and Silvertown, the area in question is the broadest one the term allows. 

The photographs are in batches: early 1960s, late 1960s, the 1980s and 2005-2010. Together they make the East End look a miserable, rundown, poor and mostly inhospitable place. I’m a little tired of seeing endless images of dilapidated properties, smashed cars and dirty faced kids kicking through the rubble but Bailey’s earliest images here – sharp focus in black and white - undoubtedly show what Whitechapel, Shoreditch and Spitalfields were like and also demonstrate how studiously the young photographer was in learning his craft. The selection taken around the closed docks during the 1980s have a similar feel, best summed up by one photo of a pub on the corner of the charmingly named Shoulder of Mutton Alley, E14.    

The more interesting pictures are those taken during 1968 in the Rio Club and neighbouring pubs and clubs.  Shot in grainy colour they show drinkers in drab, dark and - judging by their coats - cold environments with jugs of flat beer placed on cheap Formica tables. It is only when the cocky photographer says “’Ere are girls, one by the jukebox” do they raise their glasses and crack a smile. By contrast, Ronnie and Reggie in their sharp suits playing with pet snakes found plenty to laugh about, little did they know their well-cut collars would shortly be felt for the last time. My favourite picture is of a young barman, with his greased hair and sailor tattoos, pre-empting the look amongst the area’s hipsters forty-five years later. This remember, as the media keep telling us, is now “London’s trendy East End”. This guy though, with seemingly half the stock from the nearby Tate & Lyle sugar factory behind him, was for real.

The area isn’t for everyone, much of it is still a shithole, but I’ve lived here since the 1990s and love it, despite the boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham which make up the East End have some of the highest levels of poverty, deprivation and people seeking benefits in the country. In a cafĂ© on Bethnal Green Road last week the owner asked a customer if he liked living here. He said he did and it was ironic his parents spent years trying to get out, only for him to move back in. Being fortunate to have enough money to get by, to live here by choice, enjoy the good and avoid the darker side of the place undoubtedly make our perception and experience different to that of some of the locals. 

It’s a shame Bailey’s photographs don’t reflect the more positive changes over the period. There’s an unremarkable 2009 image of the milk suppliers on Hackney Road with the gas works in the background. There’s snow and sludge on the ground and it looks like an entry in a Worst Postcard competition.  Yet 200 yards down the road is the lovely Hackney City Farm, 250 yards is Columbia Road flower market and rows of independent shops and galleries, 400 yards away is a Shoreditch night-life unrecognisable from his 1961 pictures. Or perhaps a visit to Broadway Market where a loaf of artisan organic quinoa bread won't bring much change from a fiver (not that I'm convinced that's necessarily a good thing). I know he isn’t employed to drum up trade and visitors, nor is Bailey a journalist, but it would offer more balance than yet another photograph of tatty bric-a-brac stuffed in a shop window. 

David Bailey’s East End is at Compressor House, The Royal Docks, E16 2QD until 5 August 2012, admission £6.

Friday, 13 July 2012


It was another good night last night at Sidewinder. Definitely the place to be for those of a modernist bent once a month for a drink, chat, listen and dance. These are the 45s that came out of my box. Thanks to Dave Edwards and Giles Plumpton for inviting me and everyone who braved the rain.     
William Bell – Monkeying Around (Stax)
Big Maybelle – Do Lord (Brunswick)
Roosevelt Grier – Since You’ve Been Gone (Ric)
Grover Pruitt – Little Girl (Salem)
Dorie Williams – Tell Me Everything You Know (635)
Gloria Grey – It’s A Sweet World (Warner Bros)
The Impressions – Can’t Satisfy (ABC)
Ronnie Milsap – Thousand Miles From Nowhere (Spector)
Clyde McPhatter – Thirty Days (Atlantic)
Lonnie Hewitt – You Gotta Git (Fantasy)
Junior Gordon – Call The Doctor (Jay Pee)
Alder Ray – My Heart Is In Danger (Minit)
George Cameron – My Heart Tells Me So (Portrait)
Earl Stanley – Fish Eyes (Pitassy)
Mary Ann Fisher – It’s A Man’s World (Imperial)
The Combinations – Voodoo (Carrie)
Prince Conley – I’m Going Home (Satellite)
The Falcons – (I’m A Fool) I Must Love (Big Wheel)
Jimmy Bell – Whatcha Gonna Do About Me (Hickory)
Dick Holler – Mooba Grooba (Comet)
Eddie Bo – Dinky Doo (Ric)
Ernie Washington – Lonesome Shack (Chattahoochee)
Esko Wallace – Triple Zero (Graham)
The Dells – Wear It On Our Face (Cadet)
Ray Charles – Sticks and Stones (ABC-Paramount)
Eddie Holland – Baby Shake (Motown)
Jimmy Nelson – Tell Me Who (Chess)
Jimmy Merchant – Skin The Cat (Bo Mar)
Reuben Phillips – High Low (Ascot)
Bobby Peterson Quintet – Mama Get Your Hammer (V-Tone)
Connie Christmas – Big Chief (Checker)
JB Lenoir – Daddy Talk To Your son (Checker)
Howlin’ Wolf – Just Like I Treat You (Chess)
Lightnin’ Slim – It’s Mighty Crazy (Excello)

Sidewinder is at Satan’s Circus within The Wenlock and Essex, Essex Road, Islington, N1 on the first Thursday of the month (apart from yesterday). Free and runs from 7.30 until about twelve.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


When one reviewer remarked that the artists featured in Shindig! didn’t always warrant such lengthy coverage the editors got a right bee in their beards. I sympathised with the reviewer as I can’t be bothered reading ten pages about bands who made a couple of records and trot out familiar stories about once supporting the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Grimsby Town Hall on a wet Wednesday. Mind you, I’d happily read 5000 words from Reggie King’s barber or the Sky Saxon’s dog sitter, so it’s strokes for folks I guess.

Nobody though interested in Shindig! will begrudge the Chocolate Watchband their twelve pages and superb front cover photograph this issue. Their slightly confusing story has been told before but they’re garage punk royalty with enough spectacular songs you need the fingers on both hands to count them, so they’re entitled to tell it again. If the Rolling Stones took blues and rock ‘n’ roll from America to Britain and sold it back to the yanks, the Watchband added their magic and slung it - indirectly - back at us limeys, although it would take years for us to cotton-on to their nuggets. Their songs, clothes, attitude, mystic and sideburns were some of the reasons I wanted to be in a band. I was thrilled to met singer Dave Aguilar backstage in 2005. For some reason, after waiting patiently for his autograph, I decided to ask him at the precise moment he dropped his trousers. “Hey man, can you just wait until I put some pants on?” he said, quite reasonably. See below, with pants.

Elsewhere there are features on The Fallen Angels (which I won't read); The Wheels (which I might); an old squeeze of Keith Moon’s, the actress Joy Bang (which I have, read I mean); and an amusing look at Toby Twirl who discovered that Stockport gigs were filled with pensioners more interested in pie and mash than hipsters flickering their fingers through liquid light shows.

The best issue I've bought for a while. Available here and there for £4.95.

Friday, 6 July 2012


Back in the early to mid-1990s the 12 inch was the format of preference budding indie DJs like me. There were extra tracks which made them more like EPs than singles and the sound quality was better too. This was especially noticeable on the trippy, drawn-out psychedelic excursions by the likes of Spectrum, Sun Dial, The Darkside, Spectrum Zero and the first batch of Verve singles (“Gravity Grave” in particular blew my tiny mind). The epic new 45 from The Lucid Dream would’ve fitted perfectly amongst such company.  As it is, it's a 7 inch which plays at 33rpm, a practice I'd outlaw: it's like squeezing fat people into skinny jeans. But for over six minutes The Lucid Dream invite you to hitch a lift on the pulse of their lysergic fantasy before accelerating at warp speed, hitting white knuckle turbulence, riding the storm, quickening the heartbeat, getting deep down, then POP! WHITE LIGHT! breaking on through to the other side. Oh yeah. Hold tight.

"Hits Me Like I'm Stoned" by The Lucid Dream is released as a 7 inch single on Regal Records.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Peter “Dougal” Butler had the daunting job title of Keith Moon’s Personal Assistant. Dougal’s account, first published in the UK in 1981 as Moon The Loon, lovingly catalogues ten years of crazy escapades, often in bawdy detail. It is one of the funniest books you’ll ever read and an appropriately hilarious tribute to his former employer. Long out of print, it now sees the light again thanks to a new edition published on the 7th July as Full Moon by Faber Finds, available as a "proper" book and an e-book.  An audio version follows on the 1st August. MonkeyPicks shared a cup of tea, a chinwag, and plenty of laughs with its very genial author.         

How do you feel about seeing your book back in print?
I’m – excuse the pun – over the moon about it. Word for word that is how Keith sounded, those were his antics. I’m really pleased with it even though it’s now thirty years later. It’s coming out exactly as it was, no changes, and Keith’s old friend Karl Howman has done a brilliant job reading the entire book for the audio version for Talking Books. 

Where did you first see The Who?
Either the Blue Moon in Hayes or a big gig they did at the Southall Community Centre.  I was wearing my Ivy League suit and BlueBeat hat and I remember them doing “Heatwave” and “Barbara Ann” so it was 1964 or maybe early 1965. I used to go and see them all the time. They were my favourite band, I was a mod and I spent all my money on clothes. 

Tell us about your mod days.
I remember buying this suede coat from Petticoat Lane, beautiful, in mustard yellow, full length, had the Levi’s with the little turn-ups, Hush Puppies, Fred Perry shirts, crew cut. I remember coming down the stairs at home checking myself out in the full length mirror thinking I was the dog’s bollocks. My dad looks at me and this yellow coat and says “Have you seen the fucking state of you, going out like that?” I used to go on my mate’s scooter to all the places: the Ricky Tick, the Blue Moon, the Marquee, and the 100 Club. We’d meet at the Queen’s Head in Uxbridge and everyone would go to Burton’s Dancehall around the corner on a Saturday night before getting the tube into town to the Flamingo. Then we’d jump on the milk train to get back at five o’clock in the morning.    

Did you own a scooter?
I never had my own scooter as my parents said I’d kill myself. Me and my mates clubbed together to buy an early 1950s Rover, running boards, the lot, for £17 to go down to Brighton. I was still at school and not old enough to have a licence but my parents were away so we put it in their garage and cleaned it all up. Eight of us drove it down to Brighton, no licence, no tax, all done up to the nines in all our mod gear. There were thousands of mods around and we nicked the tax disc from this two-seater Messerschmitt car there and put it on ours.  Slept in the car, and of course all the riots and stuff started happened and three of my mates were arrested, so we panicked and left it down there and caught the train home. Never saw it again.

What were the riots as bad as we read?
Oh yeah.  Obviously the press build things up but it was all running along Brighton front with the rockers and that. It was horrible down on the beach. When you get older you wonder why you did it, what was the cause, did it but it was an of the moment thing.

How did you first get involved with working for The Who in 1967?
Mod connects through Bob Pridden, who is still the Who’s road manager.  Although I was born in Southall I grew up mainly in Hayes but didn’t like Hayes so ventured a bit further out and knew Bob when he was a mod and had a scooter and we went to see The Who together. Bob said he’d got a job with band starting with a two week tour of Scotland. I was on 5 pound a week and Bob said he’d give me fifteen quid a week to help him. I thought I’d won the lottery. I went home and told me mum, all proud as punch. “Ah, you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll be into drugs. I thought you said you’d be doing an apprenticeship to do central heating”. But it was only for two weeks so I did it and they asked me to stay. 

What were your first impressions meeting the band?
Prior to going to on tour Bob took me to Track Records office in Old Compton Street to meet the people there. Unbeknown to me Keith and John walked in. Keith was wearing this second hand fur coat and introduced himself and John. You know when you’re attracted to someone, and know you’re going to get along, have a laugh and have some fun. It was just instant with Keith and John.  To cut a long story short I left the office and they left too. Me and Bob stopped at some traffic lights in St. John’s Wood and they pull up by the side of us on the right hand side. I’ve got the window down and Keith shouting “Alright mate! Welcome!” and chucks a bloody great smoke bomb through the window. We were stuck at the lights with our car filling up with blue smoke, couldn’t see nothing, just laughing our heads off. So that was my inauguration.

How do you move from being a roadie to working as a personal assistant?
I worked with John as his PA first for a while, which was great, a fabulous guy. I didn’t fall out with John at all but I got a call from Keith to be his PA. I think the guy who was then working for Keith was trying to be Keith, if you understand what I mean. I got a phone call about eleven o’clock at night at my parent house. “I’ve had a word with John and I want you to work for me.” I was like er, er, er, what am I getting myself into here? I took it and Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp came up to me after and said, “We trust you with Keith but if you ever want any time off, for a holiday or some sort of rest, let us know and we’ll pay for it.” This was great of them, although I never took up their offer. 

Did you have a job description of any kind?
No, I’d just take it as it came. You never what corner he’d turn so you just had to be on your toes. It was instant decisions about what to do. Luckily 90% of time it worked and I got him out of situations. I was never a fighter, just had to use a bit of tact. Some of these guys we met had bodyguards when they went out, but Keith just had me: ten stone of fuck all, which was a challenge but we managed to wheedle our way out of most things. Me and Keith had our arguments but he was great. I never told him what he could or couldn’t do because it wasn’t my bag but I kept my eye on him and he was great fun. If he wanted to do something he’d do it. Sometimes I’d hold his coat and say go for it. What you learnt was what was going on in his mind and tried to be a step or two ahead but he was very unpredictable.

Did Keith have any limits?
No, he didn’t have any limits, and I think that was with his drugs sometimes. They were legal - drynamil and mandrax - but Keith would take handfuls instead of two or three a day. So those mixed with the alcohol would mean he didn’t know when to stop. He was trying to make people laugh and be Mr Funny, he wanted people to love him and enjoy him, but he would go so far. Like a train ride you couldn’t stop. I’d have to say to him, “Look Keith, we’ve got to be up at seven o’clock in the morning – not that we ever got up then –for a photo shoot or recording, come on, we’ve got to go” to get him home.  Keith would do anything for a laugh. Most guys when they’re single will always meet up with the boys on a Friday night in the pub, and there’s always one of them that you hope is going to be there because they are a character, have a great sense of humour and will come out with jokes, and make you laugh. And Keith was one of those characters.  He was a joy to be around, most of the time, although he could also be a right pain in the arse. 

Do you think he ever would have settled down?
No I don’t think so. I knew he was trying to get off the booze and drugs just before he died and I’d put him into AA over in LA, and over here, but any drug addict or alcoholic will tell you that you can get all the help from your family and friends but the only person that can do it is that person themself. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

It’s hard to imagine Keith with a hobby but did he have any interests?
No, none. I suppose if he’d been into football or golf or cricket or whatever he would’ve had a routine of some sort but he wasn’t interested in anything, nothing at all. He never even practised the drums. The only time he practised was when the band was rehearsing for tours. He never had a drum kit at home or in the garage. He wasn’t into keeping fit like Roger was. He just loved eating and drinking at home. His beach house in LA, next door to Steve McQueen, had a beautiful lounge but he never spend any time in there. He’d be in his bedroom watching TV and that was that. What was horrible about LA was he attracted the wrong type of people: all the drug people, all the wannabes. It would drive me insane. They’d come in with big bags of coke [demonstrates the size of a pound of sugar] and I’d go “Whooah, let me have that.”  They’d say it was for Keith and I’d tell them I’d sort it. I’d go into the khazi, shut the door, and pour it down the pan. Later I’d mix up sugar and salt and line them up. I’d be drinking my Heineken and thinking “You bunch of wankers.”

How was he on set for That’ll Be The Day and Stardust?
Oh, fantastic. Especially on That’ll Be The Day we had some great times, brilliant fun. David Puttnam asked who we’d cast in Stardust and as Keith loved I Dream Of Jeannie with Larry Hagman, Puttnam agreed to cast Larry. From the day we met, Keith and Larry got on famously. I have to say he is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. There are no qualms about him, he’s just fabulous, a lovely man who we spent a lot of time with. I did try to get Keith into the movies but he would never have made a movie star because you’d have to be regimented and he’d blow it every time. On Yellowbeard, which Graham Chapman of Monty Python wrote, he went for a screen test. Graham said “Well done Keith” but as soon as Keith drove off the director came over and it was “No way Jose.”

Didn’t Oliver Reed buy Keith a tortoise?
Yes, they used to bring it on set during Tommy and when there was a break in filming they’d put it on the table with a glass of brandy on its back and pass between each other. He was great Ollie. We first met him before starting Tommy when Keith said to the film people he needed a helicopter. “Yes, I’d like a helicopter now please, from Battersea. I want to pop round and see Ollie to break the ice.” So we flew to his place just outside Dorking and Ollie is there with a twelve-bore shotgun going “Fuck off!” shooting at us. The pilot is nearly shitting himself, Keith was laughing, I was thinking oh god what’s going to happen here: Keith, Ollie, a shotgun, and they’ve not even met yet! They got on like a house on fire. That night the three of us got absolutely pissed and he was teaching Keith Shakespeare.

You write in your book about Keith not having many real friends...
No, he didn’t really. There was Ringo, Harry Nilsson, and the rest of The Who but as close, close friends he didn’t really have one. He’d phone me up and talk to me about anything and probably Pete Townshend as well if he was worried about something. Pete was a gentleman enough to hang on the phone and talk for a bit but he knew when Keith was out of it and put the phone down on him knowing he’d forget all about it.

Did you consider yourself a proper mate to him?
Yeah I did and think that was how we got on. I’d get fired every week and I’d threaten to leave the next week but it was a love relationship. I don’t mean in a sexual way, let’s get that straight right away! We were good, good mates and sometimes that doesn’t work in business but I suppose I didn’t look at it as a business, but it became too much for me in the end, especially living in LA with all these hangers-on, I could just see him not making it.

What was his relationship like with his wife Kim when they were at living at Tara House in Chertsey?
He and Kim were breaking up. It was difficult as there’s no way any decent girl should live with a human being like that, and I mean that in the nicest possible way, especially with a young kid, Mandy, in tow. You can’t bring up a child in that environment and Kim was fully aware of that. She gave Keith quite a few chances. Everybody loved Kim and everybody loved Keith. I was sort of piggy in middle. I knew what she was doing, I knew what he was doing, and I had to try to steer both of them. I saw Keith in tears sometimes. When she left I had to tread a careful line. Why should I have to take sides and say who was right or wrong, I loved them both. It devastated Keith when they got divorced. “She’ll come back,” he said. I said “Keith, she won’t.”

Do you think Kim was the only person Keith really loved?
Yes, and I don’t mean to hurt Annette who he was with after, but I do really truly believe that. For instance, when we were living in LA with Annette, Keith used to love his curries and there was only one Indian restaurant in Santa Monica and we went and ordered a takeaway. There was this girl in there that looked the spitting image of Kim. He ordered his meal, looked up, clocked her, and went and sat outside. He was sobbing his heart out. I knew what he’d seen. But Keith never learnt his lessons. He went through it again with Annette and abused that situation too. 

What’s your favourite Moonie exploit?
There are lots. Throwing cherry bombs in lifts when you didn’t know who was in there was good fun and when we were in Detroit Judy Carne was doing a play with Patrick MacNee and they were staying at the same hotel as us. We’d done the gig and went back to the hotel to find them and a guy from Three Dog Night who was with Judy.  We were chatting and getting slowly pissed in their room and after a while I said to Keith we’d better go as they wanted to go to bed.  In the meantime we’d bought these gas guns. We got back to our room and were still buzzing and thinking what shall we do now.  So we decided to go back to their room and set these gas guns off for a laugh. We’re back in the lift, hiding these guns for the security guys, and Keith couldn’t remember what suite they were in.  I said I thought it was this one and we tucked the guns underneath their door and on the count of three we fired them. BOOM! All of a sudden there was this rrroof-rrroof-rrroof, dogs barking. I said to Keith “Fuck me, I don’t remember them having dogs!”  There was some woman in there who was taking her dogs to a dog show and we’d gassed them!  We ran back to our room and were in hysterics. They didn’t die or anything, the gas only really created a bit of smell and then it goes. 

Keith famously took anything and everything he was offered but there didn’t seem much heroin around...
No there wasn’t.  You talking about heroin I remember when Ronnie Wood had just joined the Stones and he was renting a place in Malibu. His first child had been born so we went round there to celebrate. Mick Jagger was there, Linda Ronstadt, the bass player from The Band, a few other Faces.  Me and Keith were sitting out on the porch and on the table was a phial of coke. “Oh, look dear boy, look what someone has left us.” He had a big sniff, I had one, and an hour later I was seeing blue, green, thinking fuck me what’s going on here? Keith was perfectly alright. I was going dizzy, seeing sort of traffic lights in front of my eyes. Diana Ross walks me along the beach. She was great, hitting me in the stomach, I was being sick. I hadn’t realised we’d taken heroin. It was fucking awful. Didn’t even touch the sides with Keith, “You alright Dougal, dear boy?”

The 1970s rock and roll lifestyle was divorced from most people’s reality, how was it for you?
I tried to keep my feet on the ground.  In those days, the late 60s, early 70s a lot of the roadies and people would knock around together but I didn’t, I tried to keep away from that, tried to keep with my own mates who were totally separate from that industry.  Hence I’d go down the Coach and Horse in Ickenham, and go to parties with “normal people” if you like, to get away from that madness.  Although, don’t get me wrong, when I did go to industry parties I’d enjoy myself but as far as my mates went they had normal jobs and that kept me sane. 

Did Keith’s behaviour wear the rest of The Who down?
Roger said to me four or five months before I left that I needed to have a word with Keith because if he didn’t get himself together he would be out of the band. I said I couldn’t tell him that, it had to come from him and the rest of the band. I didn’t think it should come from me. I think the quality of his lifestyle did effect his drumming in the end. He’d ballooned up, put on a lot of weight. I don’t know if he sort of gave up but I know he wouldn’t have committed suicide. 

How did it end with the pair of you?
We had one big punch-up, and we never hit each other before, ever, but fists were thrown. I don’t mind admitting it but I was taking coke, only a little bit just to keep up with Keith, but I didn’t want to go down that road. I could see Keith destroying himself. I let him have it and we had words, “you’re this”, and “you’re that.”  I rang up The Who’s manager Bill Curbishley and said he had to bring him home from LA because I can’t do this anymore and one of us is going to pop our socks and it fucking ain’t going to be me. If he didn’t get him home he’d be dead within months.  Anyway, we got him home and Pete bought him a flat, but as we known he would die about nine months later. 

Do you still keep in contact with The Who?
I speak to Roger five or six times a year, less so Pete who I’ve not spoken to for a while. I still see Alison Entwistle and spend a lot of time with her, and Keith’s mum has moved down the road so I pop in for a cup of tea with her and Keith’s sister. 

Finally, if you had to advertise the job as Keith’s personal assistant, what would you say?
Long days and nights, sense of humour, and must handle with care. 

Interview by Mark Raison and Paula Baker. Huge thanks to Dougal. 

Full Moon by Peter "Dougal" Butler with Chris Trengrove and Peter Lawrence is published by Faber Finds.  Dougal will be signing copies at the Who's Who gig this Saturday, 7th July, at the Half Moon, Putney.  

Monday, 2 July 2012


A diary date for London modernists is Thursday 12th July for the next outing of the Sidewinder Club.

Tucked away in a great club room within The Wenlock & Essex pub on Essex Road, Angel, you'll hear 60s soul, R&B, Ska, Jazz, Latin and Beat, all played - of course - in the way nature intended: from the original records. Joining host Gilo this month will be Johnny Maben and myself.

It's free entry and runs from 7.30 until 11.30. Stylish flyer courtesy of Liam Hughes.