Q: What song did you write with Bobby Darin, and how did that
A friend of mine called Frank Fenter worked at Polydor Records.
Bobby Darin was due in the country and Frank told me that although
Bobby had said that he wouldn't do any interviews, he would try
and arrange for me to get an exclusive.
Then Frank called to say that he'd arranged for me to meet Bobby
at Claridge's Hotel. Bobby's p.a. took me to his suite and I began
the interview discussing virtually everything but his musical career
- his philosophy, his beliefs and his outlook on life.
When the feature appeared in Record Mirror I received a call from
Tommy, Bobby's p.a. who put me over to Bobby who said that it was
the best interview about himself that he had ever read and he invited
me over to Claridges again to have a drink with him. We chatted
about numerous things and I told him about a poem I'd been writing
about how the earth might become in the future. It was called 'The
Green Fields of Earth.'
The Green Fields of Earth.
The green fields of earth, where do they lie?
In history books and photographs
They rest beneath the sky
That's where the green fields lie
Where do the birds fly?
In history books and photographs
They soar into the sky
That's where the birds fly
Concrete jungles between the oceans lie
Skyscraper stories reaching way up high
Human hives where people live and die
A crowded world beneath a silent sky
Where do the beasts cry?
Behind steel bars in crowded zoos
No fields to roam, no room to move
That's where the beasts cry
The green fields of earth where do they lie?
In history books and photographs
They rest beneath the sky
That's where the green fields lie
This was one of the various subjects we'd been talking about - what
the outlook for humankind was in the future and he said the number
would make a good song, but it needed an extra middle - and he worked
on it on the spot and wrote it out for me, fitting it in as the
A blade of grass is crying for some air
Pushing its way through the concrete there
Breathing through a crack in a cold grey stair
A blade of grass in the cold night air
Bobby was in London for the premier of 'Stranger in the House',
a film in which he starred with James Mason and Geraldine Chaplin.
There was to be a premier party after the preview but he said that
instead of going to that he'd take Virginia and I out to dinner
and arranged to meet up at the Pickwick Club. He then took us to
a restaurant, San Lorenzo. He had a great sense of humour and was
fascinating company. There was an acoustic guitar in the restaurant
and he borrowed it to play '18 Yellow Roses' to us.
He decided to rent a house in London in the fashionable Belgravia
area and invited Virginia and I to stay with him, which we did.
Then Bobby said that he was going to the UNICEF Concert in Paris
and would like to take Virginia and me with him and was going to
introduce us to Marlon Brando and Danny Kaye.
We arrived at Heathrow to find that all flights had been cancelled,
so we went to a nearby airport hotel and had dinner. The fog continued
and then it was too late for him to be a part of the UNICEF show,
so we returned to London.
Q: Many people have drinking stories to tell from their younger
days, but I would imagine yours would be a bit more interesting,
especially since they include many rock & roll legends. Do you
have any stories that you can share with us? Attitudes sometimes
change over time, and looking back, does the drinking culture that
you experienced with rock stars bring back mostly enjoyable memories,
or did it seem to be a time of excess that was a bit out of control?
we liked to have a drink, but it was an activity that was always
enjoyed in company. John Lennon and I would drink together in Ye
Cracke. That was the first time I discovered that he wrote poetry
and encouraged him to show me what he'd written - eventually leading
to me commission him to write for Mersey Beat. The Blue Angel was
also a place where we socialized with half glasses of beer in the
evenings. One night, after we'd been to the premier of 'Maggie May'
in Manchester, Judy Garland was down at the Blue for a party. She
wanted to play the fruit machine there, so I helped her out and
we got on well together. She asked me if anyone could play the piano
for her as she'd like to sing, but I couldn't find any musicians
who'd do it. I met Judy a few more times after that: at the after
show party for 'Maggie May' when it made its West End debut, and
I used to chat with her at the Speakeasy when she came down once.
The last time was at the Revolution club. I sat up until three in
the morning chatting to Judy and Veronica Lake. At the party at
the Blue, Allan Williams had had a few and for some reason pursued
Judy out of the door and when she was getting into her car he kicked
it and shouted out that (expletives deleted) she'd never be allowed
in his club again - I don't know why!
I also took Bob Dylan down to the Blue. Bob had asked me to show
him some Liverpool clubs where there were poets and I took him to
the Blue. I asked him what he wanted to drink and he requested Beaujolais.
But the Angel only served beer and spirits. Bob wanted to leave,
so after I'd introduced him to poet Roger McGough and Mike McCartney,
we all went back to the Adelphi Hotel, and Roger also brought a
girl trio he was managing called the Poppies. When we got into his
suite, Al Grossman was settled in an armchair and the table had
a crate of Beaujolais on it, so we spent several hours polishing
it off with Bob telling me how excited he was about a book he was
writing called 'Tarantula.'
At art school we had always loved the San Francisco poets, particularly
Alan Ginsberg, and I remember how I used to read 'Howl' out loud
as I walked the streets. Then here he was, sitting next to me in
the Blue Angel, telling me how remarkable he found Liverpool to
When I went to London it was the clubs, pubs, venues and television
bars we drank in. When we went to the Marquee we didn't go into
the Ship pub as most people did, but frequented La Chasse club,
a little drinking club above the Marquee. My favourite pub was De
Hems in Macclesfield Street. This is where everyone gathered at
lunchtimes - it was like the court of Peter Jones, editor of Record
Mirror. Peter was a wonderful man, who was liked by everyone - and
as this was the pub he frequented because it was the nearest one
to the Record Mirror office, we always graduated there. There'd
be the Kinks, Hollies, Peter Noone, various DJ's, the Bonzo Dog
Doo Dah Band, the Bee Gees, loads of artists. Everyone who was interviewed
at the Record Mirror used to drop into the pub for a drink and then
became regulars. The Record Mirror office was tiny so when I became
the first person in Britain to interview the Bee Gees I had to do
it in the narrow corridor outside the office, sitting on cardboard
boxes. Later Virginia and I would go to parties at Barry Gibbs house
with our friend David Garrick. Yes, of course, there were many parties.
When Virginia and I went to see Fats Domino and Gerry & the
Pacemakers at the Savile Theatre, we went to a party with them afterwards,
accompanied by a group I used to manage called the Four Pennies.
Robert Stigwood was there and the Pennies were having a confrontation
with Stigwood over the fact that they'd never been paid for a tour
they did for him - and I was called over to try to get everyone
to calm down.
The other favourite pub was the Coach & Horses in Poland Street.
That was when I had an office in Oxford Street - was it London's
equivalent to the Brill building, I wonder? It was above a shop
and there was a narrow stairway leading to the first floor. Here
there was the office of Chrysalis and I was press agent for all
their groups - Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Procul Harum. Their
office was shared by Harry Simmonds and I was press agent for his
groups - Chicken Shack (with Christine Perfect) and Savoy Brown.
I also had an office on that floor. The next floor had music publishers,
including Island Records Publishing and for Island Records I was
press agent for Free and Mott the Hoople. On the next floor was
a large office for Peter Grant and Mickie Most and for Peter I represented
Led Zeppelin and Stone the Crows and for Mickie, Suzi Quatro and
day I was in the Coach & Horses and John Bonham, with a couple
of other musicians, was ordering a bizarre cocktail of drinks, asking
the barmaid to mix some quite lethal brands of alcohol, liquors,
brandies etc. I knew that the more they drank the more mischief
they'd be up to. When they kept sneaking glances at me I knew that
I was being surveyed as a potential victim. I had Glen Cornick doing
an interview in my office, so I rushed up and locked the door, then
rushed into Terry Ellis/Chris Wright's office (they were the heads
of Chrysalis.) I heard the group of them coming up the stairs. They
discovered I was in the office and as I'd closed the door, they
rushed it and knocked it off its hinges. Realising what they'd done
they retreated and came across Doug D'Arcy, a Chrysalis p.a. They
grabbed him, completely wrapped him in rolls of sellotape, like
an Egyptian mummy and carted him out to Oxford Street and dumped
him there. I'm told that they went on to Maurice Burman's (the costumiers
who provided the Sgt Pepper uniforms) and rented some arab robes.
Then they went on to the Mayfair Hotel where John had rented a suite.
In the lift with some blue-rinse ladies they lifted up their robes
- they had no underclothes on - and were promptly dealt some blows
with umbrellas from the ladies. They went into the suite and ordered
steaks for fifty people. After the trolleys had been wheeled into
the suite that began to fling the steaks at the walls, broke a few
of the elephant statues (it was the Maharishi suite) and then went
on to the Speakeasy. They stood at the bar, lifting up their robes
as people went by - but everyone had seen it all before and ignored
them. As a result of the damage to the Maharishi Suite, John was
banned from every hotel in London!
But, inevitably, I have to admit that the drinking was completely
out-of-control and if it had continued, I would have been dead years
ago. You were really sucked into it. As I said, interviews were
mostly conducted in pubs. Then, when the pubs shut in the afternoon,
we'd continue to drinking clubs such as the A&R Club and the
Cottage. In the evening it would be off to the Marquee and drinks
there, or in La Chasse and later on, drinking at the Speakeasy or
Revolution until 2 in the morning - and then we'd be off to the
Playboy club. We also drank at other 'in' clubs such as the Scotch
of St James and the Bag O' Nails. The drink took its toll of former
drinking companions such as John Bonham and Keith Moon. John phoned
me one night when we were at the Revolution and said he wanted to
come down and have a drink with me. I asked where he was and he
said 'Birmingham.' I told him he'd never make it to the club before
closing time at 2 o clock, but he said he was coming. He arrived
at 1.50 and ordered 50 bottles of lager for the two of us - which
we managed to get through!
You were pressured into drinking. When you met journalists such
as Don Short, the most influential pop journalist at the time, you
met him in the Daily Mirror pub, known as the 'stab in the back'.
Even if you didn't feel like drinking, you couldn't really refuse.
Then it was inevitable that you would end up in a drinking club.
I've learned that instead of quaffing down innumerable pints of
beer, I find it quite enjoyable just to have a glass of wine with
my dinner and I haven't touched a pint of beer for about twenty
years! I've known friends of mine in the business who were soon
up to two bottles of vodka a day - and it killed them.
Q: Was Keith Moon really the wild man most of us have come to
know through tales told about him or have the stories been embellished
over the years? Do you have any memorable Keith Moon experiences
you would like to share?
Yes, I did drink with Keith, but we must have consumed so much
at times I don't remember anything of note, although he was fabulous
company. He did mention the time he had an argument with Kim, his
wife and threw a bottle of champagne at her, which stuck in the
wall (must have been a plaster wall), and he left it there as a
Q: With the numerous groups and performers you worked with over
the years, who would you describe as the most enjoyable to be around
and work with? At the other end of the spectrum, who would you consider
to be, let's say, not quite so enjoyable?
can't say that there was any artist who I didn't get on with and
who I didn't like working with. It was sometimes the managers or
hangers-on who were the problem. When I represented David Bowie,
he'd had a dip in his popularity. His manager Tony DeFries didn't
seem interested in him so his music publisher, Bob Grace (one of
the good guys) paid me to handle David's p.r. The new album was
'The Man Who Sold The World.' I began to set up interviews and David
was so pleased he asked me to arrange interviews for some protégés
of his, one of whom was Dana Gillespie, a really nice and glamorous
girl who had an immense bust. I took her to see Judith Simonds of
the Daily Express in the pub used by Express journalists and she
caused quite a stir (she was in a number of films, including 'Hammer's
'The Lost Continent.'). At the time the most influential publication
was the Daily Mirror, which had the largest circulation of any newspaper
in the world at the time. I managed to get David on the front page
on the Monday and followed with a centre page spread on the Wednesday.
This was quite an unprecedented coup. The next thing, Tony DeFries
was suddenly interested and when I arranged the next interviews
I was told that they had to take place at DeFries' office. When
I went there to oversee the interviews DeFries said he was taking
over and my services were no longer required. As I didn't particularly
like the man, I don't suppose I could have continued anyway. I always
worked with artists as an equal; I suspected DeFries would have
demanded a relationship more like master and servant!
My favourite of all the artists was Suzi Quatro and my relationship
as her personal press agent lasted more than a decade. Virginia
and I would stay as guests at her house, she acted as babysitter
for our Sean, we attended the christening of her daughter Lisa,
went to parties at her husband Len's house in Romford. It was a
close, warm relationship. However, when Mickie Most said he had
a surprise for me, he'd arranged for me to join Suzi on her world
tour for a couple of months, I had to turn it down. I'd had enough
traveling around with groups such as Led Zeppelin and, I suppose,
I would have had to drop my work with the other artists. I also
worked as p.r. for Mickie Most for 14 years.