Used to be, The Duke loved nothing more than to read tales of rock n’ roll debauchery and mayhem. All those stories about Ozzy Osbourne pissing on The Alamo. The stuff about Shane MacGowan biting records in half and jumping out of taxis, covered head to toe in blue paint. The stuff about Oliver Reed, even, burying his wife’s fucking astronomically-priced jewellery in the back yard during a binge, and then forgetting where he put it when he woke up the next morning.
He had to get folks to dig up the whole fucking garden, is what ensued.
But I was young then, man, and foolish also. And these anecdotes didn’t seem like they had anything to do with “real people”. These were celebrity war stories, stuff to be yacked about with reverence and gleeful astonishment.
I’m still reasonably young, I think, and I’m still pretty fucking foolish at times, but nowadays it brings me no great joy to hear tales of some individual fucking themselves asunder on account of addiction, even if they do happen to play guitar for a living.
This may sound achingly hypocritical coming from the fella what wrote about How Fucking Stunning GG Allin’s Live Performances Were a couple days ago, but what I’m talking about here is something different.
GG relished what was going on, thrived on it, and the drugs never stopped him doing what he did, until, y’know, they got all ungrateful and killed him. He seemed to genuinely desire it, like it was all part of how he wanted to live, and end, his crazy damn life.
But the recent misadventures of Pete Doherty, co-frontman in The Libertines, are genuinely heartbreaking for The Duke to read about. Maybe it’s because now I know exactly what that feeling of helplessness, of alienation and the desire for things to change without really desiring to, y’know, change a damn thing, I know how that all feels.
And he doesn’t seem to be enjoying it all.
I know what it’s like to wake up terrified of what you might have done or said or suggested a few hours ago.
The drug might be different, but when I see Pete Doherty looking forlorn and confused in NME or Q, I see some distant reflection of myself, man.
But this ain’t a motherfucking support group. Fuck y’all if you think The Duke is getting all soft and what-not. I’m a bloodthirsty son of a bitch with a thirst for vengeance is what.
But anyway, this Doherty chap.
I read with quiet amusement about how he burgled the flat of band-mate Carl Barat last year. He went to prison for it, of course. There was stuff mentioned about it was to pay for heroin, but that never really registered with me.
It just seemed like ridiculous shenanigans for someone in a critically acclaimed rock band to be getting up to.
I listened to The Libertines first record, Up The Bracket, and thought it was stunning. Mick Jones, no stranger to a distorted paean to London himself, had seemingly captured a band on the brink of implosion.
You hoped that was just the feel, though.
It might be more than that, it turns out. They might just be about to crumble.
Doherty was booked into The Priory, a private rehabilitation and psychiatric hospital, just over a fortnight ago. He’s now in Paris, allegedly. In an interview he gave to a Sun journalist for yesterday’s paper, he talked about how people were coming to visit him, claiming to be family or close friends, but how he didn’t recognise them. He talked about how his band-mates, his best friend Barat, and manager Alan MacGee, had all turned their back on him.
The band-mates, of course, tell a different story.
Doherty had turned up for the brief interview looking particularly dapper, by all accounts, decked out in a black suit and neck-tie. What he was saying, though, indicated that in his head things might be slightly more dishevelled.
At the end of the interview he stepped into a taxi and headed for Dover, intending to go to Paris to clear his head and so on.
I hope you do, Pete.
Watching him wander around London in the video for his collaboration with The Wolfman, the Verve-esque For Lovers, he seems so child-like, so innocent, that his spiralling addiction seems even more punishingly sad.
Fans flooded the NME‘s letters page last week, telling of Doherty’s recent appearance with side-project Babyshambles, how he arrived onstage looking incredibly discordant, and stumbled through a few numbers which he either totally forgot about a couple lines in, or which he couldn’t remember the words to.
Those folks who were penning the emails were saying about they weren’t going to be spending 15 quid simply to fuel this bloke’s destruction.
And it’s even sadder because, unlike many of those rock-star types I mentioned earlier, Doherty does genuinely seem to want to free himself from it. He’s not laughing about it, or telling all to FHM journalists, playing up the laddish antics and the lager-fuelled mayhem. He seems remorseful, piercingly aware of the effect it all has on his mother, and his friends and fans.
I hope Pete Doherty is able to carry on being Pete Doherty, member of The Libertines, one of the most genuinely exciting British bands of the last decade, and doesn’t end up like another member of a certain British outfit, Richey Edwards, a name to whisper about and to talk of in hushed tones, an individual who was prodigiously talented, and yet who ended up self-destructing just as his band were about to cross over to the mainstream.
But most of all I hope he’s able to carry on being Pete Doherty. Whether or not he remains an active participant in the scene he helped instigate is entirely up to him.
Good luck Pete.
You’re a nice little bastard. I’d hate to see anything fucked-up happening.
The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando