The Sixth Beatle, Part Two

By the time I got to London, new sounds were taking over from punk and post-punk. A group of twenty-somethings calling themselves the ‘Blitz Kids’ had infiltrated a number of London clubs. These clubs were soon attracting crowds of kids dressed as pirates, spacemen and processed meats. The actual music was ordinary, and sounded like it belonged on the soundtrack to some sleazy sci-fi flick. I spent an afternoon with Duran Duran, but they were only interested in snorting eye shadow and smoking lace underwear.

I spent some time in Manchester in 83/84. Johnny Marr found out that I was in town and asked me to come along to a recording session. Of course, I had to take some of my mother’s baked goodies for the band, although Morrissey complained that the biscuits were shaped like animals and refused to eat them.

Morrissey has the reputation of being a bit of a grump, but during those sessions he proved to be a practical joker. One morning, Mike Joyce woke to find his feet stapled to a pig. Another day, the moody singer poured warthog semen into Andy Rourke’s beer.

I was still in Manchester when the whole ‘baggy’ movement started. In fact, Shaun Ryder and I came up with the name for the movement. It had nothing to do with ‘baggy’ clothes, but referred to the ‘baggies’ we used to keep our drugs in. Pills and powders were plentiful, and there was so much of them that we could afford to remain stoned for most of the day. This was fun until it came time to do anything sensible, and we discovered that we were unable to do anything but make a low farting rumble.

In the early 90s, I worked with My Bloody Valentine, and was handsomely paid to impersonate one of Kevin’s guitars. It was some time before he realised that his guitar was a balding middle-aged man.

During the Britpop furore, I had both Noel and Damon calling me up for scone recipes. They seemed to think it was a ‘bake-off’ situation, and were equally determined to win any prize cheesecake. I invited both bands to my house for a simple baking session, but we’d only been at it for ten minutes before the Oasis mob began stuffing great wads of flour into their nostrils.

As the century drew to a close, I found myself in New York, putting together an instrumental album with Moby, featuring the sounds of various foods. The album was never officially released, but remains a ‘must have’ underground hit, if only for the 20-min opening track “A is for Artichoke”, which was a dancefloor favourite across Europe in 1999.

The new century has been quiet for me so far. There has been little demand for my mother’s cakes and biscuits, and my own skills seem to have become redundant.

I am, however, putting together my own musical group, in which we play rock ‘n’ roll standards on toy instruments. 

We’re keeping details of the project under wraps for the time being, although I can tell you that Annie Lennox, Adam Ant and Midge Ure have contributed. 

The band is tentatively called Madeleine’s Goitre.

 

Guitars

Kevin Shields did not realise that one of his guitars
was a middle-aged man.

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HELP STOP CRUELTY IN CHINESE ZOOS

CLOSE FUZHOU ZOO NOW
e8c5d9055b61ec0474407924bf3640f4

I believe that this is the sort of action that needs to happen to prevent such incidents occurring in future:
(full story below)
1) CLOSE FUZHOU ZOO NOW.
2) REGULAR STRINGENT INSPECTIONS AT OTHER CHINESE ZOOS (BY INTERNATIONAL BODY).
3) HARSH PENALTIES FOR CHINESE ZOO VISITORS CAUGHT
HARMING (OR ATTEMPTING TO HARM) ANIMALS.
4) HARSH PENALTIES FOR THOSE CHINESE KEEPERS AND ZOO
OFFICIALS THAT DO NOT TAKE ADEQUATE ACTION TO PREVENT
SUCH CRUELTY.
5) SUSPENSION OF TRANSPORT OF ANY AUSTRALIAN ANIMALS
INTO CHINA UNTIL THE ANIMALS’ SAFETY CAN BE ASSURED (BY
AN INDEPENDENT BODY).

According to the Sydney Morning Herald on 21st April 2018, a kangaroo at Fuzhou Zoo in China, was stoned to death because it wasn’t hopping enough to amuse spectators. According to the report, someone picked up a rock, a brick or slab of concrete. In any case, it wasn’t unusual for visitors to this zoo in south-east China to provoke the animals with projectiles. “Some adults see the kangaroos sleeping and then pick up rocks to throw at them,” a zookeeper told the Haixia Metropolis News, as reported by the Times. Employees tried to dissuade the crowd, the worker said, but “after we cleared the display area of rocks, they went to find them elsewhere.”By the time zookeepers rescued the kangaroo from the crowd, AFP reported, her foot was nearly severed. Details of the attack were first made public this week, when Chinese television stations broadcast images of the kangaroo lying battered in its enclosure, and then hooked to an intravenous drip, on which she survived for several days before succumbing to internal bleeding. One of the stones had ruptured the animal’s kidney, veterinarians discovered after the autopsy, the ABC wrote.

Had the attacks ended then, they might be no more sadistic than any other to occur at a Chinese zoo, which AFP reports are lightly regulated and therefore especially prone to abuse. Last summer, for example, investors involved in a dispute with a zoo in Jiangsu province released a donkey into the tiger pen, with predictable results.But the Fuzhou stonings didn’t end with that death.

Just a few weeks later, the agency wrote, visitors attacked and injured a five-year-old kangaroo for similar reasons. It survived.In nearly every media interview, zoo workers stressed that it’s against the rules to bludgeon the animals, but people keep doing it anyway. Having apparently given up on the prospect of voluntary civility, AFP wrote, the zoo now plans to install more security cameras.The zoo also plans to stuff and display the dead kangaroo – as a sort of memorial to whatever it might now symbolise.

As the report explains: “it wasn’t unusual for visitors to this zoo in south-east China to provoke the animals with projectiles.” AND “had the attacks ended then, they might be no more sadistic than any other to occur at a Chinese zoo, which AFP reports are lightly regulated and therefore especially prone to abuse.” AND “but the Fuzhou stonings didn’t end with that death. Just a few weeks later, the agency wrote, visitors attacked and injured a five-year-old kangaroo for similar reasons.

“The report acknowledges, with examples, that the stoning death of this kangaroo is not the first or last incident of this type. According to the ‘zookeepers’ they have given up trying to stop the public exhibiting this cruel behaviour.

To sign the petition follow this link.

 

The Sixth Beatle, Part One

Not many people know this, but I was actually the sixth Beatle!

I’d known Paul for years. We’d hung around the streets of Liverpool trying to pick up birds. It was hard work, as some of those girls were really heavy. Anyway, when it came time for the boys to record their second album (at this stage it was going to be called “The Beatles Wow”), Paul called me up to see if I could bring along any cakes or sandwiches, as he knew my Mum was the best cook in the street.

So, I went along to the session at Abbey Road with a few biscuits and a big chocolate cake, and George Martin flew into a rage. “Is this all you could come up with? Some biscuits and a silly cake?” He really was a greedy, bad-tempered bastard, and after complaining all morning, ate as much of the cake as he could during the break. I bought him a couple of extra doughnuts, which seemed to calm him down, and he ended up letting me add some handclaps to “I Wanna Be Your Man”.

Years later, I went along to the “Sergeant Pepper” sessions, but that’s a whole other story. George Martin spent more time sleeping then eating in those sessions.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, because my first contact with the music scene was when I got to know Bobby Zimmerman. I’d just finished my Kerouac phase, after hitch-hiking from Chicago to Los Angeles. On the way back to the East Coast I found myself at the University of Minnesota. I bumped into Bobby pretty soon – everyone seemed to know him. He was always trying to come up with a new angle on how to be a pop star. I suggested the surname ‘Dylan’ – he wanted to go with ‘Dolly’ or ‘Dolphin’, which didn’t quite have the same feel. Then there were the instruments themselves. Bobby was trying to play the guitar and the trumpet at the same time. I told him it wouldn’t work, but he was a pretty stubborn guy. Months later, he tried out the harmonica, and things started to fall into place. I went with him to New York in ’61, but he soon left me behind once his career started to take off.

There was one night just before we separated, both of us high on weed, and Bobby dragged his guitar out and began strumming a few random chords. I was singing along, and, as it’d been a wild, wintry day, and kept repeating the phrase “Blowin’ in the wind”. Now I wouldn’t begin to take credit for the song, but imagine my surprise when it was a big hit. I think I was living under the tram line in Brooklyn at the time.

I hung around Greenwich Village and the protest scene for a couple of years, but soon grew bored when singers began protesting about the colour of cardigans and the inability of whales to speak Greek.

I went to England in mid-63, and as I’ve already explained, helped The Beatles with their second album. I’d just finished with them, when Mick and Keith from The Stones called me up. They’d heard about my Mum’s cakes and biscuits and wanted a taste while recording their new album “Afterdinner” (later known as “Aftermath”). Unfortunately, I was with them during the “peeing incident”. We were on our way back from Brighton, when Keith and the lads decided to stop for a piss. We all got out of the limousine and each found our own private hedge. But Keith was in a mischievous mood and began peeing all over Mick and Bill, then he pulled the cakes out of the car and peed on them. As you can imagine I was very annoyed.

The police arrived in the middle of all this and arrested everyone on ‘public indecency’. After the original cakes got peed on, I refused to arrange more, even though Mick begged me. “Those cakes and cookies could mean the difference between a hit and a flop.” I refused, and apparently Mick and Keith were so angry they wrote “Sympathy for the Devil” about the incident. Originally, the song had references to cream buns and marzipan.

I didn’t speak to Mick or Keith for years after that, in fact, things were so dull in London that I went back to New York, and caught up with Andy Warhol. He was stuck on an idea for his next project, so I suggested he photocopy baked bean cans. He really wasn’t keen on the idea and had this whole dog thing planned. But after an Afghan Hound tore up The Factory and peed on Twiggy, he reconsidered the baked bean idea.

It wasn’t long before The Factory became the New York ‘scene’ attracting poets, pop stars, pirates, and parakeets. Andy, Gerald and I went to this club one night and saw this crazy band that called themselves The Velvet Underground. They made me want to throw up, but Andy was somehow fascinated with them. Pretty soon, they were hanging around at The Factory too. And they practised every day, not that all the band were that enthusiastic. John, Moe and Sterling couldn’t give a shit. Nico was nowhere to be seen. Only Lou was dedicated, strumming away to his strange lyrics about toothpaste, parachutes, and coconuts.

When Andy did get them booked, it was often my job to make sure they all got to the venue on time. John Cale didn’t believe in time, having destroyed all his clocks. Moe was too busy bashing her toms to hear us calling her. Sterling hated the band and would deliberately bring the wrong instrument – a bassoon, bagpipes, a mouth organ. Nico had to be literally walked to her spot on the stage, which we marked with an “N” in chalk. She still didn’t get it right, and would often wander off stage as though visiting the powder room.

Whenever this happened, Andy got me up on stage with my kazoo or spoons. I didn’t get to play on any of the Velvet’s albums, but I did help Lou with some of the lyrics. “Waiting for the Man”, for example, used to be called “Waiting for the Mandarin”. And “Heroin” was originally called “Hairy Woman”.

By the late 60’s I was getting tired of life at The Factory – too many hangers-on, nobodies, cheesy celebrities. I did get to meet Jim Morrison though. We became good friends for a while. He even leant me a pair of his leather underpants. I was to blame for the strings on “The Soft Parade”, which pissed everyone off for months.

I was in the bath with Jim when he passed away. It wasn’t drink or drugs, but a dangerous bath toy.

I left Paris straight after the funeral and found myself in London for the first time in 8 years.  It wasn’t long before Davie Jones (or Bowie as he now called himself) called up. He was after ideas for a new stage show. He’d heard about my Mum’s cooking from Lennon, and was thinking of an entire evening of dancing baked goods. I suggested that the cakes and cookies could have been brought to life by an alien ray. David changed the central character’s name from Sprinkle Fairydust to Ziggy Stardust, and all of a sudden, his imagination caught fire. By the following morning, we’d written a couple of songs, designed the stage set and a couple of costumes. We celebrated by snorting an entire bag of ‘green’ coke. Something special David had acquired in South America.

As you would know “Ziggy Stardust” was a huge hit. As payment for my contribution, David arranged for several bags of the ‘green’ coke, which was fine until I discovered that the green tinge was a result of a type of mould.

Anyway, things were moving on in the music scene. A new sound calling itself ‘punk’ was suddenly popular. I was in Manchester at the same time as punk’s premiere band The Sex Pistols. They were playing at the Lesser Free Trade Hall. It’s been said that everyone who was anyone was at that first gig, but I can only recall seeing a young Morrissey and Mick Hucknall. The Hall was only about half full.

The band itself generated a great deal of energy, most which emanated from the ‘singer’ Johnny Rotten, whose main act of aggression involved spitting great globs of spittle at the front rows.

When the Pistols returned a few weeks later, the Hall was packed. I saw Tony Wilson, Peter Saville, Howard Devoto, the Warsaw boys. I’d met Steve and Bernard a few weeks earlier at a local fish and chippery. They were troubled over Ian’s ideas for a new band name. Ian wanted to call the band either Toy Division or Joy Sauce. When I suggested a compromise by adding Joy to Division, the boys seemed relieved. But when they approached Ian, the difficult front-man decided he liked Toy Sauce best of all…

When I saw them a year later, they were still bickering about the name. Ian is supposed to have said he wanted Fluffy Pop Twinkles “or else”. Some have even suggested that the name issue might have pushed Ian over the edge.

I moved back to London after that, and began thinking of my own band. A new variation on punk was taking over the scene – some called it post-punk – and I decided I wanted to be part of it.

END OF PART ONE

Paul and George Martin

Paul negotiates the number of sprinkles on George Martin’s doughnut
during a tense moment of recording the second Beatles album.