PENETRATION INTERVIEW

by Paul Welsh

Paul Spends an Evening with Steve Peregrin Took ......

Please Note.
1) This is not the entire interview. Some at the beginning is missed. However the first part you hear in the radio programme relates to Hawkwind and wasn't transcribed, but I've decided to leave it in.
2) The wording by Paul Welsh has not been transcribed word-for-word. There are simple 'pointers' to help you follow what is being talked about.
3) Paul's original transcript has been used so you will find that there are differences between what Took actually said and what has been transcribed.
4) If I have added anything to the original transcript of what Took said it is in white

PAUL'S INTRODUCTION: I approached the Took mansion as dusk was setting in, one Sunday in late winter. The location, near Notting Hill, was seedy, people brawled in the streets and ran around berserk hitting each other on their heads with sweeping brushes. However, Steve was safe and warm watching the London Palladium on TV and drinking whisky, in the lounge of the flat (or mansion). I was invited in, and sinking down in the soft warmth of the sofa I took a large swig of whisky and asked my first question........

Sounds of laughter followed by Took saying quietly "Sir Patrick Moore" to more laughter.

PAUL: About David Bowie

What about David Bowie? ...

PAUL: I've got a concert programme from 1969 which is Tyrannosaurus Rex, David Bowie mime, Vytas Serelis Sitar and John Peel compere.

Oh a very cultural programme. Very cultural.

PAUL Q: Then David Bowie becomes a big super-hype, sporting fancy clothes and chic make-up. (Paul also talks of hit singles etc.) and asks "what was he like in those days?"

Yeah, he'd already brought out an album when he worked for us. Did some radio sessions with him. They were sort of quaint, it was sort of middle sixties stuff and I don't think he had found any logical?? magical new direction at that time.

He had been studying mime so he used to have this tape with oriental mythology, sort of mythological skit on the Vietnamese war which he used to mime to, I suppose. He dressed in a white leotard and white tights "Lovely boy, fine pair of shoulders you've got, show 'em off boy, show 'em off." (Steve switches to Sergeant out of "It ain't half hot mum" voice) I like the sergeant out of It ain't half hot mum", I think I should award him Took's acting Oscar.

Bowie was quite a well mannered lad I suppose. I think his stuff's pretty good. I didn't like his "Pin-ups" album, didn't get me off too much, but that's the sort of thing he would like to do, but I thought "Rebel Rebel" was entirely wonderful.

Paul mentions wearing Make-Up and is it a gimmick

I started using make up in 1967, 1968, 1969 ... I used to make myself up which used to make me look more unhealthy than people think I look. Like I wouldn't put on my wonderful powder blue strides with the nice sharp crease in two days ago, 'cos they wouldn't fit me, put on weight, ya know. People still don't notice, they say "You look a bit peaky, man" especially as I am growing another beard, the colour of it goes in with the lines under my eyes, so people think I'm really dead, ya know.

I mean the drugs I have taken since Christmas have been about eight Dexedrine, ya know. I haven't really smoked any dope, but I've had a little bit to drink, and that's it, I thought I'd cool it out for a little bit, ya know.

People have this image in their minds that I'm a smack freak or a coke freak or an acid freak and I feel sort of middle aged, ya know, sort of settled down.

But I think Bowie's pretty good, his make-ups quite good, his hair's good, wears a nice set of clothes, and he's got a good band, it's a nice rock 'n' roll band. I suppose he's a bit prima donna but people don't care ya know.

The chance to be a prima donna is not exactly ahmmm...... like I'd be sitting down with Bob right, and we'd be playing away, we just went down to the country, down in Suffolk, and we were playing guitars. For two days there was natural country air and rice and vegetables, which disgusted me 'cos I had just started eating meat at the time.

We suddenly found ourselves in this commune which had rice and vegetables which didn't go down too well. We were sitting there for a while and Bob said to me "What sort of work is this for a man? Here we are sitting down with our guitars across our knees, moving our fingers up and down the fret-board, that's not much work for a man." But that's what you do in this day and age ya know.

I think Bowie's best line is "My brain hurt like a warehouse", that's pretty odd, pretty odd indeed.

Yeah, I'd play you some of my stuff but I am completely lacking in sound facilities, apart from my radio and the television, being the blight of my life right, 'cos I didn't have a television for ages, I couldn't stand television, so when I got down here there was this television there.

It belongs to the chick who shares the flat, right. She never watches it ya see, but she always pays the TV bill, so I probably get up at 3 o'clock, and watch "Callan" or something, and it stays on all day regardless of whether anyone is in or not. (Talk of summer and broken rib)

PAUL: Q : You went to the States as Tyrannosaurus Rex, yes?

Yeah, we went over there at the end of 69, and we'd kind of go on with the M.C.5. and Country Joe and the Fish, we'd sort of go on after some electric band, and people wouldn't even notice we were on.

So I got into this trip, like I would take my shirt off, take my belt off, turn my back on the audience and start whipping myself and being a great devotee of getting out of it thoroughly ripped and wasted after about five minutes or probably more like five seconds they'd shut up. I'd turn round and say,

"Right, shut your mouths, sit down and fuckin' dig it, ya know, try and listen you might hear something." And they'd dig it, 'cos that's violence, and they can appreciate that ya know.

It's the same thing now, you go out and do a gig, and the only way I can conceive of doing solo gigs now is to go out with an electric guitar and plug that in, and roar, and scream away, bellow down the microphone 'cos unless it gives them a twinge of agony in their ears I don't think, they think, they are digging it, and it's weird.

People that go to concerts, when you do a concert everyone is sitting down and you can have a wonderful time, it's like sitting in your own front room.

But I prefer doing dances at dances people are staggering around with a glass of beer or whisky in their hand, stoned out of their minds, falling about and shouting at one another. It gets up your nose a bit, in the wrong way, you kind of feel a bit pissed off 'cos you can hear these people talking. If you're loud enough you can't hear them talking. Why should they turn themselves down to your level at a dance ya know? I would be quite happy to go round doing solo gigs with a 2,000 watt P.A.

The only time I have used a 2,000 watt P.A. have been entirely wonderful and satisfactory.

I mean they can even dance if they want to. The last gig I did, there was just one chick dancing and that was all. All the rest of the people were kind of hiding behind their whiskeys and hamburgers and things and trying to pretend that I wasn't screaming obscene things down the microphone.

PAUL: Talks of the Who not being successful as they are without the violence started by Pete Townsend etc etc

I used to smash all the stuff up with Tyrannosaurus Rex, at the end of the set, I used to smash everything up. Then I broke my hands in the States.

That was my usual thing, we would get to the end of the set and we would do "The Wizard" which was my licence to freak out. I'd scream such things as "I want a woman", in a very drunken way, throw my bottle up in the air and then I used to smash up my moraccas, and the occasional drum, if I didn't like it.

I'd sling things across the stage, and then I'd pick up my chair and Oh, yeah, I used to throw my gong up in the air, kick it and bite it and dribble all over it, ya know. Which I found great fun in, bit like a 1970's Wee Willie Harris or some thing, ya know.

At this gig I picked up my chair, whirled it round my head, and smashed it on the ground. It was a collapsible metal chair which I was entirely unaware of at the time, and it went craaash, craaak, craaak, oooh, ahhh! (A series of chair smashing, hand breaking noises and groans), and broke both me hands.

I wasn't too pleased about that, we had to do two gigs a night for a week or something, which in this age of advancement of modern medicine, isn't too difficult, ya know.

It used to quieten people down, don't know if James Taylor does it, I think he has a band, ya know.

But it is an exceeding seventies style sort of be quiet and just play, be obscene and foul mouthed and knock things over, which is pretty weird, I mean hippies are supposed to be peaceful, ya know.

And then with some hand claps the recording I have ends ... I hope Paul may one day find the following which he mentioned at the end of his interview, though sadly it is doubtful ...

PAUL: When all the questions had been asked, Steve played some of his music on my cassette recorder, and believe me, it was first class.

I hope that we hear from him, musically, in the near future.

Ironically, I left Steve's at about one o'clock in the morning, and was pulled by the fuzz on the way to my hotel. The pig in question searched me and accused me of nicking my camera and cassette player. After some explaining and name and address taking, he let me go.

Thanks for the interview Steve.


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