Cet entretien avec Viv Prince est paru dans l’hebdomadaire britannique Melody Maker daté du 25 septembre 1965. Comme dans les pages du concurrent Record Mirror (voir Viv: It’s All Lies!), le batteur fou s’efforce de rétablir la vérité (la sienne, en tout cas) concernant les folles rumeurs qui entourent la tournée donnée par les Pretty Things en Nouvelle-Zélande quelques semaines plus tôt. À l’en croire, leur comportement fut parfaitement innocent, et c’est la faute des jaloux et des gens qui n’aiment pas les cheveux longs si le groupe a si mauvaise réputation…
To most young people in Britain, pop music is more than mere entertainment—it’s a way of life. A way of life which is constantly under scrutiny and criticism from outsiders who feel that the music, the morals and even the mode of dress set by the pop stars is a bad influence. Here are four views of pop which give an indication of how the pop star thinks and feels about being the Aunt Sally of the Sixties, and a medical outlook on the pop phenomenon of our time… the screamer.
VIV PRINCE, drummer with the controversial Pretty Things, bore the brunt of some pretty scathing attacks in the press, both as a result of incidents on the group’s tour of New Zealand and from reports of his arrest in London’s West End last week. The MM talked to Prince about the reports.
Q There have been bad reports about the Pretty Things ruining the shows in New Zealand. What happened there?
Prince: The reports about us being incapably drunk and ruining the shows are false. Five papers printed stories which completely contradicted these reports. They said we went down great and the audience were raving with us.
Q Were you drunk?
Prince: We were drinking Scotch and Coke in the dressing room. Why not? Everyone does. But we were not incapable. Lots of people have a few drinks before going on stage and we’re no exception. But we weren’t incapable of playing or running wild as the reports suggested.
Q Did you “ruin heart-throb singer Eden Kane’s act” as was reported?
Prince: The easiest way to answer that is to ask Eden. Ring him up. He’ll tell you the truth. We never ruined his act, we were just having fun. Some paper was alight but it wasn’t dangerous as they said.
Q What about Sandie Shaw’s act? Did you ruin that?
Prince: Sandie Shaw’s act was never interfered with on the whole tour. We were all in the wings digging her, in fact. What happened was a lot of gear was on stage for our act which was just before Sandie’s. On one occasion only, Sandie got a bit upset when I was helping to move this gear. This was while the curtain was down and was not in full view of the audience. She told me to get away then. But she later apologised to me for having a go. None of this was seen by the audience.
Q Do you thing this sort of publicity is good for the group’s image?
Prince: Of course it’s not good for it. Parents will say “my children aren’t going to see that lot.” But it’s the kids we worry about. While they dig the act, we’ll carry on raving up on stage.
Q Will this harm you in any way?
Prince: I don’t think level-headed people will believe all this. Our act doesn’t appeal to grown-ups anyway, only to the kids. They are the ones we are concerned about.
Q What happened when you left that aircraft in Auckland?
Prince: First of all, let me say that I wasn’t thrown off the aircraft. I walked off. I was at the airport with some friends, one of whom is is the president of a modern jazz society and a trade unionist, who were seeing us off. We were having a laugh in the airport lounge and when it came time to board the plane, my friend helped me on board with things like souvenirs. Included was a bottle of bourbon wrapped in brown paper. I got all the way to my seat when the bourbon fell onto the floor. About six stewards came rushing up, and then the captain who yelled that he wasn’t having drink on his aircraft and tried to confiscate it. I wasn’t having that. A row developed and I walked off the plane. I stayed with my friend and his wife at their home and caught the next plane home, two days later.
Q Why do you think this bad publicity evolved?
Prince: It started because people were anti-long hair which we have and also anti-groups. They were also jealous. When people have a go at us, we try our best to make them even more jealous and so bring them down. We say things like “go back to your eight quid a week.” It’s our way of getting back at them.
Q What about the incident in the West End of London last week when you were arrested?
Prince: What happened there was this. We came out of the George pub in Charing Cross Road at 11 pm. I was waiting for Eden Kane to pick me up, and I was with some friends including Twink, from the Fairies and songwriter Johnny Dee. We were messing around outside a bit while we were waiting, but I was not drunk. If I had been I’d have gone home in a taxi. Someone had tipped off the police and a patrol car came up. They were speaking to Twink when I got hold of one by the arm to take him to one side to talk to him. They put me in the car and took me to Bow Street. When we got there, I gave them my West End business address because I didn’t want to give my home address in Surrey. That was because I didn’t want fans finding my address out or the incident being in all the Surrey papers. The police refused me bail. I had bread to bail me out. They refused. Twink and Johnny Dee came down to the station to bail me out without result. I stayed in the cells all night.
Q Would you go back to New Zealand?
Prince: Yes, why not? It’s a great country and I like working abroad and seeing other countries.