Cet entretien avec Viv Prince, conduit par Cordell Marks, est paru dans le numéro 948 de l’hebdomadaire britannique New Musical Express, daté du 12 mars 1965. Le batteur fou revient sur ses débuts dans des petits groupes de skiffle et de jazz, son séjour de quelques mois en Scandinavie, puis son retour en Angleterre et son recrutement par les Pretty Things, dont le premier 33 tours vient tout juste de paraître.
VIV PRINCE, drummer with the Pretty Things (The Prince Of The Drummers according to some of the publicity handouts) was reminiscing. Of times when a certain flat in Denmark was nearly burnt down . . . . when he played the Liverpool Cavern with a traditional jazz band and the Swinging Blue Jeans played during the interval . . . . of a time when he lived with the rest of the Pretty Things and a score of other ravers in an old house known simply to the “in” crowd as Chester Street. He’s had a full life has Viv.
Now that the Pretty Things are really coming up—their latest record, “Honey I Need,” is at No. 14 this week—their lives oddly enough seem to have slowed down. Viv moved to a new flat last week “somewhere in Shepherd’s Bush” and all the other Things now have their own pads.
“It began,” said Viv, “with the skiffle bit. When I was 16. Then I progressed to trad jazz. I joined the Dauphine Street Six and found myself playing in the Liverpool Cavern about 1960. It was all jazz there then. I remember we’d play for about two hours or so, then take a break. Guess who played during the interval? Yeah—the Swinging Blue Jeans, only they had a banjo with them then and did Dixieland numbers.
“Later,” Viv continued, “I went to Scandinavia. What a scene. We got to know everybody in this town called Odense. In Denmark. We knew everybody. And every Saturday night when we’d play people would sit in. Tremendous sessions!
“While we were there the flat burning incident occurred. Everybody in the band was cooking crazy. Whenever there was a spare minute someone would begin cooking. I don’t know what happened, but suddenly there was a great sheet of fire in the kitchen. Burnt all the wall.
“It was a rave place, Odense,” Viv said with feeling.
“But it had come to an end. I hadn’t got a work permit, so I left Denmark and came home.
“There wasn’t much happening here on my return. Then I met Terry Kennedy and he rowed me into doing demo discs with Carter-Lewis. I went touring with them and we did a stack of session work. I was spending just about all the rest of my life in London’s Denmark Street. The amount of tea I drank sitting in cafes was nobody’s business!
“Then,” Viv said with more emphasis, “came the Pretty Things. They had been formed sometime before I went in with them. They’d been messing about for ages, playing in their front rooms. After that most of them played with other groups. Ultimately they had all come together to try their luck.
“They’d got a good scene in Dartford, Kent, before I joined them so they thought they had some chance of going over big. Anyway I joined them.”
The Pretty Things have been playing together now for almost a year. Viv wouldn’t say how much he thought they had made in that time. All he comments is: “It’s a lot of money. We’ve done all right!”
There is more money and success coming their way from their new record. “We were going to put it on our LP originally,” said Viv. “Then we heard it in the studio and said: “Right that’s the next single.
“Dick Taylor (of the group) wrote it. It’s a good number, isn’t it? We didn’t like the original version—the vocal bit I mean—so we decided to build it up into what you hear now.”
Just before Viv rushed away to get ready for another date I asked him if he thought the Pretty Things had changed during the last year. “I think we’ve all cooled down since the Chester Street days. We had some wild times there. Otherwise, no,” was his reply.
About the communal flat they had there he says: “It was complicated. The lot across the road messed it up for us. We didn’t make that much noise really. Only when we knew we HAD to get out did we have any really loud parties.
“You know, I moved to Proby’s place in Knightsbridge for a time.
“But now I’ve got my own place and things are quieter.
“I think another change in the Pretty Things is our clothes. We’re wearing some expensive gear now. It costs a lot of bread. Some say we’re scruffy, but that’s only because they connect long hair with untidiness. Not really.”
“We may have long hair—but I don’t think . . . .” and Viv said this with a lot of feeling “. . . . that we’re scruffy.”
Source : WorldRadioHistory.com (PDF).