Cet article de Norman Jopling est paru dans l’hebdomadaire britannique Record Mirror daté du 23 septembre 1965. Le batteur fou des Pretty Things, fraîchement rentrés de leur tournée en Nouvelle-Zélande tient à remettre les pendules à l’heure sur les rumeurs toutes plus folles les unes que les autres qui entourent cet épisode déjà légendaire.
‘I could sue them’ says Viv Prince, about newspaper articles which appeared about him in New Zealand. Norman Jopling reports…
“Shocked police found long-haired drunken members of English pop group the Pretty Things swigging whiskey only minutes before their performance,” “Prince drank continually. The alcohol ran down his chin and on to the floor,” “He then roamed around stage drinking from his shoe,” “He told me he was ‘seeing what the meths tastes like’.”
These were just a few of the reports to appear in the New Zealand press after the Pretty Things tour two weeks ago. I ’phoned Viv to ask his side of the story.
“I’ll meet you,” said Viv, “and we’ll go over these reports, word by word.”
By far the worst stories appeared in a paper called ‘NZ Truth.’ Quotes like these. “. . . they broke chairs, lit fires backstage and abused officials.”
“We broke one chair” replied Viv. “And that was part of our act. We always do it. The part about the fires is a complete lie, and as for abusing officials… we had a go at them because they didn’t make any attempt whatsoever to stop the kids from coming through the stage door and into our dressing rooms. We had asked them to do so and they did nothing about it. We had so much gear thieved it was ridiculous.”
What about “unshaven drummer Vivian Prince ruined hear-throb singer Eden Kane’s act”
“The unshaven bit is true. After all I’m growing a beard!! This bit about Eden Kane is really flammed up. I believe this report also says something about my laying bits of carpet at Eden’s feet, and that he was ‘plainly embarrassed’ at the incident.
“Well, this was all spontaneous. We had a big roll of carpet, and we rolled it down until it touched Eden’s feet. Everyone was digging it. The kids, and Eden. They were going mad! Now, he looned about during our act too! They don’t even mention that, but I’ll tell you about it later. He’s a great guy!”
The next quote was about Sandie Shaw. “. . . moments before the curtain rose for her act, Prince ran on stage carrying bottles and pieces of carpet. Sandie told him to go. He did. Moments earlier I had watched Prince suck at a bottle. He told me he was “seeing what the meths taste like.” Other members of the group told me Prince was drinking whisky.
“This is driving me mad. I was clearing up from our act, when Sandie came on early. There was an overlap, and I hadn’t finished clearing up. Of course I went! The bottles incidentally were Coke—both Phil and I have to drink it while we’re on for our voices.”
“The ‘meths’ bit—well, we’ve got a great big bottle of water we carry around labelled ‘meths.’ It’s a private joke. We say to all the people who come into our dressing room that we’re just going to try the meths!
“The bit about the group saying about the whisky is untrue. They wouldn’t have told a reporter! Incidentally I won’t deny drinking. Of course I do. But certainly not to excess. You have a drink to stand out in front of thousands of kids for half-an-hour and never miss a beat! All groups drink—you know that! But drunk… that’s taking it too far. We all could go there, stand up, and put on a good show, and that’s what counts. The kids were lapping it up.”
Next, came such quotes as “. . . threw chairs at a backdrop, roamed around backstage holding cigarettes, directly ignoring the pleas of duty firemen. They grew progressively drunker before and during their act.’
“The chair bit is an untruth. The cigarette bit is true. But then everyone was smoking backstage, even the theatre manager!”
Other quotes were “Prince drank continually. The alcohol ran down his chin and on to the floor. He leapt on to the stage and disgorged a mouthful of the liquid. A hush settled over the theatre at this incident. Later one of them lit a newspaper and rushed around with it, waving it within inches of the back drop curtain.’
“Oh no! I wouldn’t have wasted alcohol by spilling it all over the place. I was drinking two bottles of coke then! And the bit about ‘disgorging the liquid.’ Well, I was in the wings gargling, as I had a bad voice. No one could have seen me doing that. Naturally there was no ‘hushed silence.’ They were still screaming for us! The newspaper thing was during our act. It was at least ten feet from any curtain or the audience, and is part of our act.”
Another quote was about Viv. “Toward the end, he took off this shoe and poured liquid from the bottle into it. Then he roamed around stage drinking from the shoe.”
“Ridiculous. In fact it was Eden Kane who came on during our act and took off his shoe. I filled it with the coke I was drinking, and he wandered around drinking from it! The kids were lapping this up. And I tell you, when I poured that drink, I was still drumming. Never a beat was dropped!”
Finally the incident at the airport. Said Viv—
“Those bits about the crayfish running around the airport lounge that were printed. The fish were dead when we bought them. They always are. How on EARTH can dead fish run around? And when I was turned off the ‘plane… well, we got on, and everyone knew that my passport was in one of the cases—there was no trouble about that. The Captain said straight away, ‘There’ll be no liquor on my plane. You pop groups have been on my plane before.’ As I sat down a bottle of Bourbon I was carrying dropped out. Instantly everyone appeared from nowhere and were upon me, and threw me off the plane. The policeman who told the papers I was drunk at the time—well, later he admitted that I wasn’t, that I was stone cold sober in fact!”
That’s about it. One of the worst press campaigns ever to hit a group abroad. Now everyone knows THEIR side of the story. And incidentally here’s a quote from the Daily News, New Plymouth, which reported the fateful concert there.
“The Pretty Things brought the house down. They did everything but provide for a lover of beautiful music—and there were none of those in the audience. Their’s was R & B at its raving best. Electric excitement, and an original stage style, plus good R & B drumming. Viv Prince’s brandishing a flaming newspaper was in short a very original twist to their act.”