Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pete talks of Tom Wright

Just found this YouTube, HOT OFF THE PRESS (i.e., I'm the FIRST VIEWER!)

I've got the book (RoadWork). Excellent. Lots of stories and pictures inside you'll not find elsewhere. My favorite is the story of Pete in a New Orleans bar. :-)


grace said...

I love this, I love it when Pete talks, but forgive my ignorance of who Tom Wright is?

Lucy said...

Sorry, Grace -- should've explained. Tom Wright (an American from Texas) was a fellow student at Pete's art college. He was the one who introduced Pete to pot. And loads of great American music! He wrote a wonderful rockumentary photog book in 2007, for which Pete wrote the foreword. It's full of great stories and photos.

Suesjoy said...

OOh I want that book!
Pete was SO smart to back off on pot at a young age (although alcohol and other drugs caused him much grief).Wish I stopped sooner in MY life but OH WELL.

I can't see this on my idiotic computer...grrrrrrrrrr.


Lucy said...

It's a wonderful book. Well worth the buy, though maybe harder to find now. Lots of stories about other rockers too, and great (mostly b/w) photos.

Lucy said...

Darn, I thought for sure someone would ask me about the New Orleans bar story........


Suesjoy said...

ooh i wanna know!
please tell me- oh pretty please?????

Lucy said...

Oh SUE! Just noticed your comment.

DUH! Too tired tonight. Will write it tomorrow.

It's a good one! (You'll love it; or it might make you want to throw up)

Lucy said...

Wow. Just remembered I never wrote this! OK, here it is:

In New Orleans, Pete and I locked ourselves in a sprawling suite at the Royal Sonesta, the fanciest hotel in the French Quater--twenty-foot ceilings, crystal chandeliers--and drank ourselves useless. Pete's canvas sports bag bulged with a couple of dozen unopened French cognac bottles, the large refrigerator was laden with backstage wine and beer, and the small fridge held platters of shrimp, sliced roast beef, and fine French cheese.

Pete turned off all the lights and then opened the drapes so we could look down at the park and sidewalk.

"You didn't like it, did you?" he asked after a few minutes, referring to the show I'd seen the night before in Dallas. "It's too fucking big, isn't it?"

He didn't wait for an answer. I didn't really have one.

He walked into the other room as I pulled the cork on a bottle of French red. He returned with a small gut-string guitar in one hand, and open but obviously full bottle of cognac in the other. While we talked, Pete strummed blues riffs and chords that just all fell together.

After a couple of hours, he got up to use the john, tossing the cognac bottle into the trash on the way.

"We've just sort of Chuck Berry-ed ourselves out of it," he mused from the bathroom. I could hear him peeing through the open door.

He reappeared with a new bottle of cognac.

"If I keep this up, I'll be dead just like Moon."

"Keep what up?" I asked, watching him drain cognac from the bottle as if it were grape soda. "Drinking?"

"No. I mean this tour. This band. This life."

He fell into his chair and picked up the guitar like an old woman would pick up her knitting.

"What will you do?" I asked.

"Come down to Texas and live with you," he said. He seemed serious.

"Me? Pete, I live in a friend's garage," I protested. "There's not even running water. I have to go into his house to use the bathroom."

"I'm serious, man," he said. "I need to just walk away. Fuck it. Let the lawyers fight it out."

"Then what will you do?" I asked him again.

He didn't say anything. He strummed a Jimmy Reed rhythm and looked out the window.

After five long minutes, he spoke.

"I'll go back and live with me Mum."

We both laughed for ages. I eventually passed out listening to some of the best blues guitar you could ever imagine.

The next morning turned out to be late afternoon. Rabbit, Pete's piano player, would drop by at least once a day saying things like, "Have you seen the chicks in the hall? One's wearing just a T-shirt but can't get into anybody's room; everybody's crashed or gone. Want me to go get her and bring her in? Really, man, she's got nothing on underneath and she's gorgeous, just a little drunk." Pete'd say, "No, thanks, we're busy." "Damn," I'd think.

One afternoon, after we'd been shut in for two days, Bob Pridden, the Who's roadie, came by with a pile of coke. After some massive rails, we hit the streets. Pete was wearing my T-shirt in an effort to look poverty-stricken. We ducked into the worst-looking place we could find, a wino bar at the opposite end of the trendy spectrum. It was dark and dingy, easy on the hangover eyes. Inside, it smelled of spilt beer and cigarettes. Our feet stuck to the floor. Thank God it was dark, real dark.

We sat at the old wooden bar the color of that maroon shoe polish dads use on their loafers. Decades of cigarette smoke had tarnished the mirrors above the bar. The coke had my heart running like a jackhammer. We ordered mint juleps--what else you gonna drink in New Orleans?

After our eyes adjusted to the darkness, we could see that there were about six other people in the bar; an old guy on crutches, a couple in the corner, and a few random guys at the far end of the bar, all looking a little too long in the tooth to be a danger. Everybody in the place needed to be marched through the car wash.

Our bartendress was about fifty, fat, and resembled a Romanian peasant woman with a hard life and a sour attitude. She never even looked us in the eye until about the fifth julep. What the hell was a julep anyway? When she brought those, she casually asked if we were seamen. Pete said we were.

As usual, the cocaine kept the alcohol from wiping us out. Pete told her he was really disappointed in the juleps, that he couldn't feel anything. The bartendress put her hands on her massive hips and took a long look at Pete, sizing him up.

"I have a drink I came up with myself," she said, as if offering a dare. "I guarantee that if you drink it all, you'll need help getting out of here." She was obviously convinced that he was neither nutty enough nor wealthy enough to order one.

The man on crutches looked up. So did one of the other guys at the end of the bar. They were interested.

"What do you call it?" Pete asked. I could tell he was intrigued.

"Tropical Poison," the fat lady said, as if it was grandpa's secret moonshine recipe.

I could see it was a standoff. Not a duel, but the walk-up at high noon. She calmly stared Pete down, waiting for him to make a move.

"I'll have one," he said with a smile.

"It's five dollars and a half," she shot back, wiping her forehead and standing her ground.

"I'll take one," Pete said.

She whirled around to face a wooden cutting table under the dingy mirrors, grabbed a tall glass beaker and started filling it. With the skill of a circus juggler, she tossed in dry ice, regular ice, vodka, gin, Drambuie, grenadine, and three or four other things I couldn't see.

Everyone at the bar sat transfixed. She sliced up oranges and limes, splashed in some wine. The brew was smoking and swirling down the side of the beaker.

"Tropical Poison," she said triumphantly as she banged the drink down on the bar in front of Pete. The room was silent now, all eyes on Pete.

He slapped down a crisp one hundred dollar bill. She went to get change.

Pete stared at the smoke rolling and billowing over the edge of the glass. Cautiously, ever so slowly, he brought it up to his lips. He paused, and then took a big swig. Instantly, his eyes rolled back and his mouth puckered as if he'd just downed pure Drano. Then he burst out laughing, spraying the whole poisonous mouthful onto the bar and floor in front o us while the barmaid returned with a fistful of bills and coins.

"Just like I thought," she muttered, plenty loud enough for everyone to hear. "No balls."

She slapped a wet towel down on the bar in front of Pete.

We were in hysterics. She just glared.

Aching with laughter, we finally caught our breath.

Pete took the filthy, wet towel and sopped up the mess on the bar. Then he wiped up the puddle on the floor.

He wrung every last drop from the towel into the beaker. Lifting the glass, he toasted the bartendress then downed the whole concoction in one swallow.
Wasn't that good? :-D

Lucy said...


The "Wasn't that good? :-D" at the end isn't part of the story. It wasn't supposed to format like that! arghh. sorry!

Suesjoy said...

But...on coke...maybe not.
It's a miracle Pete's alive.
He knows that, we all know it.
He's SUPPOSED to be here!!
I'm so glad he's still around.


Suesjoy said...

Aw...the video was removed.

Lucy said...

What?! It was removed? why!

Glad I bothered to watch it more than once! Loved Pete's comment about Moon's "left testicle".


Re: the Tom Wright bit -- I hope it makes you buy his book! (so I don't feel so guilty about typing a chunk word-for-word!) The book is SOOOO worth buying. It's got tons of beautiful full page pics (mostly B/W) and a ton of inside anecdotes like the one you just read. (About Pete and others) (there's also a story about Pete getting his finger sewn up (Ow!)) (aww). Made me cringe.

ROB said...

Just got around to reading this "chunk" down below....very cool story. I'm so glad Pete cleaned up his act and grew up though....otherwise...he'd be dirt nappin'.