Pete Doherty dissed me! One reporter's London odyssey
I went all the way to London to interview England's most notorious rock star and all I got was this stupid blog post.
It wasn't supposed to turn out this way. The plan was for me to sit down with Pete Doherty, the former lead singer for shambolic buzz bands the Libertines and Babyshambles, a skinny bloke whose tabloid renown as supermodel Kate Moss' ex eclipses his musical notoriety in this country.
The meeting place: a posh hotel in the Shephard's Bush section of the British capital where we would talk about his debut solo album, "Grace/Wasteland" (Astralwerks), which hits retail stores today. And Doherty might provide a little light diversion by doing something druggy or outrageous before our time together was up.
Of course, there is a ceiling to how much professionalism one can expect from Doherty, a fedora-wearing, Amy Winehouse-smooching, historical landmark-thrashing admitted crack and heroin addict. This is a guy known to make artwork out of his own blood and who's been in and out of rehab and jail so many times, wags in the British press have taken to calling him "Doperty."
But I had done my due diligence. I had seen the video of him drunkenly trying to kick the interviewer of a Brit documentary about the bad boy rocker called "Who the [expletive] is Pete Doherty":
I had observed an MTV reporter's interview enthusiasm turn into anguish as Doherty squirted what appears to be blood at him and the camera in a now notorious YouTube classic.
And I had, in earnest, prepared my questions for Doherty about "Grace/Wasteland" and his latest career incarnation. For the sake of transparency, I include some of them here:
• This album sounds like a mid-life crisis record -- and yet you are only 29. Why did you decide to forgo making rock to record what sounds like supper club jazz?
• What exactly are you trying to articulate with the lyrics "I am the rain/held in disdain/notions and potions just add to my fame" on your song "I Am the Rain"?
• How did you come to the decision to start calling yourself "Peter" instead of Pete? Can it be interpreted as a bid to be taken more seriously?
• Can you shed any more light on the video that shows Kate Moss chopping a mysterious white powder into lines and snorting it while she was in the studio with you?
Then two days before our appointed meeting on Mar. 2, this e-mail from Doherty's publicist hits my Blackberry:
"i hate to do this but I have to cancel pete's press day. he cancelled some press this weekend and i'm not confident that wednesday will run smoothly and i don't want to put you in a place where you're running around on wednesday trying to chase him down."
I was by turns angry and then accepting; I knew the job was dangerous and potentially futile even before I flew 11 hours from L.A. for the interview. And viewed in a certain way, the guy completely lived up to expectations. Pete Doherty is nothing if not rock 'n roll's most startlingly consistent whack job.
-- Chris Lee
Photo: Pete Doherty performs with Babyshambles. Credit: EPA