Tuesday, July 30, 2013

An encounter with Mick Farren thirty years ago this month

Thirty years ago this month I was the editorial director of the company that published Smash Hits. This was experiencing such dramatic success in the UK that publishers overseas wanted to see if they could replicate it in their territories.

One of them was Felix Dennis, who wanted to launch it in the USA, using the money made from a dazzlingly successful magazine called Computer Shopper and another one called Club International, which was published by the most charming pornographer I've ever met.

Felix insisted that the art director Steve Bush and I flew over to New York to discuss the feasibility of a 
licensing deal. It was a hot summer, we were very busy, it meant giving up our weekend and so I booked business class flights. When we got to the Pan Am terminal we were told there were no business class flights and so we were being upgraded to first class at no extra charge. 

Steve had never been to the States before. He was wearing shorts. He brought sandwiches. When we arrived at the Gramercy Park Hotel we were confronted by two hookers who asked if we wanted to "party". We made our excuses.

That weekend Felix, who was paying the hotel bills, had me moved into a suite so that we could meet there the following day. On the Saturday night we were joined by Neil Tennant from Smash Hits who was fresh from lunch with his hero Bobby O, with the news that he had agreed to make a record with him. We drank beer, ate crisps and laughed like loons.

The following day Felix turned up. He brought along Mick Farren, who he'd known since Oz days, to make sure that I wasn't pulling the wool over his eyes when it came to the music business.

We had lunch in the deserted hotel dining room, attended by many waiters. Everybody smoked through the meal.  Mick Farren ordered a Jack Daniels.

I often think about that meal. The magazine was launched in the USA but never took. Felix went on to make further fortunes. Neil's deal with Bobby O proved to be onerous but it eventually led to mammoth success with Pet Shop Boys. Steve Bush went on to be a magazine mogul in Australia. Mick Farren went back to writing pulp fiction, reformed the Deviants and eventually died on stage in London this week.

Thirty years ago this week.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this entry, too. David!

    Please don't take this the wrong way, but when I see an excellent blogger with 13.9k twitter followers getting 0 comments, it makes me feel less depressed that nobody comments on my blog entries, either!

    Well, now you've got "1 comments"!