John Walters Column 'Loonies! Don'cha just love'em?
The Zigzag of August'77 was the first with Needs as editor. The Slits stared from the cover and features included Subway Sect, Blondie, MC5, the Boys, the Criminals and Danny Baker at the Vortex. The only regular column that survived from the fanzine's previous hippy life was the priceless ranting of Peel's producer John Walters. This month he called it LOONIES and talked about nutters and bestiality.
Peel once came across a classic loony. A bloke approached himback stage at a festival and thanked him for all the help he'd given to Rod and the Faces. When John inquired why the chappie was interested he replied that he was the Faces. Not one of them but all of them and could he have an interview as his jacket buttons were microphones. Peel said a few kind words into the gents' blazer andmoved on as quickly as possible. A bloke sufficiently demented to see himself as a group might easily be pushed even further and become the Midland Light Orchestra thereby facilitating important BBC economies.
The rock business has always had more than its fair share of loonies but I expect that it attracts them the way religion used to. Once, if you had long conversations with the furniture you were well on the way to becoming a saint while today you'd probably get the OK to do a concept album. Strangely enough, it's not always the people in our business who seem to be loony who actually are. Look at Screaming Lord Sutch, for example, or Alice Cooper gibbering all the way to the bank. Loony behaviour is not always unreasonable. Viv Stanshall [Late Bonzo Dog Band front man who went on to become Sir Henry of Rawlinson End - K.N.] once told me how, when faced with the prospect of an appalling family Christmas dinner he went to the bathroom and shaved off all his hair. His re-emergent "God bless us, every one" appearance was greeted with numbed silence broken only by the sound of forks falling on to plates from lifeless fingers. Keith Moon once recounted how the car transporting him knocked over a drunk. Keith leaped out shouting "Get back, I'm a doctor", and the crowd got back! Spot the loony in that one.
Course,anyone can be a loony. Quite recently, I spotted a colleague strolling along a tube station and began a sort of fingersnapping hey boppa roonie singing hipster routine that I thought might amuse him. When he didn't turn round I got right up behind him and, leaning over his shoulder, went into a hectic bopcat performance worthy of Slim and Slam. Then he did turn round and it was a different bloke. I'm now part of his loonies mythology and he probably goes everywhere by taxi to avoid the punks and hippies on the tube.'
After a pop at the 'irritating kind of dingbat thrown up buy our culture...the kind of stoned public school drop out who wants you to give him money so that Hawkwind can play a free festival at Glastonbury thus encouraging the Martians to land,' Walters wishes that he could 'watch from a safe distance' while the Hare Krishna mob 'pranced and cadged their way along somewhere like Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.' He then lays into an early New Age organisation calling itself the Yogi Boogie Society, whose goal is defined as 'the dissemination of healthy and life-giving vibrations'. After listing Modern Parents-style ingredients [the sort very common today], Walters concludes, 'Doesn't the spirit of Woodstock have a lot to answer for and wouldn't you like to smuggle Sid Vicious into their annual general meeting?'
John concludes, 'I won't offer a little-known-fact-about-John Peel this issue but would like to report a remark that he recently made and you make of it what you wish. I had read an article by James Cameron in which he, recalling his early journalistic training on a rural paper, expressed his surprise at the number of cases where a farm labourer would be charged with having unlawful carnal knowledge of a duck. While we swirled the brandy round in our goldfish bowl-like glasses we set to musing on the phenomon of bestiality. Peel being a countryman, I could only bow to his superior knowledge but put forward the theory that if one were forced into some intimate liaison with an animal, the hindquarters of the sow bore some slight similarity with the comparable area in the human being. Then Peel said a strange thing. 'Not when you get really close". Hmm.'
Kris Needs/John Walters tMx 21 09/05