".....Better known as wasted youth....."
Androgynous Antics, Management Miracles, Outrageous Opulence with a side of Bangers and Mash (Oh, and a vintage claret).
OK, so apparently the ‘other’ guitarist from eighties glam rockers Girl disappeared in '82? Well not so, but who the hell is this guy? Guitarist, singer, manager, video producer, artist, teacher, art collector or all the above?
Gerry says ‘this is ‘the most comprehensive interview I have ever done”.
A quick precis? He worked at London Weekend TV as a graphic artist - Dated a Saudi Prince (who had a Rolls Royce with the number plate HRH8)- Formed the band Girl with Phillip Lewis - Met Britt Ekland at a Park Lane hotel drinking pink Taittinger champagne, met Don Arden, got a record deal – released his first record, went on tour in Europe with Girl supporting UFO who were riding high on the success of their “Strangers in the Night”. album. That was ALL before he hit twenty! Then '80 turned out to be the start of something big.
So when did rock n roll first grab you Gerry and where was this and who in particular tripped your trigger back in the day?
From small acorns grow Duffy pictured glam rock heroes!
Gerry Laffy ; Well I am the youngest of seven kids.
The brothers Laffy. Simon, Steve and Gerry
So one of my older brothers in '72 worked for Duffy, the photographer (Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane”, “The Lodger” etc.).
G . L ; Steve Laffy, who is a drummer. He was the first guy to introduce us to music, Hendrix, Mike Oldfield, Zeppelin, joints and stuff like that. By the time I was thirteen I was way too young to be doing it but I was smoking spliffs and listening to Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, T.Rex and Bowie. My first obsession was I suppose T.Rex and I went to see them at the Empire Pool in Wembley (London) which was about four or five stops away from Swiss Cottage where I lived.
Was that that the show that they filmed for the “Born to Boogie” film?
G , L ; I’m not sure, I went to see Alice’s “Welcome To My Nightmare” show there too and I reckon it was around the same time was is ’73 or 74?
Well Alice’s “Welcome” was ‘75
G . L ; OK a little before that but I remember it was with Mickey Finn, ‘cause I thought what is that bongo player doing on stage with this rock star, this bongo playing aunty in the middle of this rock star show!
Now Wembley as a little kid for me was the biggest place I could possibly imagine, but it never occurred to me at that point however I would play music. So Steve (Laffy) was an assistant for Duffy but very soon after those gigs he had left that post and went onto Twickenham Film Studios to work on movies, (the Laffy’s and the Duffy’s got to be very close back then). After Steve left was when Duffy started to do all the Bowie “Aladdin Sane” stuff. Bowie and Duffy did a lot of projects together and I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for all that stuff. I digress a little bit but basically I was interested in all of that, the make-up, the androgyny and by the age of about fourteen or fifteen I realised I was bisexual and I got into the kinds of things on “glam” side of it and I realised some straight guys were kind of cute and all that kind of stuff but I still had girlfriends. I didn’t get it on with a guy until later in my teens like seventeen or eighteen and by that time I was really playing with the whole sexuality thing and Phillip Lewis, who is straight was really embracing all that fluidity too. I would wear like little old ladies blouses that I would buy from junk shops and earrings and he just thought that was really cool. He actually came up with the name GIRL but the androgyny and the sexuality side of things was definitely me and I really pushed the boundaries a lot and encouraged him to do things like wear THAT fur coat (on the “Do You Love Me” single picture cover) but I said “take your top off so it looks like you have got a pair of tits” and all that stuff.
That fur coat and those....
Ironic as now another member (Phil Collen) has the tits lol. We also hung about with some really interesting people in the very early days of Girl. Pre Girl and we had a band called Hot Knives and we met this guy would trade Opium for hashish and we used to smoke opium through the burning of hot knives, hence the name; Hot Knives. We were pretty naughty. Now Phil Collen has the tits Philip Lewis was once accused of having. They used to say about Phillip ‘he’s too pretty to be a boy' and all this stuff.
Too pretty to be boys? So why not be "Girl"?
“Naughty Boys” hey? Was Hot Knives your first band? Did you do anything else before that at all?
G . L Well yes, but I’ll tell you the long version. My brother (Simon) when he was sixteen, so I would be about fourteen or fifteen aspired to be a bass player and he had (he’ll kill me for telling you this) a plank of wood with all the frets and four strings and before he could afford a real bass he taught himself to play. I was really impressed with his tenacity with it all and he really wanted to be a bass player. He then joined a band with a guy called John Benson. Now John (Benson) was a great friend of ours who died a couple of years ago. John was an amazing person and he was a real “clubber” and he I think, used to get blow for the rich and famous people coming into town and he was very well connected.
Gerry, Richard and Mick in their flat photo by Chris Duffy
I’ll give you one example. He turned up at out flat in the very early days of Girl. We had a flat in West Hampstead and there was me and my brother living there and two other guys who turned out to be the first guys in the Girl road crew (Richard and Rob, and my sisters one time beau Mick).
John Benson and a relaxed Marvin Gaye.
So one day John Benson turned up and there was this mate of his nodding away, smoking weed and taking whatever else was being chopped out on the table. Then all of a sudden this guy piped up with a little tune and I thought hang on that’s Marvin Gaye! There he was JB, just hanging out with his mates, just sitting in our flat with Marvin Gaye and that’s the kind of guy he was. He ended up doing well as he discovered these girls and put them together with someone else from the club scene and they basically became All Saints and they all became millionaires and he launched himself out of all that. Anyway John was the singer / guitar player and Simon was the bass player in that band and to cut a long story short I was about fifteen or sixteen and my Dad got made redundant and he gave us all a few hundred quid out of his redundancy pay out (he won his case) and I bought a Les Paul copy and when I got that guitar I very soon realised that if you shoved a pillow in the back of the amplifier and sat it face down and put everything on eleven it made this distorted sound and it just sounded like Mick Ronson and I was already completely infatuated with the whole Ronson / Bowie thing. "Moonage Daydream” I just thought was fucking heaven you know? Just incredible and I discovered if you sit there and applied a bit of BB King to that distorted noise it sounded just like Ronson and I thought “maybe I can do this”! The start was right there and I used to go down and watch Simon play in this band with John Benson.
Gerry's mate Jake Panayiotou with their mutual friend John Benson.
What was that band called?
G . L ; I think it was called Changes, they never got a record deal or anything like that but it was called Changes and they played in a place called the Winchester Youth Club, which was in Swiss Cottage and when me and Phil put the Hot Knives band together the first gig we ever did was playing at the Winchester festival, which was like an outside stage at this youth club, so that was out first ever gig with about two hundred locals there saying things like “fucking ‘ell look there’s that little Laffy boy up there”.
"The Winchester Arms" pub that closed in '70 and was re opened as "The Winchester Project. A local youth centre".
Did you play that gig on your own or where there other bands on the bill?
G . L ; There were loads of other bands and we were on sometime in the middle of the afternoon and I remember that was the FIRST time we ever played “My Number” and I’ll tell you the story about that song because people always ask, “what are the lyrics all about”?
"My Number" single picture insert photo session.
It really came down to Phillip had a ‘phone number and I had a ‘phone number and because I used to write all the paperwork, as in what we needed for rehearsal room, the lyrics and all that kind of stuff and it was just his 'phone number and my 'phone number and it just stuck and that literally is where it came from, his 'phone number and my 'phone number and there is no reference to the phrase “My Number” at all in the song. It was just one that people said, “fuckin 'ell that’s really cool!” and I think it must have been the really, really early days with Phil Collen. I think we had the basic riff and groove format but Phil came in with that guitar line hook. I wrote the music, Phillip wrote the lyrics to the song but the way Phil Collen sold that hook made the song.
"This little Ronno!"
Was Phil Collen a big Ronson fan too?
G , L ; Not so much, I think Phil was more into Richie Blackmore, Al Di Meola and all that stuff and to be honest with I was into all that stuff too, they always had amazing guitarists like Alan Holdsworth, Ray Gomez, Larry Coryell and in the mid-seventies I really got into “Return To Forever” and all of those jazz albums and I just liked the idea of fusing the two of them and actually Guy Pratt (who is the bass player for Pink Floyd) there's a story. I dated his sister Karin around that time when I was seventeen and working at London Weekend Television. I worked in Waterloo and they lived in Waterloo and after work I would go round to their house and Guy told me just a couple of years ago that I was the first person to start him off and I taught him his first three chords and I’m like, “no shit”! “Yes you showed me how to play three chords so I could sit and try and ape your version (how terrible I was at playing it then) of Al Di Meola ha ha.” So that was a credit I acquired recently, teaching Guy Pratt his first three chords.
"Yes of course I can show you how to play, just let me finish my drink!" Glam and Prog meet, Gerry and Guy
So I was very much into the glam stuff, the androgyny and all that but I also really liked the idea of a different style of playing and what came out of the Girl thing was the muted chords, just a different vibe. That was a combination of The Cars and all the Jazzy kind of stuff, I don’t know. It was just a real kind of mish mash. That’s one thing Phillip and I didn’t want to be was just like everybody else.
Yes for sure and yes your were very different at the time.
G . L ; It would have been way too easy for us to look like the New York Dolls and play like the New York Dolls but we didn’t. We drew influences from people like The Cars and Tom Petty and that kind of stuff, we didn’t want to do something that had been done before.
Well it was a later time for Girl wasn’t it because the Dolls were a fair few years before.
G . L ; Yes well we were like ’78 / ‘79 and the Dolls were early seventies. I mean I’d never even heard of the New York Dolls. Phillip did bring Aerosmith into the frame because he had lived in America before I met him. I first met him through John Benson, he was producing these demos for this bloke called Phillip Lewis and my brother (Simon) was dialled in to play bass on those sessions. Again it was in a little studio just behind Winchester Youth Club in Winchester Mews, which is not there anymore, the next door neighbour was actually Hazel O’Connor who we used to score off now and again. Anyway I went round and this bloke who I thought was pretty cool actually was being mugged off by the band, they were all like, “we need an extra twenty quid and an extra session” and this that and the other and he and I just kind of became buddies and he thought I looked cool and I thought he looked cool and I could play three or four chords by then and he said “maybe we should do something”? Then we just started hanging out just as mates really and then all of a sudden people used to say, “so what band are you in”? So people thought we looked like we were in a band and we also had this friend at the time who was a very wealthy empowered Prince and he would say, "look I’m going down to Maunkberry’s tonight and there will be a bottle of vodka on the table if you want to come down and you’re welcome”. So we were hanging out looking cool in all these places.
Did you look the same as you did in Girl at this point? Was all that look you had there already?
Soon to be Girl....
G . L ; Not quite as much. I had realised if you did look androgynous you could pull both boys and girls. You know you would pull the straight guys that had a girlfriend at home but tonight…….. well. So a bit of mascara gives quite a big indicator that some of the boys would flirt and crack onto you.
Well it was the time in the seventies when it wasn’t only accepted it was encouraged to a point too, yeah?
G . L ; It wasn’t a big deal to play around with your sexuality in the seventies and I think it was encouraged and actually Bowie and all those things made it actually kind of cool to be bisexual and it was no big deal, if you weren’t you were a straight. Some people don’t have a gay gene in their body and they don’t want to go there but they do think it’s fun to play around with it.
Do what you want and be who you want to be.
G . L ; So that Winchester youth club around Swiss Cottage was quite instrumental in as much as it was where I kind of first said I want to do this (music) after watching my brothers band and it is where I met Phil Lewis in the Rare Earth (something like that) studios there and it is where Philip & I did our first pre Girl gig . So Swiss Cottage was pretty formulaic in a lot of those areas.
Thank you Swiss Cottage. Moving on, how did you working at London Weekend Television come about?
G . L ; How that came about that’s another strange story, I feel full of these stupid anecdotes! The guitar player in Simon’s band along with John Benson was a guy called Mike Brady, Mike was another guy who died just recently sadly but Mike had a really nice Les Paul Black Beauty and I really thought that was cool (that was my first real want as a guitar) and he (Mike) shared his flat with this guy called John Glascock who was the bass player in Jethro Tull and his girlfriend Jackie Adams. So I would hang out there.
The generous John Glascock
I was sixteen maybe seventeen and John (to Simon’s amazement) one day just because Simon was a bass player and he (John) thought he was kind of cool just gave him one of his Musicman basses, the same bass he had all through Girl. After John died Jackie gave me an old Gibson Melody Maker ('61 I think) to remember him by. He was a really sweet guy, another person who’s fucking died I’ve got so many people who have died. He died in late '79. So, through that connection with John it was Jackie who was his girlfriend who worked for Michael Grade at London Weekend Television. By that time I had left school and I wanted to be like Roger Dean you know I wanted to be an artist.
Art yes which we will touch on later of course
G . L ; So I basically got a job sweeping the floors in the art studio just two or three days after leaving school. So after about a year or so of sucking everything I could get out of those guys there, how to use an airbrush, how to do letterset and all that stuff Jackie says to me one day, “There’s a job going for a junior in our graphics department and it’s on the same floor I’m on. I’m in Michael Grade’s office on the fifth floor and I’ve seen on the notice board there they are looking for a junior there why don’t you go for it”? So to cut a long story short I was, as I said playing with my sexuality and hair colour and all that stuff and I went to the interview and the head of the arts department really liked my portfolio and he obviously really fancied me, anyway just before I went into the interview I went to see Jackie and her boss (who was controller of programs at LWT, THE boss) Michael Grade. Anyway he was, “Hello Gerry, how are you? How nice to meet you” and all that stuff. “So Gerry’s going for the interview in graphics” said Jackie and Michael said, “best of luck” and all that stuff right? So I saw this old guy on the sixth floor who was the head of the arts department and as divine intervention would have it as he saw me down to reception after my interview the lift dinged at the fifth floor and guess who walks in Michael Grade who says, “Hi Gerry how did the interview go?” and this head of art guy is thinking who the fuck is this guy, are the Grade and the Laffy family connected? Ha-ha. I got the job and I used to run that place ragged because they didn’t want to really fuck with me because they didn’t quite know what the connection was ha ha. There was none at all. Met the bloke twice!
The ever so polite, thankful and humble Mr. Laffy and his underground "helper", Lord (Michael) Grade of Yarmouth.
“Karmic Gangster” ha ha ha, we shall talk about later. Back to LWT
G .L ; I was really, really lucky and the great thing about that department was that there were fifteen to twenty artists and all of them had a different speciality, so I really learnt as much as I could whilst I was there. But it was one of those places that finished at five o’clock but if you were busy you stayed until eight o'clock and obviously being a seventeen year old at the time I was living at home and my mother and she was completely incredulous how the head of my department would phone there sometimes and say, “could you possibly ask Gerry what time he is going to pop in this morning” and she said, “how do you do that? Your seventeen and you have your boss saying do you think he just might pop in today?" I replied, "Tell him I’ll be in by Noon." I also bought my first Gibson from a guy there, a '60 LP Jnr double cutaway.
The Laffy charm working overtime there then?
Who had more front?
G . L ; Well I don’t know about that but I had more front than Selfridges! But honestly, no I was quite good and I soon got promoted and someone else came in to make the tea and get the sandwiches. Strangely the boy who did replace me was a boy called Simon who I knew from school. I liked him and really fancied his mate, Nate LOL. I wasn’t very good but I was just good enough
Did you then specialize in anything specifically at that time or did you just absorb anything and everything that was around you?
G . L ; No, Phillip Lewis used to call it K-Wality artwork! I just used to bang up shit on the kitchen table you know what I mean? That’s where the Girl logo came from basically. Someone came up with an idea of a logo and I said, “no no, don’t have that we’ll have it like this” and that’s why I’m still milking the Girl logo really
Well it is a great logo
G . L ; Yeah, well it was something not like that but then I put the lick on the G and the different R and I put the surround on it and I made it yellow and red.
Also I think the L in the logo with the flash was that Bowie inspired?
G . L ; Yes it was actually a total fucking nick, it’s funny you should say that no one else has ever picked up on that. Yes a total nick of the "Diamond Dogs" logo and yes I did it while I was still at London Weekend. We got five or six logo’s offered to us by the label and I just said, "let me deal with this" and although I can’t say I own it per se but between me and Don Arden who is going to put their hand up? The fact of it was they came up half a dozen logos I took one of them, tore it apart and re built it. The stripe was mine. The G was mine the red and yellow was mine. It is arguable that it is mine.
But they (Jet) don’t exist anymore so no problem yeah?
G . L ; They don’t exist anymore and actually their catalogue was sold to Sanctuary. Sanctuary as you know went through a time when they got a load of money out of, South Africa I think it was and they were buying up a lot of catalogues. Colin Newman the old Girl and Jet Records accountant had a label they bought up too but I was introduced to them (Sanctuary) by Mick Webster who was my manager during the “Money and The Magic” days, he managed Johnny Thunders and now he managers the Kaiser Chiefs and all that stuff and Mick said, “Here Frank (at Sanctuary) is going to give you another couple of grand for any live Girl stuff” and I said, “roll it in"! I know for a fact he (Colin) was one of about ten companies that Sanctuary bought and they had something like sixty thousand titles on their hands and all that was bought up by Universal. So Steve Hammond (Cherry Red, Rock Candy) has always had a hand it all that. He had hand in the sanctuary stuff, the universal stuff, the RCA stuff, the Cherry Red and the Rock Candy stuff too.
OK let us get back to the formation of Girl
G . L ; We soon became Girl and we put an advert in the “Melody Maker” for a peroxide blonde guitar player, rock star something like that and Phil Collen showed up in his forty quid Cortina and his Marshall stack, head and a lovely red Les Paul Custom. No bullshit pedals, we were impressed.
Rehearsal blues; pre Girl band "Hot Knives" Old Street.
We had a rehearsal room in Old Street but then went to Camden Lock to an old restaurant and that’s where we met Phil and it was on the first floor so he was lugging these four by twelves up the flight of stairs and we were thinking he’s so butch!
Totally the opposite of you and Phillip at that point then?
G , L ; Totally I couldn’t have lifted the head let alone the cab! We thought this is amazing and then he plugged in and he was playing way too loud and all this widdly widdly technical stuff and me and Lewis looked at each other and said that’s the bloke right there. “We’re going bleach his hair and shove a pair of earrings on him.”
Nice! So the first thing you did was the demo video tape (and you have put that out on the compilation DVD “My Number”) can you tell us about that?
G . L ; Well it’s actually the Girl, Sheer Greed and Gerry Laffy DVD.
Click HERE to get your copy of the DVD
It’s my solo videos, the video demo stuff that got us the deal with Jet (we filmed that demo video in a gay porn studio, well, we were told it was a gay porn studio in Muswell Hill) and a “behind the scenes” of the last TV interview that Girl did.
Yes the video demo footage looked like it was set in a bit of a dodgy, seedy setting. Perfect!
G . L ; Well, it was! Well the cushions were a little stained
Lots of air freshener
G . L ; Ha Ha well anyway I remember it was one hundred pounds for the day and it was two cameras and you could edit it straight away. So you could have the two cameras and perform to them and then you could go into a third room where you could edit the footage to a third machine and it was PERFECT! We did about five songs, by that time we had done some demos and as you can see on the video we did “Take Me Dancing”, “My Number” whatever it was and basically old moody bollocks on the left (me) was the bloke who was supposedly directing and stroke editing it but all it was just posing the SHIT out of it and having a laugh. We were trying to be serious about it to a point but Phil Collen was particularly trying to be serious and as you remember on it there is one solo Phil is playing on it and Phillip pulls the lead out of the guitar and Phil was really fucked off with all that because he’s like, “come on we’ve got one fucking at take this and I want it to look good”. I was dropping guitars on the floor, we were doing lines of blow. All the fun is on the about mentioned DVD, get your copy right there!
I was going to say there must have been some other (chemical) activity at the time yeah? The said video is very light, messy and fun but it makes the point you wanted to make at the same time.
G . L ; Yes there was ALWAYS stuff around, we would quite often have blow around, it was either feast or famine in those days, we very often would have nothing or we would have loads of money. If we had just got an advance from some merch deal or something and it would be caviar and champagne.
What happens if you take two glam rockers on a number 31 bus to Swiss Cottage?
Two weeks later it would be Knorr soup and fucking cabbage. That was just the way that is was. One example was the Aston Martin, that was four thousand pounds and that was from the merchandising deal I think we got that from, it looked great.
That Aston Martin in Paris '81
It did indeed look great. Ok let’s get to your look in the said demo video, you didn’t look like most of the bands around although Japan did have a similar look to you. Were they an influence or were you both just doing your own thing?
G . L ; Well, the weird thing about Japan was we kind of loved to hate them. We were about at the same time and we would see them down in Maunkberry’s and stuff like that and I always thought David Sylvian was always up his own arse and I was always teasing him like, “here comes the pop star” and stuff like that. There was a history of sorts there. We had been muted by Simon Napier Bell to be our publisher and then for some reason, I think it might have been at David’s behest or moaning or whatever, Simon Napier Bell turned his back on us and we left to work with Danny Secunda & Chris Stamp. They had worked with Kit Lambert (The Who) so we then thought, “fuck you!” to Nomis. The funny thing was when David wrote a book he cited me and Phillip because the opening line of his book was, “dreaming of Japan, high places and guitar solos” (from the Girl track “Strawberries”) and he credited us for that but, that was the only time he ever credited us for anything. In fact Phillip and I went to see them when they supported Blue Oyster Cult at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, partially because everyone was sitting down and just shouting at them, “Fuck off you faggots” and all that stuff and we walked down the aisle in the middle of Hammersmith right to the very front and just sat there and scrutinised them from about three feet away for the whole set just trying to psych him out really. There was another time they played in the Lyceum and there was a stripper I was banging at the time called Cindy, bless her, she’s another one that’s died recently. So she was what was referred to as a "screamer", so I went right in front of them and had full penetrative sex with her, just fucking her seriously from behind, grabbing her tits and she’s gasping, groaning and yelping just right in front of him ha ha, so we had a few situations with them, which is quite funny really. I think they were all amused, I remember Mick (Karn) being amused but David Sylvain, just always had his finger up his arse as far as I was concerned. I love their first two albums, I thought their look was good and yes we definitely nicked stuff from them and they nicked more than a few bits from us. Then they took this whole leftfield and turned into a really bad cabaret version of Bryan Ferry. I lost interest right there. I mean I remember hearing “Suburban Berlin” and I was thinking, “fucking killer track” and the next thing was this crooning like Charles Aznavour and those new hair dos. Can’t stand that shit.
Anyway back to Girl and the deal with Jet. How did that come about and were they the only label after you?
G . L ; Yeah as you may have gathered by that time me and Lewis were trying to punt it out. We had the video and we had the demos and we were punting them around. I remember we had this arrangement, I would phone companies up I would say “I am Mr Laffy and we’ve got this band from whatever management company ” and in fact we managed to blag this meeting with RCA. The A&R guy at RCA was there and in walks this Mr Laffy and it’s me and Phillip, and he was “how the fuck did you get in” and all this stuff and he basically threatened us and he said “ I’m going to put it round the industry that you are fuckin time wasters and you’re just blagging your way in” and all of this we said “fuck you!” and just carried on hustling, nothing was going to stop us at this point.
"Hello I manage this amazing band and my name is Mr. Laffy...."
Around this same time I was at Maunkberry’s, which was a big hang out of ours in seventy eight seventy nine and Phillip Lewis wasn’t around a lot and I’m like “where the fuck is he tonight?”. Anyway whilst I was down in Maunkberry’s I met this woman Doris Tyler, who was Richard Tyler’s (famous clothes designer) Ex-wife and she and I hit it off and cut a long story she pulled me in the club and I was up for it and so she says “let’s go back to my hotel, I’m staying at the Inn on the Park, on Park Lane. Let’s go back and drink some champagne” and I said “Deal, let’s go”.
Gerry and Doris
Anyway I went back there and we had fun, whatever we did in her room and then went to the lounge room of the suite. It was a two bedroom suite, one bedroom at either end of this lounge room which was the size of a five a side football pitch and who should be in the other bedroom but Phillip Lewis with Britt Ekland. And I’m like, “I know where you’ve been for the past week, you’ve just pulled yourself a movie star” and all this and Doris was her PA. She had been Rod Stewart’s PA but now she was Britt’s. I knew Doris helped her ex-husband Richard Tyler (a wonderful designer) and so did I back them borrowing as many of his items I could lol.
Many of the best early Girl photos I was wearing Richard Tyler. Thanks to Doris. Bless her x
Oh! So this was pre-record deal, I thought it was after?
G . L ; Yes pre-record deal. Britt was there doing a promotion deal thing, because she was signed to Jet to do this single, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it but it was for some single and she’s sat there with a light in the shape of the ball and she’s semi naked, it was a picture deal and Britt was signed to Jet for this and Don (Arden) was her manager.
Beauty and the beast?
So there was this one night that we went to Don’s house in Wimbledon because there was all these CBS executives from across the world who had been invited to this party there and we were invited to this party and we looked our best with Britt and Doris’s attention to detail.
Britt, Phillip, Doris and Gerry
We met Ronnie Fowler who was the MD at Jet Records and Brit was like, “these boys have got a fantastic band you should check ‘em out” and that is about all she did really. So he said, “come into the office and see me” so we went in with the aforementioned video and he was, “this is fucking brilliant! This is it!" and all that stuff so rumour had it that Britt got us a record deal, she didn’t but she did make an intro, we met Don that night, we met Ronnie and we met Andy Stevens, who was the head of International at Jet and Ronnie and Andy were all over us like a cheap suit at that Saturday night party!
Signing your life away???
So on the following Monday or Tuesday we went in there they were ALL getting really, really excited by this video. They were saying, “this is fucking amazing!” and Andy obviously had a word with Ronnie saying, “I can sell these guys to the hilt in Japan” and he immediately got us a record deal.
A publishing deal with Watanabe and we got immediately picked up by CBS/SONY in Japan and it all kind of kicked off in Japan first whilst we were still struggling in England. We hit number one in Japan.
And you’re stuck in England eating Knorr soup again?
Two glam rockers and.... oh you get the idea!!!!
G . L ; Yeah, we were literally on the number thirty one bus down to my Mum’s house for some Knorr soup and we were number one in Japan! So we had a tour booked in Japan, they CBS/SONY signed us for fuck all money, just me and Phillip and we also had the publishing deal which again was just me and Phillip. We had a tour booked that year, I think that was in '79, the first record (“Sheer Greed”) came out at the end of '79 and then they said, “we’ve put you on this tour with this band called U.F.O”. I’d never heard of U.F.O.
G . L ; No I’d never heard of them! So we checked them out and there was this guy Michael Schenker and ‘Oh he’s not in it anymore’ and all that. We couldn’t have cared less. Anyway we found ourselves in France and we were playing sports arenas and these huge venues and we were like, “wow this is amazing!”. We were the support act you know short and sweet forty minute set kinda thing, we went down pretty well.
I also remember we had this big thing they were all really excited about because we had a feature for “Melody Maker” planned, Geoff Barton from “Sounds” magazine had dug it and wanted to do a thing but we had this big feature with Steve Gett and George Bodnar in Paris, but it just so happened at the same time Brit was doing a movie in Paris, so we spent the night with her and there was a record company thing and we were all so coked out everybody else was just eating and the three of us were just so out there, it was obvious what was going on with the three of us. That night because we were on tour and we had to move on the next day, they were, “Don’t forget you’ve got this really important thing with Melody Maker”, well we both took a Quaalude that night and slept right though it all! The record company were going fucking nuts, “the bloke from “Melody Maker” is here and you didn’t fuckin turn up”! We were acting like rock stars long, long before we should have been acting like rock stars.
Too much fun.....
On that same tour it was about a couple of days later, we’d played a few more of these shows and we were still in Paris going back to party with Britt and Doris. We got back to our hotel and the fucking bus had gone without us and we were like, “oh it’s France it can’t be that far away”, not knowing how big France was and it so happened this next gig was about seven hundred miles away and this was about three o’clock in the afternoon and we were the opening act, so you can imagine we had major problems. Fortunately our Arab Prince friend was in Paris at the same time at his (The Lancaster) hotel and him being a VIP and all that said, “don’t worry I can sort this” and he got us a limo. So we got in this limo and we were still so fucked up and the bus had gone and the tour manager had taken the van and had gone to the venue. So anyway we knew roughly where it was, we had to go to Reims I think it was. We’re like, “were on tour, we missed our bus and the gig’s fucking miles away were never going to make it”. So he just slammed a blue light on the top of the car and everything moved out of our way. So there we were SUPER rock stars drugged out of our heads blue light flashes flying down the motorway at one hundred and fifty kilometres an hour and everyone flying out of our way. When we got there, we got backstage at this venue and the house lights had gone down, the rest of the band were already on stage, I guess they were like “Spinal Tap” doing their opening and then on comes Laffy and Lewis, “oh right we’re here now thanks for setting the stuff up”! Piss takers.
The only reported time Phillip and Gerry made it on the tour bus in time. Rock stars hey?
Those early days of Girl were absolutely riotous! We have many, many stories like that. Letting off fire extinguishers, shagging groupies on fire escapes at all the City Halls across Europe. So in this very short amount of time we had gone from the thirty one bus from Kilburn to Swiss Cottage to upsetting all the CBS executives in Paris, them being affronted that we had slept through the Melody Maker thing, we were coked out of our heads at the dinner deal thing, we just upset EVERYBODY, they didn’t want us in their (“Melody Maker”) paper ever again, it was hilarious. CBS were fuming. Fuck ‘em!.
"Look we are serious about this..."
Well Melody Maker not wanting you wasn’t totally a bad thing, they weren’t THE rock paper of the day were they?
G . L ; No not really but I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but there is a feature in “Melody Maker” and we are sitting there with some mannequins and we were so fucked up Phillip knocked the head of one of the mannequins, it was riotous, absolutely riotous and they were going “I don’t know who they think they are, but they’re pretty good on stage”
Well you were frankly nobodies at the time. Yeah?
G . L ; Yes we were completely unknown, but we didn’t show it. We acted as we owned the place especially at that debut night we did. The first gig we ever did was at the KOKO (The Music Machine) in Camden and it was fucking jammed, a sell-out and our debut. We were really nervous because it was the first proper gig we’d ever done but, we had rehearsed and we were together and we were ready for it.
I remember just before I went on stage my guitar tech had a white leather jacket he’d just bought and I went “Ooh gimme that” so I shoved that on to wear on stage. We went on stage and we opened up with “Doctor Doctor”. That is an explosive way to open a show the riff then it just hits the accent on the power-chord and the place went “Oh my god”! We just said to them, “when we hit the first chord put every fucking light on in the house”. Actually the reviews for that show, Steve Gett from “Melody Maker” said “not since seeing Van Halen for the first time have I ever been so impressed with and opening track from a band and this is the band’s debut gig!”. We came out with a bang, that’s for sure.
You must have pissed EVERY other new band off at this time
G . L ; Oh YEAH! We stole every bit of press, we used every bit of flash and bang we could generate.
Was that all planned from the get go or did it just happen that way?
G . L ; No we didn’t plan it really, what we planned was get as many lights on stage as we possibly could. The year before we had seen Van Halen and they just couldn’t move on the stage for lights! So we did use as many lights as possible, we did use smoke, we did use dry ice and did use wham bams, we wanted to make this theatrical, make it something you wouldn’t forget when you got home. We posed our arses off too! I knew if I was a bit sloppy and a bit lazy I could certainly make the most of the stage moves and imagery and all of that stuff and Phil would blow everyone away with his technical playing. All the guitar players would go and see Phil however, me and Phillip were just irritants to a lot of people.
Well that is the thing right there, you have to make your name somehow, like the Coop’s in LA “how are we gonna stick out in LA? Get the GTO's to dress us”
NWOBHM? No thanks.
G . L ; That’s right and we were the antithesis of all the NWOBHM stuff. The yellow Aston Martin, Britt Ekland, the androgyny and even the blowing kisses to the security guards at the gigs we were just winding everybody up really. It was brilliant.
Well you were the glamorous diamonds at that point for sure. Most of that NWOBHM scene seemed to all about denim and comedy ale tee shirts and more “fitting in” you on the other hand I think you went out on a limb in the opposite direction
G . L ; Yes I think so too. In '80 we would all say, I think, they were pretty riotous days, we had a fucking MAD year.
Trying to blend in....
There was a couple of dodgy moments, the KISS tour wasn’t exactly great, the Reading thing wasn’t great. I mean the Reading festival I do remember being pretty terrified that the sky seemed to go dark with cans, mud and pork pies and they were being thrown at us in our first number, but I also remember Britt and Doris after we came off stage thinking that was fuckin terrible and they and some friends were like, “Listen! Listen! The majority of the crowd were very positive and responsive you know like they were thinking ,“Fucking hell those guys took a load of shit and they were really good”!
After the pork pies had settled down
Absolutely, didn’t Phillip have a white suit on for that show?
G . L ; Yes he had a white suit on, we were all wearing black and he was wearing white just standing out and rubbing people’s faces in it really.
Totally, you’ve got to get remembered somehow and you went the right way about it, talking of which tell us about the KISS tour?
G . L ; Well you see I thought we got offered that tour with KISS because Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley really liked the fact that we had done a good cover of “Do You Love Me”. We said to them, "we are going to play it when we open for you" and they were like, “If you dare!”. Phillip Lewis tells me that Gene give him (us) a bollocking for playing ‘one of his babies’. Fuck off, they didn’t even write it.
Did you want to record the song or was that a record label decision?
G . L ; Yes we did want to record that, there were other things we didn’t want to record though. “Juliet” and the Russ Ballard thing the record company wanted us to do but we didn’t.
“Love Is A Game”?
G . L ; “Love Is A Game” we fucking hated, “Juliet” we hated but, “Do You Love Me” Phillip wanted to do that and we all agreed. He brought it in and said, “we should really do this we could milk the video”, you know and he’s talking about seven inches and all that.
Yes great idea, so the KISS tour.
G . L ; My memory of the Kiss tour, well, walking off that tour was a pretty ballsy thing to do for an unknown band. We fucked off from that second date at Wembley Arena. We’d done Stafford Bingley Hall and Deeside Leisure Centre and we did the first night at Wembley Arena. After the first Wembley gig we complained to Bill Aucoin, KISS’ manager at the time, we said, “look the road crew are pushing all of the backline forward” there was about ten foot in front of their backline and were our backline was so we said, “this is unnecessary move it back a bit because these cunts are spitting at us” they were literally spitting right in our faces and we didn’t need it. So the second night they had moved all our gear another six foot forward we said, “look we are going to be completely covered in spit and we are not having it and if you don’t move the equipment back we are going to walk!”
No room to "Strutter"....
And they didn’t so you walked
G . L ; And we did, it was at the last minute. I’m pretty sure it was me and Phillip who said to our tour manager, “they’ve moved our cabs even further forward so tell ‘em to fuck off, we’re going home” and we just got in the car and drove off, the others we going, “what are you doing?” we were like, ‘"we’re not going to get covered in spit again for these cunts’". Also when we did leave that night my then girlfriend Baroness Fiona De Janier stayed behind with Paul. So I dumped her! She then went to the bassist from Blondie before marrying Dennis Stratton. We’d already played Wembley Arena, it was one of my benchmarks to play there and I’d played it once so I didn’t need to do it a second time.
I mean that took attitude because that KISS tour was, I would say was one of if not THE tour of that year (1980).
G . L ; I remember Tommy Vance saying, “the best opening act I have ever seen!” and Tommy didn’t say those things lightly. I knew Tommy anyway, his wife was a friend of mine, but he said, “that was one of the best opening acts I’ve ever seen! Especially considering the hostile crowd”.
Yes, and Tommy was a long-time supporter of yours too yeah?
G . L ; Yes, he was the first person to play “Money and the Magic” later but he was also the first person to play “My Number” too.
Oh was he?
G . L ; He was indeed. The Friday Rock Show on Radio One and actually he had it because I’d given him an advance copy of it before it came out.
So let us talk about the two Jet Girl records. When Jet signed you what was the plan, do a single and get you on tour and see how it goes or was it going to be something else?
G . L ; No we had a five album deal with them right off the bat. It wasn’t a, “try a single and see how it goes” deal at all. They said, "“My Number” is definitely you’re first single”. They did hum and arr at one point about “Heartbreak America”, but that only became a single in Japan and nowhere else.
So they said, ““My Number” definitely going to do that” and then they came out and said, we’re going to do it on a clear vinyl with no label on it and then with a picture of the band” and we thought that was a bit weird but we thought, “fine do whatever you want to do”. We did the first section of the record “Sheer Greed” with Chris Tsangarides and there was a little break because we were on tour in Europe with U.F.O and then we did the English tour with them too. They had invited us to do the English tour as well and it was so much fun with them so we did that leg too. So after that tour we went back in to the studio to record the rest of album but by then Chris wasn’t available, so we went back in with Nick Tauber but we didn’t really want Nick Tauber that was a record company choice not ours. They said, “well he has done Def Leppard and he’s done this and that” and we were, “no we need to get Chris” but he wasn’t available and we had to finish it so it was out of our hands.
You were between a rock and a hard place really. It would have been foolish to turn down the U.F.O tour but that came with a cost for sure but, you still wanted a completely coherent record too but, as you say it was out of your hands
G . L ; Exactly. I think we recorded some stuff at the end of '79, the album came out in March / April '80. I remember the turnaround time being really quick, basically we pulled our leads out of the amps went home and within two weeks the album was out there.
And the promotion campaign was huge for it yeah?
G . L ; Yes, they did they throw a load of money at it, a lot of our money as it happens.
So how did Sheer Greed sell?
G . L ; It was number one in Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong.
If you don't have your copy click HERE to grab the Cherry Red 2CD issue with poster!
It was top thirty in Germany. I think it got to thirty three in England? I never saw a penny from it.
Those chart places for an almost unknown band at the time was pretty damn good though?
G . L ; Yeah it was pretty good. I don’t know if it sold that well. I think in England it went in and went out pretty quickly. We were the only band ever who went on “Top of the Pops” and then dropped about one hundred places ha ha ha!
What was Top of the Pops like to perform on?
G . L ; Err, it was alright, not the landmark I hoped it would be. We had fucking Jimmy Saville introducing us and we had people saying he was a nonce and all of that. We recorded it the day before then mimed to that version of the song (“Hollywood Tease”), I remember the cymbals were fibre glass.
But I will give Jet some credit we did some TV shows, we did Top of the Pops (Click HERE to view the footage), the Old Grey Whistle Test (Click HERE to view the footage), Tiswas, we did a German TV show (Click HERE to view that footage), loads of Japanese TV so they did actually push the boat out for us. They managed to get us around and for a new band they did alright. Payola probably lol.
Yeah, you were stepping on a lot of people’s toes for sure at this point and on the “crest of a wave” so to speak?
G . L ; Yeah, I think so yeah. That first year was pretty good and then of course we went and try to record the next album (“Wasted Youth”). We had some really good songs for “Wasted Youth” but by that time we had fallen out with Don (Arden) because he had come to us and said, “I’m going take over your management and break you in America now” and all that stuff, “you’re going to be the opening act for a tour it’s going to be you, U.F.O. and Ozzy Osbourne an arena tour right across the States” and we basically said, “we are not signing management with you, we have our lawyer and Danny Secunda (who used to run the Track Records stuff) and we’d rather go with them and he said, “ if you go with them your career is over!” and we were like, “fuck you!” and then again this is where the Saudi prince stepped in, he said, “What do you need?” and we said, “we need to tell them to go fuck themselves!” and he gave us forty grand and said, “go and do what you want!”. So we booked a tour with Ted Nugent and Pat Travers in the South of France and Spain and a show in the U.K.
We took the Who’s tour bus and The Who’s out front lighting and sound guys and we just went off. Then Jet were like one minute saying, “we’re not paying your wages” and we said, “we don’t give a fuck we are in the south of France opening for Ted Nugent” and they were like, “how did you do that?” and we never told them how we managed to pull that off, that again was Danny I think and he was very instrumental in booking the Japanese tour too. I think they (Jet) went to Udo and there was some pressure put on Udo by Jet, they were saying, "if you take them (Girl) we will not be giving you the Japanese Ozzy tour", all that kind of stuff. They really tried to fuck us over. For months and months and moths they didn’t give us wages, they wouldn’t pay for the rehearsal rooms, they wouldn’t let us record at that point either and they impounded our gear. They really did try to fuck us up.
What was your weekly wage then, if you can say?
G . L ; About a hundred quid a week we were on, it wasn’t very much but it was enough just to tick over.
That was pretty good for the time though
G . L ; Well the Social was about forty quid a week. Sometimes Phillip would drop me off in the Aston Martin to sign on. Hilarious. You see in those days everything was paid for. Every time we went for a meal someone picked up the tab for it, every time we rehearsed somebody paid for it and when we went into a recording studio to demo all that was paid for and all that stopped once we fell out with Don, we would phone Ronnie and say, “what the fuck’s going on?” and he would say, “Don said I can’t pay you and he won’t authorise any cheques” and we’re like, “fuck me”. The impasse was broken by a guy called Nigel Thomas, who managed Yngwie Malmsteen and a few other people and he came in as an intermediary. He said, “I’ll produce another album for you (which was to become “Wasted Youth”) and I’ll get them to pay for it” and basically Nige never did anything, the album said produced by Nigel Thomas and a little Girl, in fact it was produced by Girl with a little Nigel Thomas. He spent all of his time producing that album in Langan's Brasserie and we were picking up the tab! Anyway we managed to finish that album through kick, bollock and scramble even though all of us, well most of us, were taking a lot of heroin.
Always time to do face. Gerry the heroin period.
So how did that stuff filter it's way into the band?
G . L ; We were recording at Matrix studios and the owner of the studio was an addict back then, made no bones about it and it was only too easy. Bryson (Graham, Girl Drummer) was a friend of his and he had a mate who was a smack dealer who used to turn up and give us freebies and before you know it when you’re hanging out with Anita Pallenberg and when you’ve got friends like that, you have a problem.
So how bad did it get?
G . L ; Well I can’t speak for anyone other than myself. I remember it was at the demise of Girl. By the end of '81 I was managing Russell, he was in Sri Lanka doing the “Hungry Like The Wolf” and “Save A Prayer” videos for Duran Duran and I spent two weeks at the Grosvenor House Hotel with Anita Pallenberg and by that time I thought it was a good idea to start skin popping instead of just smoking it, a dodgy road. Anyway he had a mate stick me on a plane to LA and then sat on me for about two weeks giving me Vodka and Valium to try and get me off the smack. It wasn’t hard. It was never out of control.
"Valium would have helped that bash......."
I don’t think that has been out there before.
G . L ; Well no, I think Phillip a few times has alluded to the fact that we went from smoking dope and doing lines of blow and then ending up in the Matrix situation. I think what happened with Matrix was that Nigel let us use the studio without getting paid and he said, “look I won’t release the tapes until they (Jet) pay me but you can continue to record”, so we did a lot of the “Wasted Youth” album there and by the time we finished it, we thought it was a really good album but maybe not quite as exciting as “Sheer Greed”.
Click HERE to grab the box set remastered version of "Wasted Youth"
Well is a little bit darker maybe?
G . L ; It was darker, a bit darker and Nigel took the fucking tapes over to Polar Studios over in Stockholm and remixed the whole thing in a weekend.
G . L ; Much to our fury, he basically remixed it and everything was compressed to shit and he then handed it over to Jet on the Monday or the Tuesday morning without our approval
Shit luck right there. It did sound a little more “metal” but it still had a glamorous spark all be it a darker edged glamourous spark?
G . L ; It didn’t sound live and exciting and it sure did when it left our hands and he just, as I said compressed the shit out of everything and everything was flattened down for radio value, it was really a shame.
Well “Overnight Angels” is a great song, that sounded like it could have been on “Sheer Greed”, was it written at that time? In fact was anything left over from that period?
G . L ; No I think most of the stuff that was written was post that period, there might have been a couple of over hangs after “Sheer Greed” some things that we didn’t have time to record. I can’t remember what was the last thing we recorded for “Sheer Greed”. I think one the last things we recorded for that record was “Do You Love Me” and I think, yes, we got it finished in time, “let’s stick it on” we said. It was almost an afterthought really.
“Little Miss Ann” the version on “Sheer Greed” was great but when you did the “Love Is A Game” single (that you hated) there was a new killer version of that track on the b- side, a slowed down, more sleazy kind of a vibe?
G . L ; Well that’s how we were playing it live at the time. I had the idea of the slowed down groove feel to the song, in fact when we played it live like that it almost needed a brass section on it. We recorded, I think a master version of it or was it maybe just a demo version. That was part of the deal, “we will do this fucking terrible ‘Love is a Game’ track on your white vinyl thing but we want this track on the B-side”.
Like The Sweet did?
G . L ; Yes guess so, they didn’t give a shit about the B-side. We just thought there was some credibility to the single that way.
I thought that was a far more superior version
G . L ; Yes I prefer it too. In fact, “Little Miss Ann” was a very early Girl track. Phillip had a flat in Cornwall Gardens, Kensington and the cleaner there was a woman called Ann.
We used to call her little Miss Ann (or just little), Irish and the size of a gnome and she’d say, “Mr Gerry Mr Phillip would you like a nice cup of tea?” There would be spliff, empty bottles, residue, semi clad girls and boys all over. Didn’t bother her.
So this track for years I thought was about some hot nasty girl ready to do whatever to you and no.
G . L ; No, no, no it was a cleaner! “Can I make you boys a nice cup of tea?” she used to say. She was lovely. Philip used to call her ‘little’. Her name wasn’t Ann, I can’t remember what it was. So all these years later it is not what you thought it was about at all lol
U.F.O tour Mogg and Laffy '80
Tell us about the U.F.O. tours a little bit more. Was Pete Way (R.I.P.) or Phil Mogg that was the ring leader?
G . L ; The U.F.O. tours were fucking hilarious, especially the first one, that was absolutely mad! I remember one of the first gigs we did, I can talk about it now because he’s someone else who has died, at the side of the stage behind the curtain there was a bucket and Tonka (Paul Chapman) would be playing the song and then he would run over and puke into this bucket we thought, “oh he must have a stomach bug or something”, but no he was on smack. Pete was just hilarious. The brunt of most of Pete’s stuff was Andy (Parker) the drummer, who used to keep going, “Oh it's no neck Parker” and Phil Mogg was always, “let’s see what Pete’s up to” you know what I mean? Pete was always the instigator. I remember once we were climbing over the roof part of the dressing rooms and we trying to get a peek into Andy’s room to drop a spider or something in there and Pete fell through the ceiling. There was another time when we were at a Novotel in Europe somewhere and in the restaurant there, they were serving shark steaks and part of the dressing of this thing was a shark's head and of course it ended up in underneath Parker’s bed clothes, so when he pulled the bed clothes back he would be greeted with a sharks head in his bed and he’d be, “who fuckin' put this in here” it was always Andy who the brunt of the joke.
And I also learnt that if you plan it right you can drink the first part of the bottle and then you neck the second bit at the beginning of the encores. Here's a funny story about Myke Gray. I met Myke the first time again in thirty maybe forty years and I met him at the UFO London show '19 and there was these two bald blokes and one of them said, “do you know who I am?” and I said, “No”. “I was the boy of about fourteen or fifteen and I was at your last show in London (Zig Zag Club) and I was hanging out all day there as I had a friend who worked at the club and Phil Collen, who let me use his Ibanez Explorer, showed me how to play Deep Purple riffs” and that really impressed me”.
"lose the straw and make it a pint!"
Anyway for the whole of that Zig Zag gig he (Myke) was next to me watching me do the whole rock star thing then he says, “as the show finished and the lights went down you said to me, “go to the dressing room and fill a pint glass with ice half fill it with vodka and half fill it with orange juice and bring it back to me”. So off he went and he did exactly that then he came and gave it to me, then he says, “yeah and you necked the entire thing in one fell swoop and then went back on to do the encores” and he then said, “I’d never been so impressed with anyone”.
Click Image to go to the "Sheer Greed" Facebook group
I put that on the Sheer Greed site and Phillip piped up about it. I asked him what his memory of that show was because I couldn’t remember much about it. We knew Def Leppard were in that night to see Phil and we knew what was going on and he (Phillip) said ,“the only thing I can remember about it was that Phil Collen was so drunk that he couldn’t get up of the dressing room floor because he was so guilt ridden about leaving”. They had offered him the gig that night and they had said to him, “if you want the job it’s yours, just go in and meet Mutt. We’ve got some recordings done and you just need to put a couple of solos down”. Philip says he was so drunk that night we literally had to carry him out, but I didn’t remember that at all, probably because some cute boy had been feeding me vodka I don’t know?!
You say Phil felt so guilty, did you all know what was going on at the time, and was there any cloak and dagger?
G . L ; Well we had had SO many problems with Jet. The Ozzy Osbourne tour was cancelled and we were all gutted after not getting that and I think Def Leppard got that tour and it broke them in America and we knew all of what was happening with them and Phil. There had been a couple of times we were in the same town on tour, there was a show were Joe, Phil and Steve were playing together on stage. I missed it but it was at the (Newcastle) Mayfair or something like that he went over and they jammed or something like that. There was some connection, I remember Rick (Savage) being around you know. In fact, Phil a few months earlier had been offered the gig in Iron Maiden. Phil came to us and said, “Oh Steve’s called me from Maiden and said they’re getting rid of Dennis Stratton and he wants me to join the band” and we said to him, “don’t join that lot, do you really want to be doing all that guitar fiddly stuff?”
No I don’t think that would have been a good fit at all
G . L ; No and we said, “something will come up” and I’ll be honest with you in the back of my mind, this was just after Randy (Rhoads) had died and I said to Phillip.“ I bet he gets the gig, I’ll fucking put money on it that they are gonna call him and he’ll get the gig” and that’s what we were thinking, we said, “don’t join fucking Iron Maiden” he said, “alright” and we (Girl) ambled on. So when the Def Leppard thing happened they had asked to come down and all three of us said, “we know why they are coming down..” and Phil said, “Oh I don’t know” and we said, “that’s a much better gig for you, they have just really broken in America and they have great managers, great producers and all that stuff, it’s just a much better gig” and he was really racked (with guilt) because we had the last Girl tour of the far east booked at that time and he is saying, “no I’m gonna fuck up the tour” and all that stuff and I said, “no, no, no it’s fine we’ll just get another guitar player” and by that time Russell (Mulcahy) had his debut film to make in Australia and I was going off with him after that tour and that was going to be it for me. So I was completely, “go for it! Absolutely go for it!”
The end of the Mick Ronson / Ron Wood expriment...
So he went in to the studio to do “Stagefright”, I think it was. They had a couple of songs that were done and the only thing that wasn’t there were the lead guitars and I think it was “Stagefright” that got him the gig. He went in and there was just him, Mutt and the engineer and Mutt played him the song and Mutt said, “do you want to have a couple of goes at it” and Phil said, “no let’s just do it” and he just played it first take and he just nailed exactly what they wanted. He was just primed and ready to go and I am really pleased that he got it. The one thing that is kind of weird was that after Steve (Clarke) had died, a lot of people were really gutted. I had split from a relationship in September, my father died in December and Steve also died around that time. So early that year ('91), I got a call from Phil saying, “I want you to join the band (Def Leppard)” and I’m like, “err, what you talking about?” and he is like, “you’ve got to do it, its tons of money and we’ll have a ball”. He said, “go and learn these five songs” and it was the obvious five songs “Hysteria”, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and whatever it was and he then says, “go over to my flat in Paris, learn the songs and I’m gonna get you a ticket to come out to LA, it’s not an audition. Joe’s got someone who he wants to do it, I want you to do it and I’ve told them if it’s not you it’s going to be a four piece”. Now the weird thing when Phil wrote his book, he completely white washed all of that. Not so much as a mention. I know that John Sykes had been muted to do it and I know he played and sang well but something happened and they said, “no it’s definitely not him”. Apart from the fact that I loved Phil and I admired him as a player and then he said, “it‘s about fifty grand a night each when we headline’ the thought of being in that band and playing that night after night for eternity didn’t interest me at all. To be honest with you I had managed Russell Mulcahy for ten years at this point, I had just signed a new five year contract and I knew exactly how to do it, I was earning, now why would I want to turn my back on that? I was living in his (Russell's) home in LA and when not there I was living in a thirteen room house in Camden (London) with a wallet full of credit cards and money coming in I just didn’t want or need it. Strangely John Taylor did the same thing in his book, he mentions that I did some demos with them but whitewashed Terroristen a band I was in with him for three years (ten CD’s too)!
So back to the end of Girl take us into that time frame.
G . L ; The last show we did in England was the Zig Zag club, when Def Leppard came down but we didn’t do any more shows until the Far east tour which was in December of '82. We did two shows in Hong Kong and we did one show in Thailand which was the biggest crowd we ever pulled around eight odd thousand kids and I remember all the security, the police and MP's on stage it was fucking mayhem.
"dreaming of Hong Kong, high places and Guitar solos"
The only other time I can remember in my performing days when it was that exciting was when Simon Le Bon joined John Taylor in New York. John said, “we have a guest star tonight, Simon Le Bon” and the place went fucking mad! That was the only time I have been on stage that I had the slightest hint into what Duran Duran dealt with, especially in the early eighties. The flashbulbs went off people were screaming the place just went off, it was electrifying. So anyway we did that tour of the Far East and we got in a new guitar player Pete Bonus, he had played with Peter Murphy from Bauhaus.
Phillip, Gerry, Pete Bonus and Bryson
What was Pete’s story? He had like a grown out Ziggy cut at the time, what was his deal?
G . L ; Not a lot to say about Pete really apart from we knew him from Matrix too. He was a mate of Bryson’s and he was a really good player and we said to him, “can you do all the Phil Collen stuff” and he could easily do it. So we said. “get your passport you’re coming to Japan, learn fourteen songs, we leave in six weeks”. Easy. I haven’t seen him since, but he is a Facebook friend.
But you fashioned him into the world of Girl?
G . L ; Yes, a bit. We threw a few rock t shirts and a few leather belts on to him to make out he was a glammer guy but he wasn’t. He played in a band called Zen Attack with Bryson and Rosko Gee from Traffic, you know he was more Alan Holdsworth than Mick Ronson. At the time he said, “O.K, I haven’t really done anything that’s pop”, we weren’t pop but he got the idea. He really enjoyed it all. We had a lot of fun, but we really missed Phil. It definitely wasn’t the same ever again after the Zig Zag gig.
And that tour you made lots of money yeah?
G . L ; Well we made enough but I’ll tell you what the funny thing was Phillip and myself were tour managing that tour, we were managing ourselves by then and we insisted on half the money in cash before each show. Sam Jor who we had worked with before in Hong Kong was fine, no problem I think he wired us the money. In Thailand there was a guy called Mr Itchiba. Now I’d heard that Itchiba was the main promoter in Bangkok, he was the editor of the Bangkok Post and he was the chief of Police and as he was the bootleg king of Thailand! Sony made him their boss in Thailand and they had to pay him to protect their interests!
"Looking for a Rolex?"
Inmates in charge of the asylum?
G . L ; I think we got something like eight grand for the gig, so Lewis and I had a few grand in each pocket left and right, front and back. But he really looked after us, I don’t know if you have seen the stage set up? There were tan / cream coloured Marshall’s as the back line and everything was spanking new, again he really looked after us.
Far East backline and not a counterfeit Marshall stack anywhere!
It was a different time. We did a few shows in Japan, two in Tokyo, one in Osaka and one in Nagoya and that was the last show and Russell just happened to have a camera with him. He had flown from Australia to Hong Kong to meet me and he filmed it and that is why I put it on the Girl DVD, it was like our last hurrah really. The last interview we ever did. He also shot us arriving to hundreds of screaming fans, being whisked off in stretch cars, all of the first gig from on and off stage and us chilling in the dressing room with Hot Gossip who also happened to be in Hong Kong. Sadly all but the VHS of the last TV interview has been lost.
Yes it is a great insight into the world of Girl that interview and indeed the whole DVD. Didn't you buy a fake Rolex?
G . L ; Yeah, what else ya gonna do? The funny thing was that I did buy a fake watch (which lasted about a week) but I also bought a fucking huge diamond. In the “Money and The Magic” stuff (Gerry’s first solo LP era) there was this fucking huge diamond in my ear! I must have spent four of five grand on it.
Black and white with diamonds
I also bought a diamond ring there that had sixteen diamonds in it on white gold, this big fuck off emerald cut diamond ring.
Yes grab the bling! You took your look from the last Girl tour to The London Cowboys didn’t you?
Gerry and Steve Dior
G . L ; Yes very similar and they were totally happy with that, everybody brought their own thing to it. Glen Matlock brought the punk thing to it, I brought my thing to it and actually a lot of the clothes from the London Cowboys time, like that long green silky coat and the headband and stuff I tell you where that came from. We did a show in Tokyo, we got flown in for the show and paid and all that stuff but the only condition of this show was that we had to wear some of the clothes from the fashion show they were holding there at the same time. We went in the afternoon and picked what we wanted but we had to wear his stuff and I chose this big green flowing latex thing and in fact the silver sequined vest I wore in “Money and The Magic” video was from there too, like a fake sequin wife beater vest, I got from there too, he said, “take it, take it all”, so we did.
Free sequined wife beater vest on show
Nice, so one more thing before we leave the Girl days, Gary Holton was a big friend, tell us about him if you would?
G . L ; Gary was a mate of Phillip’s. He did some backing vocals on the “Sheer Greed” album. I remember Phillip blagged Gary and I think Alex Harvey to do some backing vocals, I can’t remember what song it was. I do remember doing some backing vocals with Gary. “Aeroplane food” for example was one of Gary’s songs. He was just a nice guy really, but more a mate of Phillip’s really and not so much the band but he did hang out with us.
And he possibly brought the Smack into the party, knowing what happened to him?
G . L ; That’s possibly why they were buddying up, I don’t know he was around more in the “Sheer Greed” time and that stuff didn’t come in until '81/2. That came more at the start of the “Wasted Youth” time. I can’t speak for Phil Collen but I know Philip and I were into it. Philip was doing his thing and I was hanging out with Anita Pallenberg.
"Me a "Bimbo"? The cheek!" Yeah, whatever Gerry!
Anita used to call me “Bimbo” which is what she said she used to call Brian (Jones) back in the day and she used to say “you remind me so much of Brian”. She had broken her leg and a year or so before and she had a boyfriend in New York who had got hold of her gun and shot himself. What the fuck was I doing? Dangerous company but in five star luxury. “Oh! what the hell!”.
G . L ; Yeah, trouble, trouble, trouble and there was smack coming in all the time and also Sue Stevens was around at that time also.
The trouble with Sue Stephens.....
Sue Stevens, she was a girlfriend of my brother (Simon) at one point and she was involved in the whole Steven Waldorf shooting in the Mini thing. She was also secretary for the Stray cats at the time.
Wow good / bad company?
G. L ; Yes, I had been over and copped from her a couple of times. Her and her boyfriend. David Martin were supplying at one time.
It’s ironic that years later he was hunted down by the cops. He was a Transvestite and he used to do these robberies dressed as a woman and he got caught one time and he shot a cop in the leg. The police were following Sue trying to find him and she got into a Mini with someone who they thought looked like David but it was Stephen Waldorf and they shot like sixteen bullets into the Mini.
Stephen Waldorf and THAT mini, bad company.
In about ‘83 after I’d been living in Australia I remember I flew in from (I think) Australia or America and it was the front page news of “Time” and “Newsweek” on the flight, this fucking story of Sue and David. So anyway I checked into the Savoy Hotel in London and no one knew we were there but then there was this knock on the door, I thought it was room service and I open the fucking door and it was Sue Stevens and she was like, “I’m here at the moment I’m writing a story for the Mail and they are putting me up here, wanna get high?” and I said, “you know what love? No disrespect but you can fuck right off, you are so mired in shit”. She was cool about it and just said, “OK?”! and that was the last I ever saw of Sue.
Probably a good thing hey? So what happened immediately after Girl split with you Phillip and Simon?
G . L ; So basically after the Girl Far East tour I went off to Australia with Russell and started pre-production on Razorback”, Simon went to New York and joined a band called “The Green” I think it was and Phil just hung out n' about and after a time he joined Torme waiting for his next hurrah.
End of the dream
Me and Phillip have had a couple or words about it he said, “you left me right in the shit” and I said, “you know I had to go”. Russell said, “Phil Collen’s left and I don’t want to do video’s anymore I want to do movies so why don’t you manage me? Whenever I’m filming you can do your music” too good an offer to turn down. He (Phillip) knew it was over. As soon as well fell out with Don we knew it was all over. The idea was to burn loud and bright become huge but it seemed our big chance was lost.
"See ya!" We all cried a crystal tear....
Burn bright, burn briefly?
G . L ; Well yes, from ‘79 to ‘82. But we did do a lot and most of it wrong but also a lot of it right. My band days were over. I thought for good, but that wasn’t to be.
So you met Russell Mulcahy the video and film maker who you managed for fifteen years whilst Girl were still active, can you tell us how you first met him and how?
G . L ; I met Russell Mulcahy through a friend who was a production designer for London Weekend Television because I had worked there as I said as a graphic artist.
Oh! That early?
G . L ; Yes it was in December '81 and by that time Russell’s videos were being produced by Jackie Adams, who was the woman who was working for Michael Grade and started the whole London Weekend ball rolling for me. She was later my girlfriend in the earliest days of Girl’s success. She threw me out after a drunken night, I moved directly in with the faux Baroness Fiona to be one of the rock star notches on her bedpost. I hung out with Russell quite a lot in that year (‘81) and the following year in the summer we did what turned out to be Girl’s last gig at the Zig Zag club in London. As I have said that was the night Def Leppard came down, they’d found their man. Anyway quick as a flash Phil was in Def Leppard. After that show at the Zig Zag Russell and I went on a trip to Singapore, Bali and then to Australia.
Out of the cold into the heat, A tough life
In Australia he was a star, the ‘three minute Spielberg’. He had done these three minute video movies and now he blagged the five million dollar film “Razorback” with McElroy and McElroy. Ivor Davies did the score. A great start.
So we went back to England in late ‘82 and in about seven weeks he had directed all these videos and they all just turned out to be massive hits, “Is There Something I Should Know” by Duran Duran, Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” (in the South of France) and “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The blues”. “True” for Spandau Ballet, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for Bonnie Tyler and Icehouse's “Hey Little Girl”. Russell directed “Razorback” his debut film, but no one knew who he was. Bonny Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was a number one hit the week we went to the premier.
The whole year was covered music video wise. The Elton stuff was edited in Sydney on the Friday to Sunday in the time Russell was ‘resting’ after the London flight because on the following Monday production started for the film. So by that time I was out of the band and I was totally managing Russell. He wanted to get out of making promo videos and he wanted to get into movies. So that was the aim. We used “Razorback” to catch bigger fish. If a video he directed was a hit brilliant, if not no one knew he was, so we racked a few up each break. My plan was to have videos and commercials want him too when he had completed a movie. Three careers running simultaneously. We stayed down there for a while and while we were in Australia the Duran boys were recording “Seven and the Ragged Tiger”. We were hanging out a lot, they used to come over to our flat and I used to cook them sausages and mash, well they craved all English food really but mainly roast dinners. They would turn up with expensive bottle of claret; Lafitte, Latour and vintage champagnes and I would be making pork sausages, mash and beans, a Shepherd’s Pie or a roast meal. That was the time when I bonded most with John (Taylor). John, Russell and I were friends but John and I hit it off in particularly down there in ‘83.
With some "Lost Boys" teeth playing Risk. Winning Risk. Party time.
So in ‘83 Girl was over and after the “Razorback” time I found myself managing a film director who I knew had amazing talent. We bumped into the guys who were trying to fund “Highlander”, a film about immortality, decapitation, powers gained and all this kind of stuff. So then we got involved in that project. My favourite film of Russell’s. It is a classic. Russell, Christophe, Sean, Queen and Michael Kamen. Great combo. So now a new, bigger project was signed and pre-production commenced. I recall Greg Whitely the guy who wrote the “Highlander” story came up with it on the first floor of the White Tower in the Tower of London. In ‘74. I was in that actual room when the IRA bomb went off in the Tower of London it was all really strange! Stranger still two of my brothers Steve and Simon along with my sister Cabby were in a pub The North Star in Swiss Cottage on Christmas Eve that was also blown up by the IRA. Four of us in a year!
The report of the day. North Star pub is still standing and Gerry revisiting the site '93
Oh wow! Bad times!
G . L ; Yes I was actually there on the first floor and the bomb went off in the basement. I was fortunate it was a ten to fourteen pound bomb. One person died, forty injured. The put the bomb under a cannon that shattered all over the enclosed basement.
G . L ; I just happened to be showing an American cousin around there at the time it was really weird and that was the very same room he came up with the story for “Highlander”!
G . L ; I know small world innit?!
Anyway, so “Highlander” turned into a big film. Christopher Lambert was on board and a lot of the European money came because of Chris and I’m not too sure exactly how Queen got involved, it may have been a request from Russell because Russell’s partner, David Mallet had been doing a lot of Queen videos and knew Freddie, then Sean (Connery) got involved and all of a sudden it turned into a really big and very interesting project. In the time of that filming we are probably coming up to ‘85, it would have been around ‘84 / ‘85, the film wasn’t set up yet but he was going to film some of it in Scotland, London and in New York.
So it was ‘85, I was at the Embassy Club in London one night around this time and I bumped into Steve Dior and Barry Jones and Steve said, “We’ve got this tour lined up and we’re looking for a guitar player for it, do you want to do this? It’s France, Belgium, a couple of gigs in Germany, England, Holland and lastly Japan” and then he said, “we are finishing this album why don’t you come and play a couple of solo’s on it?” one of the tracks was “Dance Crazy”. So I went up there to Leeds were they recorded the track and the Steve said, “do you want to listen to it?” and I said, “No just shout the chords out!”. So on the song “Dance Crazy” the first take was literally him shouting the chords out as I played the solo and that was what went onto the album and it was just a nice way of working with them, very indicative of the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” ethos that followed that band around. That tour which happened was to be four or five weeks out of the twelve weeks Russell was shooting “Highlander”. We did that tour and Glen Matlock started playing bass with us then he upped and left them we got this other bass player in and just carried on.
Jerry Nolan and Steve Dior
However the drummer at that time when we were playing a show just got up and left in the middle of a song on stage one night. The drum roadie just jumped into his place and finished the show and that’s when we got Jerry Nolan in, soon after that. Jerry flew in from New York. He finished the rest of the tour with us which was really cool, a great guy.
Oh Jerry didn’t start the tour with you then?
G . L ; No he didn’t start the tour we had this guy called Robert E Lee (his real name obviously lol) and there was some problem or argument and he just upped and left. I had never seen anyone do that before, leave during a song lol. We walked out the second night of the KISS tour, but we (Girl) didn’t walk off stage we just didn’t go on at all, it was different. So the London Cowboys thing, we finished this fashion show, the last gig we had in Japan. We got paid for it but like I said we had to pick out whatever stuff from this guy’s collection to wear on stage and in the video. In fact some of the stuff on the “Money and the Magic” promo video was the very same stuff from then. That video of us in Japan was the only good footage we had so I used some of that footage years later in my “Money…” promo video. (Click HERE to view the video on You Tube)
"Dancing Crazy" the Cowboys ripping it up live
On the day we finished the London Cowboys thing up I then flew from Tokyo to New York were Russell was finishing up the “Highlander” shoot and I had on white Capezio shoes, a really expensive pink coat and spiky blond hair the whole rock star thing going on and people were saying,“ best of luck”, “good luck”, “you rock” and all this stuff and I’m thinking what the fuck are these people doing this for what are they talking about? It just happened to be July thirteenth, ‘85, the day of Live Aid. I had no idea how close Philly was to New York and who knew who they thought I was, Rod Stewart, Billy Idol? Who? Anyway so I got to the hotel we were staying at the St Regis on East 55th and I got this phone call, “is Russell there?” and I said, ‘no he is shooting who is it?’ “It’s Diana Ross, it’s all so beautiful”. So Diana Ross is crying down the phone to me and I’m like, “what the fuck you talking about lady?”. For some reason because I’d been on tour with the Cowboys and I was in a different head space I had no idea what Live Aid was, funny really. I so wanted to tell her I saw her screaming in Gene’s harness back in '80 but I didn’t. I just took a message.
Is there a Rod here? Is there a Billy here? Gerry?
So anyway we finished “Highlander” and thought that it was a great experience but again it wasn’t a hit in America, 20th Century Fox killed it. It did well in Australia but because of Queen, Sean and the Christopher elements it was huge in Europe especially France and U.K. We went to the premiere in Paris that was really cool the band (Queen) were there, Sean wasn’t there but Chris was there, it was just a big, a hundred million dollar plus hit! I was so pleased for Russell. He had Scorsese calling, ‘hey buddy how did you do that shot?’ he got deserved praise from far and wide. Russell was still doing music videos at the time and then we started to get into doing commercials, these were big bucks you know you get paid about ten per cent of the budget, so I aimed high, BIG commercials. Those fees would likely have been the total budget for an average music video he did. At this point Russell was incredulous how his talent and my audacity was taking off. This was working.
Around this time we met William Burroughs. Russell had bought the film rights to “The Wild Boys”. He had made the Duran Duran video and William loved it (semi naked boys, arguably the cutest boy band of the time, go figure) and he wanted to meet the band. So as he was due in London to do a show with Keith Haring so we scooted down there. When there I introduced John Taylor to William, I also introduced his then girlfriend as Amanda. She piped up ‘AMANDA DE CADINET’ so I corrected myself. Surname or not William was not remotely interested in who she was at ALL. His Stormtrooper like ‘assistant’ couldn’t hold back a laugh, knowing a young cute fame hungry girl was not high on Burroughs priority list. The venue was full of cute young men. While he was I town we had dinner at Blake’s. He really had a fascinating and turbulent life. He said to us, "you two boys should come to my place in Lawrence, Kansas. We could shoot things" but we never did sadly. We met William again later in New York for lunch but, sadly he died in '97. “The Wild Boys” movie was never made but an awesome ten minute stylised version can be found on Duran Duran’s “Arena – An Absurd Notion”. It cost the boys a cool half a million.
A benchmark video many said at the time.
So then in 1986, we found ourselves in LA, I’m not exactly sure how or why but we were staying at Patrick Waschberger’s house up on the West Hollywood hills. Patrick was the guy who bought “Razorback” from Warner Brothers, Warner Bros didn’t want it, and he bought it from them and then sold the rights internationally and made a shit load of money. He was also kind of semi involved with the “Highlander” thing, I’m not quite sure how, Euro finance probably but anyway he runs Lionsgate Films now, you know a real “big wig” in the film business. A nice guy who opened his home to us. Very generous. Whilst we were staying at his house Russell got a phone call from Sylvester Stallone’s office and it turned out that he had seen “Highlander” and he was thinking it was just the director he was looking for to direct “Rambo III” and “Rocky V”. Well that was the lure so despite the warnings about him ("you know he is notorious for firing people, especially directors") we headed for Hollywood proper.
"Like err YES! We'll take it!"
Money, money money?
G . L ; He made him promises of “Laurence of Arabia” meets “Rambo”, but it turns out he was a nightmare and we were someway into the shooting of “Rambo III” when the producers let Sly and some “yes” man take over. We went home. We had a good exit deal at least. After that we had to get out of England, we had this lovely place in Belsize Park, but we couldn’t stay there (tax man) so as we had stayed at the Hotel Le Royal Monceau in Paris (everything was initialled R.M) we headed there.
Tough life huh? Belsize Park to Paris
Which reminds me, just then I had just copped some black hashish, I thought I’d neck the tiniest bit on the way to Paris. Anyhow by the time I got to Heathrow I was totally bombed. Could barely check us in. As I got the lounge I saw Steve Clarke, he was off to see Lorilei Shellist his girlfriend.
Hash, Vodka, Brandy, Customs fun and then the munchies!
I told Steve what happen and that I was toasted. He laughed at me and bought me four vodkas. Steve then proceeded to drink about six or eight mini brandies on the one hour flight. The guy in front of me asked me to stop kicking his seat. “Ooops, sorry didn’t realise I was." I said then Steve got infuriated at this man and wanted to fight with him right there on the plane…it soon calmed with stewardess intervention. Anyhow as we went through customs, me trying to look inconspicuous Steve got his trolley aimed at “Nothing to Declare” then pissed as a Lord he crashed straight into the metal barrier, of course the uniforms were all over him, he was laughing his arse off so being wrecked I said, ‘catch ya later’ and left for the hotel. I saw them later at dinner, he was fine. He got through OK.
Britt, Steve Strange and Gerry @ Blitz
Anyway whilst we were staying there a friend of ours called and said, “you should come down to Ibiza because it is really rocking down here”. So we went down to Pikes hotel in Ibiza, the same hotel were they filmed “Club Tropicana” video by Wham and it was an infamous hedonist hang out. Whilst we were there we were hanging out with Bruce Payne (who had just shot Passenger 57) Steve Strange was there, Fat Tony and some of the Guinness girls and all these crazy people were down there. Anyway one night at one of these clubs, Pasha I think, someone popped this thing in my gob and it turned out to be ecstasy and I had a wild weekend or two down there.
Blending in as Gerry always does. Pikes Hotel Ibiza
After partying we really we just wanted to go home to London but eventually Russell was like, “fuck this! I’m going home”, the other ‘home’ even though its winter”. So we went down to Australia and it rained for three months and we were staying in this enormous hotel suite on the beach down in Manly, Sydney. Soon after we bought an amazing three bedroom apartment in Queenslcliffe (the other end of Manly Beach, my parents stayed there but I never did. But one funny thing comes to mind from then, it was Christmas actually and we had a call from Oliva Newton John. So we went along to her hotel and we walked to her room and then out of nowhere comes this mountain of man, her bodyguard came up to us and said, “yes, can we help you?” and we both went, “we are here to see Mrs Scales”, because her log in (sign in) name was Prunella Scales. So there was me and Russell on Christmas day and she says, “let’s go down to the beach”. She was the most recognizable person in Australia at the time and she put on this scarf and these sunglasses and Matt put his hat on backwards or whatever and they became almost invisible, nobody took any notice at all. So we went to the chicken shop down the road and got a couple of “barbied chooks?” that’s what they call them down there and a few beers and we went down to the beach on Christmas day watching the sea come in with Oliva Newton John. No one recognised her.
The classy food is always there with you then Gerry. Bangers and mash, chooks, lager…..
G . L ; Absolutely darling but we did upper class stuff too but nothing can beat bangers and mash and a bottle of Chateau Latour? There was a place called The White Elephant which was a regular haunt of ours. My friend Paul Brusa’s Mother owned The White Elephant Club and it was not uncommon for us to be down there.
She would have these bottles of Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Lafitte, Chateau Lator, Petrus on the menu for like four hundred and fifty pounds (more like five thousand pounds today) and I would say to her, “c’mon Stella what can I have that one for?” Stella would often say, ‘Oh, I don’t know darling, I bought it in the sixties. Let’s say hundred pounds?”. That’s one of many reasons I loved Stella Richman, a remarkable woman. She too was a Controller of Programs at LWT, as was Michael Grade after her. See the connections?
Stella in the seventies
Another thing I recall, I got my Dad a pair of Elton John’s gold sunglasses and he loved them but my Mother was, “oh my god this is all too posh it’s too much” her vibe was more like “Little Miss Ann”. My Dad we’d call Baron Von Richthofen …he liked the grander things in life but my Mum avoided them.
Gerry, The Baron and those sunglasses
I have a million Elton tales but I won’t go into them here except one story he told me. He was playing at Madison Square Garden, as you can imagine ‘everyone’ was there backstage. One of them was Liz Taylor. She like Elton was a famous jewellery collector. Apparently she liked to ask people to try on something fabulous then either get them to offer or even suggest it would be perfect for her. Elton & entourage were always giving or buying Cartier this, that and the other (where I got Dad’s glasses). Elton had been given a gold Cartier Santos with one hundred and forty four diamonds in the face. Liz asked to try it on, she did and then said, ‘oh it’s so me, surely you’ll let me keep it!" and in the packed dressing room he barks, ‘Fuck off dear, you’re rich enough go and buy your own’ lol. Elton was incredibly generous throughout the eighties. We dinned, lunched, partied and had late night drinking sessions with him in London, Windsor, South of France, LA, New York, Las Vegas and Sydney. After we couldn’t do one of his videos the phone never rang again. Russell, I believe did twenty two videos for Elton the last being ‘The One’ in ‘91.
My Mum was never a cleaner but she was one of these you know humble Irish women. I said to my White Elephant friend Paul who was the Maître D and I said, “Mum and Dad are coming in let’s posh it up for them a bit”. When we went in they sat us between Roger and Louisa Moore and the other side King Hussein of Jordan and his entourage. My Dad wanted to party with the King but my Mum could get any food in her mouth as he was so in awe of Roger Moore.
I bet your Mum was, "It’s James Bond, its James Bond"!!!
Gerry Art. Sean and Michael
G . L ; Yes, funnily one of the very first pop art images I did and sold was of Sean as 007. This was about ‘05. Yeah kind of, you know it was nice on occasion to be able to indulge them. I remember once for Christmas I gave them round the world tickets. They went to Hong Kong and they were spoiled silly by the Girl fans there. It so happened that one of the fans was deputy editor of “Music Week” over there and Girl and my solo debut record got cover after cover over there. Thank you Sam Jor & Bella Leung (and her sisters Rocky & Hester).
Yes you did for the whole world to see.
G . L ; I must have gotten over half a dozen front covers, that was so sweet. They looked after my Mum and Dad whilst they were there. Then my parents went to our apartment on Manly Beach in Sydney for a month or two then they went to my sisters’ in Melbourne for a while. I flew to LA and met them there in a Rolls Royce and they stayed at the infamous Sunset Marquis Hotel. I think that was where, in our heady days in LA that’s where I got a taste for Louis XIII cognac and that’s like two hundred dollars a shot and at the Marquis I had given my Dad some shots of this and he after a few drinks is the guy who is like, “everybody have a drinks on me!” and I’m thinking steady on it’s going to cost like five grand a round! My Dad was enormously proud of me and he used to tell everyone all my antics, my Mum was a little confused by it all, one minute I had a Baroness girlfriend, next time I would have a boyfriend, I wore make up, I was in a band called Girl, but she did kinda dug it. Well the ‘fame’ or success at least. They both came to the Hammersmith Odeon when we were playing with U.F.O, my Dad loved it and my Mum probably plugged her ears. My Dad would revel in all of it. Another story comes to mind about my Mother. One night we went out with Freddie (Mercury), in his roller to the ballet to see "Frankenstein" at the (London) Colieseum with Wayne Eagling. My Mother was thrilled, "WANYE EAGLING!!!!" she kept saying but she had never heard of Freddie Mercury or Queen! "OOhhhh you met Wayne Eagling" was what she said and no mention of Freddie at all!
Talking of family where does the name Laffy originate?
Skin deep; the Laffy legacy
G . L ; Laffy the family name is English as far as the family goes back. My Mother was born in London but her parents were Irish. That’s how she identifies herself. Actually I got an Irish passport last year, so I guess I’m Irish too.
"To be sure..." haha
G . L ; I think my Mother has always seen herself as Irish, I think she really relates to the hard times her Irish forbears suffered. She used to say, “I was fine, it was my Mother had a terribly hard life”. Mum was a seventh child and I was also a seventh child actually. We moved to Swiss Cottage three months after I was born but she did have a decade of bringing up six kids in a fifth floor flat in New North Road, Islington. She though it was easy for her but not for her long suffering mother who had lost a young child, her first husband had died and her second husband, a groom, had an accident with a horse and cart and was an invalid, and she used to have to look after him and her six children. She used to work in Portland Square, not quite a housekeeper but a cleaner of sorts, she worked for some titled lady who threw tea parties.
Then of course when my Mum was only sixteen when their house got bombed. My grandmother had put a lot of effort in to get my Mother a piano for her sixteenth but that along with everything else they had went up in smoke really. So yeah they had a tough time on many levels. Made of stern stuff my Mum & my Grandmothers' generations.
Mr. Laffy left, Mrs Laffy far right doing their bit.
Both my parents were in the Forces actually. My Mum basically looked after the kids until I was in my mid-teens and then she went to work for a housing association. My Dad worked for Radiomobile, a part of Smith Industries. He was a clerk, or maybe junior manager. We (they) certainly didn’t have much money trying to raise seven kids. So it was really lovely to be able in indulge him. Dad loved the best Champagne and my Mum would be, “don’t you spill any!”. He said, “you’ve only bought one bottle!”, “Dad this is Dom Perignon, its primo champers”, “yeah yeah but, we're going to finish that real quick!”
So you said your Mother had a piano, were your parent’s musical at all?
G . L ; No my parents weren’t. Mum got a piano for her sixteenth birthday but as I say that was lost when the house got bombed but my brother was a drummer and of course Simon (my nearest sibling) plays the bass. As I said when I was in my early teens he had that piece of wood with the frets marked out on it and he used to practice until he could afford a real bass and that is how I got into playing music. Him playing with John Benson, John Benson did some demos with Phillip Lewis and that’s how I got into it all. A lot started with John Benson.
Well you only need three chords don’t you?
G . L ; Well yeah that’s right that’s enough.
Let us get back into the down time in Australia I would imagine that was a low point because not only one of you but both of you are very creative, so with nothing to do I suppose you just stagnated?
Dressed up for some downtime Down Under
G . L ; Yeah we didn’t do anything very much. Restaurants mainly. I did have a guitar down there with me. I found some pictures recently of a Kramer Strat I had down there. We did do a few things down there. We did a few videos (Elton’s “Sad Song’s Say So Much”) and in fact Elton's manager John Reid saw my video for "Money And The Magic" (which we did in '88) and he immediately said, "right from now on I'm your manager". I was like, "Err O.K?". He said, "we shall get Chris Thomas to produce the album" (the video came from the E.P. the full album came a bit later). So I heard nothing for a week. Then when I get back to London his secretary finally said, "Oh he's too busy, he can't manage you after all". Classic. Then I found Mick Webster after that. Anyway we did a huge BP commercial whilst we were there (Australia) too. Then the next thing was to come back to England and we got back we were doing a whole shit load of really big budget commercials.
Oh BP! Big stuff then?
G . L ; As his manager I knew the best thing to do with Russell to keep him busy as he was happiest when he was on set and he was saying, “action!” I used to love it how he used to turn around to me or whoever was on the set and say, “is that good enough?” omg and this was after he just used to pull off these incredible things. I’ll give you one example. One of the commercials we did down in Australia was for Smirnoff. He devised this tank that had orange liquid in it and as you released the slouch gate it dropped like a sheet of water. Basically when he did “The Reflex” for Duran Duran he used that same wall of water and then through a device in the editing suite, curled the water. That was the water that came out of “The Reflex” onto the audience. I remember it was like really freaking people out. ‘How did you soak the audience?’ that was one of those many things Russell came up with. Again in “Highlander” that shot of the fish tank coming up to the lock, every director wanted to know how that was done. That and many other scenes and videos he directed broke new ground. He really was incredibly innovative, often with little money or using his own money which he often put into a shoot, ‘I need it, take it out of my fee’. he used to say. Anyway we were back in England and we were doing commercials and loads of music videos, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel a whole load of ‘em. We were back on the video trail. So then the idea for “Highlander 2” came up so that was a year to and from Buenos Aires in Argentina, a huge production in an impoverished country. It often felt dangerous. Everyone had twenty four bodyguards.
So Argentina was a Dangerous destination basically?
G . L ; Yeah it always felt potentially dangerous and how do you control that kind of thing? You can’t, he just did the shoot and we left fast. This was around June in ‘91. A big year ‘91. Steve Clarke had died in Jan ‘91. My decade long personal relationship came to an end in September ’91. My father died in Dec ‘91. Turns out, it was the year my partner was born too. We have been together coming up to twelve years now. Anyhow I digress. I got a surprise call in the summer of '91 from Phil Collen saying he wanted me to join the band. Vivian was a friend of Joe’s and he wanted him in the band but Phil said, “it’s not an audition just learn these five songs and just come to LA, you can go to my flat in Paris, just chill and learn the songs, get here soon as”.I’ll be honest, I went to Paris, I learned the five songs, the big hits. I was tempted but not torn. At that time I had just signed a five year contract with Russell and it just wasn’t the right time for me and I knew Vivian was the right guy for the job.
Gerry and Phil two blondes through the years....
And something to do with taking the rubbish out to yeah?
G . L ; Yes that’s true. I was umming and rring about it really, big money and all this, but was this something I should pursue? I’m not a very spiritual person but my Dad had just died and I was looking for some sort of guidance on the situation. I was living in Oakley Square at the time and I took the rubbish out and this had never happened before or since, but I took this bin bag out and placed it on the floor and it cut right through my knuckle on my left index finger and I actually had five stiches in it. So I said to Phil, “I have cut my hand and I have just signed this new five year contract so I’m not getting on the plane.” He was fine about it, totally understood.
Musicians, artists, whoever. Welcome to Oakley Square
To be honest with you my personal relationship had ended but I was sitting very pretty in a big house with a wallet full of gold cards and by that time was dating a new twenty one year old French model boyfriend, I just didn’t want it. What go back in the closet? No way Jose. Plus Phil and Steve were such a dynamic duo did I really want to go out and have to prove myself every night? At the time I just didn’t need it ya know? I wasn’t feeling it. I certainly wasn’t going to try and win it. It never happened and I have never regretted the way it panned out.
Were you approached by any other bands or artists at this time at all?
G . L ; Yes a few. Andy McCoy got me over to his place in LA. He said, "we should form a band" and I'm thinking.. no thanks! Tony James asked me to be the guitarist in what turned out to be Sigue Sigue Sputnik and I was once asked if I'd be interested in a Human League tour. Also Tracii Guns suggested I should join LA Guns after Mick Cripps left, but we all the just laughed. The look on Lewis' face haha. I have guested with them at various London venues though. I was a guest at a Stray Cats show at the Whiskey A Go-Go in LA, the other guests were Bruce Willis, Skunk Baxter and Ian McLagan. I did some demos with Duran Duran and was asked back to their studio but I at this time was in Sydney so I wasn't offered the gig but of course John Taylor did call me eleven years later.
Phil Collen called me too and said he had a Def Leppard tour to do and he was going to get Trevor Bolder to call me to chat as he had said to him I should take over as guitarist the Cybernaughts. So Trevor called me, "would you be interested? The first gig's next Wednesday" I laughed and said, "I wouldn't want to desicrate Ronno's memory so I'll have to pass". Kind thought of Phil's though and it was nice to talk with Trevor albeit briefly.
Well things happen for a reason or so we are told. Back to Def Leppard, did you like their music enough to play it every night?
G . L ; I don’t play their music no but I like certain elements, things. Joe’s voice and Phil’s guitar are so characteristic, Mutt is just a genius producer and Steve was just “Mr Cool” Les Paul round his ankles and they were just a dynamic duo. I have a lot of respect for the band I won’t say anything bad about them because they have worked their fucking arses off since the end of the seventies. I guess it was just added good fortune to have found Q Prime (Peter Mensch and Cliff Bernstein), Polygram Records and Mutt Lange so early in their career.
Well yes I think it changed the whole game when Phil joined and all the pieces slotted in to place with a lot of hard work but also lady luck was on their side too for sure, but I don’t think it would have been the place for you creatively either?
Angel to some....Ross Halfin
G . L ; No room for gay love songs there lol, that’s right and as Ross Halfin has often said to them, “you should have had Laffy in the band” and I always really liked that. Made me laugh. Ross is one of those guys who you either love or hate. I love him. Just a good guy, one of the best rock photographers ever. In fact when I did the Sheer Greed LP (“Live in London - at The Royal Standard”) I called him up and said, “we are doing this live album at the Royal Standard, a little pub, it will be empty, but I need a live cover for Japan and I can’t pay you” and he just said, “send a car and I’m there.” He was coming from way out of town and he said, “I’ll just use the local cab firm. I’ll shoot it and then I’ll go you just pay my fare” and dutifully he did it and he gave us all the pictures, negs and all. Top man. Phenomenal photographer (not just his stage / bands work) and a good person who just happens to speak his mind. Some egos just can’t handle that. I’ve always liked Ross. In fact the last time I saw Ross was at a U.F.O. show in London. I went down there and went to the dressing room and was greeted very warmly by Phil Mogg, who I had a great picture taken with by Ross in ‘80 with my arm around Phil’s shoulder, anyway I walk into the dressing room and there was Paul Raymond who shouted out, “Gerry fucking Laffy!” which was so nice.
Mogg and Laffy reunited
I also got to recreate the shot that Ross took of me and Phil Mogg at Hammersmith Odeon forty years earlier. I was sitting with Denni Godbar, Clive Edwards and Neil Carter. Neil Carter was playing the songs, "muscle memory on his knees" I said that to him. He smiled. Little did he, or any of us know Paul Raymond would have passed away just a couple of weeks later and Neil got his old job back (he was playing with U.F.O in '82). Then of course soon after all the touring ended due to Covid-19. I gave Ross my AAA pass that night and a spare wristband as I left, he told me he had been ‘omitted’ by the U.F.O management. I left early with Denni. I wonder if he got into trouble with that pass lol? Probably.
Ross did a lot of Girl photo’s didn’t he back in the day?
G . L ; Well I don’t know if he did that many I think George Bodnar did more, I remember George being around more than anyone else really. And endless Japanese photographers. One guy Watal (we nicknamed him tassit), he always moved us around until he got what he want then he’d say, “Tassit, tassit, don’t move…aah”. I think Ross did a lot of U.F.O photographs though. It’s a shame really because we didn’t have a lot of live stuff from that time, no one had cameras to film back then but we do have “Old Grey Whistle Test”, “Top of the Pops” and some other stuff like the German T.V show.
Taking glam to the masses. Paris, France working the photo pit. Gerry's favourtie George Bodnar photo
I had jumped off stage showing off (Sports Arena in France supporting U.F.O '79) the stage was too high for me to climb back, so I worked the photo pit. In fact Russell shot some of our last two shows in December ‘82, at the end of Girl. Like I said though all that footage was lost. Russell flew in to Hong Kong from Sydney with a Betamax camera and shot a lot of back stage stuff and us around town and the mayhem that happened at the airport. There were hundreds of fans screaming going crazy. He had us coming through the gate he had all of that and he shot some of the live show too and I remember because he nearly got blown up with all the pyrotechnics that were going off. Poor man. It’s a shame I’ve lost it all except our last TV interview that he shot fly on the wall.
Was it all a bit strange that period of the band you were almost over with it, Phil Collen had left and other forces were working against you at that point too yeah?
Bye London! Hello Sydney! "Crazy from the heat" or "Butch and the Sundance Kid"?
G . L ; Yes it was a bit messy and a bit weird especially for Phillip. Much as I loved Phillip he knew that I was leaving him and the band to go to Australia.
Maybe someone has it somewhere you never know or maybe it is a good thing it is lost?
G . L ; To be honest with you Darren I don’t know. You know Girl were just a moment you know “lightning in a jar” kind of thing. We were young and androgynous and played different kind of music it has been often said about reforming and all this stuff but I am sixty one, eighty five kilos and bald, come on! It ain’t EVER gonna happen.
G . L ; I would not look beautiful and androgynous y’know.
Well some bands can make it work but some things should be left. As you said you were brief and to the point so I guess you wouldn’t want to recreate that?
G . L ; No but It’s bands like Cinderella and Guns n' Roses and so on that know about us still to this day. Phil Collen says very often big rock stars have told him, ’I have “Sheer Greed”, what an awesome album’.! L.A Guns got Phillip Lewis because he had been the singer in Girl and Phil Collen has really impressed a lot of the best guitar players y’know. As evidence of that he just did “G3” with Satriani & Co. I have like fifteen hundred followers on “Sheer Greed”, which is a Facebook page set up by Craig Bundy with stalwarts Will Haggerty and Mark Brazier as admins, me too. I feed that page a LOT.
The blueprint for many to follow....
These fans are still very much into Girl and what we were all about. Much like your group they love all the glam, the Bowie and the Bolan it is the same thing and it’s just very cool and charming really. I don’t think we (Girl) were anything else but the right thing at the right time. I tell you what I hear all the time, artist Andy Rice Davies answered a question for a giveaway I was doing a some time back for some signed stuff and he won and he sent me a message back saying, “Girl was the first band I ever saw!” and when I heard that it just reminded me of when I had been at the Empire Pool seeing Bolan and Alice Cooper when I was fourteen or something. I know of the love for Mick Ronson too, I was more into Ronson than Bowie really.
I think a lot of people were and still are. He was a great arranger, producer and just a phenomenal player but he wasn’t, unfortunately a front man.
G . L ; No he wasn’t and I did actually see him at the Rainbow on his whole MainMan push to be a star. “Slaughter on Tenth Ave” was a great cover but there was only a couple of great songs on there.
Yes, both the albums are not great records even though I love Ronson.
"So when I leave I can do this" "What?" "Well release two albums and well, David Cassidy is doing well isn't he?"
G . L ; and “Play Don’t Worry” I thought was nonsense really, the cover was terrible.
I remember seeing an interview with Ian Hunter and (Mick) Ronson and they showed that album cover and Ronson said something like, “that’s when they told me I was going to be the next David Cassidy” and without hesitation Hunter says, “looks like you were going along with too!” and they fell about laughing.
"I didn't want to be David Cassidy, he did!", "What? Did I?"
G . L ; No it didn’t work and I think that was all Tony Defries. Bowie was moving on doing movies and stuff and Tony wanted to make Ronson his next star.
Yeah he needed another cash cow
G . L ; Yeah I think he did and Ronno by that time was just up for it. I mean the Spiders were just brick layers from Hull.
“What do you mean Make up, bloody wearing Make up?”
G . L ; Yes I think they were as shocked as we all were at Bowie’s last Ziggy gig saying he was giving it all up and they were like, “what did he fookin say?!”
Only Ronson (of the band members) knew beforehand apparently
G . L ; I don’t know but because Ronson was a MainMan artist too they probably had a plan in place already and Bowie might have said, “I’ll guest on your album” and all this. He (Bowie) probably got Ronson some work like the producing and arranging gigs for Lou Reed ‘n’ all that stuff. Maybe he didn’t want him wandering too far, in case he needed him back.
John Taylor and Gerry live
Funny, after John Taylor re-joined Duran Duran he got me to leave all my guitars and gear in L.A for a year. I went to see them at Earls Court and he all but blanked me, Gela was charming that night a big hug as she shouted out my full name. I never heard from John again. If I have emailed him he always replies in a nice way, but I haven’t seen in him two decades. Some people can just move on without blinking.
Yes when Ronson was working with Lou Reed neither of them could understand each other and Ronno had to tune Lou’s guitar up every day, stuff of legend stuff of legend and more of John Taylor later.
Gerry back in "Bimbo" mode for his debut record "Money And The Magic"
Ok before we get back into Gerry Laffy circa ‘91 let us touch a little on your first solo record “Money and the Magic” anything you wish to share about that time at all?
G . L ; Well the video we shot for the title track I remember quite well. JT and Slim Jim Phantom played on album although it was Simon played on the title track and Tony Forsythe was my co-writing partner on it. The credits says me, Tony and Bryson but there were lots of others involved. I’m not going to go into that the title track was about the Jacksons tour, Secret Mission was Ollie North etc. It has a lot of flaws but for a debut I was happy with it. The first time ever on a record I was the BOSS.
Click on image to view "Money And The Magic" promo video.
Cool. Was that your house in that video?
G . L ; No it was actually the White Elephant Casino on Curzon Street in Mayfair, our office in Golden Square W1 and a bit at my house. The shot were we were running down the stairs looks like my house but it wasn’t it was the Golden Square office (MGMM gold records not mine) and the room in the video were we were playing cards was the casino room upstairs at the White Elephant where my friend Paul Brusa was the Maître d but the stairway was in the office. In fact what was shot in my house in Camden was the W.A.S.P (Crimson Idol) thing that Ralph did with Blackie. There was a video they did and they were playing cards and doing coke with all these gold and platinum records on the wall that was in my house in Camden. Ralph Ziman who directed the “Money and the Magic” video said to me, “we need a location for the video can we use your front room?”, I said “yeah! I’m in L.A how much are you gonna pay me?” he said, “I will give you five hundred quid for the day” I said, “done!” Also I must thank Tommy Vance for his help then and before actually.
Yes he did support you well during the “Money and the Magic” era didn’t he?
G . L ; Yes he did he was the first person to play “Money and the Magic”. He was the first person to play “My Number” too.
Oh! Did he really?
G . L ; Yes indeed he did. The Friday Rock Show was the first place it was played and actually he had it because I gave him an advanced copy before it came out. Tommy and his wife Cookie were friends of mine actually. I loved Tommy, I love the whole family.
Another thing that comes to mind actually is that my manager at the time Mick Webster (manager of; London Cowboys, Johnny Thunders and now the Kaiser Chiefs) had put this deal together for me with Musidisc in France. I don’t know if they are still around but at the time they were a really big label and they paid me like twenty grand or something for the record. They had England, France, Germany, just loads of places in Europe. Not Scandinavia or Spain (I signed with Vemsa) but we did this deal with them for the rest. Anyway they wanted me to do a promotional tour in France for the record and I thought, this is kind of weird but then I remembered I had mentioned to Mick in a quiet moment that Russell had borrowed one of my songs “Shoot ‘Em Down” for the “Highlander 2” release. They were just one song short and they didn’t want to pay for it so he just said, “can I use one of your songs, just for Europe, they’ve done a deal elsewhere” I said, ‘sure, yeah use this one’. It was on a scene where Sean Connery goes into Harrods and he gets dressed. They take him out of this medieval stuff and a tailor dresses him up and on that scene in the background was “Shoot ‘Em Down”. I had said to Mick it was on the European release for “Highlander 2”. So anyway “Highlander 1” was a hit in France particularly, made about one hundred million there anyway I just could not understand why Musidisc wanted to fly me to Paris put me up in the Concorde hotel or wherever it was and an hour show on TF1? The man from Girl, London Cowboys and manager of the "Highlander" director etc and they really bigged me up, but then I found out why I was really there. If they found out I’d be dead.
Wow big news in France.
G . L ; Well then I realised that when I went into the first instore and saw a copy of the album they had a fuckin huge tennis ball size sticker saying “Official soundtrack to Highlander 2!” I went nuts.
Yes I have a copy of that now I know the reasoning behind it. So after “Money and the Magic” where did you go musically after that record and time?
G . L ; Well that was ‘91 then in ‘92, Pete Barnacle who was a mate of mine and the drummer in Girl for a time was in London and was made kind of homeless, he had to move out of a flat or something and I said to him, “look I am living in a big house, I got room, stay here” so Pete moved into the house for a while and while he was there he was like, “can I borrow that guitar? Can I borrow that drum machine?”, “course you can” I said and bit by bit I put a recording studio into the basement and slowly but surely I was thinking about doing another solo album which then turned into the Sheer Greed project. It was me, Simon and Pete from Girl and then I got Phil Collen on board to play and executive produce it. I wrote a song with Tony Fenelle (Enuff Z’Nuff) and I went over to Ireland to record the track “Everybody Wants” in Joe’s garage/house in Dublin. We used Pete Woodroffe as the engineer and Phil and I did the vocals and traded the guitars, in fact Phil played solos on four tracks and we got Phillip Lewis to do a middle eight on the “Everybody Wants” track and so that was the first time Girl had been on a track together in ten years.
Was that idea in the back of your mind, to get all of you back together and call it Sheer Greed or did it just kind of happen?
G . L ; No, no. I just decided it somehow felt more like a continuance of the Girl stuff and Simon and Pete were already involved then Phil Collen was on board so I just thought why not call it Sheer Greed it made sense I think. It wasn’t meant to be a Girl album, it was more my second solo album probably. I mean I wrote and played all the guitars on it and when we did the live stuff for it we got Neil Gabbitas, a guy who could play all the Phil Collen widdly stuff when we played live.
Sheer Greed; Gerry, Neil, Simon and Pete
Basically we recorded that album at my house and we did a bit of mixing somewhere else and Pete and Simon were very much around at the time and Phil and Phillip turned up at my house one day and we had the photograph taken of all of us ten years later the members of Girl all back in one place. It was cool.
The "Overnight Angels" back in town at Gerry's house for dinner.
Yes that was a good thing to happen for sure
G . L ; Yes it was a good thing, y’know the Def Leppard thing didn’t happen but Phil came in and helped me out on that (our) album and after that in the following year we got a deal for the record. One other thing about that record, I had contacted Brian May through the Queen office and I sent him a cassette of the record, well the rough mix of it and I just asked him, “have you got any suggestion or help to offer with the record y’know any pointers, if so that would be just really cool”. Anyway after a while I got a two page letter back from him full of notes from him all hand written by him. He had listened to the rough mix tape with headphones on and literally it was, “this one could be a little slower”, “this one you could fade the ending”, “this one maybe try some high vocals on the backing vocals”. He had really gone track by track and I sent him back a message saying, “that was one of the sweetest things you could have possibly done, just a really nice, generous and sweet thing to do”. I’m ashamed to say I don’t have that letter anymore, it was lost. What a pity. A most generous act.
G . L ; Anyway I had Mick Webster as my manager at the time. Mick managed me during the “Money & the Magic” days, and he put me on to a contact in Japan Gaku Torri. I said to Gaku “I want to get a release for Sheer Greed in Japan but I don’t just want just a Japanese release I want the whole of the Far East” . He got the album and started to punt it. He soon contacted me to say he had got a deal offer from Phonogram for the areas that you had done well in before, so Japan, Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong and Malaysia etc.. So I was going to do this deal with him but then I got another call from him saying I got another offer from the Zero corporation and this guy, Toru Hashimoto who had been the assistant to Dr Kumon (of the Kumon Educational Japan Co. Ltd) the guy who owns the multi-million dollar education business and as a sort of thank you to him for being his personal assistant or whatever he said to him, ‘as a present I will fund whatever project you want to do’ and he wanted to run a rock music label, so he funded him.
"Freak out in a Zero Corporation daydream, oh yeah!"
He signed Sheer Greed, Glenn Hughes, U.F.O (I think) and all these rocker people he liked. He could just sign whoever he liked to the label. One of his favourite bands in the past had been Girl and he then heard that there was this band called Sheer Greed and he WANTED it really badly. So I said to Gaku tell him we already have an offer on the table from Phonogram.
Was it big money that Phonogram were offering at the time?
G . L ; No, not really, about fifteen grand something like that, nothing too huge, but respectable. Fifteen grand up front would have easily paid for the costs of the recording of the record. So anyway the Zero boss said to Gaku, ‘what can I do to get this record’ and I said, “well first up he can double the offer from Phonogram”, so he did, he doubled the offer. I then phoned Gaku back and said, “Well what did he say?” and Gaku said, ‘he is on his way!’ So I said, ‘well when he gets to you…’ and he stopped me and said, “no he is has gone straight to the airport on his way to you to see you in London!”
So he clearly meant business!
G . L ; Yes, so sure enough he turned up in London and he called me from this hotel and he just so happened that day we were in the Maison Rouge studio with John Taylor producing the track “Horse With No Name” which ended up on my “All Day Long” solo album and EMI were paying for the studio for us to do it in and in walks this Toru Hashimoto the President of Zero Corporation and there’s John Taylor producing us and it seemed our balls were much bigger than they really were! He had shown his colours and was now star struck by John and the studio. This deal was a slam dunk.
Guess so. What happened next?
G . L ; So then Toru said, “what can I do to secure this project?” and I said, “well you can fucking wait outside for a start I am about to do a lead vocal” and this guy says, “yes whatever you say”.
Well you have to build a bit of mystique you couldn’t just hand it to him on a plate could you?
G . L ; No! so next I said, “Well in a minute when I’ve done this take you can take us all to dinner!”. So sure enough we had all the engineers and the road crew and just everyone came out to dinner together. And he said, “where would you like to go?” So I said, “The Blue Elephant?” which is THE most expensive Thai restaurant and I was like we will have four bottles of Sancerre and we’ll have a bottle of champagne. Anyway he said, “what can I do to secure it?” and I said to him, “look let’s not mess about I am going to do a deal with you, double the offer” he said, “Done”, "and I want twenty five per cent and I want a four album deal” and he said, “oookkkayyyy”.
X ZERO to HERO
Then I said, “Four albums, you have this one (“Sublime to the Ridiculous”), we are going to do a live album next year in London, I want to properly re-release “Money and the Magic” and I want to do an acoustic album with my brother and Pete & Steve Barnacle. U2 meets Joni Mitchell, something very different”. So it was a four album deal. I said,“ A good advance for “SG” but for “Money and the Magic”, I will not take an advance for it but you have to press up ten thousand copies”. So sure enough he did and he put a massive amount of effort and energy into it, there were double page adverts and he got us onto TV shows and I did loads of in-stores, we did Tower Records, Virgin Megastore the lot really. We did Sheer Greed “Live in London” and the Laffy / Barnacle project was called “Lying with Angels”. These albums were released in ‘92, ‘93 and ‘94.
Were the in-stores well attended?
G . L ; Yeah! It was fuckin crazy. That Zero Corporation were really pushing the boat out. There like a few hundred kids out there at some of them.
G . L ; Yes it was wham bam thank you mam! They took me out for a promo tour, just me, not the band and I think I was out there for like ten days. They set me up some in the morning, stop at three for lunch and wrap up at eight in the evening for dinner, the whole deal. I don’t know how the album did out there, it didn’t do that well but he had committed to four albums and the next year we did “Live in London at The Royal Standard” which was the one Ross did the cover for that we mentioned earlier, that was pretty well received and in fact I prefer the live album to the studio album and then the next year Simon and I decided to do a another project called “Lying With Angels” which was pretty much an acoustic based thing just me sitting down with an acoustic guitar, the concept was open tuning I was thinking like what Bono and The Edge were doing at the time. It is truly a gay love song album, all the stuff was about the boyfriend I had at the time. Except the first track, that was called "Bring me to my knees” I wrote than for a fan, she was and still is so sweet, her name is Hyerim. Simon wrote and performed several songs, we alternated. Both played on each other’s songs. It was great. One track “Guidance” Simon and I played along with Pete, Steve and Gary Barnacle. Anything with any depth was about that boyfriend really the wars and the love. ‘Why’s it always broken nose? Why’s it always run and hide?’ lol
They were all love letters almost yeah?
G . L ; Yeah, it was like an ode to that time and also a lot of cute trade also ha-ha.
Tell us about the ‘No Way Out’ track from that record. A great lush sounding track.
G . L ; Well it was recorded at home, same as the other tracks. We did a video at my house (Click HERE to view the video) of us at rehearsals, recording, gigging and the shoot Ross did at the Royal Standard. This song was about the demise of a long relationship. Not much more to say really, I like the tag on at the end ‘we can have it all’. The Sheer Greed stuff didn’t do that well in Japan, poor Zero were SO wanting me to do a ‘Girl’ album for them, but instead I delivered an acoustic gay love song collection lol. Well almost, Simon wrote a few straight songs too as I said. I felt for Toru, the Zero Corp boss, he had to put this stuff making out that Girl was gonna turn up any minute and I imagine it was the last thing he wanted because I think ultimately he REALLY wanted another Girl album really, but he had no clue how to pitch any of it. He put it out though and I got a couple of boxes of each cd. It was fine for me, financial disaster for him. He tried his best to promote it and they got me the endorsement with Fernandez. I did a super sugar video for him for “Mandy” (Click HERE to view the video) (from “M&TM” rerelease, it was originally released on King Records in '90), he thought it may help and I was always up for wearing a bit of slap. THIS is the pink coat I was talking about when I got to New York, the day of Live Aid. Subtle eh?
"Oh that subtle Gerry Laffy" is not a phrase you hear very often if at all!. I guess it would have taken a large amount of cash to achieve all of the promo you got for the records?
G . L ; No I never spent money on videos, I always called in favours. It does make a difference to a project. Endorsement are always good in as they semi pay for your advertising. Sadly I fell out with Fernandes. I had done a deal they didn’t know about with Gibson U.S.A. My deal was non-exclusive, not smart on their part. I used Les Paul’s on both album covers and the Gibson logo (same as I did with Fernandes) and gave thanks to them on the back covers too. Fernandes were not happy about it at all. Also on the cover of “Live in London” I had used a Les Paul to boot.
Well let’s face it there isn’t much of a competition between a Les Paul and a Fernandes is there really?
G . L ; No not really but I still have a Fernandes guitar actually, I sold the rest of them. Simon kept three basses, Neil had two, so we shared them. The one I have is an ash baby blue sustainer that they made for me, they were incredibly generous to be fair. They gave me ten guitars. Bags of pics and boxes and boxes of strings.
I had already done a deal with Ibanez previously. The Laffy / Collen deal that turned into the Collen Destroyer franchise. Phil used to play one of those Ibanez Destroyer guitars. I fuckin hated ‘em and I had a few of those also.
How the end comes....
One of which I used in the video for “Money and the Magic” threw it and it got snapped in two. In fact a guy Rich Walter from the Sheer Greed site runs a Destroyer fan club or something and I break his heart every time I take pictures of these old guitars I used to have, ha ha. Especially the ones that Phil Collen is famous for. I had prototypes but trashed them.
Those “destroyers” were just such an awkward and just a big guitar really.
G . L ; Yes those pointy things I hate them. Someone made the comment on the photo of one of them like, “how come on your one pick up Destroyer there you’ve got a Strat neck?” and I put, “well I took a samurai sword to the neck” and I did I used to have these really sharp samurai swords and one night I just took it to the neck of the guitar and I sunk it unto the headstock. It just stayed there, for months, I wish I still had a shot of it!
Was this was the start of your art coming through destruction of a guitars?
Guitars and Gerry all in one piece despite the visual fallout from the wallpaper. Swiss Cottage chic circa '83.
G . L ; Yeah! Ha ha well I always thought of guitars as just dust collecting bits of wood you know what I mean? It was not uncommon for me to throw my guitars about. I have broken, I’d say about ten. Only one died at the hands of the Katana (btw I didn’t use the Highlander Katana on the guitar although it was upstairs in its black & red box). I don’t miss guitars when I sell them. The kind of shit people have given me over the years about getting rid of the red Girl Les Paul. At the time I had a bad back and it was just so heavy that was the reason really. Someone offered me a few grand, boom, gone. At the time I was using those Parker Night Fly’s (?) because they weigh nothing, it’s like a kilo of sugar as opposed to a sofa around your neck. Les Paul’s have always been my favourite, in fact when I endorsed Gibson U.S.A. I actually had a Les Paul Light. I got a lot of shit about doing that using a half weight guitar. I used to say, “do you know how heavy these Les Pauls are”?
I think the guitar isn’t important it is the fingers that are on it surely?
G . L ;Yes I agree, but there is also a look to it that is just cool. You know those shots of me on the Cadillac with the Hollywood sign behind me those guitars in those shots are the Les Paul lights and they are like an inch thick. Great looking guitars, great for people with two crushed discs.
Yes, but they just look the same
G . L ; Yes I tell you they are fuckin lovely and if I ever bought another Les Paul that would be the only I would buy. The one I had was absolutely gorgeous, it had black pick-ups and it was a custom light and it had a really nice whammy bar. Of all the guitars I have had over the years that is the fucking one I should have kept.
Well you never regret the ones you keep do you?
The Laffy Lounge.
G . L ; I have my red Les Paul LP custom and a heritage ‘59 reissue on the wall of my lounge because I just like them and a five string bass on the stairs but the rest are just in storage at my Mother’s place. I had a ‘52 prototype Gold Top Les Paul owned by Pete Townshend and another stunning mint ’54 gold top. I bought the ’54 Gold top in Australia in the mid eighties. I was in Frankston, Victoria which is like fifty miles south of Melbourne where my sister lived. I went into a local guitar shop there and there was this beautiful gold Les Paul on the wall, ‘original ’54 gold top’ it said, it was two and half thousand dollars. In those days that was like nothing to me so I picked up this guitar and I phoned my friend Rick Zigmond from the New Kings Road "Vintage Guitar Emporium" in London and I said, “I’ve just bought a cool looking Gold Top, I am pretty sure it is not an original ‘54 Les Paul gold top but it says it is, but I just liked it so bought it and I’m gonna to show it to you when I get back”. It had a pink lined case and it still had the original strings in a box in a paper sleeve and he said, “has it got a rounded top folded cardboard that says “welcome to your Gibson guitar”” and I said, “yes it does!” and he goes, “you’ve got an original mate!” and I had only paid like two thousand dollars for it. Anyway when I got back to London and he said, “I’ll tell you what’s happened here someone has bought the guitar took it to Australia and just put it in a cupboard and forgotten about it and then when “lil Johnnie” had left and got married or whatever the parents just took it to the local guitar shop and sold it”. I kept it for a little while but I had it whilst there were a lot of parties going on so I didn’t really want it around. So I let him sell it. I paid two thousand dollars for it which was then about a thousand pounds and I quadrupled my investment, then he gets in touch and says he could have sold it to a guy in Tokyo for about twenty thousand pounds! In fact I said to him recently that guitar would be worth more like fifty grand now you should have kept hold it!
Gerry's guitar vault c. '13
Did you ever think of doing lessons for the guitar at this point?
G . L ; I did teach private guitar lessons around '14. Not for long though. They were a right pain. Anyway I had a ’52 gold top as well which was the guitar Pete Townsend gave to Speedy Keen. On the session for “Something in the Air” by Thunderclap Newman. Pete wrote and produced that song and he gave Speedy Keen that guitar on the session. Speedy couldn’t pay a bill at Matrix Studios and the studio owner Nigel kept the guitar as payment and he just wouldn’t sell this guitar but I had this Cartier Santos watch with these sixteen diamonds in the basel that his wife absolutely loved. She talked him into doing a direct swap with me, the guitar for this watch that I didn’t really want anymore. I had made a mistake putting these diamonds in it. So I said to him, “I won’t sell it but, you know what you got to give me for it though don’t you?!” It seems like I miss them but I don’t really but the one I wish I had have kept again was the black Les Paul light that was in those Hollywood pictures and maybe the mint ’54 in a safe for my retirement.
"When You're Gone." That Les Paul.
It held good memories for you that black Les Paul light of the time yeah?
G . L ; Yeah, ish. In theory I really should have kept the Girl one but I didn’t and don’t give a shit really, two and half grand for it, deal done y’know. There have been times when I needed the money more that guitars. Other times I'd buy a collection, in ‘13 I bought and sold loads. I find though that ultimately guitars are dust collectors.
Well it is kind of odd that you think of the guitars like that because there is always one band member that will keep everything isn’t there and that’s not you then?
Phil with well, only three of the two hundred and fifty guitars he has.
G . L ; Phil Collen does that, he has everything. I can guarantee he has all and every one of those guitars. He will remember the first Destroyer guitar he ever had he will say, “yeah that’s right here!”. I remember being at his storage place in California once and there were two hundred, two hundred and fifty guitars there! It was all of the guitars he ever owned up there he would say, “this is a Les Paul with three pickups that Steve bought for me in New York”, you know he had absolutely everything! “This is the SG, the first guitar my mum bought me.”
Well I suppose he is dripping in cash he’s got to spend it on something?
G . L ; Yes, I guess but, I think he just doesn’t want to part with those things. Maybe in the future years one of his children will grow up and want to play the guitar and then he can say, “this is the first guitar I got that your grandmother bought me when I was sixteen” who knows? I on the other hand am the absolute opposite. When I lived in the thirteen bedroom house I did have everything to go along with that, then I moved to America and I had a two bedroom apartment and then when I moved back to England I moved into a three bedroom house in Berkshire and slowly but surely all of my stuff just got less and less and I just didn’t give a fuck about any of those things really and now I live in a one bedroom flat now with three balconies and I am quite happy. At sixty one I really don’t need all of that baggage. There is some stuff at my mother’s house but I am just not a “possessions queen” and oh, all that jewellery I had, it’s gone.
See ya London hello L.A! Gerry on Concorde.
In fact that is another funny story. When I was moving to New York in the mid ‘80s we just put everything into storage and I had a bag of jewellery. There was two or three Cartier watches, two or three Porsche watches, diamond pins, you know diamond and Ruby pins that I used to wear then, you know the Elton John kind of stuff anyway, all that stuff just went into a bag. My memory of it was in my parents’ house. There was an attic and I lifted up the hatch to the attic and just stuffed this bag under something that was already up there and I went off to New York. Anyway when I got back from America I went to my parents’ house to retrieve the said bag and in the meantime they had had their loft insulated and low and behold no bag of jewellery to be found! I mean if I found it tomorrow there would be like ten – twenty grands worth of stuff in there. Some fucking Herbert picked it up, “eer luv what this bag of jewellery we found in the attic about?” not fucking likely!
Yes something along the lines of “ere luv what do you want me to do with this ‘ere bag of costume jewellery we have found?”
G . L ; No it wasn’t costume it was all real!
Diamonds are a "Girl's" best friend
Yes I know it was real but them that found it made out it was costume, pearls before the swine you see
G . L ; Well yeah that’s right yeah. But I bet they went straight to a Pawn shop, not a charity shop. Having said that though I did used to have stuff that was dress stuff too, well I say costume jewellery but, well there was this placed I knew in Mayfair near the Westbury Hotel I think it was something like that and there was this shop I really used to like and they used to make silver broches and stuff, it wouldn’t be platinum, it would be silver copies of all this twenties stuff, really nice and it would cost me hundreds of pounds for one piece and Britt always used to say to me, “darling with that fucking two carat emerald diamond in your ear no one is going to question whether your brooch is real and you’re wearing Rolex with a diamond face you aren’t going to ask you if the ring next it is real are they?”. In fact that is a sad story really because she got mugged for that stuff.
Oh no did she?
G . L ; Yeah, some cunt saw her wearing this gold Rolex in a shop down in Fulham were she used to live and she got mugged and they just ripped it off her arm.
Well as we were saying there are good people and there are bad people
G . L ; Well yeah very sad, cowards, I felt awful for her. OK so where were we up to?
Music wise I guess the Sheer Greed project and the rest of the Far East deal
G . L ; So yeah we did the Sheer Greed thing and all the Zero Corporation stuff so that takes us up to about ‘94 almost. So I sold up in London in late ‘94 and headed off to LA. David Michaels and I set up a new company. We called it “Laffy / Michaels Filmworks”. We had acquired a green light project called “Vampire$” with the same writer who wrote of “Alien”. I wanted Russell to direct and as soon as it was announced in the “Hollywood Reporter” that we had raised twenty two million and had signed Russell to the project the NY best sellers were being thrown at us left, right and centre. The plan was to get Toddman/Simon to line produce and pull it in on budget. Russell to be happy on set, then me and David started putting together the next deals. He would work L.A (Catherine Oxenberg his then girlfriend had projects she wanted us to do with her too, an Aleister Crowley film with her mate Oliver Stone being perused for that one) and me to live in London and try get films happening using contacts like Jeremy Bolt and Eric Felner. I thought I can do the whole lunch at The Ivy thing! Lol I did it as I often as I could anyway. Naïve maybe, in hindsight but worth a shot. So I moved into an apartment in LA and focused on Vampire$” for the whole of ‘94 and part of ‘95.
Hollywood; movies stars and doomed ideas a plenty
That was some time investment into that project what happened next with it?
G . L ; I spent the best part of fourteen / fifteen months on that movie. I brought Russell in because he was perfect for a cool stylised vampire film, I had long wanted to produce a film with him directing. Don Jakoby the writer, wanted him plus of course I would get a commission out of him as his manager and also co-producer too. For some reason he had changed his agent. We had a deal agreed but the new guy wanted more than the backers would cough up. At the last hurdle John Carpenter (and his wife/producer) said, “she’ll produce it, I’ll direct it and we will do the music all in for two million”. They were also mates with Jimmy Woods and he wanted to do the movie. So they dumped us and basically did a deal over a lunch with Carpenter. Fourteen months of my life went out the fucking window. My plan was go over to LA spending thirty or forty grand and coming back with something like four hundred and fifty grand but it all just fell apart like a million other deals in that town.
Was it a big film? I remember it to a point
G . L ; No it didn’t do well, it made twenty million dollars. “Laffy / Michaels Filmworks” raised twenty two million, so no, not great lol. Have a look at the trailer on YouTube (Click HERE for view the trailer) it was James Woods and it was a vampire film and basically they shot the vampires with cross bows and then dragged them out into the sunlight. That was the crux of the film for me.
I think you were ahead of the curve too at this point it was pre all the Ann Rice stuff yeah?
G . L ; Yes I think it was it was like '94 / '95 this was. Actually I will tell you who pipped us to the post was Robert Rodriguez. He was a great admirer of Russell’s and he was an acolyte of Quentin Tarantino’s and they then made the “Dusk ‘Till Dawn” movie. In fact even if that movie (“Vampire$”) had made four million dollars I would have still come home with almost half a million dollars but, that is the way that stuff kind of works in Hollywood sometimes, you spend all this time on something and someone just comes along to pip you at the post. I haven‘t been back since. Now after that, it is a bit of a blur really. I was working with Russell up until about ‘97.
A new start. Gerry with Conor.
My contract with him ended in '97 by which time I had met a girl and I had bought a house out in Berkshire and she had a son, Conor who was fourteen months old and there was no father around and we just fell in to this cool little trio. For five years we stayed together. At the same time as this my management contract with Russell came to an end but then I got a phone call from John Taylor and he said, “how do fancy being the Ronson to my Bowie?” and that was just too good an offer to miss out on. I never thought I’d go back out on the road.
Totally “Moonage Daydream” time?
G . L ; Yes he played on my solo album and I had played on his and we got this gig out in Germany. ‘A sell out gig in Stuttgart in a football stadium and all that stuff, wanna do it?’. So we went out there, it was just a trio. Me on guitar, Dan Chase on drums and John on bass / vocals and we got to the gig on this day and it was rained out football field at a college that was almost empty with only about three hundred German school kids there and it just wasn’t anything like we had been promised and to insult to injury they introduced us and they said something like, I’m paraphrasing, “Ladies and gentlemen welcome James Taylor”
J(ames)ohn Taylor and Gerry
G . L ; The humiliation level was really high but then we played a really fucking stonking rocking gig and we looked at each other as if to say this is just really good and that turned into JT saying, “hey we should do the NAMM show in New York”, so he flew me over for that and we went down a storm and there were people hanging out the rafters it was packed and then he said, “ I know this really great club that is just next to my studio in Santa Monica we should go and play there, so why don’t we hang out for a while? Come over to LA stay at my house and we will work up a bit more of a set and we’ll do a showcase there”.
You can't keep a good "Girl" down. Party time L.A.
That showcase show in Santa Monica, Phil Collen came down. Phillip Lewis came down and I was in a suit and tie like a Robert Palmer kind of look playing a black Les Paul. Anyway that went down well enough that John wanted us to do an East Coast tour and then we are going to do a West Coast tour and then we got some shows in Japan and from that it lasted for three years. Now John had played on “Money and the Magic” on a couple of tracks and I did ten CDs with John.
That was studio records, E.Ps, live releases, a Roxy Music tribute record and all that stuff. We did a LOT in three years. Toured all over USA, three trips to Japan, Taipei and Germany.
Oh nice, what was the Roxy tribute? Was it just a track or a full album?
G . L ; Well me and Simon did something under the name Phantom Five. The album was called "Dream Home Heartaches”. John did a track that I played on too. It was just basically people he knew, Dave Gahan, Rick Boston, Nigel Mogg and others. As "Phantom 5" Simon and I did “Street Life”
Yes, great band, great songs!
The Taylor Laffy years
G . L ; Yeah so from that gig in Germany when we bonded musically (John and I had been friends for a long time beforehand as I have said) and it turned into three years and ten records. When we played at the El Ray Theatre in Hollywood Rolan Bolan joined us on stage there, we did "Bang A Gong" which was cool. Then we did this one show in New York and Gela his wife who owned “Juicy Couture” decided to get Simon Le Bon involved. It was all about to change.
So she owned “Juicy Couture” at this time?
G. L ; Yes, she was great to me Gela was, gentile and welcoming. All around their house were these things like copies of the Mona Lisa with Juicy written on them you know just all these great ideas. Take this old school stuff and just funk ‘em up. What they did and how they launched the company was, they had all of these, well there were basically rock 'n' roll T-shirts to begin with but then someone from Korea or China, not sure where but they came up with this velour suit and they worked out how to screen print the word Juicy and the arse of it and they were all really excited about this and Gela would be saying, “we have had to take on another two girls we are so busy!” this was the really early days. This was ‘97 and this was when I first started working with John. They had only recently married. So anyhow “Juicy…” then sent them out to Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears and then they would get paparazzi’d and in turn let THEM spread the word. And when I stopped working with John, which was only three years later she was selling the company for like fifty three million dollars! Brilliant woman. I’m glad that two decades later they are still together. Good on her.
"Better keep my eye on this one...." Gerry and Simon Le Bon
G . L ; Anyway, she flew Simon in and paid him to do this show for “Juicy Couture” when they were launching a denim range, but what she was really doing was getting John and Simon on stage together again. We had done a lot of shows and the people were dead keen on John but at that show when Simon got on stage the place exploded. Every flash light was going off people were yelling and screaming it was just mad. It was just, OMG! To see this level of response that these two Duran members were so used to, for us though it just was intense. I knew at that point and I said to Larry Aberman (JT's drummer) “that’s the end of us then, they’ll reform”. Very soon after that show the Duran Duran shows went ahead in London and then they got a deal with Sony and the rest is, well history really. Another two decades at the top.
So now that takes us up to the year two thousand. Now in year two thousand I was wondering what the fuck to do with myself, I had a mortgage to pay, I was looking after a girlfriend and I had taken on Conor too so I got a job in advertising in sales. I needed to make some money. My back was fucked. Two crushed discs. I used a little scooter to get around on. Walking was so painful. So anyway I took this job and I was Gerry Laffy Manager of ambient media sales at McMillan/ Scott PLC and I would be, “Good afternoon this is Mr. Laffy..." and all of that stuff and I was basically selling advertising on ambient media, no TV, Film or anything like that it would be ambient media like payslips, timetables and things like that and I did that for like a year. It was really weird they offered me the job and they took this guy who came from making adverts, music videos and major films to sell ambient advertising for them. I sold about a million payslips and they paid me about thirty five grand but at this time my fucking back was really giving me grief too. My contract was for one year, I happily left after that. I focused on fixing my back and as I mentioned that headed me back to art. I was executive producer with a video production company. I managed a West Hampstead bar for a bit, my art was in there, made sense. I was even the manager at Townsend’s Antique Fireplaces on Abbey Road but only for a few months. I even got my art in on that. If I needed to, I went and got a job.
Let’s go back to how did you do your back in? Easily done I hear
G . L ; In ‘98 with the John Taylor band I jumped off stage on the stage at the “House of Blues” in Chicago. There was this drum riser there with the curtains either side, a classic stage set up and the house lights go down and the curtains go back as we opened with “Rio”, at the first accent of the song I jumped off the riser and being a fat old cunt in my late forties and not the eighteen year old I thought I was, the Les Paul that was around my neck crushed two vertebrae in my back. After the show I collapsed, I had ice on my back and then a couple of days later I just fell to my feet and my back was really, really bad and that was in ‘98 and we still toured right up to two thousand and very often playing and travelling with excruciating back pain. We flew quite often to California toured all over the states, flew to Japan. We played all over LA, The Viper Room, The Roxy, El Rey Theatre, The Key Club and very often I would be doing all of these back exercises and therapy. Physically it was a tough time. JT found it annoying and had little time for something that dragged on like that. He was as sick of it as I was. I never missed a gig, but I did miss a radio show in Osaka. I’d passed out, puked up, bashed my head, he knocked and said lets go and just said can’t do it. I recall as Terroristen we played a “GAP” party at the Sundance Festival in Utah, I had flu. I was SO ill but they got me up two minutes before strapping a guitar on, I was in bed asleep as the crowd still roared. The show must go on, but not a radio show who only really cared if HE showed up or not.
No self-medicating then?
G . L ; Nothing other than weed. But listen if someone had given me a load of tramadol to sort it out I might have taken it but I was doing rolling exercises and swimming just really anything in fact. When I flew anywhere I would have all these ice packs with me on the flights. I had Cocodamol and all that stuff but that is as far as it went with me. Basically all the time I was at McMillan Scott ('00-'01) I had these really excruciating back problems, then I split up with my girlfriend but I didn’t sever ties with her Conor, he wasn’t born from me but I was his Daddy from one to six years old. It was a lovely age range to enjoy. He still sometimes calls me Dad, we’re mates and he’ll always be my boy but he knows about his real Dad and stuff, the whole story. We are still in touch often and I’m glad to say he’s doing well. I’d rather be a friend or maybe mentor now he’s grown up. I’m Gerry not Daddy. He needed my consistency and not the title Dad. He’s trying to get me into Crypto investing now. It’s all Greek to me. So I just let him dabble for me. He turned out well. My whole family loves him like one of us.
Well that’s good
G . L ; So after that ended in ‘01, my back was really fucked up and my priority turned to number one. My sister in law sent me a really sweet gift. She sent me a pad and some pastels. She said, “well maybe you can’t get on stage but maybe you could paint a bit?” it was such a kind gesture and basically I started to do art again and me being me I started sticking shit on it, sticking sequins on it, doing this, doing that. I had some Fabergé stuff that I crimped the logo out of and coloured it with five hundred stones and I just added the sequins to make them look well lush and fabulous and then one of them John Taylor bought off of me for four figures. I just used what was about.
Rhinestone Sane. "Putting out fires with gasoline (and Rhinestones)"
Click HERE to go to Gerry's fabulous Art Site.
A fire extinguisher can be glammed up too and in my case it was bought by Michelin star Chef Graham Garrett another four figure sale. Graham was once the drummer in Phil Collen’s pre Girl band Dumb Blondes. Small world eh?
Small world indeed and very nice sales!
G . L ; So I did a little exhibition and as it happened I was just looking for white walls, hard wood floors and light right? Later on I thought about Real Estate offices because I didn’t like the thought and idea of art galleries making out they are doing you the favour showing your work whilst they take their cut for doing so. They’d say, "if you want cheese go to a fucking cheese shop", stick that cheese up your arse.
Ha ha! Exactly
G . L ; So I put this show on in Kentish Town actually it’s not a mile and half away from where I live and I said, “How much to put some art shows on here?” and they were like, “twenty quid a week for four weeks”. I thought great let’s get this done! Anyway at this place it turns out that they had work experience for special needs people and one of them says to me, “I like the shiny ones I know someone who has got lots of shiny stuff” and I thought, “oh that’s sweet” and she is, “no no, I’ll tell you they have loads” and with the help of some other people this place turned out to be a place called “The Camden Society?”. So I went down there, it is a special needs centre and I went in and said, ‘I hear you have some beads I could have’? And she says, “Oh yes down the back there, do you want some carrier bags?” and I’m thinking, “no”. I was just expecting like a jam jar full of beads or something y’know. Anyway so I work my way to their “back room” and this place that they are in now used to be Swarovski’s warehouse! They had left behind hundreds of boxes of stones, pearls, diamante, turquoise, every colour of stone. It was Aladdin’s cave.
Cheer up Gerry! Look......Rhinestones!!!!
Wow! You are kidding!!!
G . L ; I know, but no it was their warehouse in London for all their “seconds” and there were diamonds and just basically all their seconds that they didn’t want and they just left it all right there! I took about four carrier bags full pearls, turquoise and rubies. A lot of cabochon cut stuff, teardrops it just went on and on and on. You know I was, “are you sure about all this because I am going to stick them on to these art pieces and stuff. In fact why don’t I come and do some stuff with your service users and I can show them all what I do and we can make all these art pieces and stuff”.
I did a couple of things there and I loved it. I was working with a pre-retirement group and also these other people with really quite severe learning difficulties. We were working with PVA glue and cardboard with them and some of those students I still see in college right now because these people with special needs go around and around to all the classes that cater for their needs and I ended up volunteering for a year and for that year I found myself running the art class for ten or more there. Ten ‘till three every Wednesday at the Camden Society. Whilst I was there I was also doing some stuff as a volunteer too at the City Lit in the evening with a guy who I was assisting to learn all about “Photoshop Elements” and the tutor said to me, “you are really good at this you could make some money at doing this, you should get a qualification” DING! That was the magic moment right there.
So I got qualified to Level three City & Guilds, which is enough to teach at a FE college and also I basically developed a thing called “The Big as a Skyscraper Art Club”. Now if you draw a yin and a yang one part of it is black the other part is white, so if you put rice on the white part and black glitter on the other you have got a three dimensional mixed media art. In fact if I took a picture of you right now and stuck it up on my window, on my bay window here and put a piece of paper on top of it I could trace your face and if I can see where the light side of it is and I could show it to you sister and she would say, “Fuck me! That’s Darren!”. Now if you apply that to Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Posh Spice or whatever, when little Johnny goes home with a little guidance from me, say about half an hour of work, he then goes home with his picture with a giant smile and everyone in the room will go, “Oh look Mum! That’s Posh Spice!”. So the next time they come in we say, “okay were are going to make the Tai Mahal out of matchsticks!” and they are like, “right let’s go!”. “So depending on your ability, you can take this as far as you want and I’ve got this massive fucking bag of diamonds we can incorporate into anything!”. And I did just that! I worked at this place before I had the qualification and also I worked at the special needs place Centre 404 (which used to be Mencap Islington) and we used to cover all these things like bins as animals, cardboard elephants, recycling themes and posters all sorts of things and if you can do this, work to a theme and work to a budget, say, twenty five quid per hour with a minimum of two hour sessions, job done! I did this for two years and I mean I was almost as disabled as the kids at this time but, they didn’t mind my limping and dealing with pain (like using frozen peas as an icepack) at all. They thought nothing of it and it was a much better situation for me than being sat in an office all day. Anyway I was doing all this and the crushed discs in my back were just getting better and better. I was running one of these art clubs and one day a couple of the other staff didn’t turn up and the manager there said to me, “if we pay you your rate for the day would you mind doing some support work as we are understaffed and this really is a high needs group that needs help” and then pretty soon after that it became a lot more work to do. Turns out I was really good at it and then eventually as their confidence in me grew it would become common that I got the ‘troubled’ kids coming to me. I did one to one mentoring and support. There was one little boy I remember who was ADHD and he had lost his father to cancer and a month later his uncle died from a heroin overdose, so he was really off kilter. He was for the first six months if I was like, “how you doing?” and he would just reply, “Fuck off!”. He said only those two words to me for months. Then later he would say, “people come into your life and then they just leave you” so I knew where he was coming from because a lot of people I'd worked with were like that you know, pretty troubled.
So anyway I had been working at this place Centre 404 on Camden Road for a few years and there was a college right next door to the place, well not right next door there was a council estate next to the Centre and then the college, anyway in the college they used to work with all these special needs kids and it was like a crossover from the place I was working at already and at the college it was very often the same kids at both venues. So I thought why don’t I apply for a job there and sure enough I did. Before too long I realised I was working from nine in the morning to nine at night with kids with a learning difficulty. It became too much so I kind of gave that evening work up. In a college the kids sign up for it and agree to the terms of the college. A centre for people with special needs is really a vent for the people there, they can freak out and can get angry and then we calm them down before they go home to Mum and Dad, whereas at a college they come and they have to behave and do as they are told and you had security back up. At Centre 404 it was mainly Autistic kids. Most were just lovely kids but there were a few times were I was punched or kicked by angry, confused or upset young people, so it could be hard work there but the college is better and much easier and it is eleven years later and I am still doing it. In the meantime I have done some solo albums, five in all. Two in my spare bedroom. In ‘13 I had diverticulitis twice yet somehow I wrote, played and produced two albums. Recorded nothing since though.
The said two albums made in medical lockdown. Click each image to download the full albums.
I know a little about the illness but could you go into it a little more, sounds like a terrible and worrying time?
G . L ; I really had a really upset stomach for a couple of months and I’ll be honest with you I thought I had bowel cancer and I was too much of a pussy to do anything about it. One of teachers at college, she was a sports teacher and she said to me, “you need to go and get that sorted out”. I just couldn’t walk anywhere I needed to get the bus everywhere. One night my partner and I were driving through Hampstead and I said to him, “For fucks sake, arrgghhh, ooohh slow down I am in so much pain” and the speed we were going was seven miles an hour! And he said to me, “look I am taking you to the A & E”. So we got there and he went to park the car and I get called in and the nurse’s eyes almost doubled in size when she took my temperature. I don’t know what my temperature was but her eyes widened, she immediately gave me paracetamol got me to see the Doctor and they did bloods, they had lines in me and everything and I said, “you are not admitting me until my partner gets here”. So there I am trying to walk out on the concrete path outside the hospital with my arse hanging out of this gown with this drip looking for my partner, anyway I found him and they admitted me. I was in for ‘a week in bed my arms were full of tubes’
Click HERE to see the "Everything is O.K" video, "a week in bed my arms were full of tubes".
Was it a relief when you actually got in there?
G . L ; No, no it wasn’t. They gave me this stuff that made me shit like crazy and I was stuck in this basement room with no windows and nothing to do! I just lay there for three days. They were flushing my system out and I was on really, really heavy anti biotics and whatever they were using to flush my system out and nothing but water for days. My partner was with me the entire time. So loyal and caring. I just remember being stuck in this really smelly fucking room and endlessly on the toilet. My Mum was there too quite a lot and I was just really embarrassed. It was just a really shitty time but you know after three days on antibiotics I was just ready to walk out of there. I went from feeling deathly to feeling very well in just a few days. Antibiotics are incredible. So I recovered from that trip to hospital and then went back to work but then a few months later it started all over again.
Oh no! “Not this again….”
G . L ; I know what the fuck? so I went back there and they said, “well what happens with diverticulitis is that these polyps come into colon and they fill with faeces and that burns through your colon and it then goes into your system” Charming.
Poisoning your body then?
G . L ; Yeah, that first time I went in to the hospital on the Saturday I was right on the brink of septicaemia. I had an appointment at the Doctor’s on the following Monday and I kept saying to my partner, “I’ll wait for the appointment” and they said, “If you had of waited until Monday you would have been dead!”
Lucky break right there then, geez!
G . L ; Yes but basically my work paid me for the whole year so I bought a sixteen track studio and a drum machine and I made two albums at home. I hadn’t experienced doing that and I will be honest with you as I said I thought I had bowel cancer and I thought this might be the last time I record anything! What I did was I was going to record a track a day, first thing I would start the drum machine in the morning and sit there with a big joint in my mouth and play around with the drum track, make it a little faster or a little slower y’know and before long, say in a about an hour I started to put down chord structures and I did twenty two tracks in honestly, twenty five days. I would usually start first thing in the morning with the click (track) and then by lunch time I had some basis for the song. Afternoon I was writing lyrics and putting stuff down. Then I was putting lead guitars down by tea time, then do the rough or backing vocals and then by nine or ten o’clock I was done for the day. There were a few tracks like “Karmic Gangster”.
Click HERE to view the classic Karmic Gangster video
That is a fantastic track and a firm favourite of mine!
G . L ; Aw thanks. They were done really fast those tracks. There was one song called “Monkey Man” “I take some shit … but they can go and fuck themselves it doesn’t bother me” that kind of vibe y’know “I play my guitar, I do my art” it was really what was in my head at that time and I was just writing it down and letting it all out right there. It was just part of the process really and I will be honest about this I would be smoking two or three high class joints when I was doing the guitars mainly and doing the solo’s and that track “Monkey Man” there is playing on there that I am sure is not me. I don’t know who I was channelling or where it came from and I’m like, “where the fuck has that come from?!”. I’ll be honest there aren’t many times in my career when I got goose bumps and I was thinking, “Wow!” y’know. “Too high” was another but “Monkey Man” was like my Ronson homage mashed along with a loathing I have about historic abuse in the church (all this kind of empty love in the church y’know) and that is what that song was about and I made a little montage video for that (Click HERE to view the "Monkey Man"). That was another thing I did. I would write the song in the morning finish it, record it, mix it and then by midnight have a video up on You Tube, all in the same day. I thought that was brilliant that you could have nothing in the morning, over your morning coffee and by midnight you made the song, mixed it put it out and got a public video up on You Tube accessible anywhere on earth with the internet. I just thought it was great!
Yes great work and very cathartic for you too I bet?
G . L ; Yeah it was lovely, really lovely. I remember on one of those days it was a Saturday morning and this one song “Too High” (Click HERE to view the video) which I think is the invisible track on, I think, the first of these two solo albums, (“Just A Little Blurred” and “Wrecked but Not Crushed”). On “Wrecked” I was off my head on Tramadol, totally out of it on all of that album. My partner was going to go out on the Saturday and instead of having a conversation with him I had it on the tape and it was, “you said today, you were going to get up and go and see your friends get lunch or go do something, but then a joint in bed and a cup of tea you soon came up with something better, ‘til you hear me say” it was all just there waiting to come out. No effort at all. Soon it was on the tape machine, from thin air, stuck there forever. We laughed when we listened back wrecked (but not crushed). That day he’d forgotten where he parked his car. Usually he lost his car keys, this time he’d lost the car. That’s on “Too High” as well.
Another track on “Just A Little Blurred” was “NHS” (Click HERE to view the video) no doubt about the illness you had?
G . L ; Yes there was a lot of waiting around but everyone around you is rushing purposefully somewhere and the vibe of the track is that musically but also a thanks to them really and I did a video for that one too. (also re '20 I think the clapping for the NHS heroes was a joke, why didn’t people just wear a fucking face mask for them?).
Understandable, we may have lost you Gerry!
G . L ; Yeah, the second time I went for my operation to remove my colon I was joking with the guy that he was going to give me my “Michael Jackson” Propofol and he said, “yeah we are giving you Propofol actually” then he says, “have you been Movi prepped?” and worried by his look I replied, “what’s Movi prepped?” and he goes, “cancel this one!” I was like, “what?!”. I had been into see the consultant but he was busy chatting up the woman on the reception so he didn’t do the Movi prep which is like a flushing treatment pre the op to get rid of the shit in your bowel.
A class act he was then?
G . L ; And they cancelled me and I was sitting there in fucking pain and the day the operation was supposed to happen was my last day of full sick pay from work so I then had to wait for seven weeks waiting for them to re book me back in!
I bet you couldn’t believe it
G . L ; Yeah all because of this dick head. I was going through all this fucking pain and they said, “we’ll give you Tramadol to deal with the pain”. I was surprised that I didn’t get addicted to the fucking Tramadol in fact. But I went back in and they did the operation and that was that really. It wasn’t colon cancer that I thought it was and a couple of people I know since then that have had colon cancer and had there colons removed and colostomy bags and all that but luckily for me no colostomy bag.
Is there anything you have to do or take to control it now?
G . L ; No not really for that but I do have some other aches and pains as I am sixty one now. I have a bursitis problem with my shoulders and I broke a bone in my hand in December ‘20. I didn’t realise for weeks it was even broken I have had a couple of other minor issues but my back in the late ‘90s that eclipsed all else. A couple of times I have gone in and had steroid shots and stuff for my shoulder but I also do physio too. Basically I do rubber band exercises and I lift hammers that kind of stuff. I don’t go to the gym and do weights and that kind of stuff but more than occasionally in a month I take cocodamol or ibuprofen and stuff like that. I don’t drink, well, very very rarely only something really nice or on a hot night I might go and have pint if I am meeting someone but other than that I’m not a drinker, I do smoke joints but I lost a brother to lung cancer at the beginning of this year and despite not smoking for six months I kind of relapsed. Shit for my lungs, good for aches and resting up.
Oh well I guess "whatever gets you through the day...."
G . L ; Also with the S.A.R.S. and COVID things I thought really with all this going on it is probably a good time to give up ruining your lungs, really should be the time to quit.
Had you smoked long term?
G . L ; Well I have smoke joints pretty consistently for more than forty five years. Although strangely not when I was in America I never liked grass which is ironic really because in the past five or so years I had been a major weed smoker, I smoked hash before that but when I was in America I was, “I’m not smoking any of that stuff!”. It’s a waste of good money really and I would rather put it into buying sovereigns instead of pissing it all down the drain or flicking it in an ashtray. Yet I do both. I don’t want to say you got to die of something because that is fucking stupid trying to excuse a habit like smoking. Right before my brother died of lung cancer last year, I went to see him. He said, ‘going in the garage for a fag, coming?’ I said, "Sure".
Well it is an age thing too I guess priorities change but some habits don’t.
G . L ; Yes well I have more habits than a nun. I’ll be honest I am a bit of a boring old fart. I like watching endless movies and doco’s, doing art and music when in the mood and I like spending time with my partner and with my family when I get the chance. I cook and bake, often Facebook has my baking and cakes etc. This year I decided to take a break from art and making music taking the whole year off and I had done a deal for my whole solo catalogue so I sold sixteen of my albums and finally everything is available to stream and such and I wanted to set a Girl merchandising thing up too this year, so I did a deal with Noise Merchandise. Roy Jenkins is a guy I’ve known for years. In fact I did a deal with them like ten years ago for “G Spot” my art tee shirt concept but it kind of went tits up. I was doing a lot of known people at the time but doing merch with them on is difficult because they own the rights to the photos.
Click HERE to grab your Gerry and Girl merchandise from Noise!
Yeah could get messy
G . L ; Yeah so now I do my own images that I have created, whether it be the crown or the Girl stuff and whatever else
O.k. so that is the merchandise sorted. So do you want to go into the deal you did for all your music?
G .L ; Yeah. well basically I got a call from Steve Hammond, who has had an hand in all the Sanctuary stuff, Universal etc..( and he works for Cherry Red now too) saying, “it would be nice to do another big Girl project, like a box set have you got any more stuff?” and I said, “I have got a load of stuff and some really good stuff. I’ve got some stuff from Japan from the desk, not the Osaka one with Pete Bonus but the ‘80 one with the original line up”. I added, “At the time they recorded a “NHK” radio show and I have the mix from the desk of that and I’ve got the Greyhound show that was a great gig and I’ve got Marquee stuff, Birmingham and Hammersmith Odeon stuff” and he said he really wanted that stuff.
The first project to collect the bands works all in one place, grab one quick if you can find one!
I had worked with Steve on the “My Number – The Anthology” box set and the Rock Candy releases. All great. I trusted him. So I then said, “OK. I really want to get all my solo stuff on the modern platforms finally, Apple, Amazon, Spotify and all that stuff”. So he said, “I want to buy the Girl stuff from you”, so I said, “you can have the Girl stuff but you also have to take everything else from me, i.e. my solo stuff too”. So we bashed out a bit of a deal. He said, “yeah but we have to buy “Sheer Greed” “Wasted Youth” and “Killing Time” back from RCA”. I said, “yeah but, if we are going to do a deal I want the deal for all of it or none of it”. So we went for it and I wanted the Girl stuff remastered and he got Andy Pearce in to remaster the Girl stuff and he did a fantastic job! He did that and released those and then all my solo stuff went onto the digital platforms. There was my five solo albums, the Sheer Greed live and studio albums and the “Lying with Angels”, as well as the two Girl box sets. So eight albums for Girl and eight albums for me, it is still strange that Girl only did two albums but now we have eight albums out.
Cherry Red and Gerry in red. Perfect partners
I guess after all this time it was just also kind of nice to get everything all together finally in one place?
G . L ; Yes absolutely and I love Cherry Red and I got a great deal out of them for it all.
Yes they do really great products for sure
G . L ; Yeah so I got a really good deal out of them and they did a fantastic job on the Girl box sets. I have had good relations with them all the way through this. We worked together getting the artwork sorted for my solo albums, rebranding some of them. I wish they would have pushed Andy to remaster some of my solo stuff because I think it would have sounded just great but it is what it is
Maybe it was a good thing he didn’t remaster your solo work because as they are shows the whole sphere and progression of your solo work? Your solo work is your life in stages I think and the songs reflect you and the time your were in at that point?
G . L ; Yeah it’s all in one go and who would give a shit about the Gerry Laffy stuff otherwise, I’d never sell it without the Girl ‘lure’ but it’s all up and out there now.
Well anyone who likes Girl may not know about your solo stuff and music is this long line we all fall into at some point no one was at the start and no one is at the end so there is always new stuff to discover
G . L ; Yeah and I have done the merchandise deal with Noise merch and they have a whole load of Girl stuff up there, like fifteen or twenty things up there and I can update and change it whenever I like. I can put anything up there from my art line “G SPOT” and all the Girl merch. I kind of feel a bit bad because of the work it takes them to do my webpages etc… but Roy is like, “no, fuck that Laffy do whatever you want”. In fact there is one shirt one of the crown images I have done that is always really popular and always the Sheer Greed stuff is popular too and I am doing a kids line too. Much like when “Juicy Couture” started they were getting people like Madonna to wear it and all that but you can’t do that these days because it is just all these you tube influencers and stuff and charge hundreds of thousands for ‘flogging’ your shit.
I know how crazy is that?
G ; L ; So what does everyone do, well they get their children and their grandchildren to wear them take pictures and spread the word that way. I just thought how cool would it be to have a two year old in a shirt that says “Wasted Youth” on it? You can’t buy that! So that we have had out this year and by this time next year the plan is just to keep building it up and see where it goes y’know?
Talking of the merch deal what kind of cut do you make from it?
G . L ; The merch is a fifty / fifty split, but moneywise it’s more than the music really.
Well that sounds a great deal
G . L ; Yeah and actually before I used to have these things made. I would make like fifty up at a time and then pack each of them and off to the post office I went every other day and I just thought I don’t wanna fucking do that again and also there is always one, “where’s my fucking t shirt” …I got sick of dealing with merchandise but people want it. I really like Roy Jenkins, his family too, so he’s really on it and easy to work with.
I guess as life changes priorities do too, not that you don’t want to do it is just life has changed from back then
G . L ; Yes and the whole thing and way it is done has changed it’s all digital now too. When someone orders a t shirt they just go off and make one for you. You don’t have to have them all done at once just sitting in a pile and then being left with four extra small and three large that no one wants it is almost bespoke ordering you know from a two month old baby up to XXXXXL and every size in between.
Well that is the age we now live in
G . L ; Exactly. An order comes in they pay for the shirt the postage the printing costs and I get the rest I am on a better deal than if I do them myself and with none of the hassle. Well some, I still get an occasional mail, ‘where’s my shirt, or it’s the wrong design’ etc but this happens rarely as Noise mainly deal with it. I’m happy to deal with pre sales, but don’t ask me why your postman is late.
Pretty much a brainer then, even with an odd headache?
G . L ; Yes it is a really no brainer and I really can’t thank Roy and Phil enough really for just doing a stellar job from start to finish. The quality and the overall care and precision they take with each order is just perfect (I think we’ve had only two complaints in ‘20, both immediately resolved). We have done the Girl album covers of course but not “Killing Time”. A woman’s breasts with man’s hands on them. Wasn’t my idea, don’t like it, won’t do a T shirt of it.
When a band looks this great why not have them on the front cover?
Well I have seen far worse covers but that cover just seems more “crass than class”
G . L ; Yes it is just misogynistic shit really. It was done by Nippon Crown, or someone at the label I think and I have never liked it. In fact if that would have been me doing it I would have had a pair of man’s hands on a washboard stomach lol
I just think with all that Girl were the image should have stayed the focus for the cover and not anything else really.
G .L ; You know I would have put a pair of hands ripping at a muscular torso or something.
Yes just something a little different from the norm like you were at the time, a little bit more out there you know? So what were you doing up until the Covid-19 struck us?
G.L : It's now ‘20. Covid-19 year. I’m still a student support worker in a college. My eleventh year. I teach sometimes but it’s too much stress so I've backed off. I’ve seen my friends melting down with the workload. I have a lodger who equals up what I miss out on from not doing my teaching hours. I prefer peace to money at this point in time. I am creating no art this year, nor writing or recording music. At some stage I will do both again. I have always had spurts of creativity then fallow times. So I just roll with that. I create when I feel the want. I decided that before January the first ’19. I have been focusing on the release of my music catalogue (all five of my solo albums, two Sheer Greed band releases and an album I did with my brother in the nineties, the two Girl box sets release). A picture and photo book and the new Girl and GL art merchandise. Not to mention the day job working at SEN five days a week. Which has been very difficult this year as many of my students just don’t understand social distance etc. I am just so exposed and let’s face it, it’s dangerous, not NHS front line dangerous but I’m way more exposed than I would like to be. At sixty one and a long time smoker if I got this I think it likely I would have really hard time even if I did survived it. We are on lockdown now of course but I definitely plan to take the vaccine as soon as I am offered it. Also we have been teaching online for half of the working week. Imagine a “Zoom” chat with twelve people involved, all talking, watching TV and with background noise all at once. It can be chaos. Can’t imagine that.
G . L ; ‘19 was very busy. The Gerry Laffy Art Collective shows especially took up a lot of time. It was a collective of fourteen artists I established in ‘18. We had a four week show in Dover at Easter and a month long show in London in the summer and again in the winter. Our motto: “In the collective some of us are professional, some semi pro, some students and some have a learning difficulty. The collective will not identify which is which”. We are fourteen diverse artists including myself, the others being Tessa Gaynn, Ronan O’Regan, Suzy Smith, Woz, Jonathan Dickson, Caroline Reed, Danielle Vaughan, Scarlet Isherwood, Steve Green, Phil Parkinson and two photographers Conor Carroll and Tosh Marshall and with very special guest Mason Storm, a true art genius who has willingly supported my endeavours. ‘19 and ‘20 were a busy balancing act of art, music and merchandise sales as well as dealing with the dreaded Covid-19 epidemic and my SEN day job work. In May ‘18 and July ‘19 I was a guest participant in two hugely successful shows in St. Pancras Church Crypt with Mason Storm & Simon Skint's Asylum Artist Management & Gallery with some awesome new artists and I am honoured to be one of their associate artists. I released a limited edition of fifty photo book this year (Click HERE to grab a copy of the book) that has much of the recent work and recent photo shoots I have done with photographer Tosh Marshall. Music: ‘19 I sold my record label to Cherry Red Records and the two Girl CD box sets (and downloads) were released in ‘20 and so finally my entire catalogue, Girl, solo work, Gerry & Simon Laffy and our Sheer Greed albums will ALL finally be released on disc, streamed or available for download. Cherry Red Records are releasing eighteen albums (of my thirty releases) in all. So that’s it. This has been a six hour interview and you have access to all my personal photos. Maybe we can do a Q & A sometime?
Hell yes! O.K just one or two more questions. In your career who were the most interesting or impressive well known figures you met and chatted with?
G . L : OK, well, if pushed I’d say Dame Freddie Mercury, Sir Sean Connery, Sir Elton John, William Burroughs, Marvin Gaye, David Bowie, Sylvester Stallone, Sir John Mills, Sir Ben Kingsley, Sir Michael Caine, Pete Way, Bill Wyman, Melanie Griffith and Mason Storm, a mate of mine, who in my opinion is England’s greatest artist, he’d joke about it but he really fucking is.
Lastly, there is a rumour in early Girl days that you had a male mega star trying to pull you.
G. L ; That is true. Two of them actually, you and I both know who they were but as for anyone else all I will say is was NOT Elton, but both head up household name bands though.
OK enough said.
G . L ; Thank you Darren, it’s been a fifty year trip down Memory Lane, it’s been real. Catch ya’ll soon. Cheers luv.
We chatted for six hours and some stories and tales could not be told however here are is a snapshot of some of his memorable moments:
3 trips on Concorde (one with Boy George from NY on day of Band Aid)
Being at Elton John’s house when he went off to show me a copy of Sheer Greed that he had, ‘you didn’t expect that did you?’. So many memories of extravagance & indulgence (including a look through his jewellery box) with Elton in UK, USA, France, Australia.
The hand written letter from Brian May.
Lunches with William Burroughs.
Meeting Bowie twice.
Sean Connery swearing.
My first bottle of 1961 Petrus.
A few choice evenings (a night at the ballet and a Sunday roast) at Garden Lodge with Freddie Mercury and his always interesting guests.
I wore out 2 passports in the 80’s and 90’s but I haven’t travelled overseas for 20 years (except a trip to HK and to Nice/Cannes). I have NO interest in travel now, I’m travelled out.
Also Gerry remebers meeting these show bizzers along the way ("I’m wracking my memory here") Alex Harvey, Anita Pallenberg, Barbara Windsor, Barry Humphries, Bill Wyman, Billy Joel, Ben Kingsley, Bernie Taupin, Boy George, Britt Ekland, Bryan Forbes, Catherine Oxenberg, Chaka Khan, Christophe Lambert, Danny Kaye, Danny La Rue, Dave Edmunds, David Bowie, David Bailey, David Cassidy, Dave Stewart, Def Leppard, Denzel Washington, Diana Ross, Dodi Fayed, Donna Summer, Duffy, Duran Duran, Elton John, Eric Sykes, Francesca Thysen, George Michael, Glen Matlock, Grace Jones, Heidi Fleiss, Helmut Beger, Hulk Hogan, Ice T, Iggy Pop, Ian McKellen, Irene Handle, Janice Dickinson, Javier Perez de Cuellar, Jim Steinman, John Lithgow, John Lone, John Paul Getty III, Judy Carne, Keith Haring, Kim Basinger, Kim Carnes, Kiss, Liza Minelli, Luther Vandross, Marianne Faithful, Marvin Gaye, Melanie Griffiths, Michael Caine, Michael Kliedis, Mick Jagger, Mickey Rourke, Nick Cage, Nile Rogers, Oliver Stone, Ozzy Osbourne, Pat Travers,
Pat Cash, Pete Townshend, Peter Andre, Peter Cook, Phil Lynott, Princess Brigitta of Sweden, Queen, Randy Rhodes, Richard E Grant, Ringo Starr, Robert De Niro,Robert Plant, Robert Frazer, Ronnie Wood, Paul Cook, Pete Way, Sean Connery, Sean Young, Sharon Osbourne, Sir John Mills, Skunk Baxter, Steven Bauer, Steve Strange, Supertramp, Sylvester Stallone, Ted Nugent, The Motels, The Rolling Stones, The Stray Cats, Ted Nugent, The Tubes, Tina Turner, Tommy Vance, UFO, Ultravox, Van Halen, Victoria Sellers, Victor Spinetti, Viscount Linley, Wayne Eagling, William Burroughs, ZZ Top and others I have missed out intentionally or I just forgot. Imagine all of them at a party. All have a tale attached but those are just anecdotes over a dinner somewhere, someplace. Imagine if this lot all turned up at the same party! Maybe that’s what heaven is like? Or hell.
Gerry Now and "zen"
LOVE ON YA! G.
Photo credits: Tosh Marshall, Conor Carroll, Ross Halfin, Adrian Houston, Grant Sainsbury, George Bodnar, Craig Bundy, Suits vaults plus others.