‘‘When I left the band after S.F. Sorrow, I thought we had made a really good album,” says guitarist Dick Taylor. “But it wasn’t about disappointment over the sales, which is what people think. ‘Oh did you leave because it should have been a hit?’ In fact, I left before it hadn’t started not selling, when it could still have been a hit.
“I left because I’d made an album I was really proud of, and I didn’t think we’d ever improve on it. And that’s how I feel about the new one. I’m happy about Bare as Bone, Bright as Blood being our last one, because I’m very pleased with this one, as well.”
It’s six months since Phil May, founder member and vocalist with The Pretty Things, passed away (on May 15), and Taylor still finds it difficult to keep the emotion out of his voice as he recalls his fallen friend. Because they were friends, had been since they met at Sidcup Art School, in 1961 or so.
Taylor was already in a band, a little outfit called the Rollin’ Stones (the “g” came later); he quit around the same time he and May moved up to the Central School of Design and Art, and decided to form their own band. They called it The Pretty Things because… they weren’t.
We don’t have time to discuss every legend that ever grew up around the Pretties. How they were the ugliest, hairiest, lewdest, loudest, rudest and rowdiest band that the London scene had ever seen — or ever would, until the advent of punk and The Sex Pistols 15 years later. In fact, it was punk that drew Taylor back to music, and back to the Pretties, close to a decade after he put it all behind him.
“I went to see The Clash and I thought it was much more like when we started than what the whole scene had become, with people chasing advances, out of touch with reality and people, and the fact that musicians had to be absolutely staggering virtuosos when really, the sort of music which they should be playing, and which we’d been playing, was far more related to real people.”
Between 1964 and 1969, when Taylor left the band, the Pretties released four albums. Four more followed before he returned, and four more between then and the day he and Taylor sat down to discuss making one more record.
They’d already played their final live show, at London’s O2 Arena, in December 2018, a decision brought on by May’s increasingly frail health.
“He’d been ill for the last few years,” says Taylor. “It must be six or seven years ago he was diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and then fully-fledged emphysema. I saw him when he was first diagnosed, and I thought ‘He’s not going to survive this.’ We were on tour in Spain, and I went to see him in the hospital in Zaragoza, lying there with a face mask on, unconscious, and I wondered then, ‘Am I ever going to see him again?’ So, in the end, he had some good borrowed years.”
Very good. There was a new album, the wonderfully titled and brilliantly schemed The Sweet Pretty Things (Are in Bed Now, of Course…) in 2015, and right up until that last show, it was impossible to believe that May had a single care in the world, even as Taylor recalls, “he was finding it increasingly difficult to tour. Not so much the actual gigs, but the travelling and all the stuff that went with it.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
FIREFALL RELIVE MUSICAL MEMORIES WHILE REVISITING THEIR ROOTS
Southern Rockers Reborn
WITH A NEWLY RELEASED ARCHIVAL CONCERT ALBUM, THE OUTLAWS RIDE AGAIN.
THE TIMELESS DAVE MASON
MIKE GREENBLATT CHATS WITH DAVE MASON ABOUT HIS LATEST ALBUM RELEASE AND, OF COURSE, HIS TRAFFIC DAYS.
THE STORY OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD
GRATEFUL DEAD ARCHIVIST DAVID LEMIEUX EXPLAINS THE STORY OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD, AN AMAZING BOX SET OF 14 LPS CURATED BY VINYL ME PLEASE.
THE SEARCHERS GUITARIST/ VOCALIST MIKE PENDER REMINISCES ABOUT THE BRITISH INVASION AND THE HONOR OF RECEIVING A PRESTIGIOUS AWARD FROM PRINCE CHARLES IN 2020.
Michael Des Barres' Longevity
MICHAEL DES BARRES AND THE MISTAKES’ NEW RELEASE, LIVE!, SHOWS HOW ENERGETIC THE 73-YEAR-OLD FRONTMAN IS AFTER A LIFETIME OF ROCK AND ROLL.
Written by Goldmineveteran Dave Thompson, the Encyclopaedia Hawkwindia is the ultimate guide to more than 50 years of Britain (and the world!)’s premiere space rockers Hawkwind, from the first show in August 1969, to the next scheduled gig in February 2021.
JOHN FOGERTY LOOKS BACK ON LIFE, LOVE, FAMILY AND THE CHALLENGES THAT CAME WITH CREEDENCE.
WITH HIS NEW ALBUM, JESSE COLIN YOUNG GOES FROM PAST TO PRESENT AND BACK AGAIN.
10 ALBUMS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE
PLEASE FORGIVE ME
BEDRIDDEN AND FRAIL, THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH HAS FINALLY REVEALED THE TRUTH ABOUT HIS MANY INDISCRETIONS TO HIS LONGTIME WIFE, QUEEN ELIZABETH II.
LT1 LT2 LT3 - LE MANS BACK-UP
Jaguar built three very special racing XK120 bodies to have as a back-up if the C-Type was not ready to debut at Le Mans in 1951. This is the story of those cars.
THUNDER & LIGHTNING
Guitar World celebrates half a century of Thin Lizzy, looking back through the eyes of two key longtime band members: guitarist Scott Gorham and drummer Brian Downey
Some Decembers to remember
BEHIND THE NUMBERS
ROOM WE LOVE - An Elegant Hideaway
A master suite serves as a sanctuary for two young working parents
Apple unveils new iPad Pro with trackpad support
APPLE TAKES THE iPAD PRO TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Paul Andrew Hutton
True West’s historian is a natural storyteller whose love of country and the West makes him one of best in his field.
Taylor Swift: SECRETLY MARRIED?
DRESSED IN BRIDAL ATTIRE, TAYLOR SWIFT SENDS FANS INTO A TIZZY.
WRITING BY ACCIDENT
Learning to get solidly behind every word
SPECTACULAR NATIVE SILVER - Rarer Than Gold in Specimen Form
When it comes to naturally occurring precious metal specimens on Earth, finding native silver is not as easy as finding native gold.