All The Pretty Things
GOLDMINE|January 2021
DICK TAYLOR, GUITARIST AND FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE PRETTY THINGS, DEPARTED THE BAND AFTER THEIR CONCEPT ALBUM S.F. SORROW, BUT RETURNED IN 1979 FOR THE LONG HAUL, UNTIL THE RECENTLY RELEASED (AND LAST) ALBUM, BARE AS BONE, BRIGHT AS BLOOD.
DAVE THOMPSON

‘‘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

MORE STORIES FROM GOLDMINEView All

THE GRAND POOBAH!

SINCE THEIR INCARNATION in the early 1970s, the band Poobah have recorded over a dozen albums with various lineups, while openi ng for some of rock and roll’s biggest names.

9 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

THE MAKING OF PEARL

JANIS JOPLIN IN 1970: A NEW B AND AND THE MAKING OF HER CLASSIC ALBUM, PEARL.

9 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

There Must Have Been Something in the Water

If The Beatles never happened, if the British invasion never occurred, then music fans around the world would more than likely never have been exposed to some of the finest white blues singers that the U.K. produced between 1964 and 1970.

8 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

The SAGA Continues

SAGA WERE NOT THE ONLY band to make an album during the pandemic — far from it.

9 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

Ten Years After MORE THAN 50 YEARS LATER

DRUMMER RIC LEE TALKS TO GOLDMINE ABOUT A TEN YEARS AFTER DELUXE EDITION OF THE A STING IN THE TALE ALBUM AND HIS RECENTLY RELEASED MEMOIR, FROM HEADSTOCKS TO WOODSTOCK.

10+ mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

SUZI QUATRO IS BACK!

WITH A NEW ALBUM, THE DEVIL IN ME, THIS PIONEERING FEMALE ROCKER REMAINS AS DRIVEN AND DETERMINED AS EVER

8 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

RE-SHAKE & RE-MAKE

WITH THE RERELEASE OF THEIR DEBUT ALBUM, SHAKE YOUR MONEY MAKER, THE BLACK CROWES FLY HIGH BY REFLECTING ON THEIR ROOTS.

10+ mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

LOVE FOR PEARL

2021 will be a big year for fans of Janis Joplin. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is curating a special exhibit devoted to her that is scheduled to open in May.

7 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

Q&A WITH JANIS' SIBLINGS, LAURA AND MICHAEL JOPLIN

Q&A WITH JANIS’ SIBLINGS, LAURA AND MICHAEL JOPLIN

4 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

CHERISHING CITY TO CITY A timeless classic by GERRY RAFFERTY

It’s early 1978 and the new single by Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty, “Baker Street,” is blasting out on the airwaves on my small transistor radio.

10+ mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021
RELATED STORIES

Style Points

Shaina Taub, writer and composer of the off-Broadway hit Suffs, takes on The Devil Wears Prada—with some help from Elton John

3 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 16, 2022

A Pharaoh Goes to Oxford

The star of the opera Akhnaten takes his role so seriously, he’s been offered a fellowship in Egyptology

3 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 16, 2022

TRIPLE PLAY

A TRIO OF NATURAL AND MANMADE LANDSCAPE ELEMENTS DEFINE A HAWAII HOME’S DESIGN

4 mins read
Ocean Home
April/May 2022

KATY'S OLD-HOLLYWOOD DREAMS!

SUPERFAN Katy Perry is playing host on the new podcast Elizabeth the First, about screen legend Elizabeth Taylor.

1 min read
Star
May 09, 2022

A GOOD YEAR for the ROSEWOOD

As Fender releases the George Harrison Rosewood Telecaster, we retrace the fascinating story of this iconic model with Fender historian Martin Kelly and a gorgeous 1969 original from its first, all-too-brief run.

10 mins read
Guitar Player
June 2022

Bold and beautiful

MARITAL ISSUES - Quinn, Eric and Carter discuss the tragedy that occurred with Steffy and Finn. Once alone, Quinn confides in Carter that she thought she and Eric had been working on their marriage since her affair, but she's not confident that it will ever be the same. Quinn admits she is worried that Eric will never love or trust her again as much as he once did.

2 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
May 09, 2022

MotoGP Springtime for Aprilia

Don’t ask me how that happened. Aprilia, I mean. From bottom of the class to the top of the podium, in one easy move. Well, perhaps not one … it’s actually taken seven years of dogged persistence in the face of serial humiliation. But it still seems to have elements of all-of-a-sudden.

3 mins read
Bike SA
May 2022

bold and beautiful

PARIS IN THE SPRING - Paris, Zende and Carter bond over their grief about Steffy and Finn. When Paris leaves, Zende asks Carter for advice. A conflicted Carter pushes Zende to follow his heart and pursue a future with Paris. Zende reveals that he’s going to propose to Paris. Later, Paris tries to persuade Carter not to end their relationship but Carter refuses to back down. Dejected, Paris leaves and Quinn enters. She quickly realizes that Paris and Carter are a couple. Quinn is stunned to learn that Carter and Paris were together and asks if he’s why Paris didn’t accept Zende’s proposal. Carter fills Quinn in, and how he just told Paris she’d be better off with Zende. Quinn tells Carter that she’s missed him; Carter lets Quinn know he misses her, too.

3 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
May 02, 2022

Embrace Your Roots

GINA HOMOLKA, THE AUTHOR BEHIND THE SKINNYTASTE COOKBOOKS AND BLOG, CRAFTILY TRANSFORMS A VEGETABLE SCRAP OFTEN DESTINED FOR THE TRASH.

2 mins read
Delish
Issue 5, 2022

TAYLOR PUSHING JOE TO PROPOSE

The pressure's on! Taylor Swift wants to beat ex-boyfriend Tom Hiddleston to the altar, reveals an insider.

1 min read
Life & Style US
April 11, 2022