Take a walk up and down the aisles of your local record store, or nearest HMV outlet, or even the iTunes store on your laptop whilst you have one hand down your pants, and you’ll see various names who have various musical ‘genius’. John Lennon, Joe Strummer, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, David Bowie. All these names have had problems with substances. Nowadays, Peter Doherty is the latest in a long line of drug-addled creative magicians who fluctuates between sagacity and smack. The only difference is, really, that Doherty hasn’t got as powerful a body of work as the rest of these icons.
The Libertines were the last British band to really live and breathe their art. You get a sense that Doherty and Carl Barat would sacrifice themselves to reach the utopian heights of ‘Arcadie’ where they can announce their work is done, settle down on the grass to read Oscar Wilde whilst lighting some opium. When the band reformed in 2010 for two concerts at London’s HMV Forum before two triumphant sets at Leeds then Reading, it was a joyous moment which really did provide “an ending fitting for the start”.
Fast forward two years and Pete’s musical journey is as sporadic and confusing as ever. He’s played three London gigs so far this year, even debuting new material and he’s told NME he has a producer ready for his second solo album. Meanwhile, Drew McConnell of Babyshambles announced Doherty rang him with songs from his home in Paris, hinting at a possible third ‘Shambles record. Then, just last month, Barat told NME he’d “love” to reform The Libertines again and admitted that “offers are always on the table”.
Whereas Pete’s been busy getting his debut acting role slammed by anyone who’s ever been to Cannes, Barat has appeared mellowing in age. He admitted last year that he and Pete’s relationship was complicated and the 2010 reformation hadn’t helped anything. You get a sense that, after a decade of being icons to millions, Barat is finally feeling the weight of Doherty’s addiction around his neck like a golden albatross. It isn’t just Barat who’s grown tired of the frontman’s antics either. Stephen Street, in our interview with the producer in May, suggested that Pete’s genius was “washing away because of his lifestyle”. There’s obviously still a fanbase and a loyal following for Pete, and the talent is clearly still there judging by 2009′s Grace/Wastelands, probably his best work since The Libertines’ 2004 self-titled album. However, the time is now for Pete to stand up and give something back.
Recently he was thrown out of a Thai rehab centre. This is one of many attempts he has given at getting clean. However, his manager has previously stated that the opiate receptor implants Doherty used a few years back weren’t working because Pete would substitute heroin for other drugs during this time. Just last year, he was arrested for cocaine possession and a missed festival set at T In The Park. These drug issues come in the middle of the cloudy circumstances of filmmaker Robin Whitehead’s death at a party with Doherty in 2010. Plus, CCTV footage emerged of Doherty running away from Mark Blanco’s dead body last year when he died in 2006.
Whereas the likes of Curtis, Morrison and even Winehouse have fallen into addiction and it has ended dreadfully tragically, there is a sense of tragedy about their deaths because of what they still had to give. Peter Doherty has been helped on various occasions by various people, all to no avail. I’m a passionate believer in Pete’s genius and ability, but the longer this nonsense continues, the more that I can see waking up to a news bulletin announcing his death. Some people deserve to be helped. Other’s don’t. With Doherty in his mid-thirties now and having thrown away a chance many children would die for, I’m starting to question which camp Pete now belongs in.
By James Daniel Rodger
Dance Yrself Clean