If you've read any pop music rags in the past year, you probably came across some variation of the following: "Pete Doherty, singer of the British rock band Babyshambles, was arrested again for [fill in the blank]." Hard drugs. Stolen cars. Most recently, an arrest on February 27 for both that will probably, finally lead to jail time. And to think just two years ago, this guy had it all the band (Libertines), the producer (the Clash's Mick Jones), and the girl (Kate Moss). To make things worse, now there's a rumor circling the Internet (no shit!) claiming that Doherty is not, well, Doherty.
According to the anonymous article, the train wreck we call Pete Doherty is a Buddy Holly impersonator named Trevor McDermott hand-picked to take part in a hoax to prove that Brits will celebrate any "trampy arsed buffoon" if he's in the tabloids. Of course, it's only a silly web rumor. Or is it? Reinvention is an integral part of British rock music. Just look at David "Ch-Ch-Changes" Bowie or John "I'm a Celebrity" Lydon. Hell, even a fake Brit like Madonna named her last tour "Reinvention." But for every public transformation of a British rock star, there are many more kept secret. Here are just a few.
Kaiser Chiefs You know them as the four mod-punks behind "I Predict a Riot." What you don't know is that the band was originally called the Kaiser Chefs and was just that, hosts of a British cooking show about sandwiches. The program aired only a few times before a particular episode, titled "Oi! Not Soi" infuriated local PETA activists, who protested outside the studio. When the studio producer heard a frazzled Ricky Wilson repeatedly muttering, "I predict a riot/I predict a riot," a band was born.
Arctic Monkeys These fresh-faced young lads claim to be natives of Sheffield. Strange Sheffield's in England, not Greenland, where the boys really were born. And though the band's name offers a hint of its true family history, its official bio completely ignores the truth. So we'll come out and say it: The Arctic Monkeys are the love children of a particularly well-received Monkees reunion concert in Nuuk, circa 1985. We'll let you figure out which Monkee fathered which Monkey.
Gary Glitter Proving he could outdo his 1999 conviction for kiddie porn, the '70s glam-pop icon got re-busted this year for actually doing the deed. On March 2, a Vietnamese court found him guilty of doing naughty things to a couple of preteen girls. At this point, no one's too surprised. What is shocking, though, is this little (actually true) tidbit from Glitter's past: He had a wife and kids. Now all he's got is three years of Viet Dong to look forward to.
Mick Jones One of Doherty's greatest selling points was hooking up with the former Clash member. But while Jones appeared with Doherty in photos and interviews, there's a different story behind the scenes. Sure, there's a guy named Mick Jones doing the knob-turning, but it's not the guy who wrote "Should I Stay or Should I Go"... more like "Feels Like the First Time." Yep, that Babyshambles album you love was produced by Mick Jones, the guitarist from Foreigner. So put that in your pipe and smoke it. Just make sure Doherty's not around. Jason Budjinski
Luck o' the Wordplay
When it comes to traditional Irish music, what's not to love? Sometimes it's reverent and beautiful; other times it's clearly penned under the influence. After a few St. Pat's pints, see if you can choose the correct lyrics to complete the verses to classic songs below.
1. I'm sick in the head and I haven't been to bed
Since first I came ashore with me slumber
For I spent all me dough on the lassies movin' slow...
a. And in me pants is some lumber.
b. Now give me some ale in a tumbler.
c. Far across the Western Ocean I must wander.
d. Down all the streets, I'm a bumbler.
2. Let the wind blow high and the wind blow low
Through the streets in my kilt I go
All the lassies cry, "Hello!
Donald, where's your..."
3. Too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra lay,
too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra lay
Upon his knee a pretty wench...
a. La-roo lee-loo o-la-di-day.
b. Come on, Eileen.
c. He's kind of drunk and wants some lunch.
d. And on the table a jug of punch.
4. I wrote my love letters in rosy red lines,
She sent me an answer all twisted and twined;
Saying, "Keep your love letters and I will keep mine...
a. Love, schmov, now let's have some wine."
b. Just you write to your love and I'll write to mine."
c. I'll IM you later when I go online."
d. But I just realized I prefer chicks."
5. Black is the colour of my true love's hair
Her lips are like some roses fair
She's the sweetest face and the gentlest hands...
a. With which to pound some black and tans.
b. I love the ground whereon she stands.
c. So why the Adam's apple, just like a man's?
d. I wish our families weren't rival clans.
1. C ("All For Me Grog")
2. C ("Donald, Where's Your Trousers?)
3. D ("Jug Of Punch")
4. B ("Green Grow the Lilacs")
5. B ("Black Is the Colour")
Half a World Away
R.E.M. is well-known for doing charity work and supporting political causes, so it's no surprise that vocalist Michael Stipe jumped in to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. The 46-year-old covered "In the Sun" (a gentle song originally performed by moody folkie Joseph Arthur, an opener on R.E.M.'s 2004 U.S. tour) six different ways and released the EP via iTunes last month. (Versions include a solo rendition, a duet with Coldplay's Chris Martin, a collaboration with Arthur himself, and even a remix by Justin Timberlake and Black Eyed Pea will.i.am.) On the eve of the release of the mini-album, Outtakes participated in a conference call with an obviously sobered Stipe, who had friends affected by the disaster and was haunted by what he saw when he visited the beloved city.
B-Sides: How has this devastation affected the way you create?
Michael Stipe: I only have one song written since then, "I Have Seen Trouble," if that indicates [that] it might have had a profound effect on me as an artist and a songwriter. I read all the articles in all the newspapers. I was watching and listening and absorbing through the same media channels that everyone in this call was. Seeing it firsthand radically changes you, you really can't imagine how bad it is.
Five months later, it's still a disaster. The scale of it is monumental. I thought I had answers and solutions. We all have moments of arrogance. Seeing it firsthand, I recognized that it's a much more complicated situation than I imagined. The thing I would like to stress is that there are people now five months after the disaster who are still profoundly in need. We don't need to forget that as Americans, this is our time, this is our story. And how we respond to this is something that will be with us for the rest of our lives.
New Orleans, for me, is a place that's always had a mystery, a beauty to it that is unparalleled in this country and worldwide. My band, we've kind of moved from city to city record by record. We realized early on that working in the city can bring a certain flavor, a certain nuance. New Orleans is one of the few places we've returned to record again. Annie Zaleski
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.