Whilst flicking through the papers last week (yeah, people do still read them) I came across this little nugget of a picture.
Just to confirm, he’s not wearing any make up or anything, this is actually how ill Pete Doherty, the man once lauded over as possibly being one of rock ‘n’roll’s great saviours, now looks.
Millions of words have been spilt over Doherty’s problems and I doubt these few hundred of mine will exactly bring about any Earth shattering redemption on his part. But I was genuinely shocked by the greyness of his skin, blackness of his eyes and the pity I felt for him.
Doherty was at Cannes to promote his debut film, in which he appears to play a cartoon version of himself that will only exaccerbate the idea of him being the perennial “tortured poet”.
Throughout all of his addictions and brushes with the law it has always been this myth that I’ve found most repulsive. In a recent NME interview the magazine revelled in the fact that he was smoking drugs out of a pipe in front of them in the same way a 12 year-old glees at being allowed to take a sip of beer at a party. It is the myth that indulges his addictions, excuses his behaviour and most probably prevents him getting clean.
We have all seen men like this in the pub. The ones who claim they could have made it and then spend the rest of their days dining out on ever exaggerated stories of ‘celebrity’. The problem for Doherty is that he did make it (briefly) and now feels/is pressured into forever playing the caricature of the star that burns brightest.
The Libertines were great. For a while. But the majority of their music has aged badly and the ghost of their legacy should be put to bed.
One feels that it is the attention that Doherty receives and undoubtedly now craves (for notoriety is a drug itself) that fuels his problems. He’s tried rehab, he’s been in prison and nothing has served to clean up his life. He is now the persistent junkie, continually promising new material and other endeavours whilst failing to really do any of it.
In a perfect world the media would ignore him, thereby snubbing out the oxygen that drives, and drives him to, this madness. Obviously that will not happen.
Doherty is a father and for the sake of his son I hope he is given the peace he requires to acknowledge his problems and put his demons to bed. The cliché of the drug addicted rock star is one that is as enshrined in music as Marshall amps or the three-chord punk song. Whilst people celebrated the antics of The Rolling Stones or The Who, their examples show us that flamboyant drug use is ultimately the tears of a clown. If Doherty is happy with his addictions then fine, it is his choice. But perpetuating this myth/excuse of the ‘troubled artist’ and funding it by attention or otherwise is reprehensible. In the 21st century that circus should be over.