What Became of the Likely Lad?

July 31, 2022

Peter ‘Pete’ Doherty has been one of the most controversial figures in British rock-indie music scene for nearly two decades. For the first time, he speaks about his life and times to author Simon Spence in a biographical account, with sincerity and hope.

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efore embarking on the mission to read what is an authorized biography called Peter Doherty: A Likely Lad, a culmination of author Simon Spence spending close to 60 hours or more with the English musician-artist, you need to embark on another mission. For context, listen to the last bad boy of rock ‘n’ roll’s music (in this order) by The Libertines followed by Babyshambles followed by Pete Doherty’s solo work.

For one thing, it will connect with the chapters (and the stories) as each is named after a song. Doherty made good music with bands as well as a solo artist, irrespective of the fact that he never broke through international waters to America, the place that makes you a global star. Frankly speaking, Doherty didn’t care. In fact, this book almost didn’t happen. The idea hit Simon in 2017 and Peter rejected the notion. Even the idea of a ghost writer irked him, but, as with all things that changed during the pandemic era (consciously or unconsciously,) Peter gave Simon not only 60 hours but didn’t muck about as his reputation suggests and something Simon was expecting.

An enthusiastic but older Peter Doherty told Simon: “Don’t hold back on any subject. Anything you want to talk about, I’m happy to discuss.”

True to his word, Peter does answer uncomfortable questions as well as things you will not find on the internet.

During the first chapter, we learn that Peter was an army brat, how much he adored his father who had joined the British Army and how it influenced Peter. The English musician may be writing songs that can and cannot be interpretated in one way or another but it’s obvious from the first chapter that he values family now more than he did, since becoming both sober and mature. In fact, the song ‘1939 Returning’ from his solo album, Grace/Wastelands is written for a relative called Nanny Doll.

British rock’s last bad boy might not have become truly famous, but his talent and body of work are unquestionably superb.

As a young child, despite his father’s disciplined upbringing, he confesses that it was his parents who introduced him to The Beatles.

A Likely Lad is Peter’s journey to music but he talks about everything from music he heard as a result of his parents to living in Belfast, Ireland and becoming British music’s bad boy for almost two decades while cranking out memorable albums.

The book is neither as long a memoir as Life by Keith Richards or like another music biography. It’s fresh, Peter is in an introspective mood throughout, and Simon Spence is interested in his subject and tells the stories in a way that pull you in. There is a sincerity to it, a quality that is as rare as the songs Peter has penned over the course of a career spanning at least two decades.

– Find it on Kindle now

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