A no-holds-barred look into the remarkable life and career of the prolific musician, songwriter, and producer behind Eurythmics and dozens of pop hits.
Dave Stewart’s life has been a wild ride—one filled with music, constant reinvention, and the never-ending drive to create. Growing up in industrial northern England, he left home for the gritty London streets of the seventies, where he began collaborating and performing with various musicians, including a young waitress named Annie Lennox.
The chemistry between Stewart and Lennox was undeniable, and an intense romance developed. While their passion proved too much offstage, they thrived musically and developed their own sound. They called themselves Eurythmics and launched into global stardom with the massively popular album Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).
For the first time, Stewart shares the incredible, high-octane stories of his life in music—the drug-fueled adventures, the A-list collaborations and relationships, and the creative process that brought us blockbusters from Eurythmics like “ Here Comes the Rain Again” and “Would I Lie to You” as well as Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” No Doubt’s “Underneath It All,” Golden Globe winner “Old Habits Die Hard” with Mick Jagger, and many more.
From great friendships and creative partnerships including the group SuperHeavy along with Jagger, Joss Stone, Damian Marley, and A. R. Rahman, to inspired performances and intimate moments in the studio—Stewart highlights the musicians he admires and calls friends, from Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, Elton John, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr to Bono, Bon Jovi, and Katy Perry.
With a behind-the-scenes look at Stewart’s innovative endeavors that keep him on the cutting-edge of the music business, Sweet Dreams Are Made of This is a one-of-a-kind portrait of the creative heart of one of its most gifted and enterprising contributors.
With a Foreword by Mick Jagger!
From the Hardcover edition.
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From the Hardcover edition.
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Chapter 4: FROM THE MIDDLE ROOM
Paul said that the girl’s name was Annie, and that she worked in a restaurant called Pippin’s. It was a health food restaurant— still a new concept then— on Hampstead High Street. Only posh Hampstead would have such a shop. There wasn’t much wheatgrass or braised tofu in Sunderland.
So we drove there, but we didn’t actually go in. We could see her through the window and we waited outside. I started steaming up the window from the outside with my breath, and I began drawing on the window’s condensation. I wrote, in reverse so she could read, “Will you marry me?” I couldn’t really see her that properly because it was this packed little place. As usual I looked quirky and odd, wearing Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes “Tony the Tiger” sunglasses and cropped spiky hair. We could see the manager of the restaurant mouthing to Annie, “Do you know these people?”
Paul knew what time she was finished— seven o’clock— so we waited till she came out. When she did, she was a bit annoyed and worried she could lose her job. But we started talking, and we connected straightaway. Paul wanted to go to a bar called the Speakeasy, so Annie and I went with him, and we carried on talking. We were in this place for about ten minutes when we both said, “Don’t really like this place. Where should we go?”
We went back to her tiny bedsit room in Camden Town, with just enough room for a little bed and her old wooden harmonium, and started talking. Annie and I basically didn’t stop talking for the next twenty years.
She had longish hair, not blond or dark, but brownish, and a secondhand fake fur coat she wore over an old-fashioned print dress. She looked very studentlike, and she really was— a student living on hardly anything. But she had incredibly stunning, piercing blue eyes and the most beautiful face I’d ever seen. I could tell she was very sensitively alert to everything, like a real artist.
She played a couple of her songs on her harmonium. One was called “Tower of Capricorn,” and there was another one called “Song for Matt,” about a boyfriend she’d had who had died rather tragically. She sang, “Matt I got your letter, on the thin blue paper/ the kind that come from long distances . . .”
I was utterly knocked out by everything about her: her singing, the chords she was playing, her delicate words and her haunting beauty.
Her singing and her songs reminded me of Joni Mitchell. I’d been big Joni fan, especially the album Blue. This reminded me a little bit of that, except the instrumentation was different, because Joni was playing dulcimers and guitars. But Annie was singing while playing this big old harmonium. Pam told me just before we parted that she knew I was going to be with someone more like a Joni Mitchell type, an artist who could sing and play. Annie was all this and more. I had found my soul mate, and I knew it with absolute certainty.
It was 1975. We stayed together that night and every single night after that for the next five years and to this day are still best friends.
I immediately thought, “Well, this girl is incredibly talented.” And she kept saying, “I don’t know if anybody will like these songs.”
I said, “Are you joking? I’m telling you. You’re a phenomenal songwriter.”
From the first day, I told her she was an artist, and I think that meant a lot to her. Until then, she’d been torn about sticking in at the Royal Academy of Music. She had been studying flute and harpsichord, but she didn’t like it because the place was very stiff, and everything was too competitive. Everyone there was practicing all the time, practicing to be the best violinist or the best flute player. And she was more excited about Joni Mitchell or Stevie Wonder, which was at odds with this formal, traditional, classically oriented world where she was studying.
She had no money and was starting to do tiny gigs with a friend, doing cover versions of Elton John songs and others to make some cash, in addition to working in this vegetarian restaurant. So when I said she was an artist, it was very affirming to her. And from the minute we met, I never saw her go to college again. And from that moment on, we were together. We didn’t leave each other’s side; we went everywhere together.
The next morning Annie told me she suffered from panic attacks, and she was feeling very anxious a lot of the time. I felt really bad for her, so I said, “Well, look, I tell you what. Why don’t we go and chat to my mom, who lives in this tiny room in Crouch End?” She agreed and we took the double-decker bus. Halfway there, she was panicking, going, “I don’t know. Don’t really know you very well, and I don’t know your mom, and I don’t know why we’re even on this bus.”
I tried to reassure her by saying my mum had been through all this stuff and she knew about these kinds of things.
When we got there, Annie felt more relaxed, and my mom was very sweet, but she was packing to go on holiday for a few weeks. She said we could have the flat key and stay while she was gone.
So we moved in that night. But Annie didn’t realize I was a drug addict, addicted to speed. That first night I went out to get some bread and milk and didn’t come back. She was in my mom’s flat on her own, not knowing really where she was or what was going on. I didn’t come back until six o’clock in the morning, telling her excited stories about Piccadilly and some girl called Circles. I must have seemed really bonkers, but I was so used to this crazy lifestyle of staying up all night. I was being really honest. I would tell her everything. I was always meeting and talking to twenty different people in a day, and I think Annie slowly caught on; she knew something wasn’t right. I felt very natural around Annie and she did around me, so I told her about my drug taking.
I was falling madly in love, and I told her so. We then decided we were going to live together. This must have been only three or four days into our relationship, but there was no denying it. But we couldn’t live together in my mom’s flat and we couldn’t live in Annie’s little room, which was only big enough to have the harmonium, a single bed, a tiny sink and a kettle. So we went to talk to Paul, who had the shop and the three floors above, which were part of the squat, and he was going to live up there. But there were other rooms in the house, and he had already said to Annie that she could have one of the rooms. So she went to see him and said, “Hey, do you mind if Dave and I both move in?” He thought about it for a second and agreed.
Of course, there was nothing in there. It was just a derelict empty house with no furniture and rubble everywhere. Nothing worked. You had to climb over bricks and debris to get to brush your teeth. When people talk about starting from scratch, it means from zero, right? Well, this, literally, was where we were: at zero. No money, no carpet, no bed, no nothing; just the idea that we would live together in this run-down house.
Normally when you meet somebody you fall in love with, you go through tentative stages. There was none of that with us. It was like I didn’t know her one minute, and the next minute we were living together. We were never apart. It wasn’t like we would see each other occasionally. We were together. Inseparable.
We lived there for at least two years. And eventually, we made it better and better. We got rid of the bricks. Luxury!
Paul was quite amazing, and he just seemed to understand that we got on like a house on fire, like two musicians in love. Paul was a really funny guy, a mensch really, but he was also kind of crazy. If we complained that it was freezing, he would simply say okay and chop up the kitchen cabinet and throw it on the fire. He was thinking that it was just a squat anyway. But Annie and I were trying to make it into a little home.
We went shopping in jumble sales and junkyards, looking for plates and cups for a few pennies, or a sofa that we bought for one pound. Annie was such fun to be around when it was just the two of us. We were always laughing and talking constantly, chatting about our lives and what had happened to us up to that point. After a month I knew everything about Annie and she knew everything about me. Every painful thing that we had experienced we found easy to talk about with each other, and we shared the same surreal sense of humor that sometimes only the two of us could get. We never played music together, didn’t even talk about it that much.
One simple thing that Annie decided to do saved my life. Instead of being confrontational about my addiction to speed and cocaine, she just asked me one day how much I took. She had a little notebook, and she wanted to know how many lines of speed or coke I took over twenty-four hours, and she said she would write it down. Then she showed me and suggested that I try to cut down from, say, twenty times to nineteen, then to eighteen and so on.
She started making healthy food. At the time I had a twenty-four-inch waist and ate hardly anything, because you don’t feel hungry when you are speeding away all the time. The combination of cutting down on drugs very slowly, tapering off them, mixed with eating small amounts of real homemade food and living with someone who loved me enough to care for me in such a delicate way helped me eventually quit drugs altogether. It wasn’t easy, though, and it took a very long time to get totally clean. But she never left me during this period. While I was trying to detox, Annie would have to put up with dealers coming around the house at all hours, one time even being woken up in our bedroom by Blue, the Hell’s Angel, trying to give me coke on the end of a flick knife while I was still asleep. Annie shouted for him to get out, and she has a very loud voice!
So our lives together were a mixture of very extreme situations with many oddball characters popping in and out, but then, when we were left alone, we were incredibly sweet to each other and loved to do simple things. It was an amazing time to be young and in love. There was a wild energy in the air. Margaret Thatcher had become the first female leader of the Conservative Party, white nationalist groups, such as the National Front, were becoming more outspoken, and there was racial conflict in the air. Bands like the Sex Pistols and Sham 69 formed, and people were out in the street drunk and shouting outside our window like there was a riot about to happen most nights.
In the record store below us, Paul was blasting out either punk or heavy reggae/ dub music, and our floor was constantly shaking with the bass throbbing through the house. Sometimes it was so loud that we couldn’t think straight, so we would have to go for a walk or go visit someone. We didn’t really know many people as a couple, and for some reason we were quite shy about getting to know new people. But eventually we had a small circle of friends who were mainly people I knew, artists I’d met who Annie could relate to. As we rarely had any money, we stayed mainly within walking distance of the squat. The first time I took Annie to the Railway Tavern up the road, she was shocked, as the landlord immediately kicked us out, saying I was banned. The same thing happened when we walked down to the Queens, another pub in Crouch End. I had to explain that I had been dragged out and down to the police station from both places in the past for “causing a disturbance” along with Barry Dransfield. Annie took all of this rather well and just adapted to each situation as it came. I knew she always had my back and I had hers; our bond became stronger and stronger.
I decided to introduce Annie to my friend Peet Coombes. Peet was my good friend, and a great songwriter I hung out with a lot. Because I’d fallen so madly in love, I hadn’t even seen him for a month or two. One day he came around to visit us, and he brought his guitar. He played some new songs around the kitchen table, and they were all great. One was called “Just the Wind” and another “Dot.” Annie joined in singing harmonies immediately, and it was as if they had sung together for years, their voices blended so well together. We discussed right then and there the idea of forming a band around the three of us, which would eventually become the Tourists.
Now we were three, and we were a band. Peet was very much the leader— the songwriter and lead singer. Annie played keyboards and sang harmonies mostly. A lot of the time we’d have the lead voice and harmony together all the way through. I played rhythm guitar and lead guitar.
I’d met a guy called Rob Gold a while back at Island Music, and he paid for us to record some demos for Logo Songs, a small publishing company he was now working with. I had no ambition whatsoever then about being a songwriter myself. I was always the fan of Peet’s and now Annie’s songs, so when it came to recording the demos, I didn’t do much apart from being enthusiastic and playing guitar a bit on a couple of Peet’s songs. Annie sang her songs and played harmonium or piano. The demos were good.
Rob was impressed, but not quite sure how this raggle-taggle bunch would fit together. We didn’t really know yet either. At first we called ourselves the Catch, and we soon got signed to a publishing deal with Logo Songs and a record deal with Logo Records. I remember when we were sitting in their offices and they started talking about advances, paying us money for signing the contracts, and Annie said, “Oh no, you don’t have to pay us.”
I was standing on her foot under the table, as I’d had a publishing deal and a record deal before and knew they needed to give us an advance. Besides, we were completely penniless, broke and living in a squat at the time. Annie and I had no idea yet of the power that we were going to have as a duo in Eurythmics, so we were happy to have any kind of recognition, and a record deal was not an easy thing to get back then. I was happy for Peet to be the songwriter, as he was very talented, and Annie seemed fine about that too.
At first the label obviously thought Annie was a really great singer and a great-looking girl, so what was she doing with these two drug fiends? To make our record, they put us in the studio with session musicians. We’d never heard of having session musicians. I’d always had a band, and Peet had always had a band or played his own material. We were confused, as we played our own music the way we thought it should sound! Everything was taken out of our hands, and the session players played our music their way.
Unsurprisingly, the record didn’t sound anything like how we wanted it to. It had lead vocals by Annie and harmonies by Peet. But that was where it stopped. It didn’t resemble anything like the quirky sound the three of us made or even how Annie did as herself. But the production was all wrong; the session players made it sound dated and bland. We didn’t understand why they were doing this, but we went along with it.
We stopped recording for a while, stunned at what had happened, but we had a tiny amount of money from the advance, so Annie and I bought the cheapest little Morris Minor van for about two hundred pounds. It was a real bone shaker. But we loved the freedom to be able to go anywhere anytime we wanted.
I have a hopeless sense of direction, but Annie’s is so good I used to call her “Annie’s Atlas,” and she would navigate while I drove (badly, I must add) to Hampstead Heath or Camden Town or to visit our friends Willy and Karen up in North London. We even ventured outside London but were very aware the van could break down at any minute or we would run out of petrol and be stranded.
On one of these outings we drove through the East End of London and witnessed a terrible racist attack. It was brutal. The car in front of us slowed down and four men jumped out and proceeded to attack an innocent elderly Asian man, hitting him repeatedly with a hammer. Annie and I stopped our car and got out to try to help the poor man, so we were the only witnesses. The police seemed racist in the way they were talking to him, blaming him as if it was his fault for walking along that particular street. We were furious as they took our statements. The next day the police said they needed to come and see us; they warned us that we could be in danger from an East End gang. That same night we had to play a gig in London, and a horrendous fight broke out by the back entrance. There were split heads, a few broken bones and blood everywhere.
With these two things happening on top of each other, we were so stressed out that we decided to go miles up north, camping with a tiny tent at a rock festival, of all places. There was social unrest brewing in the UK, and in 1976, it all came out: there were riots and Rock Against Racism concerts, punk music peaked and the country erupted to the sound track of the Damned, the Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Slits, Subway Sect and the Vibrators.
It was then we realized we had to have players we got along with before we recorded anything else, and we went searching for musicians to make a band sound.
We held some auditions, which was how we met Jim Toomey, the drummer. He lived with a guy who was really good at recording and made some great demos of us. Then we got the great bass player Andy Brown in the band, and the Tourists were born.
We played our first gigs and quickly got loads of attention. We got an agent and played all over London, all the places that were happening: the Hope and Anchor in Islington, the Electric Ballroom in Camden Town, the Marquee Club in Soho. Our gigs went from fifty people to a hundred, two hundred, then four hundred. We were heading on an upward trajectory fast. Andy thought it was too risky financially to play with us, as he could make money playing with a few different people, so he left and we found a new bass player, Eddie Chin.
We announced to Logo Records we were now called the Tourists, and we made our self-titled first album. We released a song called “Blind Among the Flowers” as the first single, written by Peet again, with both Peet and Annie singing lead vocal and harmony all the way through. It went to number fifty-two in the charts, and we appeared on TV for the first time on shows like the chart roundup show Top of the Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test, a music show where artists performed in really bare-bones setups originally hosted by TV legend “Whispering” Bob Harris.
All during this period, Annie and I were a couple and living in the squat, which was now quite decent. We were still sharing with Paul, and he was a major force behind the band, always promoting us in the shop and getting people down to the gigs. We were still broke, of course, and it was crazy because we had a record deal and a publishing deal, but we had to sign on the dole every week as unemployed! We would see people in the queue, and they would recognize us from the TV and look confused. But we were literally living hand to mouth.
“The Loneliest Man in the World” was the second single on the album and the first song I ever produced. I asked the label to let me produce the song myself. They agreed, but the album was already finished by then, so I had to complete it in four hours, including mixing. A studio was booked, a studio that I had never been in and didn’t know. But I did it. I produced my first record. It went to number thirty-two in the UK charts. Now I was a producer. Things started to heat up.
Now when we played gigs, we were pulling five hundred people to a thousand, and we played up and down the country as much as we could and even a few festivals abroad. We began to get lots of reviews and traction as a live band.
We went into the studio to record another album called Reality Effect, which had two hit singles in a row, “So Good to Be Back Home”and “I Only Wanna Be with You.” The latter we did just for fun, butit ended up being our biggest hit. But even with the hits, to us, we feltit wasn’t the right sound.
Annie had dabbled, but she was never a druggy person or a big drinker. Still she had to deal with a lot of it when we were on tour. We traveled everywhere, always in small cramped vans or minibuses, up and down England, supporting Roxy Music. Then we went all over America and to Australia, France and Germany.
To Annie, though, the Tourists had become a double-edged sword. She’d been drawn toward the world of Joni Mitchell and soul music, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Elton John songs. Motown inspired her when she’d first heard it on the radio while she was growing up in Aberdeen. Our band wasn’t making that kind of soul music. Our music, which was written by Peet, was psychedelic and guitar-driven. But, regardless, Annie really went for it onstage. She gave it her all. But then we’d have to drive for seven hours, with Annie and me crushed together in a sweaty van with a bunch of guys. Occasionally we would have an overnight hotel, but very seldom. When we had time off, we would still spend every minute of the day together. And on occasion we went on holiday!
One time I booked a holiday in a hurry, because by then we were well-known in the UK. We had been on TV and radio several times and were recognized everywhere we went. This was quite stressful, as we were a couple and we liked keeping to ourselves and having fun in our own private universe. But I couldn’t have picked a worse place to go for a couple who wanted to be invisible.
I walked down to the local travel agent to find the cheapest holiday abroad that we could leave for the next day. I don’t know whether it was the pressure I put on the agent to find us this holiday in twenty minutes, or a joke he decided to play on us, but he booked us for two weeks on a tiny island off the coast of what was then Yugoslavia.
We took the flight, which arrived as the sun was going down, and we were in high spirits as the coach dropped various people off at their hotels or boardinghouses.
This ride seemed to take forever, and by the time it was our turn to be dropped off, it was pitch-black outside, and we were the only ones left on the bus. This did not bode well. Annie was getting anxious, and when the bus pulled onto a long jetty, there seemed to be nothing there.
Then we heard a voice from below, and there was someone in a small boat beckoning us to climb down the rungs of the jetty wall. I threw our suitcase over the side, and we set off toward a dimly lit island in the distance. It started to feel very romantic and a real holiday at last. When we eventually got shown to our room, we loved it and fell asleep exhausted.
The next morning we got up and read the instructions and the little map that led us to the main reception area and café where breakfast was served. As we walked along this very beautiful twisted path with the sun coming up over the island, I noticed out of the corner of my eye what seemed to be a naked man jumping. I thought nothing of it until we heard cries and shouts, so we both peered through the bushes and there was a volleyball match going in full swing, so to speak, with only one thing missing: clothes!
We laughed, thought that was a bit odd and hurried on to breakfast. I opened the door for Annie, who was met with the sight of about fifty naked and seminaked people queuing with trays for breakfast. I popped my head in and someone shouted out, “Hey, it’s the Tourists!”
Yes, we were at a nudist colony, a nature resort, clothing not necessary, and it was an island! Annie was shocked, to say the least, and at first she thought I’d booked this on purpose. We had no idea what to do; the last thing we wanted was to be nude among a bunch of real tourists who recognized us! I had to think fast and said, “Hey, why don’t we get a little boat ride to another island for the day, and then we’ll figure it out?”
We went to the boatman, wearing as little as possible to try to fit in, and people were asking for photos all the way. He took us to what I understood to be a beach on Red Island. Once we were dropped off, we crossed a bridge, found the beach and guess what. It was another nudist beach, but at least you could lie down on a towel. So we decided to stay for a while and hid behind a rock in case we were recognized again.
Actually, everyone was really cool here, apart from one guy, a huge naked man with a big belly, lots of chest hair and a chain with a gold medallion, who was smoking a big fat cigar. He wouldn’t sit or lie down; he just kept walking up and down, checking out all the naked women, and I could see he was pissing everyone off.
We were lying there quietly, beginning to relax at last, when we heard a bloodcurdling scream, and everyone looked up, shocked to see medallion guy running out of the ocean with a giant Portuguese man‑of‑war jellyfish clinging between his legs. Everyone burst out laughing and cheering as he ran up the beach, screaming and clutching wildly at his scrotum. There was fun to be had here after all! In fact it never fails to cause Annie to cry with laughter when we recount our visit fully clothed with some of the tourists to a local farm. We signed up for as many things like this as possible to avoid our island and our pals in the nudist colony, as it wasn’t simply a matter of beaches and playgrounds for the unclothed but rather a self- contained community with their own supermarket, bank, restaurant and laundry (for which there was less than the usual need).
The farm trip took a turn for the worse when we were all greeted with a customary drink of wine mixed with garlic and fresh cow’s blood, which tasted awful but was ridiculously potent. Needless to say, I drank quite a lot of it.
I don’t remember much else about the evening but evidently I did the Elton John room trick again, somehow finding bedsheets and wrapping them around my head and torso, spinning wildly back into the barn where the feast was taking place.
Annie was in stitches while the other guests cheered me on, laughing and banging on the tables with their empty goblets, as I pranced and pirouetted, doing my best Isadora Duncan impersonation in the center of the room.
Evidently the bus ride home was one of Annie’s most embarrassing moments. She kept her head down all the way as I chatted wildly, delighted to have made new friends, forging strong bonds and making flagrant promises to meet them all tomorrow at breakfast. Worst hangover I ever had.
I remember when the Tourists played Los Angeles, we had four whole days off. I decided I wanted to visit Ann Zadik, the lady who was kind enough to let me sleep on her floor back when I first signed to Island Music and whom Pam had come to visit. She was still living in Laguna Beach. It sounded exotic, and I wanted to see what it was like outside of Santa Monica Boulevard or the Sunset Strip. I wanted to see somewhere in California that wasn’t about hipsters and hangers‑on, dopers and dropouts and grungy LA rock and roll.
We decided to take a public bus, so we got up early and crept out of the hotel only to bump into John Belushi in the car park. As we didn’t live in the States, we had no idea who he was or that he was a big star from Saturday Night Live. But he approached us—I’m sure because we looked different. Annie had bright spiky blond hair and a leather jacket, and we both had this kind of punky thing going.
He said, “Hey, do you want some of this?” He opened up a large crumpled packet of cocaine on top of a car. It was about eight in the morning, in broad daylight, with people walking by to work. Annie was like “Whoa!”
I answered, “No, it’s all right, mate.” Belushi was persisting, “Come on.” He’d obviously been up all night and we both wandered off, feeling sorry for him. I knew how he must have felt, having been there many times myself.
So we took a bus from Hollywood to Laguna Beach. We were amazed when we arrived. It seemed like some kind of paradise. It was the first time I’d ever been anywhere like this, and we wandered around just stunned at how beautiful it was. Ann and her husband, Tom, took us to a flea market on a giant parking lot. It was enormous, it went on for ages and it was filled with all this stuff we didn’t even understand. American stuff. We had a great day. It was such a relief away from the band, being in the same discussions and situations with the guys in a van or in a hotel. It was just the two of us, and we felt like we could relax and breathe.
When we got back to Hollywood, we checked to see if Peet was okay. He wasn’t. There were two girls in his room, and some kind of drug deal had gone down. I think it was heroin, as they were all nodding off and couldn’t really speak. We felt like “Oh, God, back to reality.” From then on it all started to collapse around Peet, and it was very sad to watch.
We flew from the States to Montserrat in the Caribbean to make our last album, Luminous Basement, at George Martin’s studio. We were the second band ever to record there after Earth, Wind and Fire, and that album was much more weird and trippy.
It was my first experience of the Caribbean, which I fell in love with immediately. We arrived on this tiny little plane, and everything was really bizarre, because Peet and Annie were not really getting on. They were very different personalities from the beginning, and I think he didn’t want Annie to be in the band in the first place, and Annie always found it hard to relate to him. Peet was an amazingly sweet character when he wasn’t drinking, but as soon as alcohol took hold, he became a different person. Anyway, making the album in Montserrat was not a good experience at all— the studio and accommodation were stunning, beautiful, but there was trouble brewing in paradise, and we were worn-out.
We were overworked, and things got overheated. Stopping recording sessions to do photo shoots in the jungle for the UK press was not our idea of fun, and the whole band was on edge most of the time. Annie and I kind of retreated into our world and became detached from the whole recording process. Again Peet had written some great material. “Walls and Foundations” and “All Life’s Tragedies” are to this day really strong songs, but the experience recording them was painful.
The first song that Annie and I ever wrote wasn’t really a song; it was an instrumental we composed during our time in Montserrat. It was a sound collage, really, called “From the Middle Room,” a very experimental track, electronic and weird, and nothing like the rest of the Tourists’ music. We did it while recording the Tourists album Luminous Basement, but nobody was in the studio: no Peet, no producer, just me and Annie and the engineer. I said, “Let’s just experiment,” and we got the guy to record our sonic doodling.
Then I suggested, “How about making it sound all phased and jungly?” and we recorded the crickets outside and brought in this weird psychedelic harpsichord sound. It was pure experimentation. We put it on the B‑side of the single, which was a luminous kind of fluorescent yellow see-through vinyl. The reason we called it “From the Middle Room” was that Annie and I were still living in the squat, and our room was called the middle room. If somebody said, “Where’s my guitar?” we’d say, “It’s in the middle room.” “Where’s Dave and Annie?” “They’re in the middle room.” So we called it that. It was our own private joke. And that record was, I can see now, the beginning of Annie and me thinking about Eurythmics. That was the start. That was the moment.
We left for Australia to promote the album by way of exotic Thailand, except it became more nightmarish than exotic because of Peet’s habit. First, we were stuck in Thailand longer than we had planned, so Peet’s planning of “how much gear he had to last him until he got to Australia” didn’t pan out. In Bangkok, he must have tried to do a deal, and the people came in his room and threw his suitcase out the window and ripped him off. So he ended up buying just two bottles of ginseng whiskey and drinking them instead. He was in a terrible state.
Things didn’t improve Down Under, and the Tourists virtually imploded. We had just arrived, and that very same night Peet overdosed in Sydney. He was deathly ill. The next morning we were about to do TV and radio, when our tour manager told us that Peet couldn’t make it because he’d been found on the floor of a junkie hangout in Sydney’s funky King’s Cross area, having convulsions and frothing at the mouth. Luckily, he had his passport and room key with him— miraculously neither was stolen— and someone called the hotel.
The next day he flew home and we prayed he’d find some way of recovering. We realized it was impossible to keep this band together with our lead singer in such bad shape. Peet wrote all the songs as well as singing them. Without him there was no band. We fulfilled a few obligations that we were committed to do on this Australian promotion tour, not sure whether Peet was coming back or if our band had any future.
One day in the middle of all this confusion, while we were still in Australia, I was walking around outside, and I stepped on a bracelet lying in the street. It was an inexpensive chunky kind of bracelet, costume jewelry at best, and I walked around the corner and there was the sign of a pawnbroker, the Three Balls. So I went in and said, “Look, I’ve got this bracelet.”
He said, “Where’d you get it?”
I said, “Well, I was walking down the road, down there, and it was on the ground. It was nobody’s.”
And he was going, “You sure about that?”
I said, “Yeah!”
He looked at it and told me with typical Aussie candor that it was worth sod all. But he had a little plastic 8mm cine camera there, and I asked him if he would trade me for it. He said, “Yep.” I didn’t even know if it worked. I needed a battery that could go in the handle. I said, “Do you have any film for it?” He said, “Well, I don’t know if it’s for that camera, but we’ve got boxes of film.” He gave me three or four film cartridges. I put one in the camera, it worked and I walked out of the shop, filming. A film I have to this day.
I went back to the hotel room and told Annie about my new camera and how I’d exchanged it for a bracelet I’d found in the street. She said, “I can’t believe you bought a camera when there’s so many things we really need.” I said, “Yeah, but I think we could probably shoot and make little films with it.”
This trip had so many insane things happen in one week. We flew to Perth, taking off from Melbourne, and one of our plane’s wings caught fire. People were screaming, and the pilot said we had to circle for at least thirty minutes, jettisoning fuel. It was terrifying, and when we landed back down in Melbourne airport, we were met by dozens of fire trucks. If that wasn’t bad enough, once we reboarded our flight to Perth, it was another terrible flight with awful turbulence. When we finally arrived, our nerves were frayed to shreds.
Then, when the airport doors opened, we were hit with a bombshell. A voice over the PA announced John Lennon had been shot and killed, and everyone just broke down in tears. It was December 8, 1980. A day a lot of us will never forget.
On the plane back to England, we were convinced that the Tourists were over and that we’d lost Peet for good. Annie and I sat next to each other and discussed the situation. We were exhausted and had been in each other’s company constantly, so we decided we should give each other a break. Considering how tight the two of us had been, how close and closeted and loving and codependent, it was an intense moment and an alarming decision to even consider. We both agreed, pulled down our eyeshades and went to sleep.
When we got back home, we were still sort of together, but I began to get really ill. This strange thing happened with my lung, and it was terribly painful. It became difficult to breathe at times, and it had been happening more and more frequently since the car accident back in Germany with Jude. As much as the idea freaked me, I knew I had to go to hospital.
Once there it was decided I needed this big operation, which would result in a huge scar. They punctured my lung, but I had to be awake. It was a nightmare and real, not some acid-flashback nightmare. The doctor had to lean over me with a needle and force it into my chest. This took a lot of force and precision to penetrate the chest wall yet stop before puncturing the lung. Then they said they had to do a major operation, because I’d had both lungs collapse at different times. If both sides collapse at the same time, it’s curtains. I had no idea how painful this was going to be or how long the recuperation would last; this at a time when Annie and I had decided not to be together. I had never felt so alone. But when Annie saw my pathetic and depleted state, she decided she’d better look after me. This whole story is in our song
“17 Again,” which was written years later for the album Peace:
Yea though we ventured through the valley of the stars
You and all your jewelry
And my bleeding heart
Who couldn’t be together and who could not be apart
We should’ve jumped out of that airplane after all
Flying skyways overhead
It wasn’t hard to fall
And I had so many crashes that I couldn’t feel at all
It explains everything. I was completely knackered. Annie was really scared and worried about me but trying her best to look after me. I kept saying, “I don’t feel right.” I would literally pass out in my own bed. When doctors do this kind of operation, they move your rib cage, so imagine that pain.
We were no longer supposed to be together as a couple, but as I slowly recovered, Annie would try to help me walk to the corner shop and back, even though it was like walking around with an octogenarian, as I was so weak from the operation.
Then she went off to Scotland to see her parents, and the separation was official and final. I made a couple of friends, and I slowly got back into feeling semi-okay.
Then I went up to Sunderland to see my dad. I met a great girl called Toni Halliday, who was a sixteen-year-old singer-songwriter who had very spiky white blond hair and a beautiful smile, and I could see she had a real edge, a lot of attitude. We got on really well and became friends. I slowly started to get my own little group of other friends around, but I still felt that I didn’t want to admit the breakup with Annie was a reality. I would tell everyone, “Well, we seem to have broken up,” but it seemed pretty weird to me.
Our friends would say, “We don’t get it. We always thought of you two as a couple. It was always Dave and Annie, and wherever you went, whether you were in a restaurant, or at the record shop, or on the road, or at a jumble sale or a car boot sale, it was Dave and Annie. So why are you separating?”
I remember we were desperately confused about it. Annie was crying all the time, and she knew we couldn’t be together, yet it was so painful to be apart. It was a very confusing time.
I’d met this man in the hospital, Mr. Fogle, who was in the bed next to me. This sounds crazy, but he was a magician and his wife was his assistant. They would perform magic shows to entertain the troops in war zones, in Germany or in Africa, and he used to do a trick of catching a bullet in his teeth. But some dopey soldier guy got up on the stage and shot a real bullet at him, into his head. The audience was thinking it was part of the joke. But his head was gushing blood. His wife, the magician’s assistant, was saying, “No, this is not a joke.” But the crowd was laughing more, because they thought she was part of it too till they realized it was real, and everybody freaked out and he was put in a helicopter. He had an emergency operation. Half of his skull was missing. And he was in the bed next to me.
He would blow his nose as I shuffled past him to go to the bathroom. He had a white hankie with black spots. But when he shook it, it was a black hankie with white spots. But he never told me he was a magician. I was on these heavy post‑op sedation drugs, and I thought I was going mad. But then he told me his story and why he was there. He’d invented something called the Fogle Scope. He thought he was going to die and wanted to know if I could help him get it on the market to help his kids. It was like the last desperate act of a dying man.
After we were both out of the hospital, Annie and I went to see him on his birthday. I’d always written nice letters to him. When we arrived, his wife took Annie and me aside and said, “He’s not got long. He’s dying.” Then the two of them showed us their scrapbook of their lives, starting with when they had first gotten together back when they were young. She had been his assistant ever since. It was so sad.
Annie and I were looking at the scrapbook, and we were also a couple who worked together, and who were now breaking up, looking at this sweet older couple, and everything they’d been through. I remember I was driving back to the house, which was absurd, as I couldn’t really see the road, because the drugs I was still on from the hospital were so strong. Annie was really affected from being at that couple’s house. We barely made it home. We realized, Okay, we are going through some intense shit together, because we were obviously so sensitive and emotional. We knew we shouldn’t put ourselves in that kind of situation again, or anything like that, at least until I could get over this operation. And, ever so slowly, I did get over it.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Foreword Mick Jagger ix
Chapter 1 Girls Are Different 3
Chapter 2 Magic in the Blues 15
Chapter 3 The Smoke 40
Chapter 4 From the Middle Room 61
Chapter 5 In the Garden 82
Chapter 6 Hold Your Head Up, Moving On 93
Chapter 7 Cautious Celebration 113
Chapter 8 U.S. Of A 119
Chapter 9 Would I Lie to You? 134
Chapter 10 Revenge 148
Chapter 11 Savage 172
Chapter 12 We Too Are One 180
Chapter 13 On My Own Again 184
Chapter 14 Clam Chowder 199
Chapter 15 Travel School 207
Chapter 16 Piccadilly Picnic 219
Chapter 17 Peace 240
Chapter 18 Jimmy 247
Chapter 19 The Call 251
Chapter 20 Pheochromocytoma 258
Chapter 21 Platinum Weird 266
Chapter 22 24 Karat Gold 283
Chapter 23 SuperHeavy 293
Chapter 24 Country Wine 309