Dr. Feelgood
If you've heard this one before... On the road with Dr Feelgood (2002)

Propos recueillis par Allan Jones © Uncut

Leicester : September, 1977
When they finally close the bar at the Holiday Inn, we can barely stand and according to their manager, Chris "Whitey" Fenwick, Canvey Island R&B legends Dr Feelgood have spent the entire profits of their UK tour on the opening night.

"What're the implications, as it were, of that, exactly ?" Feelgoods singer Lee Brilleaux asks Fenwick.

We're staggering towards the lift, which seems an incredible distance from the bar, much further than it was four or five hours ago when we arrived back at the hotel from the De Montfort Hall, where the Feelgoods had played an incendiary show that had left them in the mood for an epic jolly-up that's apparently set them back somewhat on the financial front.

"What are the implications ?" Fenwick says. "The fuckin' implications ? The fuckin' implications couldn't be fuckin' clearer," he goes on. "We're fuckin' bankrupt."
"How did that 'appen ?" Lee wants to know.
"Without going into too much detail," Fenwick tells Lee, "it might have had something to do with trying' to drink this place dry."
"Out of interest", says Feelgoods bassist Sparko, "how did we do on that front ?"
"Splendidly", Fenwick tells him. "No problem there. The place is well and fuckin' truly fuckin' dry."
"Fuckin' excellent", says Sparko. "Now for the mini-bars."


I don't remember getting into the lift, let alone getting out of it, but we now appear to be in someone's room - me, Lee, Chris, Sparko and the band's tour manager, Fred "Borneo" Munt : that's "Borneo" as in "Wild Man Of..." a reputation Fred lives up to with some aplomb. Right now, Fred is chopping out the largest lines of cocaine I’ve seen, one of which, roughly the size of a baby's leg, Fred snorts in one go.

"Fuck me", he says, head flying back.
"That hit the spot."
"Don't mind if I do", says Lee, taking a rolled-up note from Fred. "Just to be sociable."

Sparko, meanwhile, is flicking through the complimentary copy of the Gideon's Bible, thoughtfully provided by the hotel, which he has found in one of the drawers on the bedside table.

"Don't believe a word of it", Sparko announces with a defiant flourish, ripping out half the Old Testament.
"I should be very careful if I was you, Sparko" Fenwick warns him gravely.
"WHY ?" Sparko demands.
"Because God's got your room number", Fenwick says slyly, Sparko looking over his shoulder, no doubt remembering something about the Lord moving in mysterious ways and not wanting to be taken entirely by surprise by any manifestation of heavenly intervention.

Not long after this, I'm staggering back to my room, horrified by what looks like daylight outside, when I find Sparko, flat on his back in the corridor, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling. I doubt he's been 'smote from on high by the hand of God, and is more likely simply no longer capable of speech, thought or movement, so I step over him and unlock the door to my room, which l don't remember tilting at quite this angle when I was last in it.

I make it - don't ask me how - to the bed, kicking off shoes and various items of clothing as I go, where l lay down, the room moving at some speed around me, a unique feature of the Holiday Inn I hadn't noticed earlier. I'm beginning finally to drift off when the telephone rings, making me first jump and then wonder who could be calling me in what must surely be the middle of the night. Unbelievably, it's Fred Munt, last seen what seems like minutes ago, comatose in his room. He's down in the lobby where he expects me in five minutes, which is when - whether I'm there or not - he and the band are driving off to Bradford, where they have a show tonight. I make it to the van with seconds to spare. Everybody else looks remarkably chipper, including Sparko. Me ? I feel like Dresden after a night of Allied bombing. "I don't know about anyone else", Lee says, about 30 minutes outside Leicester, "but I've got a terrible thirst. Anyone fancy a drink ?"

Apparently, everyone does. "Pass the book, Whitey", Lee says, Fenwick handing Brilleaux a directory they have compiled on their many travels of the country's best pubs. Lee flicks through it. "Right, where are we ?" he says. "OK. Got it. Little place off the motorway, just south of Nottingham. Home-made grub and a decent pint. Couldn't ask for more." We get there just after the pub opens, and stay until they chuck us out. Everyone else tucks in with some vigour to the food, but all I can manage is four pints of lager and a few large Bloody Marys. Then we are back in the van, somewhat revived. "Right", says Lee. "Anyone care for a spot of Beak Lunch ?" He starts chopping out some formidable lines of coke. "Just a sharpener", he says, taking a hit, "just to see us through the afternoon."

There's another great show that night at the St George's Hall, and much merriment after that, followed by a long drive the next day to Edinburgh, where the band have a night off. We're motoring through sun-dappled countryside when Fred, at the wheel, starts telling us how he once had a job as a sheep scatterer and developed a whistle that had the wee creatures running for cover at some speed. Sparko doesn't believe a word, so Fred pulls over, gets out of the van and strides over to a field of dozing sheep. He takes a deep breath and then delivers a screeching whistle. The sheep duly scatter, quite dementedly, racing in all directions.

"Fuckin’ amazing", says Sparko, entirely impressed. "Does it work with cows ?"
"Don't be fuckin' stupid, Sparky", Fred says scornfully. "Nuffin' works with cows."
"Why's that ?"
"Because cows", says Fred, turning and walking back to the van, "is fuckin’ deaf."
Sparko looks at me. "I never knew that about cows", he says, contemplating this bovine affliction. "Did you ?"

In Edinburgh, finally, we meet in Fred's room for a few mind-blowing lines and there goes our night, in an absolute blur. Later, I recall a visit to Tiffany's discotheque and Lee stopping the van on our way back to the hotel, getting out and smacking someone on the head with a tyre-iron, thus provoking something of a set-to with the bloke's mates. After that, my first clear memory is of Fred rounding everyone up the next morning ;
"SPARKO! GERROUTOV THAT FUCKIN' BED ! LEE, GERRUP ! IF YOU DON'T OPEN THAT DOOR, I'LL 'AVE IT OFF ITS FUCKIN' HINGESI GERRUP THE FUCKIN' LOT OF YER !!!"

Now we're in the van again, driving through the outskirts of Aberdeen, most of which seem to be occupied by a cemetery.
"Fuck me", says Fenwick, impressed.
"Look at the maggot farm in this place."
This afternoon, the Feelgoods make a personal appearance at a place called The Other Record Shop, where they sign copies of their new album, Be Seeing You, and Lee gets into an argument with someone who tells him rock music should be free.

"No fuckin' go, mate", Lee tells him. "Rock’n’Roll is a business. I don't like it either, but it's still a business. We can't play for nothing. We need money to live. No one's gonna give you anything. Fuck me. I remember five years ago, I came to Scotland with this band and we played at the Station Hotel in Ayr. Not one person came. And all I had to eat that day was one sardine and a bit of toast. So, yeah. It's sad we all need money. Sad we all need food. Sad we all have to die one day. Sad we've got to have such stupid arguments in record shops."

At this the guy wanders off.
"Overgrown fuckin' gerbil", Lee says, in a terrible mood now. "If I'd 'ad an 'ammer 'andy, I'd have caved his fuckin' 'ead in. Anyone fancy a drink ?"

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© Dr Feelgood & Lucie Lebens - Tous droits réservés
In Memory of Lee Brilleaux & Gypie Mayo