Wednesday, June 3, 2020

R.I.P. Phil May

                          Phil May November 9, 1944 - May 15, 2020

Phil May, Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ September 17, 1999
"This pen doesn't work" Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ September 17, 1999

Word came through that Phil May had passed away. Its taken me awhile to sit down and write about it because time has been short and I really wanted to put my soul into writing this.

My introduction to The Pretty Things came at a very early age. I was probably 11 or 12 and at the onset of my British Invasion fascination with all things Sixties and British in a "Time Life" World Library book in my school library on Britain there was a picture of them playing live in b&w. But they were never on oldies radio and there was no Internet to search for them on. In 1983 I bought David Bowie's "Pin Ups" where he covered the Prettie's "Rosalyn" and "Don't Bring Me Down". I honestly did not hear them until 1985 when a girl I was friends with taped me selections of tracks theirs. Around the same time another friend put "Can't Stand The Pain" on a compilation tape. Finally in 1986 I acquired my first Pretty Things record, the Bam Caruso compilation LP "Closed Restaurant Blues" from Venus Records and so began the acquisition of their Sixties catalog.

Fast forward to September 17, 1999 and the entire 1967 line up of the band kicked off their U.S. Tour at Maxwell's in Hoboken (I was fortunate to catch this gig as drummer Skip Allen bailed a few gigs later).  What I remember most about their set was they performed five tracks from "S.F. Sorrow" which sounded god like (no doubt owing, in some small part,  to the several pints of Double Diamond coursing through my veins).  After the gig I found Phil May standing at the bar on his own nursing a glass of white wine. We had a brief chat and he signed several E.P.'s for me (despite a malfunctioning pen) and came across as a lovely, polite chap.  I sadly never got to see them again.  Rest in peace Sir.

"David Bowie's just doing what Phil May of the Pretty Things used to do. He's just wearing different clothes"  -Van Morrison 1973

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