Steve Strange -correction
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In 2002, Orion Books published a biography on Steve Strange, ghost written by Bruce Dessau. In it was an untrue story claiming that Dave Goodman was the prime instigator behind the controversial 'Free Hindley' single by Steve's band 'The Moors Murderers'. Dave threatened to sue Orion for libel and they withdrew the story and published an apology in the music press. Below is the true account of what really happened.
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE MOORS MURDERERS
It's summer 1977 and Ari Up's last day at Holland Park Comprehensive School, a huge, modern, controversial, forward-thinking, educational establishment, catering for the local youth aged 8 to 16. As proof of their liberal and experimental attitude, they have allowed Ari to give a performance with her new band the 'Slits', in the main hall. All 2000 or so kids have been invited.
Now Ari Up happens to be the daughter of Chris Spedding and Nora Lydon. Chris I'd never really met, although we'd both produced the Sex Pistols. Nora I'd met at the Roxy and Sex Pistols' rehearsal rooms in Denmark St. A very kind woman who became a sorta 'older sister' to many wayward punks.
I had been booked to supply my 2000W PA system - the same one the Sex Pistols used to hire.
There was a support band who I assumed were friends of the 'Slits'. They had this singer dressed in black leather calling himself 'Steve Strange'. I also remember at least one female musician, who turned out to be Chrissie Hynde. They had a certain 'first gig' quality about them, their sound being somewhat chaotic and the lyrics virtually unintelligible.
I couldn't believe it when they announced themselves as 'The Moors Murderers'. It really was controversial. I had lived through that gruesome event and the darkness it brought to my childhood still felt gloomy. To protect me, my mum would remove any 'Moors Murderers' tabloid sensationalism from the papers, after first reading it herself.
After the show Steve Strange came up to me at the mixing desk and confirmed the band's name. I'd heard right - it was as I thought. We got talking. It turned out that they had this song called 'Free Hindley'. They had just performed it, but I hadn't noticed. He had my interest - what was his motive behind it? Steve explained. He felt that it was hypocritical of the government to automatically consider other child murderers for parole after a certain length of time, while ignoring Hindley. Being a high profile case, I believe he felt they were just pandering to public demand. We also discussed change and to what level people can achieve it.
Steve wanted to record his 'Free Hindley' song.
I suggested two main things to Steve -
1. To show he is not condoning murderers he should
create a balance. Why not record the Ten Commandments to music for the B-side?
You know, get out of it in the studio and really get into it man! He liked the
2. Talk to Lord Longford, he's been visiting Hindley in prison and is campaigning for her release. He liked that idea as well.
Steve wanted to rehearse in my basement in Fulham and wanted me to produce his song. I said I'd think about it.
I rang Vivienne Westwood, who knew Steve Strange and Chrissie Hynde. Vivienne pointed out that the Queen is in effect a murderer, as she signs death warrants. After much soul searching I bottled out, and the 'Moors Murderers' went ahead and recorded it themselves. They rang me from the studio and played me a very tripped out version of the Ten Commandments.
A following Saturday morning, me and my business partner Caruzo Fuller had just returned from the cafe when our flatmate Dave Fowel announced that "two journalists had been there looking for the 'Moors Murderers'. He told them that he "didn't know they had escaped." He told them to come back later.
What's going on I wondered, as I sat at my desk working and waiting. Down the back steps trundled four leather-clad beings with pillow-cases over their heads. I opened the back door. "It's me, Steve, I've got the News of the World interested in my single, they wanna do an interview and I need somewhere to do it, so if you don't mind.......?" Well - it was bit too bloody late now, so in they came. I believe Chrissie Hynde and Nick Holmes (Eater's roadie) were two of them. Nick apparently played drums on the 'Free Hindley' recording.
The two journalists returned and an interview took place in the office. I sat in the corner in amusement whilst the journos offered them ever-increasing amounts of money to remove their hoods for a photo. It nearly got to four figures, but the band wouldn't comply. One of the journalists turned to me, "Who are you then?" I informed him I was the Sex Pistols' producer and went on to explain my involvement (or lack of it) in the record.
The next day, on the front page of the News of the World there was the headline 'How Could They Be So Cruel?" and I was incorrectly named as 'the man behind the record' - which is total bollocks. I should have sued them there and then for libel, but I was a stoned hippy with little resources. Months later I spoke with some solicitors, but they felt it had passed its 'sell-by date', so I put it all down to experience.
I remember hearing an acetate of the two recordings 'Free Hindley' and 'The Ten Commandments', possibly played to me by Nick Holmes the drummer. Not long after that, I saw an ad in the back of Melody Maker or NME for the sale of some 'Moors Murderers' acetates and cassettes @ £10 each I believe. I seem to remember Malcolm McLaren bringing that ad to my attention. Anyway, I didn't buy one, I'd heard it once and that was enough.
Years later, when entering a record store in San Francisco, I saw a sign offering thousands of dollars for one. That was the only time I wished I'd grabbed one when I had the chance.
The above is a truthful and accurate account of the events as I recall this 10th May 2002. So help me GODDESS.