Jimmy Savile

In a hit piece in The Quietus in May 2017 – the lead singer of Gene, Martin Rossiter, added Jimmy Savile to the list of Morrissey’s heavily edited word crimes, writing:

Talking about the Jimmy Savile abuse investigation, saying: “2013 enlightenment can’t be applied to dark and dim nights of 1972, otherwise every singer who ever slept with a 14-year-old would suddenly be behind bars – and that would take a lot of bars”

The full quote is this:

As for Jimmy Savile, he is dead. He’s unlikely to care very much what The Daily Mail thinks of him. Savile has won. He got away with it, and he was obviously never a villain in his own eyes. What remains is the question of complicity, because he could not have been so successful a predator without co-conspirators. Who are they, where are they? What are the names of the police chiefs who ignored Savile’s victims? Savile was a profiteer, and those who protected him are still here. However, I’m not sure if witch-hunts against aged Radio Caroline DJs is quite the point. 2013 enlightenment can’t be applied to the dark and dim nights of 1972, otherwise every singer who ever slept with a 14 year old would suddenly be behind bars – and that would take a lot of bars. Any move against the will of another is wrong, but Savile must have imagined himself to be the kids that he assaulted, and he thought them lucky – such was the ego. (Loaded, February 2013)

Later he said:

Hot Press: How did you react to the recent revelations that M15 confiscated a paedophile dossier naming VIP figures, drawn up by Barbara Castle?

Morrissey: I didn’t even raise an eyebrow. The fact that the dossier is supposedly missing is immaterial. People read it and know what it says, and they couldn’t possibly forget the names that they read. Similarly, the ‘royal’ family have determined that the file on the famous Profumo case not be opened or made available to the public until 50 years after Prince Philip’s death. Draw your own conclusions from that. What becomes farcical is the way the modern Conservative government dictate to the public about tax and recession and recycling, and we’re expected to listen and obey, whilst that same government apparently has a history of paedophilia which they go to excessive lengths to hide, whilst telling us how naughty everyone else is. Last week the Pope announced that 2% of priests, bishops and cardinals in the Catholic church are known paedophiles! And this was the fifth story on the news! And we’re asked to have faith in the Catholic church! The world has officially gone mad.

Hot Press: A 1978 radio interview has just been unearthed in which John Lydon accuses Jimmy Savile of being “into all kinds of seediness that we all know about but aren’t allowed to talk about”. What were your impressions of Jimmy Savile?

Morrissey: I’m naïve on the subject of child abuse. I can’t even imagine what it is. My brain doesn’t lock into it. So, I think the Savile case has profoundly changed British society and obviously depressed everyone, but we’ll soon have a sterile Hollywood epic with Johnny Depp in a blond wig holding a fat cigar. Jimmy Savile worked a lot at the BBC in Manchester, and on the club circuit in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and the older members of my family would always heave a sharp intake of breath at the mention of his name. I never knew why. But I think Operation Yewtree is unsurvivable for Britain. Imagine what the rest of the world is thinking. Imagine what small children are thinking. Once again, there’s no concentration on the police commissioners who ignored reports from Savile’s victims. They’re just as guilty – why not smoke them out? (Hot Press, August 2014)

Morrissey isn’t ignoring victims, he’s questioning the system that allows predators (who don’t see themselves as predators) to thrive – police, governments, the Catholic Church.

It’s the same position he has on the UK child abuse scandal that involved grooming gangs of mainly Asian heritage, and a brief spate of London acid attacks reportedly committed by (mainly) non-white people on (mainly) non-white people.

His focus is on the government, the media and the police – not (as assumed by people who say they’re anti-racist yet immediately jump to the most racist conclusion) on slandering all non-white people, or even on the perpetrators, who are criminals being criminal.

London is second only to Bangladesh for acid attacks. All of the attacks are non-white, and so they cannot be truthfully addressed by the British government or the Met Police or the BBC because of political correctness. What this means is that the perpetrator is considered to be as much of a victim as the actual victim. We live in the Age of Atrocity. (Morrissey Central, September 2018)

Telford grooming gangs? Hardly worth a whisper in The Independent. (Morrissey Central, March 2018)

And he’s not wrong that the jails would be full of 1970s DJs and pop stars if all of them were prosecuted – Jimmy Page, David Bowie, Bill Wyman, John Peel… as well as those already convicted, Jonathan King, Gary Glitter…

The underage groupie scene was well-documented, and still celebrated right up until the Harvey Weinstein scandal:

IN THE EARLY 1970S, the Sunset Strip was a magnet for rock stars: Bowie, Zeppelin, Iggy Pop, Mott the Hoople, The Who. They all hung out in the VIP rooms of louche LA nightclubs like E Club, the Rainbow, and Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco. And with them, of course, came groupies. Scantily clad 14- and 15-year-olds like Sable Starr and Lynn “Queenie” Koenigsaecker sipped cherry cola, dropped pills, and evolved into pubescent dream girls for the platform-shoed rockers who could get anything and anyone they desired. 

Decades before Drake dissed Tyga for dating 17-year-old Kylie Jenner, and R. Kelly faced multiple allegations of having sex with minors, the most visible rock stars in the world blithely made it with girls who were barely out of junior high school. It was all glorified in the pages of a glossy magazine called Star, which reveled in the underage groupie scene for five issues. Other publications, such as the rock ‘n’ roll bible Creem, flicked at the Sunset Strip doings without so much as a wagged finger. Hell, in 1973, a leisure-suited Tom Snyder devoted an entire show to interviews with some of LA’s highly desired teenage groupies. (Thrillist, March 2015)

https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/i-lost-my-virginity-to-david-bowie

National Front Disco

In 1992, Morrissey’s album Your Arsenal, had a track called The National Front Disco.

The National Front was a fascist political party founded in the UK in 1967. In the 1970s they tried to appeal to youths via social events like football matches and discos, eventually becoming associated with punks, skinheads and hooligans.

In a 2015 essay by Frank Owen about the 1970s Manchester punk scene, Morrissey is described as a ‘wallflower’ and a ‘delicate bloom’. Many of the details were a rehash from the Melody Maker interview in 1986 where Frank calls him ‘camp’, a ‘big jessie’ and a ‘big girl’s shirt’.

https://medium.com/cuepoint/booze-blood-and-noise-the-violent-roots-of-manchester-punk-af8092bcaac3

https://fxowen.wordpress.com/golden-oldies/home-thoughts-from-abroad/

Giving the impression that Morrissey was girly and gay seemed important at the time, now he calls him a bigot and a racist.

The song had a variety of inspirations – Bill Buford’s Among The Thugs that described a homoerotic National Front Disco in Bury. Nick Knight’s Skinhead. Bands like Bradford, Angelic Upstarts, and Cockney Rejects. Photographs by Derek Ridgers. The pulp novels of Richard Allen.

In it family and friends tell a young man that they’ve lost him, they know why they’ve lost him, and they doubt he’ll get the revenge or the reward he’s seeking.

In August 1992 Morrissey played a gig with Madness at Finsbury Park. It was reported that the crowd threw missiles and yelled homophobic slurs like ‘poofy bastard’. Morrissey finished his set, but refused to return for the next date. This refusal was widely condemned in the music press culminating in the NME running an article accusing him of encouraging racism with his ‘fascist iconography’ – a union jack and a picture of two female skinheads – and citing The National Front Disco as the latest of a series of racist words in his interviews and lyrics ie Hang The DJ, Bengali In Platforms, When You Belong Here, Shelve Your Western Plans, Asian Rut, Reggae is vile and the fabricated Black Pop Conspiracy.

In The Observer, December 1992, Robert Chalmers, thought he was ‘perversely attracted to the iconography of the far right.’

Morrissey said: ‘I like the flag. I think it’s very attractive. When does a Union Jack become racist?… The National Front interests me, like it interests everyone. Just as all manner of sexuality interests everyone. That doesn’t mean you necessarily want to take part.’

Billy Bragg said ‘I don’t think Morrissey has ever quite got his politics worked out… The real problem with neo-fascist symbolism’ – that’s two girls and the UK’s official flag on a stage with a poofy bastard – ‘is that it is extremely difficult to retain an attitude which is neutral or ironic, which is what I think he is attempting to do.’

Except Morrissey’s politics were clear at the time. He hated Mrs Thatcher. He said he was a socialist. Much of the left shared his dislike of American hegemony and saw the European Union as a continuation of Imperialism. And while he was never keen on benefits and boycotts, he had dutifully turned up.

Beyond wanting to give him a kicking for not fulfilling professional engagements there seemed to be an underlying moral panic about his sexuality.

That he might be exploring violent male subcultures as a kink and the only way anyone could deal with it was to attack it for non-existent racism, or contain it by framing it as ironic or neutral.

Scruples from an industry that had no problem with the iconography of future Trump supporter John Lydon, or girlfriend murderer, Sid Vicious:

That’s happy to wax nostalgic about larky bad boys regardless of violence, homophobia and David Icke conspiracy theories:

Mark himself had once had his head banged repeatedly against a wall by Elvis Costello’s combative manager, Jake Riviera; one of his former NME colleagues was set on fire by Rat Scabies from The Damned, and another was left gaffer-taped to a tree in a desert by The Stranglers… Being “duffed up” (as Mark put it) by disgruntled rock stars was, I realised, a journalistic rite-of-passage. Still, he recommended I call (Ian) Brown’s record company and tell them that their “talent” was going around threatening critics… Within two weeks of our phone “chat” came the infamous air-rage incident, when he threatened to cut off the hands of a British Airways stewardess, then hammered on the cockpit door as the flight came into land… Brown was arrested. (He was eventually sentenced to four months in Strangeways, of which he served eight weeks.)… And, a few months later, Brown launched into a bizarre homophobic rant… ”I don’t trust the British fascination with homosexuals… Violence comes from Romans, Nazis, Greeks – they were all homosexuals.”... How did the lead singer of such an epoch-defining band become a swivel-eyed Covid-denier and online truth warrior? Well, one could plausibly point to a heady cocktail of toxic masculinity, over-inflated ego and drug use… A more sympathetic reading is that the 57-year-old divorced father-of-three might not be feeling quite himself in this new normal™, as is the case with many of us right now. Brown’s “me against the world” complex could be heightened by his counter-cultural leanings, instinctive anti-establishment beliefs and estrangement from his former bandmates. (Michael Hogan, October 2020, The Telegraph)

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/artists/gonna-give-proper-manchester-kicking-ian-browns-journey-violence/

That will collect together anti-Moz songs that include homophobic lyrics because paraphrases of his ‘inflammatory’ statements make him fair game:

All you do is hate life and tell me about it. You’re a homosexual, just keep me out of it. All your music sounds the same
I don’t even like your art fag name. Cause I hate The Smiths and Steven Morrissey
(I Hate The Smiths, Ween)

That crybaby son of bitch, no-talent motherfucker/Bastard-ass dickhead, ball-flapping dicksucker/Baggy-shirted depressed Dean-loving bonehead/Making lots of money with boring songs like Suedehead. (Morrissey Rides A Cockhorse, Warlock Pinchers)

Slap that fag with a toe tag , If you won’t do it then I will. (Morrissey Must Die, Meatmen)

Shaking hands with Morrissey, Sucking cock in East Africa, Ask a lesbian for a fuck, Take a shower in…Auschwitz (Deathtime, Turbonegro)

https://music.avclub.com/viva-hate-15-anti-morrissey-songs-1798222021

Where homophobic anecdotes can be repeated without fear of denting anyone’s career:

When Julian Casablancas (Strokes) has a drink” Jimi (Goodwin, Doves) warns “he goes nuts.” He launches into his favourite Strokes anecdote. Apparently the two bands were in LA having post-gig drinks in a British theme bar. None other than Morrissey was nearby, at a table with 3 girls. “It was fucking strange, man” Jimi laughs “He kept sending these girls over to say ‘Morrissey is sat in the corner if you’d like to talk to him’. He is dead shy, but it was like he was holding fucking court. We were like “We’re cool, tell him to come over and join us”. So he came over and sat down, and Julian started calling him a fucking faggot. I was like “just leave it out, Julian” and he was all “Jimi’s upset with me, man – what’s the problem?” and then he kept doing it! (NME, August, 2001)

Where rock stars can routinely demand everything from drugs to groupies, but Morrissey can’t get a towel:

‘He’s a woman in a man’s body… I remember a feeling of absolute revulsion standing at the side of the stage at the palace watching Stuart James, who’s a brilliant engineer, a good producer and a fine young man, scurrying across the stage with eight freshly cleaned towels for Morrissey.’ (Tony Wilson, The Severed Alliance by Johnny Rogan)

Where casual racism is just a snappy lead:

OK. So it’s not the same as having millions of Muslims baying for your blood, but being at the receiving end of a fatwah issued by Pop’s most vehement star is not an uninteresting circumstance in which to find oneself. (Hot Press, March 2001)

Captions can be in bad taste:

The Smiths, Johnny Rogan

And your friends get corrections:

“No, because your rabbi respects PIG ISLAM”. (Julie Burchill, Independent, September 2014).

Julie Burchill – the funniest, brightest writer I ever met. (David Quantick, Le Document, July 2020)

The National Front Disco

David, the wind blows,
The wind blows

Bits of your life away.
Your friends all say,
“Where is our boy?
Ah, we’ve lost our boy”.
But they should know,
Where you’ve gone,
Because again and again you’ve explained
That you’re going to . . .
Oh, oh, oh, going to . . .
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
“England for the English”,
“England for the English”.
David, the wind’s blown,
The wind’s blown
All of my dreams away.
And I still say,
“Where is our boy?
Ah, we’ve lost our boy”.
But I should know
Why you’ve gone,

Because again and again you’ve explained
You’re going to the National . . .
Ah, to the National . . .
There’s a country,
You don’t live there,
But one day you would like to.
And if you show them what you’re made of,
Ah, then you might do.
But David, we wonder,
We wonder if the thunder
Is ever really gonna begin,
Begin, begin
Your mum says,
“I’ve lost my boy”.
But she should know
Why you’ve gone,

Because again and again you’ve explained
You’re going to the National,
To the National,
To the National Front disco,
Because you want the day to come sooner,
You want the day to come sooner,
You want the day to come sooner,
When you’ve settled the score.
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National