Adam Ant: interview
'Most people with my condition are unaware of it'
You talk about punk as a primarily working-class movement that was hijacked by the middle classes…
Yes, there was a definite element of class tourism. I enjoyed Julien Temple’s film ‘The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle’ – where Malcolm McLaren tells us that he invented punk and used the Pistols as his puppets – but I think it was one of Malcolm’s fantasies. Malcolm was a great catalyst, and deserves credit as an originator but, in John Rotten, he was dealing with a poet. John put everything into action. He was an electric presence, and completely authentic.
You talk about ‘my beloved London’ – much of the book is a kind of extended love letter to London…
London is very important to me. I grew up in Marylebone and spent a lot of time playing football in Regent’s Park, and hanging out in Church Street and Edgware Road. I also love Primrose Hill, Chiswick House and Ham House. I have fond memories of Hornsey Art College – I did my foundation course at Crouch End Hill and my graphics course in Bowes Road. After reading Peter Ackroyd’s biography of London, I started exploring the East End and considered moving to Spitalfields. It’s got a lot of mystery to it.
What was the first gig you ever went to?
The Roundhouse, around 1969. I saw Lol Coxhill – playing a very complex jazz fusion set – and Genesis. The highlight was seeing David Bowie turn up to do an acoustic set. He had fantastic long hair and did ‘Memory Of A Free Festival’ on a 12-string. It was amazing. I spent a lot of time at the Roundhouse for many years – I remember seeing The Ramones play there with The Flamin Groovies – and I would go when the markets were on in the great hall. I’m a big fan of London markets.
What music has saved your life?
My favourite band of all time are Roxy Music – Ferry’s lyrics were incredible – and I grew up loving Bowie, Iggy Pop, T-Rex, Alice Cooper and Mott The Hoople. While in Adam And The Ants, I’d listen to a lot of early rock ’n’ roll and rockabilly – early Elvis, Peanuts Wilson, Gene Vincent, Little Richard, Ray Campi. If you went through my collection you’d probably be surprised to find a lot of old vinyl from the ’30s and ’40s, and lots of jazz – Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Sarah Vaughan. At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Bob Marley, Morrissey, Babyshambles, Placebo, the Kaiser Chiefs and Kasabian.
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