Viv Prince after a night out in Denmark.
The Pretty Things 1965:Viv Prince front and center
Feelin' down? Me too, maybe it's the rain, but here's something that might cheer you up, it worked for me. It's footage of the Pretty Things with maniac drummer Viv Prince. If don't have a smile on your face by the very thought of Vivian Prince and the Pretty Things circa 1964-6 then you need to re-evaluate your entire life. Viv was the original wild man of British rock'n'roll. It's like he took all the uptight suppression of British society at the time and channeled it all into an explosive force that was himself. He is often sited as an influence on, and precursor to (and a few times fill-in for) Keith Moon. But Viv didn't need a gong. You rarely see anything written about Viv Prince that doesn't include the word lunatic. He was a perfect fit for the Pretty Things who hired him after burning through two other drummers (Pete Kitley and Viv Brougham, session man Bobby Graham played on their first recordings). Every rock'n'roll fan should own at least the first two Pretty Things albums (The Pretty Things and Get The Picture). In fact, put the Live On The BBC onto the must have list. If you don't have 'em, a good way to get the best early songs is via the Norton Records Pretty Things EP series (great covers and R&R sounds best at 45 rpm), or their entire catolog was re-issued by Snapper Records, these CD's all have bonus tracks and the first LP has some great CD-Rom video footage (although it no longer plays on my computer since they were released before Mac OS X). There's plenty of great early television clips of the Pretties on YouTube, most of it never shown in U.S (I do remember seeing the Honey I Need clip above as a tyke) although the best quality clips have Skip Allen on drums, so since they were not pertinent to today's posting, I didn't include them. Don't get me wrong, Skip was a great drummer (I love his fills on Midnight To Six Man), but Viv Prince was truly one of a kind. Viv doesn't play on that many of the Pretty Things recordings, if fact I'm not even sure which ones he does play on, no matter, they made many great records-- Don't Bring Me Down, Honey I Need, Get The Picture, Can't Stand The Pain, Come and See Me, Midnight To Six Man, LSD, killer renditions of Bo Diddley's Road Runner and Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut, just off the top of my noggin', I'd say are right up there with the best of the Beatles, Stones, Kinks and Yardbirds. Anyway, getting back to today's subject, the above footage all features Viv Prince on drums. If you're interested in the subject, and how can you not be? I highly recommend the book- Don't Bring Me Down....Under (The Pretty Things In New Zealand, 1965) (UT Publishing, 2006) by Mike Stax, Andy Neill and John Baker, one of the greatest tales of rock'n'roll debauchery, mayhem and crustaceans ever told. The story of perhaps the most legendary rock'n'roll tour of all time. It was certainly the funniest. I swear, I just about shit my pants laughing while reading this book, you can find it here. The photos and newsclippings alone would be worth the price, the story itself, I could not possibly do justice to here, treat yourself and get this one.
After getting the boot from the Pretties, Prince went on to record this solo single-- Light Of The Charge Brigade b/w Minuet For Ringo (Columbia, U.K. the b-side is bad so I'm not including it, only Cathy on the Patty Duke Show likes minuets). The Pretty Things went off the track on their third LP Emotions, changed directions and became a great psychedelic pop combo with the single Deflecting Grey and the concept album S.F. Sorrow, then Dick Taylor quit and they were never quite the same although they made some good records, it wasn't until he returned in the early 90's that they truly reclaimed their original sound. The Pretty Things are still around, God love 'em, they came through New York about ten years ago (seems like yesterday)and were incredible, I've gotta dig out the Lakeside photo booth pix of the drunken night I spent hanging with Phil May and Dick Taylor and post 'em one of these day. Those guys know how to have fun! BTW did anyone notice at the Royal Wedding back in '81 when Princess Di came down the aisle, Phil May sitting in an aisle seat? I thought I was imagining things, but it really was him.
Viv Prince is still alive, living somewhere in Portugal, and evidently as crazy as ever. God bless Viv Prince, the Pretty Things, and everything they ever demolished.