Gary Holton is innocent, OK

​Mr X do you mean?


"I forget. He was an idiot. I didn't like him". (Then, realising the offender may have been a colleague of mine) "He may have been nice, but I didn't like him. This guy came up and started insulting my old lady over a parking space. And I says to him "Look, please don't swear, that's my lady driving". And he said...well, so I wiped the living daylights out of him. So we arrived at Atlantic, me with me shirt ripped open, all cuts and bruises, and there's her, posing up to the eyeballs with hair and big tits and that - "Are you alright, are you alright darling?" - And this journalist bloke thought I'd set the whole thing up. It had been a really big fight, right, and I was sitting there coughing and shaking, and he was saying "That's good, yeah, impress me". He wrote an article really slagging me off. So I thought, what a bastard you turned out to be".


Although he was born in the East End, Holton points out that he didn't grow up there. Ain't no one going to call him posh and get away with it though.


What sort of school did you go to?


"I went to about five schools"


One of them was a public school wasn't it? Which one?


"I'm not saying... Westminster. Only in the daytime. Only cos' me dad won a bit of money on the horses. Only for six months, they threw me out in the first year".


They threw him out, he says, because he was "basically an idiot" because he was "dim". He is not dim, but he seems to have believed them: Therefore, he has more than one reason for not wanting to talk about Westminster.


At age 11, he was not only an ex-public schoolboy but also a child actor. At this point he ran away from home. "I didn't get on with me parents. Apparently I was a terrible kid so (adopts stage voice) I ran away to go on stage".


Where could you go aged 11?


"To me grandmother. She was wonderful. She's dead now, bless her soul".


Do you remember running away?


"I didn't run. I just walked downstairs and told them I was going. And then I went. On a Green Line bus".

At age 17, he joined the cast of Hair. A year later he got bored, left, went broke, and decided rock 'n roll was a quicker way to make money than acting. So he bought a copy of Melody Maker (with his last few pence naturally) and answered an ad for a vocalist. Thrown out (once more) of said band, he joined up with Micky Finn, presently on Marriott's Allstars, and achieved a residency at London's Speakeasy Club.


A residency at the Speakeasy was not the acme of his ambition "But we couldn't get anyone to notice us, until I started dressing up, swearing at the audience and having a go. Then we progressed... to a residency at the Marquee", he giggles.


He can afford to giggle, you might say, now that the great news is out and the Heavy Metal Kids, signed by Mickie Most, are presumably heading for stardom Holton reckons that Most can give the band an identity on record that will match their identity on stage; himself, he's not really interested in recording, not much interested in music at all, in fact (oh Gary, nor am I, Gary, wish I could admit it and not lose me job) no, the magic of Mickie Most for the Kid, it's not hard to see, lies in the gold that covers his office walls.


"Bands you'd never look twice at - Cockney Rebel and stuff". He doesn't say, "We'll release a single in April and an album in June", wiv 'im it's 'I'll chart the album in Australia, then I'll chart it in Japan and you'll be ready for the States'...he's got a 99% success rate. You can't knock it, really". Funny, that's what all Mickie Most's bands say.


"And most bands produced by Mickie end up quite rich, ha ha" returns the Kid conclusively.


Ending up quite rich may not be Gary's only aim, but it is, to say the least, the only one he finds easiest of expression. "Rock is a short lived business for the individual innit?" He asks. "So I'll keep it in as long as I can, get to the top and then (now he's getting under the skin of the part) maybe use rock to represent Some Other Kind of Art Form. I dunno. I'd like to do a rock pantomime. None of your bloody Esoterical cynicism though" (and he shoots me a look under his eyelashes to see how I'm taking it).


Why do you want to get to the top? Does that seem like a daft question?


"Yeah. It's best, innit? The top? I want to have the power to do what I want to do".


What do you want to do?


"Well, I dunno - I've got to concentrate on getting there first". He ponders "say for instance my whole ambition was to fit this room out with the most expensive carpet in the world; even though it's just this crummy old room. That to me would be my ambition. And I couldn't do that unless I had a whole load of dough. Or say I wanted a room full of midgets running about, just for fun. I couldn't do that unless I had money and influence. People would accuse me of being..."


Heightest?


"Yeah. Unless I was accepted as an eccentric".


Do you really fancy wall to wall midgets?


"Mmm, ha ha. Wall to wall midgets and hanging dwarfs. Well look, I'd like to be respected. Well, famous, then. But cos' I want people to say, there goes a good guy, a clever dude. I dunno, I find this very deep. I mean, would you ask a bricklayer these questions? Oh, I'll tell you what". He leaps to his feet, relieved at having thought of something to entertain me and stop me asking silly questions. "Come in here. This is my camera collection. I'd like to be a camera expert, that's what I would like to be. There, that's something no one else has heard about me. Cameras, I love them. They freeze time. Yes, I want to be a star. A filthy rich star. I want to shit on the people who shit on me. I'm not going out of my way to find them, I'm just not going to be ultra friendly to people that have been nasty to me, people I'm nice to now".


Gary's lady appears briefly in her dressing gown. Next week she appears on page 3 of the Sun. Gary's younger brother is making coffee in the kitchen. Gary's publicist is in the back room. Gary and me are talking about Lindsay Kemp.


"Bloody outrageous. He was the Quintin Crisp of Glasgow, you know. He used to mince down the road in a long cloak, and make up like Crisp-did you see the Naked Civil Servant on telly? It nearly changed my whole life".


He grins, daring me to ask the next question. Are you both ways then Gary?


"Could be". He mumbles, leaping up again, escaping further definition. He rearranges the dentist's chair, the one that stands below the wall, with the pictures of him and Alice Cooper with their arms around each other, to a precise angle. "I'm a Virgo, I like diagonals. I make lists. Look, this is one I made for today. I was supposed to do all these things by twelve o' clock".


The list says things like "rush matting for kitchen, ring Pierre, Kate Phillips at one", and near the bottom, "FIX THE METER".


In a few days time Gary is off to France to record with Mickie Most. The Kids may play a few dates here in February, but the entirely new act they are planning will be tried out in France before anywhere else. Gary says he'd like to live in France. "We have a weird scene over there. The audiences are a lot older - 22, 23 - and they're a very perverted crowd. Well, not perverted, but decadent. And you can't tell one from the other ha ha. One guy in France comes to the gigs, and I see him standing in front of the stage with my exact gear on, tights and all. Then I go off to change and when I get back he's changed too. He's still looking exactly the same as me. Weird. We're a cult thing over there. They like us being against the police. "Les Kids versus Les Flics". The thing I like about France, it's a good place to be an artitst. It's debauched".


The Tee Vee scene's very hot too. Gary sees a way to avoid the implications of this.


"Listen". He clatters across to take up a paterfamilial position on the hearthrug. "Listen. It'd have to be a fucking amazing guy to pull me".

 

Gary Holton totters around the sitting room floor, his absurd high fashion cloggs clacking emphatically at every step. He is discussing his last interview with NME "Me and Salewicz had this big argument. He seemed to want to prove I was some kind of..."  Poseur?


"Poseur. Yeah, poseur. Me cockney accent kept slipping and he was going "There! There, I got you you bugger!" He had this big bottle of brandy and its turned into a competition, who could take the biggest swigs and stay on their feet... Course, we're best of friends now".


The kid doesn't want to be type cast. At least he doesn't want to be type cast as anything too purely East End, too simple and uninteresting. None of your Johnny Speights. He also knows it's not politic to miscall journalists too often.

"I'm not a rough neck. I'm very passive (inspiration dawns) i'll tell you how I got me image. There's only one thing that really gets me uptight, right - well, unless I bin' drinking - and that's when a woman is insulted. So me and my ex old lady had driven up to Atlantic to do an interview with this guy whose name should be wiped off the map".

Dedicated to keeping Gary Holton's memory alive since 2003.