I interviewed Charles Kennedy, the then Lib Dem chief, in his office at London’s House Of Commons 18 years ago today – on 1 June, 2000 – for the launch issue of MOJO Collections, a quarterly music magazine spin-off from the monthly MOJO. Rather freakily, he died exactly fifteen years later to the very day.
As it happened, there was also only a fifteen minute window in which to quiz him for our Vibrations news round-up and obtain a few piccies. But that was more than we got from the then occupant of 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Iraq, Mr. Tony Blair, or even the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, the walking foetus that is William Hague.
After that baseball cap fiasco you would have thought he would Hague the vague would have been keen for some slightly less vitriolic publicity, right? Nope. Both Alastair Campbell (Downing Street press secretary) and his Conservative counterpart, the hideous ‘head of media’ Amanda Platell, made it absolutely clear their bosses didn’t have time to be taking to music magazines. Pah. I bet they didn’t even ask them.
It had been arranged in advance with Kennedy’s PR which of his favourite long-players he was going to enthuse over, so our Mojo Collections intern, Sarah Gerona (now a high flying Creative Director at the BBC) could nip into Selectadisc in Berwick Street with our team’s petty cash so she could photograph him with said artefact (his record collection was in Scotland).
I remember Charles Kennedy as a perfectly pleasant chap, whose face had a tendency to become ruddier the more he smiled. And who looked for guidance from the aforementioned press officer when Sarah asked him to recreate the head resting on crossed arms pose as Bowie had displayed on the album cover. PR said no, with her eyes. Here’s the piece:
The Stereo MP: Liberal Democrats leader Charles Kennedy is unmasked as a closet Bowiephile.
“Young Americans was a magical departure. David Bowie was the first major artist to get into black disco music and the title track has it all – superb rhythms – those drums! – and typically innovative lyrics.
“I had two hours in my schedule and managed to catch him again at Glastonbury this year. It was fantastic hearing all the old favourites from the side of the stage. But, no, once again, I didn’t get to meet him. It was packed backstage and I was running against the clock. But it’ll happen one day, I’m sure.”
© Steve Pafford 2000, 2017