I had heard of Pete Doherty long before I listened to his music. There was a time, in the mid 2000s, where anyone who kept a semi watchful eye on the British press knew who he was. His drug addiction and relationship with Kate Moss was plastered over the front of every tabloid newspaper. The public enjoyed mocking him and an unashamed media formed the basis for this.
But what everyone seemed to ignore was the reality. A young man suffering from an awful, life ruining addiction. There was never a thought for personal issues or privacy. The overbearing claim was that he loved the attention and the ‘rock star’ status his exploits had given him. But underneath was someone who had been thrown into the eye of the media and lost control of their own life. But this wouldn’t sell papers. So the press, with an intrusive and exploitative campaign, made him public enemy number one and made his own situation even worse. This campaign worked so well, in fact, that despite now being clean, he’s still labelled as an ‘ex junkie’ in the ever charming words of the Daily Mail.
He was just a boy who loved music. Who wanted to play it to anyone who listened. But everyone forgot this. His talent was ignored, presumably because it wasn’t ‘exciting’ enough. A listen through his back catalog, however, whether it be The Libertines, Babyshambles, or his own solo work, shows a gifted musician and lyricist (arguably one of the best songwriters of the 21st century). His quick wit shines through in his songs, which often are admirably brutal and honest.
We, as the public, can cast the stone, state that he is the only person to blame for his addiction. We can brandish him pathetic, a ‘waster’. But then we have to assume that we have never made bad decisions in our life. Yes we may not have made them to the same magnitude, but then most of us haven’t been the victim of an over bearing and intrusive press. Call him what you like, and I’ll assume that you’ve never drunk alcohol, smoked or made some stupid mistakes. Life is difficult to navigate, and we should be there to support people going through a difficult time, not mock them.
As of December 2014, Pete is clean. A remarkable triumph for someone who has battled addiction for most of their adult life. And I, like thousands of his fans, could not be more proud or happy. Hope changes everything, well done Pete.