Pete Doherty: Hero, Villain or Just Human?

'Bad boy' of Rock: Doherty
After Mass today I visited the local and inside the pub was playing an Amy Winehouse song.  I'm sure it sounds quite naff to say it but it was genuinely sad hearing it in the light of her recent death. It's quite haunting, really.

Her friend, Pete Doherty, has just been released from prison where he had been serving a sentence for possession of crack cocaine. It is worthy of note that both of these figures will, 'worthily' or 'unworthily', go down in rock and roll history, for whatever that hall of fame is worth, but that their names will most likely be synonymous with illegal drugs, self-destruction and will be tinged with public notoriety.

It is highly unusual for rock artists to come in for public criticism nowadays, but society makes an exception for Doherty and did for Winehouse.  The stigma concerning heroin and crack cocaine - and there should be a stigma - has led a great many people, in this post-Christian society, to forget the rule of 'hating the sin' and 'loving the sinner' and whenever a lack of charity abounds about certain people, you can be pretty sure that a great deal of hypocrisy is thrown in for good measure.

For the life of me I can't see why Doherty and Winehouse came and still do come in for such criticism when the world of music is soaked with drugs, illegal drugs at that, copious amounts of booze, narcissism, immorality and self-destruction. What is more, it seems to go back a lot further than just the modern day musicians.  It is said that nobody enjoyed a debauched party quite so much as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer of so much music that still makes the World breathless in awe. While perhaps few of us would present the following names as role models, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Oasis and just about any band or musical artist you could care to mention have long histories of drug abuse and self-destructive behaviour which befit the 'rock star' image.

That is why it is so unusual for one or two rock stars to come in for such close attention. More than that, however, is the fact that Doherty has admitted that what he has is a real addiction problem - not necessarily a devil-may-care attitude to life in general. A friend of mine told me today that it is likely that Amy Winehouse died not of a drugs and drink overdose, but of the effects of withdrawal.

Neither is drug abuse rife merely among the artists on the stage.  Both the media and the musical industry which promotes performers have unrivalled access to drugs and a large percentage of those who work in both industries find time in their busy schedules to indulge. Even in the legal profession, which is, certainly in these parts, constantly sending addicts into prison, rehab and the rest, illegal drug abuse is relatively common.  Like I say, there is a great deal of hypocrisy that surrounds the drugs issue.

The reason why I find the scathing criticism of Doherty and Winehouse interesting is because, were they not so talented, or, depending on your view, their rubbish so promoted, then by all accounts both could be living in 17/19 Grand Parade in Brighton, scraping by enough money a week to get a hit, being evicted for not paying their top up fee and ending up on our soup run at St Mary Magdalen's. That, I think, is the real reason why these figures come in for such close attention from the media. Their talent has put them somewhere where the 'right thinking majority' believes they do not belong - and that place is fame.

These people forget, rather conveniently that possibly all of their favourite pop and rock stars have lived lives riddled with sex, drugs and rock and roll. Elton John is wheeled out at Royal events and while we are already aware of his homosexual lifestyle, many of those who love him also forget his earlier years when he was quite plausibly sniffing cocaine like there was no tomorrow. That is how many rock stars live - like there is no tomorrow - and society can condemn that if society wishes, but please, don't have one rule for some rock stars and another rule for others. That is just plain old rank hypocrisy, something particularly condemned and even loathed by Our Blessed Lord.

With all of that said, neither fame nor fortune make Pete Doherty happy and neither did they do any favours  for Amy Winehouse.  Very recently, another body bag was dragged out of 17/19 Grand Parade by the ambulance workers and that is a terrible place to live, an horrific excuse for accommodation. Amy Winehouse's body was removed from a £2.4 million house in London and the result was the same and for similar reasons. It has to be said again and again, as our beloved Holy Father said in his visit to the UK, that neither fame nor fortune can answer the needs of that most mysterious of things - the heart of man. Only Our Lord Jesus Christ can do that and He doesn't force Himself upon us. In our lives we can accept Him, or reject Him, on a daily basis, in our struggles to live a holy life. Hope - that most priceless treasure - is only in Him and happiness is in Him alone. All rock stars have fallen short of the Glory of God, as we have and do. Quite why the media and the general public single out Pete Doherty for closer attention than most, however, I have no idea.

Right. Blog post done. Off for a fag...


mike said…
Didn't you quit smoking? I thought your fiancé made you pack it in (she won't want to marry a smoker!)
I failed to quit smoking.

I am still very much an addict!
Felicity said…
"Off for a fag..."

Not a term I would wish to use lightly in Brighton!

Your new sidebar picture is good.
Phil said…
@ mike

Don't you mean "fiancée"?
- but this is Brighton- maybe not.