WHEN THE RAIN COMES
Peter Butler once asked me what Beatles single I'd like best. I said 'Paperback Writer' coupled with 'Rain'. The 1980s re-release backside has moptops enclosed behind what looks like refugee cage in Patrick McGoohan - 'The Prisoner' episode. Or maybe they are looking in.
My exchange of correspondence with Peter Butler in Denmark began in early 1984 and ended just before he took his own life on May 24th 2004.
I have one fat off-red folder March 1984 - March 1986, one bulky off-green folder May 1990-December 1999, one slim yellow-manila folder January 2000-May 2004. Peter replaced his manual typewriter with an electric model in 1995. The font changes. I didn't keep everything and didn't keep copies of own responses which were generally handwritten.
Ever the skilled builder, Peter constructed a wooden gallows platform in the bedroom he shared with his wife Lisa, without any assistance from morbid internet sites. Peter abhorred computers and the internet - electronic soccer games really got his goat. Peter's self-exile had turned into a disturbing and disturbed psychogeographical state exile, which was terrifying to witness for his wife and young children as he began to grow a long beard. Final photographs of him from 2004 resemble Osama bin-Laden lookalike and I won't shame google-blog with any of the images.
Peter was promptly diagnosed with clinical depression and became erratic with prescribed medication. As difficult to negotiate way out of as prison in physical and political nation-, US line, or European Union member-states. He'd refused US working visa and maintenance employment solicited at Graceland for him by close US friend and Elvis contact Bill Burk, so Pete must have been in a very bad way.
I've kept most of Pete's letters (handwritten and typed), cuttings, photocopied pages from obscure US popular music zines he always enclosed in large mail-art envelopes with annotated cassettes of music compilations, including rare Presley recordings like hysterical laughing Elvis on take of 'Are You Lonesome Tonight'.
Pete believed he would one day sit at the right hand of the King. That's the King. Elvis Presley. Alongside John Ono Lennon, George Harrison and Billy Fury. In proximity of couple Holdsworthy cycle factory work colleagues, best mate Harry Sharp, and Blue Banton who died tragically young - and 'Busby's Babes' upstairs since 1958.
If that was Pete's final quest I hope it's true for him.
from beat generation ballads sequence.