Wednesday 17 February 2010


I could hear a lot of commotion outside, but I couldn't see anything. We were still backstage, by now I was talking to Mike, and again thanking everyone for an exciting concert. We were getting ready to leave, down the narrow staircase, when a warning for everyone to go was issued. Again confusion, there was only one way down ... the stairs! I immediately thought - fire! No, it was to do with a big crowd outside waiting for the band to appear. I think they were friendly. The problem seemed to be they were blocking the door. Suddenly we started to move again, it was all very fast. Next I knew I was holding Maiza's hand and we were being ushered into a car together with the band and Margaret Banks. I could have died, what was I doing in there' We rushed off and there was dead silence in the car. There they all were.

Maiza was staring at Pete. She actually owned a parrot named Gabriel! It was all very uncomfortable. To break the ice I started talking nervously. Luckily over the past two weeks I had seen many interesting shows in the city. I think I started to talk about Mummenschanz, the Swiss visual theatre company that was and is so creative, and how extraordinary that they can communicate so much without words. A real delight! Then there was the play 'Our Lady of the Flowers' by Jean Genet which had been performed by the very avant-garde artist Lindsay Kemp. Pete was especially interested in him. Extraordinary that in 2005 Lindsay performed and choreographed a version of The Lamb. Everything comes around. There are no coincidences ...

At this point something very special happened - Pete gave Steve a flower to give to me. He too seemed very shy. That flower sealed my fate. By now the atmosphere in the car was pretty chatty.

We arrived at the Navarro Hotel in Central Park. There was a further reception there.We weren't there long when Steve approached and asked Maiza and I to dinner at Max's Kansas City, the hub of Rock & Roll. It was the home of the New York Dolls, Lou Reed, Bowie, Robert de Niro ... everybody really! We drove downtown. I thought Steve was interested in Maiza. He seemed quite nervous and talked endlessly about his mother. A little strange I thought.

We got a table immediately, which impressed Steve. The fact was the chef was a Brazilian friend of mine and as a student I ate there often for free. We all ordered steak and a salad. Steve must have been in love because later I would find out that eating lettuce leaves was the 
ultimate sacrifice he could make for someone. 
Two weeks later he was following me to Brazil for Xmas.

Thursday 11 February 2010

The Lamb in Winter

New York was so alive in `74. I found inspiration on every corner. It was an amazingly productive time. I drew and painted incessantly and lived in my head - imagination and creating new worlds was what mattered. I clashed with my teachers constantly. We were living in the era of Hyper Realism but I couldn't see the point in drawing old tennis shoes or trashcans. Nothing mattered other than that I was free.

My cousin Danny Weil lived on the Upper East Side. She'd been a model in the sixties and featured on a cover photograph of Harpers by Avedon. She was, and is, wonderful and is now a celebrated photographer herself. Her house was like a bohemian salon, where writers, painters and thinkers hung out. She'd been part of the Timothy Leary crowd. I loved being there. I was like a mascot, being a lot younger and certainly very naïve. Danny lived with an English writer named Jo Durden-Smith. He'd written the definitive book on Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, been involved with the Stones and Hendrix. Between them they knew everybody. For a teenager they were so cool. They were wonderful to me and I learned much more there than at school. They couldn't understand my fascination with Genesis but tolerated my bouts of enthusiasm, like the first time I saw the band live, at the Avery Fisher Hall. When Peter Gabriel walked on to the dark stage with the dayglo eye paint, I thought I saw an Angel. With the first few chords performed by Tony Banks on the keyboards I knew I had.

Winter in the city was wonderland. I'd just been to see Death in Venice one afternoon. It had been snowing while I was in the cinema. It was totally magical to come out and encounter a strange and beautiful stillness in the air. The next day, the 6th of December, my life was to take a completely different turn and be changed forever.

Recently, rereading all my letters and diaries, I became aware of how much I have seen and witnessed over the past 30 years. By keeping all this information I've safely preserved all my memories intact and I can now go back and relive these precious moments.

The day was full of promise. My dear friend Chuck Pulin, a brilliant photographer for Rolling Stone magazine, was going to photograph Genesis during their soundcheck at the Academy of Music. As a belated birthday present he invited me to come with him. The first person I met was Pete. He was so incredibly shy. I just wanted to thank him for all the wonderful music and inspiration they had given me and give him the famous Stagnation print. The soundcheck was late, the meeting was pleasant but I was ready to leave. I had tickets for the show. Their tour manager Regis appeared and gave Chuck some extra ones and some backstage passes. I called a very dear, and very flamboyant, friend of mine, Maiza, to go with us that evening.
You could slice the anticipation with a knife. The audience were restless and something didn't feel quite right. The lights were dimmed and The Lamb started. We were, after all, in New York, the background to this surreal saga. There were no more wings but in their place a tanned Puerto Rican named Rael. I don't think that most Americans were ready for this. It was whimsical, violent, sad, controversial ' but most of all it was new. The show ended and half of the audience were in shock, the other half in a rage because the band had not played Suppers Ready or the Knife. I was scared. People started to argue, those in shock started to applaud. There was a lot of confusion. Chuck and Maiza wanted to go backstage. I was reticent. We went. There were some steep stairs and as I finished climbing we entered a room full of people laughing and drinking. The first person I saw was this guy with his hand bandaged. I asked him how he was feeling and how he had coped with such a strenuous performance. It was Steve. He just stared at me and said I was an Angel for caring. I would always care. The arrow struck both of us. It was Love at first sight!

Lets go back to the Angels ...

Sunday 7 February 2010

It was the Seventies

It was the seventies. Max's Kansas City ... the Village Vanguard ... Studio 54 ... the famous Academy of Music ... The Factory - New York was buzzing. You could convince yourself that this was the centre of the universe, and you wouldn't be far off. I was so very fortunate to be studying at Parsons's School of Art, the centre of the fashion world. The colourful spectrum of self styled students, each one trying to be hipper than the next. As a Fine Arts student I didn't fit that category, the serious and intense type, trying to make sense of what it was all about. I seemed to find answers in the ambiguous lyrics of Genesis. In 1974 they were still a cult band in the States. Those who were in the know formed a special club, a form of elitism that I would now frown upon! Then, they provided a platform, a route to escape into a whimsical and magical world. It was my introduction to England. I loved it. All of it. The music, the arts, theatre and literature.  The Pre-Raphaelites ... Ruskin ... Richard Dadd ... Lewis Carroll ... CS Lewis's The Lion, the Witch ... Great productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream ... The Tempest - they seemed to have it all ... Elgar ... The Incredible String Band ... Fairport Convention ... Peter Cook & Dudley Moore's legendary Good Evening.

But most of all there was only one - GENESIS.  

Tuesday 2 February 2010


I want to first congratulate my favorite rock band, Genesis, for finally being recognised for their incredible contribution to music. These are wonderful guys and certainly extraordinary musicians and composers. They have been so influential in all areas of music. Their songs have been a huge source of inspiration for me all my life. My paintings were always done with their music playing in my studio. In fact that is how Steve (Hackett) and I met in 1974 on the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Tour.

I was a huge fan and wanted to reciprocate and give them a print that I'd done inspired by a song called Stagnation. As I recollect Peter has that print. I am also thrilled that Steve has been invited to join them in New York. He has always felt so left out since he left the band in 1977. He came to bitterly regret that decision. So I'm sure it comes as a  great comfort to be included after all these years. To coincide with this historic award I will try to tell a little of this extremely colourful story, and hope to shed some light on the past.

The first present I gave Steve when we met was a beautiful lithograph of Watcher of the Skies. An Angel!!

Steve forgot it on the plane, was that a sign?