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The Mudcat Cafesj

User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
lisa null Peter Bellamy - died 24 Sept 1991 (190* d) RE: Peter Bellamy 18 yrs today since he died 26 Sep 11

In many ways Peter and I were two sibling peas in a pod. He would stay for weeks, even months at a time with my sons and me in America, first with Anthea and then with Jenny. Sometimes on his own. My kids adored him, and he shaped their musical tastes considerably. Peter and I would often tour together-- over here at first, and then England with Anthea and Bill Shute. Bill and I would also do our own gigs and come back to his lovely town house in Norwich. We'd find Peter up and waiting for us like an eager parent waiting to be briefed after the prom. Bill and I found him true-hearted, ethical, kind, and endlessly interesting and companionable.

No one was more delicious to introduce America to, and no one was better to share England with than Peter Bellamy. He was an intrepid fan of African-American culture.

I remember him delighting the manager and customers of a St. Louis thrift shops when he tried on a royal blue tuxedo and sashayed down the aisles playing air guitar.

I remember him bursting out with "Gunga Din" in a ferociously authentic waterfront bar Gale Huntington took us to and holding the customers spellbound.

Yes Peter had a savage and tactless humor, but it was humor-- often taken to mean more than he meant. He also had some serious problems, on tour, with taking too many pills to put him to sleep and mixing them with too much beer. His sleep schedule would get screwed up and he'd become simultaneously exhausted and unable to sleep. Once, in Philadelphia, Caryl P. Weiss and I had to take him to the emergency room.

I know he went to the doctor, aware that he was experiencing depression. He was somewhat surprised that they spent so little time with him and merely prescribed pills. He was certainly morose about his career slipping away. He'd achieved prominence in the midst of the folk boom and, like so many revival celebrities of that period, the fall from fame felt very steep. But beyond thinking of himself as a "has been," he was terrified of having no other calling and little preparation or training to follow another occupation.

He created because he had to rather than simply out of a desire to be successful. It was absolutely essential to be true to his muse in his own way, no matter what the public reception.

There was no end to his ideas and his passionate embrace of singers, actors, television shows, books. He was a devote of pop culture, partly because he had had such an isolated childhood. He was fascinated by it but rather like an alien exploring earth for the first time. He often described people and events as boring, but the truth is he could survive on a desert island and never be bored for a minute.

Peter's suicide is something I will never get used to though I certainly saw warning signs on his last visit to my apartment in Washington DC. Unfortunately, those signs only became clear in retrospect.

In any case, his death left a great and unfilled hole in my life, not only because we were friends but because we were such close artistic companions, nearly alter-egos. He was my biggest booster and perhaps vice versa. Because of this, then, it's no wonder that I remember him as the world's best playmate.

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