My heart nearly exploded when he arrived, on horseback. Peter Doherty, cantering across the Wiltshire countryside on a beautiful steed. A paparazzo’s wet dream, the midsummer sun illuminated the singer and his stallion against a cloudless blue sky in a Kodak moment that a team of art directors couldn’t have engineered. My three-month game of cat-and-mouse with this rapscallion was galloping towards a spectacular climax.
Through the cold streets of Camden, to his impromptu Brixton gigs, and even to Paris, I chased Doherty. Embedding myself within the murky world of drug dealers and cronies, I tried to become a part of his scene.
Yet the pursuit of Peter was not a one-horse race. On YouTube, I watched Doherty’s tour manager Andy Boyd ranting about the last journalist who tried to interview
the singer: ‘Before the gig, I saw that bloke from the Daily Mail,’said Boyd. ‘He drove straight to the house without permission and offered Peter cash. But I decided not to let him do the interview unless it was £20,000.”
That journalist was the fÃªted men’s magazine writer Piers Hernu, who could only advise that: ‘Peter Doherty’s like a mirageâ€¦ the closer you get, the further away he seems.’
But years at Loaded have taught me the ways of the drug taker. I understand they’re driven by obsessions, and collections. That would be my way in.
Doherty dotes on his many kittens, and is a life-long QPR supporter (so we made him moggy-sized QPR strips), he collects antique cigarette tins and elephants (I gave him a rare Player’s tobacco tin engraved with nellies), and of course he likes cash, so we got him a bag full of that too.
For speed, Loaded editor Martin Daubney drew thousands from his personal account. Now that’s trust, but he did explain it would be more than just my job on the line if it went ‘tits up”.
Doherty welcomed me and Loaded snapper Ian Dewsbury into his home, where I spent the day learning how to paint using blood, playing fancy dress with his cats, and chatting away merrily.
He talked about Kate Moss for the first time, revealing he was still heartbroken, and that he needed to ‘put his soul… in for a valeting.’Hilariously, he told us he’d burnt his eyes on Amy Winehouse’s sun bed, and even attacked ‘computer-generated’David Cameron.
In a photo finish, The Sun won the race to purchase our horse riding photos, while the story was syndicated everywhere from the Telegraph to the Star, and in Spanish, Italian, and even Indian.
It proved Loaded is no longer in competition with other men’s magazines and their tired feature sections. We’re toe-to-toe with the papers and giving them a run for their money. Because next to Osama Bin Laden on MTV’s Cribs, ‘at home with Peter Doherty’will go down as the most surprising story of the year, and the most surreal day of my career.
Next month: Darts with David Blunkett.