From Ozzy Osbourne to Lou Reed: Allan Jones recounts his most memorable rock and roll interviews

A close encounter with a dead horse, the best drugs in London and pissing on The Alamo – as Uncut celebrates its 100th issue, editor Allan Jones shares some of his most memorable music biz interviews

 
OZZY OSBOURNE, Texas, USA, early 80s
 
I joined him on the tour that started with him biting the head off a dead bat. We met him in San Antonio where The Alamo is, which is a shrine to Texas liberty and revered throughout America.

We finished the interview at Ozzy's hotel, and by this time we were pretty plastered. Our photographer said he had to do some location shots and suggested going down to The Alamo. Through a drunken haze I remember thinking: "This probably isn't a good fucking idea, this could go seriously wrong".

Ozzy said he was going to go and change – and reappeared wearing a straw stetson, women's culottes, knee-high socks and pumps, carrying a Popeye carrier bag. We drove in his limo to The Alamo and the photographer started snapping away. I was lurking at some distance, filled with this sense of foreboding.

I remember turning around just as Ozzy was telling the photographer he could feel a pee coming on. The next thing I knew Ozzy was pissing all over the front of The Alamo.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, all these police arrived with guns drawn, two Texas Ranger squad cars screaming to a halt, sirens blaring. They just couldn't believe that he had no idea what he'd done. One of them said: "When you piss on The Alamo you piss on the state of Texas, we're taking you in."

I think we had to bail him out, and I put it on expenses when I got back.

LEMMY, London, 1975

At the time he was in Hawkwind and I was never a particular fan, but because I had the longest hair in the office they said I was the Hawkwind correspondent.

I wasn't looking forward to it until I realised Hawkwind had some of the best drugs in London.

He turned up at 11 o'clock in the morning wearing leathers and a German army helmet sprayed silver. He took the helmet off and inside there was a huge plastic bag full of amphetamine sulphate. He took out a flick knife, dug it in and stuck the blade under my nose, saying: "Fancy a toot?"

He was one of the great unreconstructed rock and rollers, he didn't give a fuck about anything.

BAY CITY ROLLERS, Slough 1974

This was one of the weirdest interviews I did – just as they were becoming the biggest group in the country. I was shown into a hotel suite and it was like something out of the uncut version of Spartacus. They were all sitting around in bath towels caressing each other's hair and rubbing cream into each other's backs.

I blundered through the interview and managed to keep going for a whole side of C90, which I thought was enough. Then I played the tape back and none of it had come out. So I said: "Bad luck chaps, the tape hasn't come out, would you mind running through some of the questions again?" They were all like: "donwanner, donwanner."

Then their manager said that he would answer their questions for them, and we went through them again, and everything he said, they'd just said.

I asked him: "Did you remember all that?" and he said: "Well no, I rehearsed them."

TONY IOMMI, Black Sabbath guitarist, Glasgow, 1977

I went to interview him at his stately pile. He opened this big creaky door and I started to walk in and fell flat on my face. I'd tripped over a big horse's carcass. I said: "Where the hell did you get that?" and he told me Ozzy had killed it especially for him because he used to work in a slaughterhouse.

We went through into a drawing room. He was supposed to be this wild man of rock, and we were drinking tea out of china cups and eating biscuits. He was talking about how God and the devil might controversially be the same person, but he didn't want to get too deep.

I came back and wrote this up exactly as it was. I later got a message from Tony Iommi saying if he saw me again he'd cut my head off and feed it to his dog.

One day, while I was checking into a hotel in Glasgow, I felt this vice-like grip on my bicep that nearly broke my arm and I turned and there was Tony Iommi. He said: "You're Allan Jones, intcha? I've got a bone to pick with you."

He dragged me across the floor of the hotel and out into the car park and said: "Right, put 'em up". I tried very hard to say it was all water under the bridge but he wasn't persuaded. He was taking off his Rolex and wrapping it around his knuckles and I thought: "Aw no", and he just split my lip. I must've lost about three gallons of blood. Fortunately two of his roadies dragged him off.

I've never met him since. According to Ozzy he's still totally unforgiving.

STING, London and south of France, 1977

There was a punk festival in the south of France and all the smaller bands had to travel from London on this knackered old coach. I got introduced to the bass player in a group called The Police and we had a long chat. He told me he was looking forward to this gig because he really thought they were on the road to stardom. They were awful, the audience booed them and they barely made it through three numbers before they had to come off.

On the road back he said: "Frankly, do you think the group has a future? Should I leave, should I go back to teaching?"

I said: "No, I don't think the group has a future and I think you'd be better off going back to teaching."

VAN MORRISON, Knebworth, 1974

He was hard to get more than two words out of. He was surly, rude, arrogant, very uncompromising, very intimidating, and actually quite frightening. That was incredibly disappointing for me because he was one of my absolute heroes. He sat there glaring at me like I'd just murdered his dog or something.

LOU REED, London, 1976

I've never met anybody as rude as Lou, not only to me but to everybody in earshot. But I soon realised he was very very vulnerable to being told how brilliant he was. I didn't have a problem with that because I thought he was brilliant, so I kept saying it, and soon he was virtually sitting on my lap. After the interview he said he wanted me to come on tour with him in Sweden. I was out there for about five days and I got on really well with Lou.

Unfortunately I seemed to get on equally well with his partner at the time, a transsexual called Rachel, who was about six foot four, while Lou was about five foot three. She was very striking and looked really beautiful, with this long, black, lustrous hair; but she also had this deep, deep voice, so whenever she spoke it was a huge surprise. To have the pair of them constantly coming to my hotel room, demanding my company, was a bit alarming, especially with all the drugs we were taking.

Interview by Alyson Fixter

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