Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This
Some possible lessons
- seek variety, ask for opportunity
- scenius is important
- jump on inspiration - you can just shocking amounts of great work done in a short period of time
- take chances, you can throw away what doesn't work
- assets (houses, bands) are responsibilities
- creating parallel multi-media versions of an idea can hook people
Foreword by Mick Jagger
One of our favorite collaborations was SuperHeavy
our pop-up band
CHAPTER 1: Girls Are Different
He had built a sound system for the house! He must have saved up and bought every Rodgers and Hammerstein musical sound track album he could find just for this moment
My parents were born within a few miles of each other, but, as mentioned, they became friends by writing to each other during the war. My mom’s twin sister, Louise, also had a pen pal in the services, and when the men came home, it was decided there would be a double wedding, fit for twins. All four of them were married on the same day and in the same church, and they lived together in the same house
I had so much energy, I didn’t know how to contain it, and neither did my parents or anyone around. The only thing that would calm me down was football. I would be so manic that I’d play football for eight hours straight
CHAPTER 2: Magic in the Blues
All my football dreams came to a sudden end one winter’s afternoon on a muddy pitch near Seaburn. I was taking a corner kick when an opposing defender skidded along the ground and smashed his locked leg directly into my left kneecap
without football, all I had left was school. And I hated school
One good thing happened to me when I was in the hospital after my football injury. My brother, John, brought me a tiny Spanish guitar that belonged to my grandmother
within half an hour, I realized I could play it! I didn’t know any chords, but I found I could play any melody
turned thirteen in 1965
he sent some albums, music I’d never heard: Memphis blues, Delta blues. My brother then found other similar artists like Mississippi John Hurt and one day came home with the amazing Robert Johnson album King of the Delta Blues Singers.
These were the records that changed my life
when I turned fourteen and my mother left home
She actually went through a kind of nervous breakdown and was checked into a hospital
everything got really quiet. My brother was away at university, so it was just my father and me, alone
I remember a really empty feeling then, because my dad’s a quiet man and my mum was very busy. She’d be baking homemade bread, cooking meals, making art and thinking up activities for us. One day she would say, “Oh, today we’re having an art competition!” And she would get everybody on the street to draw a picture or painting. She stuck them all on a wall, as if it were a gallery, and all these people were in our home looking at the artwork. She was like me in that respect. She liked to create happenings
She wanted to use her intellect more and needed to be among like-minded people interested in all of the things she had become interested in, such as literature, poetry, philosophy and all. She thought she would have gone bonkers if she stayed in Sunderland as a housewife
mention of a few pubs in town. The Londonderry was the name of one, and there were others called the Dun Cow and the Rose and Crown. They had rooms upstairs or in the back, where people sang folk songs. I had to get in there! I was fifteen
soon after I began playing onstage, I ran off with the band Amazing Blondel, though they didn’t know it. The band played progressive folk, based on medieval music played on lutes and recorders. They had long romantic hair, wore suede boots with fringes and looked quite like minstrels from another time—Elizabethan rock stars
I climbed in their van and hid
Can I stay here? Can I? They’ll teach me how to do stuff.” It was summer holiday, so I didn’t have school, and he said okay
At this time, Brian Harrison, a substitute teacher fresh out of college, came into my life
he suggested we could also be a duo like the others
I was now half of Stewart & Harrison, and we were playing gigs and driving to them in Brian’s car, sometimes as far as fifty miles away
I was fifteen years old and had already had a few adventures myself, but this was different
I ran away with the Fureys for a bit, up to Peebles, in Scotland
Enter Dick Bradshaw. A teacher from Bede, he had fingers stained brown from nicotine and longer hair than any of the students. He played great jazz and blues on an upright piano
One day he told me he wrote songs, which was something that had never even occurred to me
It led to the very first recording I ever made—the first of many thousands by now. It was with Brian as our duo of Stewart & Harrison
Since we were playing at folk clubs, we decided to press our EP into vinyl to sell at our gigs
Iwas still shy of my sixteenth birthday when I moved in with Eric
Eric was the only real artist living off of his paintings
Today I own twenty-seven of his paintings and drawings. I wish he was still alive to tell me where to hang them. I was always trying to hustle work for him. He painted an amazing portrait of George Harrison, and George bought it, as did Mick Jagger a painting of him as Ned Kelly
I looked up radio stations, and I saw that Radio Durham was only about ten miles away. So I rang up Radio Durham, and a woman answered, and I said, “Hi. I’m Dave Stewart, and I play the guitar and sing.” Then I put the phone down, and I sang this song that I had just written.
we’d like you to come in to chat and bring your guitar.” He said it was for a local interest story.
They interviewed me, and I sang a song, and they recorded it. Then I told them I was in a duo and gave them our EP
A couple weeks later, a check came through the post, from the BBC, for five pounds, because I had played on the radio
The flat we rented happened to be at the end of the street that connected to an all-girls school, and word got out that these two guys had an apartment
I was growing up fast, smoking hash and experimenting with LSD
Soon Pam and I became inseparable, and even though she was just turning sixteen, she moved in with me, and we began living together like a married couple. In fact, she was soon to become my first wife
CHAPTER 3: The Smoke
I met Steve Sproxton and Kai Olsson, who were playing together as a duo. I think they must have heard about the flat, and they were curious as to what was going on. I heard them play and sing together, and they sounded great, so I said to Brian, “Why don’t we join up with these guys?
Brian suggested we get a large house and all have a room each and share the rent. So we moved into a huge old Victorian house
I was eighteen years old in 1971, when Lionel Conway got our demos to Elton John’s record company, Rocket Records. They loved us!
Longdancer, that’s not a bad name
We were in London, and we were getting paid to go in real recording studios and make music
For the first week I was with my mum again. I slept on her floor
Next I moved onto the floor of a Swedish lady, Ann Zadik, who worked at Island Music
Being around Elton John was always fun; he was super flamboyant, always immaculately dressed. It really was like signing a record deal with the Mad Hatter
Pam and I decided to get married. I’ve no idea why we made this decision, especially as I was only nineteen and she was two years younger
told our band was going to be opening for Elton on a couple of shows in the UK
This small, intense guy in the corner of the room was watching, and he had two beautiful girls with him. They asked me to join them, so I did, and he told me these actresses were in his new movie called Diary of Forbidden Dreams, which, from what I gathered, was about male erotic fantasies. He asked me if I would appear in it
Pam listened patiently, then told me quite simply, “Get home now,” and hung up
Wow, you know Roman Polanski
the band basically disintegrated in Germany
Pamela was working as a nurse, while I was working on trying all sorts of different drugs, but mainly LSD
I started to sell records in a market at Camden Lock
One morning he suggested we could go into business together and have an actual little record shop. It turned out to be the smallest record store in London
The Jamaican customers and African musicians started to inspire me to play again. One very tall and handsome chap was from the band Osibisa
Osibisa means “crisscross rhythms that lead to happiness,” and they did. I learned all these weird rhythmic ways of playing that later I would use on Eurythmics records
Around this time I was approached by Transatlantic Records to see if I would work with a band of theirs called the Sadista Sisters. I had met Jude, the lead singer
I fell for Jude big-time. It was one of the first times I’d encountered a female artist who was extremely strong, sexually provocative and anarchic at the same time
That was the end of my relationship with Jude
Oh, you must come and meet this girl
CHAPTER 4: From the Middle Room
Paul said that the girl’s name was Annie Lennox.
She played a couple of her songs on her harmonium. One was called “Tower of Capricorn
It was 1975. We stayed together that night and every single night after that for the next five years and to this day are still best friends
Until then, she’d been torn about sticking in at the Royal Academy of Music. She had been studying flute and harpsichord, but she didn’t like it because the place was very stiff, and everything was too competitive. Everyone there was practicing all the time, practicing to be the best violinist or the best flute player
So we moved in that night. But Annie didn’t realize I was a drug addict, addicted to speed
I was falling madly in love, and I told her so. We then decided we were going to live together
We never played music together, didn’t even talk about it that much
One simple thing that Annie decided to do saved my life. Instead of being confrontational about my addiction to speed and cocaine, she just asked me one day how much I took.
She started making healthy food
Now we were three, and we were a band. Peet was very much the leader—the songwriter and lead singer. Annie played keyboards and sang harmonies mostly
At first the label obviously thought Annie was a really great singer and a great-looking girl, so what was she doing with these two drug fiends? To make our record, they put us in the studio with session musicians.
It was then we realized we had to have players we got along with before we recorded anything else, and we went searching for musicians to make a band sound.
and the Tourists were born
We released a song called “Blind Among the Flowers” as the first single, written by Peet again, with both Peet and Annie singing lead vocal and harmony all the way through. It went to number fifty-two in the charts, and we appeared on TV for the first time on shows like the chart roundup show Top of the Pops
but we had to sign on the dole every week as unemployed
To Annie, though, the Tourists had become a double-edged sword. She’d been drawn toward the world of Joni Mitchell and soul music, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Elton John songs. Motown inspired her when she’d first heard it on the radio while she was growing up in Aberdeen. Our band wasn’t making that kind of soul music. Our music, which was written by Peet, was psychedelic and guitar-driven.
the sight of about fifty naked and seminaked people queuing with trays for breakfast. I popped my head in and someone shouted out, “Hey, it’s the Tourists!” Yes, we were at a nudist colony, a nature resort, clothing not necessary, and it was an island
This strange thing happened with my lung, and it was terribly painful. It became difficult to breathe at times, and it had been happening more and more frequently since the car accident back in Germany with Jude. As much as the idea freaked me, I knew I had to go to hospital. Once there it was decided I needed this big operation, which would result in a huge scar
CHAPTER 5: In the Garden
I’m either nuts or somewhere along the line I learned that behind every no there is a big yes waiting to come out. So I started to experiment on my own with a little tiny synthesizer and a drum machine, recording to a little four-track, and for some reason, I felt overwhelmed with joy
When she came back to London, we experimented constantly together. It wasn’t easy when Annie and I broke up romantically, but we never broke up as musical partners
Annie and I struggled on and slowly started to evolve a plan. We would be a duo and would call ourselves Eurythmics, much to the bafflement of the people at RCA records, who couldn’t even pronounce the word
The name actually stemmed from the fact Annie had studied Dalcroze Eurhythmics, a well-known method of teaching music developed in the early twentieth century by Swiss musician and educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze
we took the “h” out before the “y” to change Eurhythmics into Eurythmics
We recorded our first album with the famous German producer Conny Plank in his studio in the tiny village of Wolperath near Cologne
We called the album In the Garden
In 1981 we performed our debut single, “Never Gonna Cry Again,” on The Old Grey Whistle Test
We realized that if we had only a small amount of money—enough to buy the right equipment—we could make a record on our own without a producer or anything
it would cost about five thousand pounds
I suggested we visit our local bank manager
I’d work twenty hours in a row, easy. Annie would be back in her little flat. She’d come in, and I would play this stuff that was just insane, bonkers stuff, very weird and totally experimental. There would be monks chanting against drum loops
It was very important for me to experiment to the point of extreme madness and then reel it all back into the Sweet Dreams album
Annie and I came up with a manifesto
We stated our lifelong allegiance to the British artists Gilbert and George, who are among the most influential artists to hail from Britain.
CHAPTER 6: Hold Your Head Up, Moving On
Annie immediately started to get some ideas for lyrics and went down to this little empty room below the studio to write. Shortly after, she came out with: “Sweet dreams are made of this!” Incredible! And could there be a more appropriate title?
some famous publishers coming to hear it, and they didn’t get it at all
it just goes from beginning to end, and the whole song is a chorus. There is not one note that is not a hook
I was so excited about the song, I drew a storyboard of the video and marched down to the record label to show them the concept.
Today, more than thirty years later, “Sweet Dreams” is everywhere. It has been recorded and performed live by hundreds of deejays, singers and rappers
Having the studio to create in every day, Annie and I started to become amazingly creative songwriting partners
I was always experimenting at the desk or on an instrument, and Annie would sit behind me with a notepad, thinking or writing furiously. It’s a kind of alchemy that occurs, a magical process of making something out of nothing. One minute a song doesn’t exist, and twenty minutes later it does. We always knew within ten or twenty minutes if it was worth pursuing an idea, and we very rarely disagreed
Our recording process was that much easier because by default I had become the record producer, and that meant we could do anything. We could play all the instruments between us, record ourselves, make mistakes and not care, just laugh about it. Freedom at last!
Most of our first concerts were very experimental. I would come up with ideas of how to play with just three people onstage, operating even the lights ourselves while performing. Adam Williams and I were convinced that we could have the mixing desk onstage behind Annie and me so we could get the same mix as the audience, and Adam could use the desk like an instrument, doing a kind of dub mix to what we were actually doing live
Only Annie’s performance skills salvaged us from a perpetual train wreck
the backing track to “Love Is a Stranger” is an odd mix of sounds
The microphone likes her, and with the right one and a good balance in her headphones, she can play with her sound and be herself one minute and within a second flip into a character and out again, even if it’s just for one word like “obsession.” This vocal, like many other songs we recorded, was only one take
The accompanying video to “Love Is a Stranger” was our foray into surrealist-type filmmaking
We released two albums in 1983, Sweet Dreams and Touch. We started the writing of “Here Comes the Rain Again” when we were at the notorious Mayflower Hotel in New York
I’d been out on Forty-sixth Street and bought a tiny little keyboard—a really tiny little thing. I think it was one of the early Casio keyboards
I kept on playing this riff while Annie looked out the window at the slate gray sky above the New York skyline, and sang spontaneously, “Here comes the rain again.” And that was all we needed
he said he and his mate owned the whole church, and we could use the front office to work in, if I wanted it, for free.
The men turned out to be Bob Bura and John Hardwick, famous British animators
I didn’t know anything about orchestration, so I said, “Well, the way I hear it is just loads of strings in the old Motown style
He said, “I get what ya mean. I’ll write something and book the players.” I said, “Okay, great. We’ve got this church to record in.”
The trouble was, when the orchestra arrived, there was no room for them. The section Bura and Hardwick had built for us had a little, tiny corridor-shaped control room up a spiral staircase
We had a corridor leading to the church door where the cello players sat all in a row. There was a bathroom with viola players and the violinists were in the kitchen
A lot of people thought my guitar playing was a programmed synthesizer sequencer, but I played like that to sound like a sequencer. I’d put my right hand on the bridge and play those patterns, that kind of spot-on playing
I’d been spending four hours or so trying to get the Voyetra to work. I plugged it in, and the very first sound I got on it was like a steel drum calypso. Annie said, “Oh, that’s fantastic.” She immediately began playing it, and with that sound, we wrote “Right by Your Side” in about ten minutes
these mixes were complex, so it took many of us at the recording desk at the same time to move all the faders at the right moment. It would often be four of us: Annie, me, Jon Bavin and another assistant
CHAPTER 7: Cautious Celebration
CHAPTER 8: U.S. of A.
I really liked Stevie Nicks, and she seemed vulnerable and fragile when I was leaving that morning. I was thinking about that and the situation she was in and I started singing, “Don’t come around here no more
Stevie turned, walked out the door and left the studio
thought Jimmy was going to ask, “What does that mean?” But he just said, “I know what we should do. We should get Tom Petty down here to finish writing the song with you. He’s great
Tom is very sensitive and finely tuned. He said to Jimmy, “I think I should sing this song
I had my base in Los Angeles, living in Jimmy’s guesthouse
I arranged to meet Madonna at the Mayflower Hotel and we went up to my room to drink some champagne and noodle about on the keyboard. It was interesting to me that Madonna said she didn’t really like minor chords and she liked everything to be upbeat in a major key. The next day she came to see me play with Annie at Forest Hill Stadium, along with Talking Heads and the B-52’s. It was August 3, 1984.
being with Jimmy was also very exciting. I couldn’t help but get involved in what he was doing, rebuilding A&M Studios, the former Chaplin movie studio in Hollywood
CHAPTER 9: Would I Lie to You?
So we all went to Paris, and again we had a small room in which we had an electronic drum kit, a few synths, guitars and the original “Sweet Dreams” eight-track tape recorder. It was a tiny room to set up all our equipment in, about fifteen feet by fifteen feet, and this room was located at a youth club in a Paris suburb, the kind where kids met to take ballet lessons and play table tennis
At first we played around with a lot of typical Eurythmics’ experimental sounds that resulted in songs like “Conditioned Soul,” but we soon started to play more soul – and bluesy-type experiments
When we wrote “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves,” I was playing a kind of gospel-blues-soul riff on the guitar. Annie immediately connected with the melody and came up with perfect lyrics in a heartbeat
We thought, Oh, my God. This is like a Tina Turner classic. We soon realized we shouldn’t give the song away and someone suggested inviting Aretha Franklin to sing it with Annie. Of course we both loved the idea, and next thing we were on a plane to Detroit along with Don Smith, Tom Petty’s engineer, to help.
I asked Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers to play the guitar solo on “Sisters
so on the video for “Would I Lie to You?” I got half of Fishbone to be the horn players
all I can remember is Bob Dylan saying something like “Do you wanna meet up and talk about films and stuff?”
He turned around and said to me, “So, why don’t we shoot some film to a couple of my songs?”
I loved the opportunity to collaborate with all sorts of artists and often push them outside of their comfort zones to record different and experimental music
I got the guy who lived across the road and had a guitar shop to play Daryl Hall this instrumental he would play whenever I went to look at guitars. Daryl loved it, and we made it into a song called “Dreamtime.” As usual, I was surrounded by chaos, as I was working on a few things at the same time. Dylan was visiting me at home a lot during the Daryl sessions, and Bob wrote a completely different set of words to “Dreamtime” for fun, while he was in my basement. “Dreamtime” became Daryl’s first Top Ten solo single in America
our record label, RCA, got a new head. His name was José Menéndez
José Menéndez was the same guy who was later killed by his own kids, Lyle and Erik Menéndez. But that didn’t happen until 1989
"We’ve been talking to Burger King, and we’re going to put your album out with them and they’ll have a CD free with a meal. They’ll make little plastic Dave and Annie toys!""
we found out that José Menéndez was printing up vinyl records in South America, shipping them in and selling them, not on the RCA label but through a record store chain. All the money, I think, was going into the soft porn industry in Los Angeles, and he was getting it out through a high-end talcum-powder-and-soap company. Talk about laundering money
CHAPTER 10: Revenge
I’d seen how the biggest acts approached a stage show and knew we had to step up into the arena, so to speak. This had a lot to do with the music you made and the way you presented it in a larger-than-life kind of way
I had totally forgotten that a documentary crew, filming Annie and me for the whole of the Japanese tour, was waiting back at the hotel.
Now I had brought Siobhan Fahey in, so they were trying to film us in the room together, like cinéma vérité. They were shooting everything that was going on in my room. Siobhan was disorientated, to say the least. It was a bit awkward, because they were all there with their crew and they had come all the way from France. The filmmaker was the well-respected documentarian Amos Gitai, and his assistant director was Uri, whom Annie later married
Siobhan stayed on the tour and we battled through it. While we were in Japan, she discovered she was pregnant and we decided we would get married and stick together.
CHAPTER 11: Savage
he discovered the Château Dangu, in Normandy. It would cost the same to rent for three months as a big studio
The château had been moved stone by stone from Paris by Napoleon’s political adviser
I brought our drummer Olle Romo, who I knew was a genius. I really needed him because I had already purchased a Synclavier from the producer Jack Nitzsche and Olle was one of the only guys who would know how to program the damn thing
Annie didn’t really like coming to the château much. She came a few times, but she was really settled in Paris and working through a relationship that I didn’t feel she should have started in the first place
Annie didn’t like the tracks, however, when I first played the music to her. Normally we were together writing songs and making records in the same room
Amazingly, though, once I returned to Paris, she got into it and all her vocals came together in a few days.
We were trying to reel it back in, because Revenge had become so immense, and we were starting to feel too much like a rock-and-roll band. For Savage we decided to make something very odd and very experimental
She was about six months pregnant when we got married
Our wedding was way more over-the-top than even Elton John’s Rocket Records launch party, in fact. We were ensconced in a château, and I was probably having delusions of grandeur.
She felt she had no creative control. I suggested that she experiment with recording her own songs and to work with our friend, producer Richard Feldman, and that experiment turned into the first Shakespears Sister album
My home in Encino became the meeting place for a little gang of great songwriters and musicians, and it was there in 1988 that the Traveling Wilburys formed, while George Harrison was living in my house.
CHAPTER 12: We Too Are One
Annie, or people around her, had decided we should try working with a different producer
I suggested we should work with my old pal Jimmy Iovine
We did our last tour and called it the Revival Tour, after one of the song titles, and we decided to wear rags and ripped clothing and just tear up the venue like an old gospel-revival atmosphere. Ten years later Annie and I did a similar thing in a tiny, secret gig, just the two of us, at the Kit Kat Klub, a tiny place in Manhattan
The Revival Tour ended when Eurythmics played Rock in Rio in 1990
Bob and I went AWOL and ended up in a recording studio in the middle of nowhere, inside somebody’s house. In the house they had these little folk art figurines called spiritual cowboys, similar to the Day of the Dead figurines—all representing different aspects of spirit
I said to myself, “Spiritual Cowboys? That’s very interesting.” It made me think of a band that’s traveling constantly. A band led by a loner who sang personal, spiritual songs. I started to think, That’s a good band name
CHAPTER 13: On My Own Again
In 1989 I began making my first solo album, the first Dave Stewart and the Spiritual Cowboys album
When I started Spiritual Cowboys, it couldn’t be anything like Eurythmics, because our whole sound was built around Annie’s voice. It’s really weird, actually, to put all of your lifetime effort (at your peak) into something built around somebody else’s voice
The whole band could sing harmonies, so we could re-create whatever was on the recordings live. That was the plan: to record in houses and then just play in France. And at first, that’s what we did: we just played around France
I took a break from touring to record a second album, Honest, in my home in France
In addition to the music I was making, I had this whole world created around the band. There were clothes designed by my great friend John Richmond, a British clothing designer.
Then I began to realize that I had a whole band with members who would be partly reliant on me to keep doing stuff, whereas I didn’t want anything to tie me down
This was when I started working with my executive assistant, Anthony Fawcett. Anthony was formerly John and Yoko’s assistant. He was there when John and Yoko met
I also was thinking that in order for me to fulfill my crazy polymath mind, I couldn’t be stuck in this Spiritual Cowboys box. I wanted to do music, but also photography and film
It was tough, knowing I had to break up the band
At this point, without fully realizing it, I had studios all over the world
Siobhan was at home pregnant and writing songs for her next album, and we were drifting apart
Los Angeles helped Siobhan create and mold a new career in a relaxed place, away from the hectic demands she was used to
Most days I have crazy ideas that I get very excited about. The song “Stay,” which I wrote with Siobhan and Marcy, was born out of one of those crazy ideas. I wanted to buy the rights to the movie Cat-Women of the Moon, a 1953 3-D science fiction film
The idea was to change it into a musical, by replacing certain dialogue with lyrics. Once I secured the rights to the film, Siobhan and Marcy were going to shoot extra vignettes, with satirical songs about male-female relationships
Many of the songs on the Shakespears Sister album Hormonally Yours were written with this concept in mind
In 1993, Shakespears Sister was nominated for five BRIT Awards
At the same time, I was encouraging Siobhan to play live. Bananarama had not managed to go on tour at that point
Bananarama did some early support gigs with the Jam at the Sobell Centre, and then they were shipped around the world singing to track, but were not, at that time, singing to a live audience. They were more like a band in Motown times, where you have three girls, and they sing on a track. Siobhan was the main writer of all the lyrics.
I told Siobhan, “Look, I’m doing this thing in Russia with Boris Grebenshikov. Why don’t you come and be the support act?” Siobhan agreed and did the show. She played her first gig in front of fifteen thousand people, and it was great
But the more we were separated, the more distant we became. By that time, Siobhan became pregnant with our second child, Django, and we were both terrified because things were going wrong between us, and now we were going to have another baby
Django was born, and he became another incredible child, a hilarious character who made us laugh our way back together
Siobhan and I had lots of times when we would say, “We should make this work. We have fantastic kids. We have a fantastic life.” But there was still always something wrong. It didn’t feel like we were naturally connected. But I decided I was going to make this work, even though there was something off-kilter. But the longer you try to stay together when it’s not right, the more it unravels, because small things can become big issues.
I decided to move into my apartment in Covent Garden, while Siobhan lived in a house in Hampstead not far away. This made it easy for Sam and Django to be at either place
CHAPTER 14: Clam Chowder
Lou Reed lived within walking distance of Electric Lady, so we would hang out all the time
Greetings from the Gutter was the first album I did that doesn’t feature a band. It’s just me. Not Dave Stewart and the Spiritual Cowboys. Not Eurythmics. Not the Tourists. So Greetings from the Gutter was actually my first real solo album
Every experiment I ever really wanted to do, sonically and musically, I tried at that moment. I just said, “Fuck it. I’m going to do it
Though for me making this album seemed like the most luxurious time, in actuality I was only there for two weeks
At the time of making Greetings, I was under the influence of the whole British art movement, and I filmed and photographed constantly in a Warholian style.
The album artwork became so valuable that years later it was worth the same amount as having an album sell almost as many copies as Sweet Dreams. Who would have known? Er . . . me
CHAPTER 15: Travel School
I thought I’d better do something drastic to deflect their angst, so I went to my boys and asked, “Who’s your favorite teacher at school?” They were both at the same school in Hampstead, and they replied in unison, “Mardette,” a young Irish teacher
How would you like to go around the world for a year with Sam and Django?” She said, “What?” I said, “Yeah, like homeschooling, only not at home. All over the world.” She said, “Well, I have to think about that. I work at this school.” I replied, “Well, how about two years? Japan, Australia, Brazil.” She thought about it for a few moments and responded, “Yes
The boys wrote amazing journals about every place we went on these trips, and kept all their thoughts about what they’d experienced. To make them think it was still a real school, I called it Travel School, and I had badges and shirts made with TRAVEL SCHOOL, and everything had the same logo on it
I’d been really good friends with George Harrison since the mid-eighties, and through him, I met Paul and Ringo. George once invited me to come and see this guy talking in a church in London. His name was Deepak Chopra.
Deepak and I started talking and we got on really well
One time he came round and he had Demi Moore with him. And she saw pictures I had taken and said, “Did you take these photos?” And I said, “Yes.” And she said, “Oh, we should do some photos together.” I said, “Okay.” And this led us to doing thousands of photos
On one really bizarre occasion an interesting pairing occurred when I met Jon Bon Jovi. I arranged to bring contact sheets and some prints to Demi Moore down in the English countryside, where she was staying with Bruce Willis and their three daughters. I drove down with Siobhan and the boys to help her choose her favorite photographs. We arrived at her place and Bruce was in good spirits.
I’m always in these situations, writing with people from completely different backgrounds. Again, not because we’ve set up a writing arrangement or I’ve been hired as a songwriter. It’s just we’ve met under these very strange, random circumstances. From that comes a brand-new song that seems to have come out of nowhere.
I’ve got Paul Verhoeven for you.” I knew he was the film director who directed Robocop and other films. He’s a Dutch chap. I got on the phone, and he said, “I need you to do the music for my movie called Showgirls. I’ve got all of the cast and the dancers in Lake Tahoe rehearsing. And Prince pulled out his music; he agreed to do the score, and then we never got the damn music
I said, “Okay, I’m going to film the first person who opens the door when we get there.” I had a film camera with me as usual. We rang the doorbell, and a young woman with the irresistible name Anoushka opened the door
CHAPTER 16: Piccadilly Picnic
A few years earlier in 1994—during the middle of Greetings from the Gutter—I had created a movie story about the record industry going crazy, all triggered by the Japanese giant Sony buying CBS back in 1987
It was through this film concept that I met Paul Allen.
I pointed out the derelict hospital straight down the street on the corner of Endell Street. Paul and I had been talking about doing something together, and I suggested we go have a look at it, as it could be a creative meeting place like a Warhol
members’ club for the creative community, the Hospital Club. Now it’s been open for ten years, and it is a literal hive of activity
Paul has a beautiful farm in Idaho with a very old log cabin. Back in the winter of 1994, Paul invited me and the family there for a winter holiday. Paul gave Siobhan and me a laptop computer each—the very first time I’d ever seen one
So I decided back then that I was going to make the first-ever record released only on the Internet.
I built a house in Jamaica with my good friend the great reggae bass player Brian Jobson. It’s in the little hills above St. Anne’s Bay, and is called the Ice House.
This was the beginning of a lot of things colliding. I invited Anoushka to come to the Ice House
Though we had met and hung out, this was before Anoushka and I were actually dating. I was still keeping her at arm’s length for her own good, or so I thought.
I did the craziest live performance of “Happy to Be Here” on a popular British TV show called TFI Friday. I had the three most unlikely backing singers you could ever imagine: Sinéad O’Connor, Kylie Minogue and Natalie Imbruglia.
When I got back to the UK, however, I was in full swing of launching the first album to be released on the Internet through a company called N2K.
Anoushka was pregnant with our first child
I started to think about the future and what was going to happen. And I could see that there was going to need to be a new arrangement in the way that artists got to work. I started something called the Artist Network. It was all about artists helping artists
I was trying to work out how a new model that involved rights management, the Internet and music streaming would work
CHAPTER 17: Peace
This was exactly when Eurythmics world opened up again. Annie had been coming down to visit us at the farm in Surrey regularly, and we’d started to experiment with some songs. When we came back to do Peace in 1999, we never intended it as any kind of Eurythmics reunion, because we hadn’t broken up, but it had been ten years
We thought, Now we’ve got a whole thing. But how should we present it? We knew that anything we released was going to get a lot of attention, due to the fact that so much time had passed. We called it Peace, and with that name and intention, we approached both Amnesty International and Greenpeace to work with us.
It was also at the farm where a young Katy Perry came to visit
Not long after that session, Katy wrote her first big hit, “I Kissed a Girl.” I think she felt a bit freed after that.
CHAPTER 18: Jimmy
CHAPTER 19: The Call
Then, in 2002, while I was till shaky from the illness, I was approached to help Nelson Mandela do something about the AIDS crisis in Africa. “AIDS is no longer a disease,” he said. “It’s a human rights issue.”
Africa—and the Mandela experience—changed Annie’s life. She is one of those people who is an absolutely brilliant singer, brilliant songwriter and brilliant musician. As the world knows, she is a genius in many respects, but she can also be quite insecure and troubled. But on the morning after the concert in Cape Town, she came to see me and Anoushka over breakfast and she was ecstatic, radiant, and said, “I found my whole meaning and purpose. I’ve actually found it.”
CHAPTER 20: Pheochromocytoma
It took literally a full year to recover from the surgery
CHAPTER 21: Platinum Weird
Much of that journey began because of my friendship with Jimmy Iovine, who in turn led me to some of my favorite people and now best friends. I’m not really a hired gun as a songwriter, as many people are
CHAPTER 22: 24 Karat Gold
And we went through about three or four songs in about two hours. We recorded them on this single microphone, the two of us together. Afterward, Stevie was wonderstruck. She said, “Wow. There’s a basis of about four songs there.” I said, “Yeah, and if you don’t like any of it, we’ll just throw it away, ’cause it doesn’t matter.” This was a huge epiphany for her, to write a song fast and for fun, and not under massive stress in a studio, with lots of people judging if her song was a hit or not.
had about four of these Flip video] cameras, which were about the size of Zippo lighters. I would stick one on, filming what I was playing and one on filming what Stevie was singing and one as a wide shot of the room, and let them shoot.
Hey, look, why don’t we film the process, and then you’ll have a great documentary to go with the album?” Nowadays, it’s very hard to get people’s attention about albums coming out, because it’s so overcrowded. But when her fans heard that we were working together, they started going crazy, writing her, wanting to know what we were doing
But then Stevie got creative. She would say, “Hey, this song, why don’t we film outside and do like a fantasy piece?” And as Paul Allen calls me, I’m “Mr. Permission.” I give my permission to proceed on crazy, creative projects. So I said, “Yeah, why not?”