Primal scream? Not near me, says rock's wildman in pub row

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The Independent Online

As a rock star with a once-legendary reputation for hedonism, Bobby Gillespie knows a thing or two about excessive noise and boorish behaviour.

His band, Primal Scream, performed with such X-rated verve at Glastonbury in 2005 that organisers cut their microphones before escorting them off-stage.

But the 42-year-old son of a Glasgow publican, who once thought nothing of partying through the night and sung "Hallucinogens can open me or untie me", now takes a dim view on those who disturb the peace in the well-heeled corner of north London that he calls home.

The tamed wildman of rock joined a campaign with his neighbours against extending the opening hours of his local pub - because it plays loud music late into the night.

A letter sent to Islington Council by the singer, obtained by The Independent, complained that the Alma Pub on Newington Green had been "playing recorded music at an unacceptable volume past 12 o'clock".

Gillespie, who has two young sons, Wolf and Lux, and last year married his long-term partner, Katy England, a stylist, at a celebrity-packed ceremony, said that music from the Alma, an upmarket gastropub, one night prevented him from sleeping.

The former hellraiser turned outraged suburbanite, who once practised by playing dustbin lids, said: "There was a live percussionist playing along with the records, the sound was of a very high frequency which reverberated into my bedroom and my children's bedroom. I found the repetitiveness disturbing and I was unable to sleep because of it."

At the height of their powers Primal Scream, who won the inaugural Mercury Prize in 1992, were renowned not only for dance-influenced rock masterpieces such as Screamadelica but also their consumption of drugs.

One NME journalist overheard the band discussing whether to have "Vietnamese, Chinese or Indian". When the reporter suggested a burger, one of the band turned around and said: "It's heroin we're discussing. Not food."

Older and more sober, Gillespie, who counts Kate Moss, Pete Doherty, Sadie Frost and Mick Jones among his friends, has become a devoted father more likely to limber up for a gig with a bowl of soup than anything else.

He said recently: "We go into the studio to work. You can't be creative if you're fucked up on drugs. So I prefer to be clean."

Outlining his new-found dislike of antisocial conduct to his local authority, the singer, whose mother Wilma ran a pub in Glasgow, complained that the licence extension sought by the Alma would bring unwanted visitors to his neighbourhood.

In last summer's letter, Gillespie said a licence extension would mean that the pub was "disturbing the peace of our beautiful street and attracting noisy, drunk people to our area leaving the premises or coming into the area looking for a late-night drink - who are incidentally just [as loud] if not louder than the music being played".

The singer added that he and his family had moved there "because it is quiet and beautiful".

Mercifully for the rock star, the members of Licensing Sub-Committee A of Islington Borough Council had some sympathy. Although they agreed to extend the sale of alcohol at the pub and allow the live or recorded music until 1am Monday to Sunday, they ruled it could happen no more than once a month.

Gillespie and the management of the Alma declined to comment yesterday.

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