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Pete Doherty needs help. His fans should boycott his records until he gets it

He must be the despair of all who care about him

By on Monday, 1 August 2011

Pete Doherty leaving a magistrates court earlier this year (John Stillwell/PA Wire)

Pete Doherty leaving a magistrates court earlier this year (John Stillwell/PA Wire)

The Sunday Telegraph yesterday contained an astonishing piece of information that was almost by the way of another subject. It concerned the pop star Pete Doherty:

Pete Doherty was strutting around the stage at the Blues Kitchen club in Camden, north London, and his ecstatic fans were lapping it up.

It was just four days after the singer was released from Pentonville prison earlier this month, where he had served only six weeks of a six-month sentence for possessing crack cocaine.

The show was billed as the “freedom gig” and the 32-year old drug addict was revelling in his notoriety.

Doherty’s record includes 25 drug convictions, plus three more for burglary, assault and driving without insurance, in the last eight years.

I am not sure what I find the most extraordinary in this laconic report. Is it first of all that Mr Doherty should have fans? Ought he not to be the object of pity and revulsion, if he is indeed a drug addict?

Second, why was he released from prison after only serving six weeks of a six-month sentence for the possession of crack cocaine? I was under the impression you got a third (or was it half?) off for good behaviour.

Third, if he is indeed a drug addict, ought he not to be undergoing some form of therapy?

Finally, 25 drug convictions plus three more for assault and burglary in the last eight years: Doherty has certainly been through the courts and been branded a criminal, not just once or twice, but as a repeat offender: 28 times. How many times does it take before we wake up to the fact that drug addiction is not best cured by criminalising it?

Pete Doherty must be the despair of all who love him. He needs help. He does not seem to be getting it. His fan base ought to wake up to the fact that this guy is sick. They should stop attending his concerts and not buy his records until he gets therapy. We should all hope that he takes the necessary steps before it is too late. But please, can we also wake up to the fact, and could our politicians wake up to it as well, that prison and the criminal justice system is not the way to deal with such sick people?

The police and our courts have had enough of their time wasted by people like Doherty. It is time to legalise all drugs and take people like Doherty out of the criminal justice system, and see them for what they are: not criminals, but sick people. The current approach is not working: not only is it not in accord with Christian charity or the needs of addicts, it is quite simply futile. It has to change, and soon.

  • MP

    He was also part of a group who allegedly pushed a young man off a balcony to his death a couple of years ago. He’s escaped justice on that one, too. I agree he needs help: but the guy’s an out-and-out criminal.

  • Hannah-Louise.

    Pete Doherty need help. His fans should boycott his records until he gets it. is the most stupid thing I’ve ever read. For a start even if this worked (which in no way would it) he still wouldn’t want to ‘get help’ because he needs to want to get help for himself not because people are boycotting his records. His fans have the up most respect for him & in no way would they boycott anything from him. Not his albums,the books made about him & his actual book,his gigs & if they saw him walking down the street I doubt they’d cross to the other side of the road, they’d go up to him and ask for a picture & Peter being the lovely man he is would probably start up a convosation with them because he has respect for his fans. Yes it must seem annoying to everyone that he gets off with just a fine on most, nearly all of his convictions when everyone else goes to jail & doesn’t get off like he does….however he did go to jail & he hundreds if not over 1000′s of letters from his fans & he replied to almost all of them. Including me 3 times & I’ve met him and he seems like such a lovely lovely man. Unlike what other people think of him. Just this stupid junkie who glorifies drugs. Which is not in anyway true. To be honest this the Catholic Herald and maybe you should go back to being worried about the Pope and stuff. Stop worrying about if Peter is on drugs & when he’s in court or not. Oh and by the way I got told by one of Peters fans that he wrote in a letter to one of his fans from jail that it’s the first time he’s been drug free in ages. DRUG FREE. So stop with that stupid idea of boycotting his music when it wouldn’t dam work. Grow up and go back to your religion. 

  • Charlotte

    Pop star, what on earth? You’ve clearly never heard a record of his.

    Also, the reason he served six weeks of a six month sentence was actually just standard procedure. If you are sentenced to under a year, you only have to serve half of it in the prison, and halfway through that you are eligible to go out on tag – exactly what happened in Peter’s case. Nothing to really complain about him there, more a problem with the justice system.

    I by no means try to justify everything this man does, because quite plainly, he is not a saint (and those that think he is seem to be the only fans anybody notices – WE’RE NOT ALL LIKE THAT). But he is, a very talented and troubled man. He is also extremely unwell. He does need to pull himself together. But this article is ridiculous, and really won’t help anything at all. It’s as bad as all the tabloids that created the ‘pied piper of heroin’ which he has never tried to be. I’ve met the man. He is no ‘evil monster’. There is a good heart there, it just doesn’t always surface because all anybody sees is the addiction.

    If you’d ACTUALLY done ANY investigating into his fan base whatsoever, you’d know that we are all constantly wishing for him to get help, for him to get clean, and so on. Any fan board you visit will have numerous threads and comments to this effect. Stopping buying records and going to gigs isn’t going to help. Anybody who knows the first thing about addiction, knows that the person has to really, REALLY want to stop. And it doesn’t matter what the other circumstances are.

    The system is broke. But lets be honest. No politician here is ever going to put forward the idea, because we have such an anti-drug culture. ‘Junkies’ are classified amongst the lowest of the low, and it’s awful because these people need help. But until society changes, the law won’t. Remember, ‘politics’ is just to please the people, nobody actually does something because it’s the right thing any more. They do it for votes. Pure and simple.

    Peter is one of the most talented people I have ever had the pleasure to come across, and it breaks my heart to see him fighting the addiction. But please don’t make it seem like the fans haven’t noticed he’s unwell, we have, we’ve been on about it for years. What it all comes down to, in the present system and way of dealing with it, is that it has to be him that wants it more than anything. And I don’t think he’s there yet.

    But I believe in Peter Doherty. I know he will change. It just might take a long time. And I wish him the best of luck in doing so.

  • Charlotte

    ALLEGEDLY being the key word here. And he was cleared, and anyway it was supposed to be his ‘minder’ if anyone who pushed him off. Pete may be many thing, but he is not a murderer.

  • Hannah-Louise.

    read what happened on Peters website blog thing….he’ll tell you what happened. He never pushed anyone. he wrote on his website about Mark Blancos death….
     “I have said nothing about any of this up until now. Even the words attributed to me are incorrect. I’ll tell you how I feel:Sick to my heart with sadness for the parents and family of both Mark and Robyn, for different reasons, although in both cases the relatives have suffered due to the unprincipled media’s insistence that foul play and the ‘evil junky Pete Doherty’ are to blamne for two tragic deaths.
    Mrs Blanco. Your son was well-liked and well-loved and many respected him, for his wit and his talent and his intelligence. I met him on two occasions. The night that he died he was intensely agitated and extremely hyper-active and intoxicated. He was ejected from Paul’s flat because of his aggressive and loud attempts to belittle me and assert his view that i was a hyped up popstar and he was a talented actor about to star in a play called ‘accidental death of an anarchist’. Paul was dismayed that his friend was showing me this side of his character when in reality we could have been friends and exchanged ideas, combined creative energy and generally used the sometime ‘crackden’ as a thriving studio of literary and artistic output that it occasionally was.
    WHEN HE LEFT THE FLAT HE Was alone and when he fell or jumped he was alone. THAT is what happened. he either fell or was making an extreme point about the nature of life imitating art .
    I need to think . I need to explain. I need you to know that these families are torturing themselves in the quest for sinister plots and answers that are not there.”

  • Erplad

    Yes!! People should boycott his records because. . .(drumroll). . . ..THEY’RE RUBBISH!!!  The man has to take alot of drugs because it’s the only thing he does well. He’s an icon to rebellious middle class youth in comfy suburbia and nowhere else. At least the junkie hedonists of yesteryear had a discernable talent. The drugs may even have enhanced their musical journeys (Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, etc) . The fools who see this man as some prodigious muse are as muddled as the poor man himself. But to advocate boycotting his cds as some sort of ultimatum in ordering some kind of enforced therapy is just plain daft. I noice you didn’t apply the same remedy to Rebekah Brooks and that nice Mr Murdoch . i.e boycotting the N.I media until they seek help for being seedy hate-mongers and instead rejoin the human race as warm empathetic creatures of God. I’d rather seek the company of Mr Doherty (sans talent) than share the same air as Murdoch and his coterie of lowlife wretches. .

  • Kirsten Henderson

    i completely agree.

  • Hannah-Louise.

    Have you listened to his music? If they’re so rubbish then why has he been performing since what 2000? And if his music was so rubbish then obviously The Libertines didn’t win Best New Band at the 2003 NME awards and Best Band a year later at the NME awards. His and his friend Peter Wolfe did a song called For Lovers which made number 7 in the charts & he’s made 2 albums in The Libertines and 2 albums with Babyshambles including a EP oh and a solo record. If his music was SO rubbish then I’m sure the record label he was signed to would of realised that and dropped him? Obviously they didn’t think it was rubbish hence the albums and EP. I’d like to again say that he wrote in a letter to a fan from jail he’s DRUG FREE…did you read that correctly? D R U G F R E E. Which is something that hasn’t happened to him in a long time. At least he’s trying to get over his addiction. Peter is a lovely man and makes amazing music. Do you? Uhhh no. And by the way he isn’t an icon for middle class youth in comfy suburbia. Everyone from different backgrounds love his music. Not just one type of people. I spoke to someone who I’m not friends with from his gig & she’s 27. I think you need to grow up. 

    Oh and by the way Rebekah Brooks and that Murdoch guy have nothing to do with this article.  

  • Erplad

    I am grown up! And if you read Fr Lucie-Smith last week you’d know where the Murdoch / Brooks reference came from. I’ve been listening to and yes, making music for the best part of 35 years. I’ve seen fads come and go. And I’ve been around long enough to know that an endorsement from the NME isn’t necessarily a guarantee of quality music. Pete Doherty is I understand a decent if troubled man. He is not however a musical genius at the cutting edge of the modern counter-culture. I don’t judge the man for taking drugs. .I used to! lots of ‘em! ( not opiates though). .that would be silly. I like how you find age 27 to be the pinnacle of maturity. .thats so sweet.

  • jtowen

    You ought to use the word ought a little less, it ought to annoy a few people, it gets very repetitive. Not only that but it appears you didn’t bother to listed to any of the accused music and it is more cretins like you giving a drug addict infinite publicity over a matter that should really be dealt with in private.
    Oops i just realised this link was for the Catholic Herald, i shouldnt really have been hoping for an impartial piece on a music artist should I.

  • Etcetera

    A really good and understanding piece, most people just seem to think addicts deserve to die.  I would love the government to listen to you but I fear they won’t because it is just not the popular view.

  • Parasum

    “Second, why was he released from prison after only serving six weeks of a
    six-month sentence for the possession of crack cocaine? I was under the
    impression you got a third (or was it half?) off for good behaviour.”

    ## Because Petey is a sleb, is why – there’s one law for him and other criminals of reputation, and another law for lesser beings like the rest of us. Simples.

    Why is it that dead-eyed drug-heads like him are extolled to the skies the moment they are in trouble or dead, when they’ve spent most of their time caterwauling vacuously at their audiences, getting totally smashed, ingesting classified substances as though there was no tomorrow, or going into rehab/the jug to get sorted out ? If he was a talentless loser from elsewhere, like Auchtermuchty, no-one would pay him a blind bit of notice. And rightly.

  • Parasum

     “Have you listened to his music? If they’re so rubbish then why has he
    been performing since what 2000? And if his music was so rubbish
    then obviously The Libertines didn’t win Best New Band at the 2003 NME
    awards and Best Band a year later at the NME awards.”

    ## Popularity is no sign at all of value. The NOTW was popular – because Murdoch had debased it, so that it appealed to people’s basest appetites. As long as a bad book, or worthless poetry, or an “elephant dung Madonna” (not Miss Ciccione, the earlier Madonna), or an exhibition of plastinated corpses, or some junk in formaldehyde, can become popular, it can become even more popular; often because people’s desire to be accepted by others stifles their critical faculties, so that tjhey don’t dare say that what is being praised to the skies by all around them, is talentless, tasteless, debased and debasing rubbish. And the disease, once given its head, spreads. This is not a new problem – it’s at least as old as the 19th century. 

  • Parasum

    “Pete Doherty must be the despair of all who love him.” Assuming there is anyone who does – there are may be  plenty of people who use him for their own selfish ends; but does anyone love him ? Who knows ?

  • Erplad

    I agree. I’ve got many cds by artists who’s music is best described as challenging ( aphex twin, some psytrance acts etc) It is however interesting and innovative and of worth. . not everyone’s cup of tea but of artistic worth nonetheless. Now, having listened to Pete Doherty and Carl Barat I can honestly say- and without being deliberatly provocative-  it is amateurish drivel which sounds like a bunch of spotty 6th formers messing about in the music class at school. Their celebrity is based on drug/drink ingestion and not much else. This is not to say that Pete doesn’t deserve all the help available to him and the sympathy of everyone also. There but for the grace of God. . A boycott of his work as advocated by Fr Lucie-Smith is punitive posturing by a man who really should know better. . and made all the more worse by his previous obsequiousness to  News International. There are certainly moral grounds in advocating a boycott of the N.I media.

  • Deborah

    What a sane, clear-headed and compassionate analysis.I agree with every word.I see no dichotomy between admiring Peter’s obvious talent and fervently wishing that he were not an addict.All any of us can do is hope and pray that he makes it.He has my sincere best wishes.

  • Dd

    you have missed just one point – he is one of the best songwriters in england today. 

  • Dd

    you have missed just one point – he is one of the best songwriters in england today. 

  • John

    Wow, surprisingly intelligent article. All drugs need to be legalised so they can be controlled properly by the government, rather than the gangsters/criminals. Police need to have their time freed up to deal with better things. 
    By making drugs illegal, you glamorise them. And make them very appealing to kids of a young age.

  • Nicknoeld

    what hypocrite scrum you are how about you go back to raping children and not judge a musical artist/poet who is trying to make the world a better just because he has a few problems

    and just for the record theres more pride in being a drug addict then a pedofile whos is hiding behind this lie you call faith

    your a fucking rotten cunt wish all the best my son

  • paulina

    pop star? really?

  • dookie

    Everyone’s a critic.

  • Tania Olivares

    amame cuando menos lo merezca porque es cuando mas lo necesito”
    (love me when i don’t deserve it, because it’s when i need it)