The top 10 rock n roll moments of Vaclav Havel
David Cameron reckons he’s a bit rock n roll but pretending to like the Smiths when you really like Phil Collins is in a different league from getting put in jail for liking the Rolling Stones…
1. When Havel got into power he asked Frank Zappa to be the Czech Minister of Culture. Frank Zappa was an idol to the Czech underground and became firm friends with Havel although declined the post which is a shame.
2. In the years of struggle against the communists Havel was a firm ally of the Czech band Plastic a people Of The Universe, who formed in 1970 and defied the men in grey with their psychedelic garage rock and naughty long hair in a country where the cops burned down rock venues and harassed artists and musicians.
3. Havel was a big fan of The Velvet Underground and became very good mates with Lou Reed.
4. On a trip to New York as president he went on a night out and went straight to CBGBS.
5. As President he would drive from meeting to meeting in the presidential palace on a kid’s buggy.
6. His favourite band was The Rolling Stones, which was very rock n roll in a country that made rock n roll illegal. I should know, I was meant to play a gig there in my old band The Membranes in 1987 and the promoter was in jail and the venue shut down, surely we were not that bad?
7. The Velvet Revolution, surely the most rock n roll revolution of them all which Gandhi would have been proud with its almost peaceful means in the late eighties was successful in removing the Russian backed regime. Even it’s name was good.
8. A poet playwright for president… A happy accident and a good argument for the counter culture.
9. In 1997 at a John Zorn gig at the Knitting Factory in New York, Zorn told some over exited fans to shut up during his free jazz skronk set. It was Havel, then the President and Lou Reed.
10. He was also wise in a true poetic sense saying stuff like, ‘The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less.’ which is a bit deeper than George Bush ever got. Oh and quit fittingly he also said, ‘I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.’