Red-Army-Faction-BluesQ. What was the genesis of Red Army Faction Blues?

Football and rock music are the cultural glue for many people, myself included, but I’d never read a compelling piece of fiction about either, really, and was somewhat at a loss to explain why. Until The Damned United.

Besides being terrific, I found it both shocking and liberating in what it suggested in terms of potential subject matter and how to shine a new light on the immediate past. It’s about football, but at the same time, not at all. It’s about a real person, a well-known celebrity, turned symbol or cipher. Much of modern culture, for a number of reasons, appears to have been closed off to imaginative fiction and I think there is a hunger for alternatives to ‘official’ versions.

I was already corresponding with David Peace a little, and I’d mentioned the story of the first incarnation of Fleetwood Mac, how the band’s initial disintegration had assumed mythical status – become another symbol really, for the end of 1960s optimism and experimentation. In particular, what the surviving members of Fleetwood Mac in interviews referred to as ‘The Munich Horrorshow’, which they attributed to the start of the sad decline of Peter Green, the band’s original creative force.

I initially tried to make Green the protagonist, but it was hopeless – the known facts forced out any freedom and the clichés flowed!

Q. What was the source of your fascination with Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac?

As a kid I was a big fan of Peter Green and one of the first albums I ever owned was The Pious Bird of Good Omen – the one with the nun holding an albatross on the front. When I started to learn to play guitar it was Green I initially tried to copy. Perhaps because it seemed simple – deceptively so, of course. With hindsight, they were a very effective singles band, while never quite making the classic album they threatened to. But that run of singles – ‘Need Your Love So Bad’, ‘Black Magic Woman’, ‘Albatross’ ‘Man of the World’, ‘Oh Well’ and ‘Green Manalishi’ – is quite staggering in its breadth and originality. And then of course, what happened to the three guitarists is awfully tragic – even as Fleetwood Mac went on to being the best-selling band of the 1970s. The 60s ended when I was ten, so the story was initially skewed through the prism of childhood for me, when the generation above me all seemed to be speaking in magical and exciting codes I had only a very limited understanding of.

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