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The Records’ John Wicks – The Final Interview

A few months prior to his passing, John Wicks, lead singer and songwriter of the iconic power pop band The Records, performed his final concert. Jeff Shibley, a big Records fan, put the show together at the Redwood Bar near Los Angeles. Afterwards, John was interviewed and shared a story he had told me a time or two before – one that I never would have remembered in such detail.

It was one of many great stories he had. John wasn’t just a power pop guy. He liked everything. He seemingly knew everyone. Here, John talks about the folks in Fleetwood Mac – more specifically, Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood. You’ll find an excerpt from it with the full video of the interview below. I do not know the interviewer’s name but I’d like to think him for providing us with a memory.

Thank you to Jeff Shibley. I don’t know Jeff but I want him to know how much John appreciated this experience. John and I spoke on the phone about it shortly afterwards. It was the kind of send off he needed. I suspect he knew time had pretty much run out.

Had I known of the existence of this video before now, I would have shared it. And so, without further ado….

Interviewer: Tonight we witnessed you playing some of your more contemporary work from the last decade and things like that, and the audience responded really well.

John: Considering they don’t know, there’s still mileage in it because a lot of people have never heard it. So its like, it’s just gotta grow on them. And “That Girl is Emily”, the one about Syd Barrett, it’s got a sister song, “So Close to Home”, about Peter Green who I’ve met.

I’ve given the disc to Peter Green and also to Mick Fleetwood. When I was at the Tom Petty music cares thing on February 10th, I was talking with Stevie Nicks and she knew who I was. Because obviously I’d given all these things to Mick Fleetwood. And it was like “I know you!”.

Interviewer: Big deal isn’t it? Isn’t it…..

John: And it was like, “You do? Really?”. I guess she knows me from that – from the song about Peter Green. And obviously Peter was dear to everyone’s heart because he started the band in the first place. And they of course morphed into what they morphed into. But I’d loved them all the way through.

Interviewer: Speaking of the song you just mentioned, I really liked it. “That Girl Is Emily”.  Is that a reference to Syd Barrett’s “See Emily Play”?

John: Yeah. What is was – when I was back in England, I was kinda going through a real bad patch, an emotional breakdown. The first idea I got was “So Close to Home”. We didn’t play it tonight but it’s a sister song. The idea as a concept was about Peter Green. He lived not too far away from where I lived. I was living in Surrey and he was living in Richmond.

I’d see him walking through the streets and he was like hobblin’ along. I’m thinking “wow. This is really sad”. He’s a genius guitarist, songwriter and singer. So on a crazy day, one day I thought “Maybe I’ll just look through the phone book”. I knew where he lived at 77 Albany Terrace or something like that. And so I looked through the phone book and there his name was. His full name is Peter Greenbaum and I knew that so I said “My God. I gotta call him”.

It was a sorta misguided attempt to try and help him. I knew he had the schizophrenia from the LSD trip. So I called him. He picked up the phone – you couldn’t mistake the voice. I tried to talk with him we got a little bit into it and he went “Who is this!?”. And then he hung up. And so…

Interviewer: You felt a little bit like a stalker, there. Your intentions were good but….

John: Of course, he didn’t know that. I called him back again. And again, I said “Peter, I was just trying to help. “Who is this!” and then he hang up again. I thought, “what am i….”. Then years later, when I came over here, he was playing the State Theatre in Falls Church, Virginia. I lived in that area at the time. I couldn’t see him because it was sold out. So I went there with a recording of this song.

I’d read in the tabloids about what a mess he was. I thought “wow, what a shame”. And I thought, because I was in a mess (too), it was like “so close to home”. We lived only 5 miles from each other. It was a mental thing. So close to home – the distance between us. I got this CDR of it and I went to the State Theatre hoping that I could maybe get it. But I couldn’t. I thought maybe I could give it to someone.

I went out on the car park and all of a sudden a car arrived. A bunch of people spilled out of it. One of them was him. He starts walking over so I call him. I call “Hey (inaudible)” He’s going to the stage door. And his buddies were kinda “What’s this?”. When I started talking with him and he was alright about it, they just carried on walking.

I said “Peter, I got something for you”. “Something for me? Nobody gives me anything?”. It was like talking with a little kid as he had schizophrenia.

Interviewer: So you were actually able to present Peter with the CD?

John: Yeah. And later it got used in an unauthorized Fleetwood Mac thing that was done by Passport Productions. That’s what the whole documentary was about.  I guess they already knew about that. I’d already met with Mick Fleetwood at a business called Fleetwood’s in Alexandria, Virginia. I got to talk with him for hours there. We were talking about different things. We kinda bonded on that.

As the interview continued, John stated that there was more to come. In fact, he and I had been writing some material together, intended for use on his next album. After John’s passing, his good friend and bassist Gary Schwarz suggested we release these songs with friends performing vocal duties in John’s stead. That’s Gary’s bass on “That Girl Is Emily” and many others. FOR THE RECORD is a very personal tribute to a man who defined pop music for many of us in the late 70’s right through to today. Vocalists include Al Stewart, Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann), Don Dixon, Peter Case (of power pop legends The Plimsouls), and Carla Olsen among other “A” list performers. Check it out HERE.

Watch the full interview below.