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Chapter 28
Pink Floyd

I saw a lot of Pink Floyd in the eighties; it was mostly to do with cars. I had maintained my friendship with Steve O'Rourke, the manager, since the
Dark Side of the Moon
Hollywood Bowl concert in '73, and by the late eighties I was either earning too much money or all the cocaine was affecting my judgment, but I kept buying cars. As I told film director Alan Parker, when he asked me why I kept buying them, it was an obsessive need. It might have had something to do with my Tourette's, but I would obsess about a particular car, say an Aston Martin or an E-Type Jag – until I bought it, then I would immediately lose interest in that car and obsess about another. Gandhi said of greed that “There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed”, but I don't think he understood where I was coming from: I needed cars. Or had I missed something? If my obsessions were coming from my Tourette's and my Tourette's had been a product of my trauma as a child, then it is likely my obsession with cars is a result of the war. I'm buying Ferraris because of Adolf Hitler!

I finished up buying eighteen classic cars. I had four Ferraris, one Aston Martin, two E-Type Jags, an XK 120, three Alfas, a Maserati, two Corvettes, a Ford Mustang Shelby replica and… I can't even remember the others. Eighteen, all at the same time! Greed probably came into it. My friends were trying to warn me about it, but I didn't want to listen. Erich Fromm said that greed is “a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction”, but he was already dead and clearly didn't understand the rising market in classic cars. The trouble is, it was a bubble, and it caught me. “It is greed to do all the talking but not to want to listen” – Democritus!

Hanging around with the Floyd didn't help either; they were all car fanatics. Drummer Nick Mason had fifty-five cars and every one was worth all my cars put together. He even had a Ferrari 250 GTO, registration 250 GTO – the most valuable model in the world. One had recently sold for fifteen mil. I suppose we were all guilty of greed, although the irony was that I wasn't the one preaching the prophecies of love and consciousness that bands coming out of the psychedelic era seemed to.

I met with Nick when he and his wife Nettie were on the Mille Miglia historic rally in Italy, and we had dinner together on the overnight stopover in Rome. On another occasion, they were horrified when I drunkenly climbed into the bridal taxi taking them from their wedding reception in Holland Park, asking, “Can you give me a lift to Ladbroke Grove?” How embarrassing! I went with Steve O'Rourke and his wife Angie to the twenty-four-hour race at Le Mans, where his Emka Aston Martin came in seventh – the highest finish of a British car for years. He had a big trophy in his house, given to the highest British finisher at Le Mans, and it carried all the names of the famous pre-war Bentleys and post-war Jaguar C-Types and D-Types that had won the race. At Le Mans, Alain de Cadenet, a friend from London, told me a wing had come off his car at 200 mph down the Mulsanne Straight. Incredible! Pink Floyd and I went to many private track days at circuits such as Goodwood, and races at Brands Hatch. We went to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and I'd often watch Steve racing his Knobbly Lister-Jaguar.

Nick Mason and David Gilmour got the first two limited edition Ferrari F40s from the factory at Maranello, while they were touring Italy with the Floyd. Nick took me to Donington in his, where a magazine photographed it. He knew I was on the list of a thousand people to receive one. I got on the list thanks to my nephew Jimmy; his wife Laura's father was head of the Automobile Club of Italy. I had to wait five years before it arrived, and mine was the last one into the UK. By the time I got it, I was just about to leave to live in California, where it was not legal – so, can you believe it… I sold it! But before I did, I needed to take it for a spin, so I took it down to Wiltshire one Saturday. I was having fun on the A303, coming up behind motorists on the two-lane highway and putting my foot down when they pulled over, showing off the acceleration basically, and wadda-ya-know, I got busted for speeding.

It took the police ten miles to catch me (I was unaware they were chasing me) and when they pulled me over, I began to plead. I told them I was leaving the country, hoping they would let me off, but they weren't too sympathetic – and they took me down the station straightaway. Hysterically, the copper who needed to drive the thing couldn't do up the tricky seatbelt and was looking at the gear stick like it was some state of the art high-tech coffee machine. I told him “That's just the beginning, officer; you've really got to know how to drive these things well… otherwise you can cause accidents.” I offered to drive it myself and follow them. His head turned to mine and I could see it in his eyes: he had no choice. “You aren't going to take off again, are you?” he asked.

I later appeared in court, with a solicitor. I was desperate not to be banned for my last month in England, when I had so much running around to do. Normally anything over 100 and you're a banned man. I had been clocked at 106, but this was fortunate; I was actually going up to 130. I had a plan. My solicitor didn't know what to do, so I had him step aside and spoke directly to the court: “My friends, the F40 has twin turbos!” I could see how silly they all felt not realising this crucial point. “This means they kick in when the car reaches 3500 revs…” (The three heads lifted, as if all in unison. I think my hook had caught them in one throw; I just needed to reel in.) “… which is around the legal limit of seventy miles an hour. Once the turbos come on, the acceleration from seventy to one hundred takes just one and a half seconds… so it is rather marginal whether you are doing seventy… or one hundred.” They let me off with a fine and no ban. The solicitor said I should be an actor, as it was the best performance he had ever seen in court.

David Gilmour also collected classic cars… and planes! That is, until he nearly killed himself in an old one, and his new wife banned him from flying. I was trying to keep up with the Floyd, but the trouble was they were much richer, and for me it was a nightmare storing and repairing all my cars. Life was hard you see… I had to store and repair my expensive cars! The entire thing was ridiculous and I was going to live in LA anyhow, so I sold them all in one hit to a dealer at knockdown prices.

“There was a time in my life when I thought I had everything – millions of dollars, mansions, cars, nice clothes, beautiful women, and every other materialistic thing you can imagine. Now I struggle for peace.” – Richard Pryor

*

In between the car stuff, there were some notable Pink Floyd musical memories. I went to lots of shows in London and Knebworth, where a real Spitfire flew over the crowd. I remember that show well: Steve O'Rourke threw someone who was illegally filming off the high stage. You have to be tough to work with a rock band, and Steve was. During a concert in America, I was standing with him near the sound engineers, and someone came up to him and handed him a document, accusing the band of stealing lyrics. Steve said it happened every night. I was with the band in New York. They were staying near the UN Plaza and we all took helicopters from the East 35
th
Street heliport to a show in the New York suburbs. It was wonderful, seeing Manhattan from a chopper. I went briefly ‘on the road' too and we flew up to Cleveland. It was interesting seeing the musician's life on tour, and it was exactly as you read of it in mags and saw in the films: lots of sitting around the pool during the day between shows, with pretty girls floating on past, and lots and lots of parties. Lots.

These days, I was thinking much of my father and that life he had lived in London and Berlin. I heard he had an exotic 1930s Lancia Lambda and used to hang around with the Italian Ambassador. I wonder if what he went for was what I had gone for, the places I had gone to, the circles I had become part of. He didn't quite manage to get there from what I know of him, yet I had seemed to. Had I gone full steam for that ‘unlived life of the parent'? Or was it all a coincidence, an uncontrollable chain of events, dominos, something that the reverend had begun? It was him, after all, who had the papers publish the orphan ad, and I certainly wouldn't have gone to Margate were it not for the war. So perhaps without it all, I wouldn't be flying in helicopters with Pink Floyd over Manhattan – perhaps I would speak Italian and be working in the fields, growing grapes, living a more peaceful life. Perhaps that was my alternative destiny, and perhaps sometime in the future I would move over there… to feel if that alternative reality was, in fact, something that should have been. Something that was predestined.

*

Becker won Wimbledon,
Born on the Fourth of July
won best picture, thousands passed through the Berlin wall, Madonna released ‘Like a Prayer' and Pink Floyd played in Venice for free. It was 1989 and the band had towed an oil rig from the North Sea all the way to Venice, and positioned it off St. Mark's Square to be the stage. All afternoon, the square filled up with people and the lagoon with boats. I watched them from my room in the Gritti Palace Hotel. A special section was reserved in front of the stage for the gondolas. Steve O'Rourke told me later that just as it got dark and the band was due to start, the leader of the gondoliers decided it was perfect timing to threaten Steve that if he didn't give him $10,000, all the gondoliers would blow their whistles during the concert and ruin it. I told you Steve was a tough bugger; he laughed in the bloke's face. “First of all, the band's sound will be so loud it will be heard fifteen miles away, and secondly, blow your whistles, and we'll turn the rig's fire hoses on the gondolas and their paying clients.” The concert went on as planned. I took all the wives of the band to dinner on the terrace of the Hotel Danieli overlooking the show, but got so coked up that I picked up the tab of $2000 – and they were all much richer than me! The next day, I took the band for lunch to a nice restaurant I knew on a quiet canal.

Chapter 29
Italia '90

“Football, it seemed to me, is not really played for the pleasure of kicking a

ball about, but is a species of fighting. The lovers of football are large,

boisterous, nobbly boys who are good at knocking down and trampling on

slightly smaller boys. That was the pattern of school life – a continuous

triumph of the strong over the weak.”

– George Orwell.

We had become a nation of riot and robbery, anarchy and rampage. The late eighties saw a string of events that were to damage our sporting reputation and establish us as hooligans throughout the globe. English football hooligans were ruining Britain and we needed a team to get us out of it.

The Heysel Stadium disaster occurred on 29 May 1985. Rioting began, and it was started by the English. Escaping fans were pressed against a wall which collapsed at the stadium in Brussels, before the start of the European Cup Final between Juventus and Liverpool. Thirty-nine Juventus fans died. After it, Britain didn't think it could get any worse – but everywhere England played abroad, fans rioted. Only when it went local did the nation really have enough.

Even the words ‘Hillsborough disaster' still make men shudder. It will surely forever be, in sport and British news, one of the truly sad things. It was an FA Cup semi-final and we have all seen the footage. The crush resulted in the deaths of ninety-six people and injuries to 766. It remains the worst stadium-related disaster in British history and one of the world's worst football events.

A horrendous thing now surrounded English footy. It was as if a carpet of disease had been placed over us and England were banned from entering any European tournaments. The press called it “the English disease”. On the pitch, the players were not performing; off the pitch, coach Bobby Robson was the subject of a press hate campaign. So, the World Cup was set to be a disaster – there was even talk of a ban – and all were expecting English fans to riot and cause havoc. Instead, something else happened, something incredible happened, and Italia '90 is known today as a milestone in English football because of it. Italia '90 was a PR exercise. Everyone expected the worst, but instead of giving us riots, England gave us something else: Gazza.

*

During my hitchhiking days, I grew close with my three Roman nephews. They were sons of my sister Maria and one of them happened to know a production assistant on a Bruce Willis film. He knew that the producer had rented an apartment overlooking the Forum for a year, but that it would be vacant for the World Cup, because they didn't want to shoot the film during the tournament. I rented it for a month and it was the most fantastic flat. I had a party attended by my nephews and their well-to-do, well-connected Roman friends, but none had seen a view like it in Rome, across the Forum to the Colosseum. I simply wasn't to know how phenomenal a trip I was about to have as I sat drinking a cold beer, admiring that view. I didn't know how essential the events of the next few weeks were to be in the future of English football, or for England.

Against the hard battering on the team by an unrelenting press, everything was going great. Paul ‘Gazza' Gascoigne had announced himself on the world stage and was appearing as something of a phenomenon; Lineker was banging in goals all over the place; and Robson was proving himself as an experimental, confident and capable manager. The boys' performance was having a knock-on effect across the country, and receiving word back from London, the pubs were filled with smiling, happy people. Everyone just loved Gazza, and Bobby Robson was no longer the country's enemy. Some people were even dancing on the streets.

Adam Whittaker, a friend from London, came to stay. He was managing director at Limelight, Siobhan and Steve Barron's company. Adam brought with him someone called Keith Allen and a girl called Helen who had a commercials production company. I didn't know Keith at that time, but he has since become well known as an actor, writer, singer and, of course, father of singer Lily Allen. Keith knew John Barnes, as he had written the lyrics to the England team World Cup song ‘World in Motion' – a song that Barnsie rapped on – and this was how it all began…

*

The England team had done it the right way. Robson told them all to get it right on the field and all the problems would vanish. They did just that and football, not scandal, was grabbing our headlines. England had made it through to the semis to play West Germany in Turin. The four of us flew there and went to the stadium and John Barnes passed us tickets through the fence. The nation was on the edge of their seats. We needed out of this hooligan culture for good. Come on England!

Today, the game has gone down as one of the most important in English football. It was the game that saw Gazza receive his second yellow card. It was when Lineker turned to Bobby Robson (famously) and gestured for him to keep an eye on Gazza. You see, Gazza's second yellow meant he would not play in the final and Lineker was right – Gazza would burst into tears. But not yet; first they would need to lose to West Germany on penalties. One photographer captured the moment of Gazza lifting his shirt to his face and it was the image that came out of the World Cup for Britain. It was poignant, it was patriotic and it was England's first ever penalty shootout. For West Germany, it was their third. Shilton was in goal and was acting captain at the time, but he was not experienced at shootouts. Our kickers, Lineker, Beardsley and Platt, had scored, but Stuart Pearce hit it down the middle and Illgner blocked it with his legs. The country knew that the boys had taken us to a great place so far and the PR campaign had been a success; getting to the final would have been nothing but extra. Chris Waddle's shot left-footed over the bar to the left as Illgner guessed correctly. The question remains: if Waddle had scored and Berthold then missed, who would have taken England's sixth pen? My guess… Gazza, but it's academic now. The boys had lost to West Germany and they were out of the tournament. The thing was, they hadn't lost lost, they had done what the country needed of them: they had kept their dignity, they had remained gents, but… the celebrations had not yet begun.

The four of us drove our rental car, looking for the country hotel where the England team was staying. Eventually, we saw some carabinieri with submachine guns and we knew we had found it. We blagged our way past the police and were in the lobby of the hotel. Gazza was on the phone to his father back in Newcastle, in tears. Sometimes, there's nothing more heart -wrenching than seeing a man cry, especially over something so important in the world as football. I gave him a consoling hug and he cried on my shoulder. The rest of the team were in a small bar, dealing with the loss a different way. We were the only people there apart from the team. I sat next to Lineker and I still remember what he told me: “It's a scandal that important games end in penalties.” The truth was, West Germany had a lot more experience in shootouts than England, and penalties were now to haunt England way into the future. Lineker told me that Pearcy (Stuart Pearce) was crying in his room because he had missed, but to understand this, non-football fans need to see it in context.

Football is something that is built into the English culture, like pubs or the weather. It is one of the essential ingredients that make England, England. The working class needed heroes, and for most of the country, those heroes weren't politicians, they weren't bankers, or any other upper echelon of society. No, they were football players. Representing the country in football at the World Cup is a lot of pressure, but Italia '90 was something else. There were political ramifications and we, the people, needed them to perform. It's worth noting as well that football was different then, and the likes of John Barnes, Gary Lineker and Gazza were heroes for British folk; they were men who kids could relate to. It was different to today, with all the money and the glamour. The players now are often seen as superheroes, but back then in Italia '90, they were human beings – Gazza, crying on my shoulder, was surely proof of that.

Bobby Robson kept coming around trying to get the players to go to bed. “You have an important game on Saturday, you can party after that,” he said, but the boys were not convinced. Lineker said to me that no one cared about that game; it was the third-place play-off. Robson came back once more trying to get them to go to bed but he was struggling; these lads had the weight of an entire nation on their shoulders. Something happens during the World Cup and it is unique, much like the Olympics: but everyone on British soil comes together and manages to shelve any prejudice or forget any history of the empire, and instead support England. It's football that does it.

In the bar, Bobby Robson looked down at me and told me, “You are a very bad influence on my lads.” Bobby Robson became a national hero for taking the England team to the World Cup semis, and he was knighted as a result. Sir Bobby Robson passed away in 2009 and will be remembered for a long time to come as a national treasure. I was proud to have met that man.

We were in the third-place play-offs, which was in Bari in the South. After the game, which England lost (because they couldn't give a damn), we went back to the hotel and arrived just as the team were finishing dinner and presenting commemorative medals to their coaches, trainers and physios. When the dinner and presentations were over, the players picked up Bobby Robson and threw him in the pool. I have some great shots of that. The boys were out of the World Cup and they had lost their play-off, but they had won the world's respect back and had done a great thing for the country. The job was done in a lot of ways and the pressure was off. As expected, they got drunk – and did they get drunk! We stayed up all night, boozing and singing anthems until it was dawn. I recall John Barnes even rapped out his famous ad and they all went skinny dipping in the pool. The players had their swimming costumes on, but we four from Rome did not! I've got great shots of that too, but I won't include those in the picture section of this book!

At 8am, all the wives and girlfriends (WAGs) arrived. They weren't allowed to travel with the team during the tournament, so they were shipped out for the last game and final party. After a month-long tournament, all the poor girls wanted was a night to celebrate with their men, but the players objected and didn't want any of their women at the final party. Our friend Helen was the only girl there, and I think she made the most of it with one of the better-looking players… who, of course, I will not mention. So, having flown from England especially, the WAGs were put up in a distant hotel and only saw their fellas when they collected the players on the way back to the airport. They had an open bus ceremonial ride when they got back to England. It was famous because Gazza was photographed for all the newspapers wearing a pair of fake female breasts. The beginning of Gazza's antics had just begun. I spoke to him on the phone later. He told me they were all completely hungover when they did that ride through London.

After the all-night party, the four of us from Rome drove back – also with hangovers. I dropped the others off at the flat and in great shock I realised I had a ticket to the final: West Germany and Argentina! I turned on my heels and ran for the car – but didn't arrive at the stadium until half time. I remember thinking as I walked into the stadium, I must be the only man in the world to get a ticket to the World Cup final and miss half the game! On that note, and after what I had experienced… my god, what a boring game! Or maybe I was just one of the ninety-nine percent of Brits who once again didn't give a damn about football now England were out? No, it wasn't true – and that game is now renowned as one of the most boring finals of all time. The England vs. West Germany match, however, is renowned as being the most dramatic and intense in the entire tournament.

I went to another World Cup final in Los Angeles in '94, between Italy and Brazil. That was also a boring one: 0-0 and it went to a penalty shootout. The biggest tragedy was that Roberto Baggio, who pretty much single-handedly got Italy to the final, was the one who missed. He took the kick just below where I was sitting, and I have a photograph of him with his head lowered in shame and disappointment. My heart went out to him. He had been so brilliant throughout the tournament, and all I could do was think of the boys: Pearce, Lineker, John Barnes, Peter Shilton, Bryan Robson, Chris Waddle, Peter Beardsley, David Platt, Gazza. Football isn't the same today. It was different then; then it belonged to us. Like all of these things, it was a time. Even now, twenty-five years on, English football still rides the crest of the wave those men created on that field and the massive names that go with that squad – heroes to today's players. Everyone will remember the squad from Italia '90, especially me – I got pissed and naked with them! For Germany, it would be the last tournament to feature a German side representing a divided Germany. We were in the nineties now: Thatcher was out, Major was in, and Britain was changing. England were allowed back into European competitions. Change was coming, to us all.

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