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Drug smuggler, author and cult hero who died last week reveals the tunes he listened to in prison and why he hated the song 'My Way'.

The first song I remember hearing
Edric Connor And The Caribbeans - 'Day Dah Light'
“This was released in 1952, when I was seven. The singer and the backing group were Trinidadian and the song was the inspiration for Jamaican-American singer Harry Belafonte’s 1956 hit ‘Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)’, which still gets occasionally spun at very odd club nights throughout the world. And I still love it.”



The first song I fell in love with
Eddie Cochran - 'Twenty Flight Rock'
“I was fond of Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around The Clock’, and various prehistoric Elvis Presley tracks, but this 1957 single topped them all. I had the unbelievable experience of seeing Eddie perform it in Bristol on April 16, 1960, an hour or so before he was killed in a car crash. He was my favourite rock’n’roll singer.”



The song that reminds me of my crime days
Bobby Fuller Four - 'I Fought The Law'
“According to the song, ‘the law won’, as it did in reality. We all got busted and most of us served lengthy prison sentences. But the fun we had smuggling was second to none. I still fight the law, but now I focus on the clearly unjust laws, with the illegality of cannabis taking first priority.”



The song that reminds me of prison
Sam Cooke - 'Chain Gang', Elvis Presley - 'Jailhouse Rock', Jimmy Buffet - 'If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me'
“I can’t reduce this to just one song. I hasten to add I was never on a chain gang, the warden never threw a party and I didn’t have a phone. But each of these tracks prickled my soul when it came on the radio.”







The first album I ever bought
Elvis Presley - 'Elvis Presley'
“I already had virtually all the tracks, but only on 78 RPM, and attrition – sitting on them when pissed – had taken its toll. I treasured this, my only LP, for years until poverty forced me to sell it to a second-hand record shop in 1968.”



The song I wish I’d written (or had been written about me)
Anything by Steppenwolf
“I would have loved to have been somehow associated with ‘Don’t Step On The Grass, Sam’, ‘Born To Be Wild’ or ‘Magic Carpet Ride’. The vocalist, John Kay, was particularly talented, making every syllable resonate.”



The song I can no longer listen to
Various - 'My Way'
“It’s not because of the song itself, particularly when sung by Sid Vicious, but due to the celebrities who arrogantly claim the song was written about them. The original was actually a 1967 French pop song that caught the attention of Paul Anka, who adapted it for Sinatra.”



The song that makes me want to dance
Underworld - 'Born Slippy'
“When I was imprisoned in 1988, the UK chart toppers were tracks such as Phil Collins’ ‘Groovy Kind Of Love’ and Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’. Excellently produced, but they never propelled me to the dancefloor. After I was released in 1995, I attended a rave in a cave in Majorca, dropped some very pure ecstasy, and the DJ played this. Even today and even without drugs, I just have to hear the first few bars and I want to find a dancefloor.”



The song I want played at my funeral
Birdsong
“I don’t really want a funeral, but if one happens, my wish is for there to be no sadness whatsoever. I’ve had far too wonderful a life for any of that. As regards what song I’d like, it would be birdsong, not played, but uttered spontaneously by nature.”

Mr Smiley: My Last Pill And Testament by Howard Marks is out now

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