Today (March 12) is Pete Doherty’s birthday. To celebrate the Libs frontman’s special day, here’s 50 geeky facts about The Libertines.
Carl lived on a commune in Somerset with his mother as a kid, his parents were divorced and his mum was a member of various peace groups including the CND.
Pete Doherty got 11 top GCSE’S, four top A levels and an offer from Oxford University to study English Literature. He’s also a published poet.
Pete grew up at a number of army garrisons as his Dad worked as an officer in the army.
Carl had a twin brother who died soon after they were born. He has a sister, three half-siblings, one step brother and a step sister.
When the boys moved into their North London flat, they formed a band with neightbour Steve ‘Scarborough Steve’ Bedlow and called themselves The Strand, creating an early incarnation of The Libs. They performed a lot of their early gigs in the flat.
Pete and Carl first met when Barât went to Brunel University to study drama and shared a flat with Doherty’s sister Amy-Jo in Richmond.
Pete Doherty duetted with Elton John at Live 8 in London, performing T Rex hit ‘Children Of The Revolution’.
Gary Powell has worked with JME and Skepta, as well as composing show music for fashion designers Todd Lynn and Roland Mouret for London and Paris fashion weeks.
Pete gave himself the username ‘heavyhorse’ when talking on The Libertines fans forums as the band started to show tensions between Barat and Doherty.
On August 11 2003, Pete pleaded guilty in a preliminary hearing to the charge of burglary for breaking into Carl’s flat while he was away in Japan on tour without Doherty. ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ charted at Number Eleven during this time, their highest position up until that point.
Pete and Carl followed one common dream whilst in The Libertines: “It’s either to the top of the world, or the bottom of a canal”, Barât once said this to Doherty when they first became friends.
Talking about Pete and Carl’s relationship, friend of the band and photographer Roger Sargent told the BBC it is like, “first love, and all the jealousy and obsessiveness that comes with that”.
Carl Barât very nearly became a junkie. In an interview with The Word in 2004, he revealed, “There was one point where I very very nearly, just to be close to him (Pete), started taking full-on heroin.”
NME journalist Roger Morton offered to be their manager after seeing them play at Macnasty’s Whiskey Café in Islington where Pete worked as a barman.
Carl was left partially deaf after having a tumour behind his ear removed back in 2005.
‘The Boy Looked At Johnny’ is about Johnny Borrell from Razorlight – who the band hung out with in London before releasing their debut album. He even played bass with them for a while.
Gary Powell used to be a session drummer for legendary reggae artist Eddy Grant.
When he was 16, Pete won a poetry competition and went on a tour of Russia that was organized by the British Council.
John Hassall has said that discovering The Beatles when he was 13 was the first time he fell in love. He then bought their entire back catalogue in chronological order.
When he finished his A-levels, Pete moved to his grandmother’s flat in London and got a job filling graves in Willesden Cemetery where he spent most of his time reading and writing while sat on gravestones.
When he was part of the band, Johnny Borrell missed an important showcase for James Endeacott at Rough Trade because he was on tour “living the high life” – but Barat and Doherty managed to impress Endeacott enough to get signed.
Their first single – a double a-side of ‘What A Waster’ and ‘I Get Along’ – was produced by former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler and released in 2003. The band were on the front cover of NME for the first time that week.
John Hassall went to school with Johnny Borrell from Razorlight. They attended lessons together at Highgate School.
Pete and Carl took the band’s name from the 17th century Marquis De Sade novel ‘The Lusts Of The Libertines’ – which features the risqué subjects of sexual perversion, bondage and sado-masochism.
While recording their debut album ‘Up The Bracket’, The Libertines played over 100 gigs in a year including support slots with Sex Pistols and Morrissey.
‘There Are No Innocent Bystanders’, a new film chronicling The Libertines’ past, present and future, premiered in London last week. “All I’ve tried to do is to show these four people as human beings rather than tabloid monsters,” said filmmaker and photographer Roger Sargent of the documentary.
The first time Pete and Carl ever played each other their songs was at Mortlake train station. “I played him this song I’d written,” Carl revealed in the film. “My original lyrics were ‘John Lennon came down to me today’, which is fucking laughable in hindsight…”
Carl’s not a fan of Brick Lane’s beigel shop, despite being associated with east London’s most famous takeaway merchant. He revealed in the film that he finds their salt beef special “pretty fucking gross, actually.”
The band lived next to a brothel. “They’ve cleaned it up a bit now,” Carl said in the band’s new film, ‘There Are No Innocent Bystanders’. “I used to sleep in a big, black iron cage.”
Carl recorded guitar on the b-side to Pete Doherty and Wolfman’s single ‘This Is For Lovers’, the track was called ‘Back From The Dead’.
Pete and Carl recorded contributed to a cover of The Clash’s ‘Janie Jones’ for Strummerville. However, they never met up during the recording process.
Pete was admitted to the Priory twice over four weeks in May/June 2004, leaving early both times. The day he left for the second time, he went to see Carl at his club night Dirty Pretty Things to speak to him and the rest of the band, they ended up playing a short set and it was the last time they would play together for more than six years.
After leaving rehab at a monastery in Thailand and going to Bangkok in search of drugs, Pete was arrested in the UK in June for possession of an offensive weapon. It was an engraved flick knife that he said he’d bought as a birthday present for Carl.
Carl dissolved the band in December 2004 after playing their final show in more than five years in Paris without Pete. Barât wasn’t happy working in the band without Doherty.
Working with Mick Jones, The Clash man would often allow the band to record the same song lots of times and pick the best take – rather than interfering with their recording process.
The pair hadn’t spoken for almost a year when they met at the Boogaloo Bar in Highgate, North London. Carl turned up at the bar and was told there was a high chance of Doherty being there later, Barat told NME journalist Anthony Thornton, “it might as well happen now, because it’s going to happen sometime”.
After a long period of not speaking, Pete and Carl were spotted together at a Tender Box gig at the Dublin Castle in Camden in July 2006. Barat later said that it was “all a bit public for my liking. I was blind drunk that night.”
In April 2007 Pete and Carl played the likes of ‘What Katie Did’, ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ and ‘Time For Heroes’ together at the Hackney Empire in London. The pair insisted that it was a one-off and there wouldn’t be any more shows anytime soon.
Pete and Carl covered Beatles track ‘A Day In The Life’ for a Radio 2 project to rerecord the whole of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ for the 40th anniversary of the record in June 2007.
In 2008 the pair were rumoured to be working on a ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ musical for London’s Donmar Warehouse, but Carl told NME that reports that they were recording new material were rubbish and that the musical was off.
Playing together in public for the first time since April 2007, Carl appeared onstage when Pete was performing a private gig at Camden’s Prince Of Wales pub for London Fashion Week. When he spotted Barat, Doherty exclaimed, “Stone me, Carl!”
In 2007 Carl Barât got a tattoo that read: “Let’s put our futures behind us”. This sparked more reunion rumours at the time.
In 2009 Pete revealed that the band had been offered millions to reunite for Reading And Leeds Festivals, but that Carl had turned it down. Carl told BBC 6 Music, “I’ve just freed myself up so the last thing I wanna do is completely burden my mind. No, not right now.”
Pete grew up in Shepherd’s Bush, London. He’s also lived in Liverpool, London, Belfast, Germany, Coventry, Dorset and Cyprus.
At the 2009 NME Awards, Barat said that the pair were still the Libertines and Doherty said he’d been trying to “twist his arm” about a reunion.
Their debut album’s title (‘Up The Bracket’) is a reference to a phrase from Hancock’s Half Hour, a slang term that means a punch in the throat.
The band played a guerilla gig at the Boogaloo pub on March 29 2010 after a press conference talking about their headline reunion slots at Reading And Leeds Festivals. They then played two warm up shows at the HMV Forum before their festival gigs.
Both Carl and Pete are fans of literature and state poets and authors as major influences. Doherty likes William Blake, Emily Dickinson and Thomas Chatterton, while Barât prefers Saki and the Edwardian idea of wit.
In a BBC interview, Doherty said, “if Oasis is the sound of a council estate singing its heart out, then the Libertines sounded like someone just putting something in the rubbish chute at the back of the estate, trying to work out what day it is”.
In June 2008, Pete commissioned a sculpture of himself on a cross for one of his solo shows in London. It was carved in marble and depicted Doherty surrounded by newspapers, symbolising his crucifixion by the media.