Babyshambles - Biography

Babyshambles are London-based rock band formed by Pete Doherty whilst he was on hiatus from The Libertines. Though they released two albums and three EPs, they’re arguably most famous for their leader’s constant presence in the tabloids on account of his high-profile relationships, and countless driving and drug offenses.


After Pete Doherty was banned from performing with The Libertines on account of his multiple drug addictions, he formed a new band, initially called “T’ Libertines,” on account of the mostly Yorkie line-up, led by vocalist “Scarborough” Steve Bedlow. However, by the time they were scheduled to play their first gig, they had settled on the name “Babyshambles.” In what would become something of a pattern, that gig was put on hold after Doherty was arrested after burgling Libertines bandmate Carl Barât's home. After serving two months of his sentence, the band (now with Doherty now on vocals) made their debut at the Kent’s Tap ‘n’ Tin pub. The band's first single, “Babyshambles” was released in April 2004 on High Society Records. However, the band was sidelined when a fleetingly sober Doherty was allowed to rejoin The Libertines. He was kicked out again that summer when his drug problems predictably resurfaced and Babyshambles were re-formed with Patrick Walden on guitar, Gemma Clarke on drums, and Jamie and Peter Perret Junior, on guitar and bass respectively.


Babyshambles began gigging, often without their increasingly raddled leader, and undergoing several line-up changes before setting on Clarke, Doherty, Walden and Drew McConnell on bass. In the autumn of 2004, they embarked on their first tour before releasing their second single, “Killamangiro” on Rough Trade. A tour again followed in December but tensions mounted and the band walked off a Blackpool stage when Doherty proved in a state precluding him from performing. After he failed to even appear at a London Astoria performance, a riot broke out. Filmmaker Roger Pomphrey filmed the band on tour at the time and released the results as Who the Hell is Pete Doherty? (2006 Image).


Understandably frustrated, Clarke quit the band in January 2005 and was replaced by Adam Ficek. That month, Doherty began dating supermodel Kate Moss, whom he met on her birthday. On February 2nd, 2005, Doherty was arrested after an altercation with documentary filmmaker Max Carlish, who was making a documentary, Stalking Pete Doherty, and sold photos of a heroin smoking Doherty to the tabloids. Around the same time, Doherty's father decided that he was tired of broken promises and vowed never to see his son until he was clean of drugs. 


The new line-up spent April and May recording their debut in Wales with Mick Jones producing. Down in Albion (2005 Rough Trade) reached the Top 10. That July, Babyshambles were booked to support dad-rockers Oasis. However, after Doherty missed a gig whilst attending Hedi Slimane’s birthday with Moss, the band were dropped from the tour.


Babyshambles played a few small shows toward the end of the year (on New Year's Eve 2005, Doherty held a guerrilla gig in his  flat where he showcased some of his solo works) and a few more in early 2006, albeit without Walden, who’d left the band, amazingly, because of his own drug problems. He re-joined them in time for their February tour of the UK, around which time they were awarded the Naomi Award for Worst Live Act. After Walden was accused of assaulting his girlfriend, he spent nine days in Pentonville prison whilst the rest of the band toured without him in April.


In August, Babyshambles signed to Parlophone and headlined the Get Loaded in the Park festival. They released a single, “Beg, Steal or Borrow,” made available only to park attendees. In October, their cover of “Janie Jones” was released through B-Unique Records to raise money for Joe Strummer's charity foundation, Strummerville. That December they released The Blinding EP (2006 Parlophone) after which it was announced that the band had signed a three album contract.


In April, Doherty announced his engagement to Moss but by July their relationship had ended. Around the same time, Doherty’s mother Jacqueline, a nurse, published a book about family life with Doherty and his drug problems, called Pete Doherty - My Prodigal Son. In the summer of 2007, Babyshambles played several festivals, including Oxegen, Glastonbury Festival, the V Festival, T in the Park and Paredes de Coura Festival. In September, Doherty underwent rehab for six weeks at Clouds House although his manager afterward claimed “The only time I can be sure he’s not doing heroin or crack is when he’s in rehab or prison or asleep.” The same month, pictures surfaced that appeared to show Doherty getting his cat, Dinger, high on a customized crack pipe. In October 2007, Doherty was again briefly engaged to a model, this time, Irina Lazareanu. In October, they released their Stephen Street-produced sophomore album, Shotter’s Nation (2007 Parlophone). A month later Up the Shambles (2007 Eagle Rock Ent), a taped performance of a show in Manchester, was released as the band embarked on their first arena tour, followed in January and February 2008 by a European tour.


On April 8th, 2008, Doherty was jailed for fourteen weeks for breaching probation. After ten days, he was moved to a private area of Wormwood Scrubs prison after learning that fellow inmates were planning to attack him. He was released in May after his sentence was cut in half and further eighteen days were remitted due to government efforts to reduce prison overcrowding. When Doherty once again emerged from behind bars, he showed the press a certificate confirming he had passed a drugs test. The public could be forgiven if they didn’t assume that this meant Doherty would never touch another illicit substance.


Given the shaky state of Babyshambles, the members are perhaps wise to maintain separated careers in other projects. On 12 July 2008, Doherty played a solo gig at the Royal Albert Hall. In March 2009, Doherty released his solo debut, Grace/Wastelands (2009 EMI), with contributions from Ficek. Ficek, meanwhile, also plays in Roses Kings Castles. McConnell plays in The Phoenix Drive and as a solo performer.


In June 2009, Doherty was arrested in Gloucester and charged with driving dangerously, while drunk. Although the following month Doherty stated that “I'm clean — the last eleven days I've been clean for the first time in quite a long time.” He also announced that he’d begun work on the third Babyshambles album. However, when Doherty appeared in Gloucester court for sentencing for drunk driving, a bag of dope fell out of his coat pocket. He was re-arrested for possession of a controlled substance. The following day it emerged that Doherty could be charged with offenses linked to a hit-and-run incident, which left a pedestrian in a critical condition.

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