This is a sampling of Articles, Testimonials and Links related to the sad demise of Peter Gutteridge on September 14 2014. Sadly missed….
The rise and fall of a music legend
Musicians remember Peter Gutteridge, an architect of the Dunedin sound, better known abroad than at home. It was on his return home from the United States that police met him at the airport, had him admitted to hospital – and that was where he died. Jess McAllen reports.
When a bunch of guitar leads are tangled up like spaghetti, you’ve got yourself a Gutteridge.
It’s a noun friends and former bandmates of one of New Zealand music’s unsung heroes, the solitary, slight and troubled Peter Gutteridge, want to entrench.
“Both literally and figuratively,” says Graeme Humphreys, former keyboardist of the Able Tasmans. “His leads were always tangled, and his mind . . .”
Gutteridge died suddenly at Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital on Monday. He had just returned from a trip to New York – the first time he had left New Zealand – and on arrival at Auckland International airport police were called following concerns for his welfare.
His death has been referred to the coroner.
Gutteridge, who was in his early 50s, played an important role in cementing Flying Nun’s legacy and the development of the “Dunedin Sound” – despite his admission in a rare interview that he had tired of the concept because people “didn’t think about the sound of things” enough.
He founded The Clean, The Chills and Snapper and was also a member of the Great Unwashed and The Puddle. Gutteridge had recently started working on new material, a few months ago telling a friend he was preparing some songs to record. “He was on a good upward trend,” Otago University music lecturer and Verlaines frontman Graeme Downes says.
“He could have bounced back and come up with something. He looked good and was in pretty good spirits last time I saw him.”
Gutteridge was consumed by music and music was consumed by him. At the start of this year a synthesiser droned continuously inside his Dunedin home, making wobbly noises and providing a back track not only to his life but any music he wanted to make, at any time inspiration struck.
Good friend George Henderson, who formed The Puddle, offered Gutteridge a room at his rural home near Auckland after Gutteridge quit his 20-odd-year opiate and methadone addiction.
“It just gave him a chance to recuperate away from the scene he’d come from. And he did get a lot of his health and energy back. He actually got really well, better than he’d been in a long time, and he started playing again after that.”
It was no secret Gutteridge was troubled, and his long-term drug addiction, say music commentators, may have derailed him professionally.
Downes says Gutteridge’s demons impacted his music: “Peter could come up with amazing stuff but he was one of those people who found it difficult to get it to the end product. You’d need a lot of people around to push him, help him get to the stage or to the recording studio.”
Despite many in his life begging him for such a long time to quit drugs, when he finally did it was in a characteristic Gutteridge fashion, says Henderson.
“He was on lots of drugs and gave it up very quickly in a totally impulsive and self-guided way. He just jumped off because the idea came into his head and he just did it. I can’t confirm how long he was off drugs, maybe it was three years . . . but he was able to go to America because he didn’t need to pick up a prescription every day.”
Gutteridge’s trip was the first time he’d left New Zealand.
“It was just an impulsive decision, I believe,” says Henderson, who was surprised by the trip. “He suffered from pain and especially wasn’t well in the last year or the last six months and I think going to America just completely exhausted him. He was already mentally and physically exhausted and, looking back, it was amazing he was able to go.”
Henderson first met Gutteridge about 1979, remembering someone who always had a guitar in hand.
“Pete had a kind of changeling quality about him, like part of him wasn’t from around here. Over the years that came out more and more, he became more attuned to spiritual forces and messages. He would do things because he has a calling to do them.
“It was quite impressive really, his ability to change the atmosphere in a place, kind of on a musical level without even playing music.”
Close friend Stuart Page, who produced Gutteridge’s videos and helped out with his trip to New York, says: “His music was his personality. He was really into the idea of music being what it actually is, which is vibrating airwaves.
“He was really into not just the song and the words but the fact that music is basically airwaves that are being disturbed, and he got it down to that level. He would sometimes spend half an hour tuning something until the vibrations were correct.
“He was a very complex person. He could be the most gentle, soft, unbelievable kind of tender person that could write a little song and make you cry, or he could just turn into this guy who was in control of this ferocious, loud distorting vibration that would leave you deaf for like two days and everything in between.
“He often spoke about using his music to empower people to stand up for everyone’s values and needs, and properly treasure the riches from all our different cultures and individual gifts and the environment of New Zealand.”
Flying Nun label boss Ben Howe discovered Gutteridge’s music through the Snapper track Buddy and the Clean’s Point That Thing Somewhere Else. Howe thinks these two tracks are among the best and most important ever to come out of New Zealand.
Howe was in New York with Gutteridge a few weeks ago. It was the middle of a summer heat wave but Gutteridge only thought to travel with a pair of large woolly ugg boots. “He wasn’t someone you would likely have a routine or normal conversation with. He was more interested in the cosmic, spiritual or creative aspects of life, which was what made him so cool. He was also quite eccentric in an endearing way.”
Within a day of his death, tribute pieces flowed in international media – The Guardian, Pitchfork, Billboard and The Rolling Stone – before it was even publicised in New Zealand. Gutteridge, arguably, had a larger following with international indie musicians than mainstream music listeners in his home country.
“If you were to run into anyone from Pavement, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tango, Real Estate – pretty much any decent indie band in the States or Britain – and said ‘Peter Gutteridge’ they would go ‘yeah, he’s amazing’ but if you said, for example, ‘Fat Freddy’s Drop’ they would go ‘who?”‘ Humphreys says.
When Gutteridge was in a band, no matter how briefly, it seemed something magical happened. His brief stint in The Clean created Point That Thing – which he wrote at the age of 17.
Downes cites two reasons for his international recognition: “It’s for the music he played but also the role he played in being the catalyst for other people.
“Even the idea, the sheer audacity of picking up a guitar, writing your own songs and starting to play them was revolutionary enough. It’s a butterfly flapping its wings. One tiny event happened and it just spawned a tidal wave of other activity and now The Clean are playing in the United States for 18-year-old kids who love it.”
Gutteridge had a real sense for humour and wrote often darkly-funny lyrics. Henderson particularly recalls the line “lost ribbons are tied to lost sheep”.
“Maybe he was a bit of a lost sheep,” Henderson says.
“His songs were often quite lyrical, especially the Great Unwashed ones. They sound good and point to something deep without necessarily overstating it.
“He just put everything, everything into his music really. Absolutely everything, all kinds of things other people hold back on. He would sacrifice anything for music really.”
Henderson’s final memory, amid stories he says aren’t fit to print, is about their shared love of weaponry. “We used to sit in his house shooting up bottles. That was one of our main recreations – there was this pile of broken bottles at the end of the house because we’d overdone it.”
Chris Knox (The Enemy, Toy Love, Tall Dwarfs) is a fellow Flying Nun legend and was a friend of Gutteridge. In June 2009, Knox suffered a stroke that has left his speech limited but he has been using drawing to help communicate and offered this picture, right, created using only his left hand, in remembrance of Gutteridge. Gutteridge contributed the song Don’t Catch Fire towards Stroke: Songs for Chris Knox, a fundraising compilation.
– Sunday Star Times
Death of underground music legend Peter Gutteridge
Peter Gutteridge, one of the original musicians behind the early 80s Dunedin sound and the founding days of the Flying Nun record label has died.
Gutteridge, who was in his early 50s, died on Monday morning in Auckland, shortly after returning from playing his first ever show in the United States earlier this month.
Gutteridge had been a founding member of The Clean, The Chills and The Great Unwashed in the early 80s.
He later went on to form the legendary noise-drone outfit Snapper and make his own solo recordings.
Snapper performed reunion shows last year following Gutteridge’s treatment for drug addiction.
A statement from the label described Gutteridge as ”a great talent”.
“All of us, and so many people around the world, have been touched and affected by his music, whether it be the swirling fuzz of the guitar or haunting piano melodies, Peter was a true hero of New Zealand music, and will be deeply missed.”
“Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and friends at this very sad time.
“Thank you Peter for all the music, may you rest in peace.”
The largely reclusive Gutteridge didn’t enjoy being labelled part of the “Dunedin sound”
He told interviewer Wes Holland of messandnoise.com last year: “People didn’t think about the sound of things, people put on guitars and then clanged out stuff.
“I just got tired of a guitar sound that wasn’t thought about. I had my own personal style. I mean, I wrote [The Clean’s] Point That Thing [Somewhere Else]‘ at 17. That sort of sums up where I come from. I love textures. I love Indian music – now that’s true psychedelic music without having to give itself a term.
“A lot of rock music leaves me cold. It’s anal. It’s self-indulgent. That’s it. But there’s great stuff too. Rock music is only rock music.”