Flowered Up Memories of Liam.
- Category: Music Archive
ZANI were sad and shocked to hear about the untimely death of Flowered Up’s lead singer Liam Maher. ‘Flowered Up’ were a gang of lads from Camden, and contemporary rivals to Madchester’s acts ‘The Stone Roses’ and ‘The Happy Mondays’. The ‘faces’ of the London club scene in their day they took their street style and attitude to the stage, and became a musical force to be reckoned with. Yet despite their popularity they never really hit the big time, although they provided some great songs that captured England’s Sub culture.
Their epic single Weekender, a song about living for the weekend has become a classic, set to a backdrop of a musical powerhouse, from cutting guitar solo’s is to bounding drums, it is still relevant to the youth of today. ZANI caught up with Alan McGee, to recall his personal memories of Liam Maher.
ZANI – Sad news this week about Liam Maher, how did you meet him?
Alan McGee – I first met Liam at the Balearic room upstairs at SPECTRUM. I was good friends with Flowered Up’s Tour Manager Terry, and I was introduced to Liam. Straight away you could see there was something about him.
Then I bumped into him at do’s, like SHOOM and do’s at Brighton. I lived in Brighton around 1988 and 89, and Bobby Gillespie would come down. We would go to raves in a field, everyone was there, like Bill Drummond, Richard Norris and Andrew Weatherall, all the characters were there. But the biggest characters there were ‘Flowered Up’ believe it or not. And this was even before they had got a band together; they were just this little gang of guys, a little firm.
I was always really close to them, but Jeff Barrett signed them, which was proper because Jeff was very tight and close to them. But Flowered Up never really made sense to me musically, but they made sense to me as people. But then I heard Weekender. It’s was like ‘Quadrophenia’ not only was the video like ‘Quadrophenia’, but musically it was so adventurous.
Then I stayed friends with Liam, he seem to have disappeared for a while, then he turned up when I was getting Poptones together. We worked on stuff, but it never came to anything, because we couldn’t quite agree on what we wanted to do. But that was one of those things. But we always remained great friends. I loved Liam.
I have to be honest, when I heard Liam had died, it was a very sad day. He lived life hard and he partied hard, but I had heard that he had got himself together. So I have no idea what the cause of death was. Speaking to the ex-drummer of ‘Flowered Up’ he said that he was well on the mend.
But let’s work no presumptions; nobody has seen the Coroners report. I just want to remember him, in a beautiful way.
ZANI – I met Liam a few times, and he was definitely one of the ‘faces’ of the club scene and a good laugh.
Alan McGee – Totally, and musically he was a completely unique musical talent. He was unique like Johnny Rotten, Ian Dury, Shaun Ryder and Liam Gallagher. You could put his voice on top of anything, and it be would there. That takes some doing.
Every body else is trying to be everybody else in 2009, not trying to be original. Originality has gone out of the window; we are living in X –Factor bollocks. And now we are talking about a true original like Liam Maher, and I will be honest Liam probably never got the respect musically that he deserved. But I think history is going to be very kind to him, even the thing I worked with him, ‘Greedy Soul’ was good, but probably was not as good as ‘Flowered Up’.
ZANI – Why do you think ‘Flowered Up’ never got the chart success they deserved? Because they were around just before there was a rise of guitar bands in ‘94.
Alan McGee – I think at the time, people had enough of the lad culture, with the Roses and the Mondays. Then we had it again four or five years later with ‘Oasis’, ‘Flowered Up’ were just caught in the middle, when music was all a bit of tits up.
ZANI – ‘Flowered Up’ were cleverly marketed, because it was the fanzine Boy’s Own that pushed them, before they had even played a gig.
Alan McGee – I know, a lot was down to Jeff Barrett, he did a great a job with them. He saw it for what it was, and he made something of it. He did come up with the goods, Weekender, was a classic tune.
At this point there is a long silence while Alan gathers his thoughts
Alan McGee- Sorry really gutted about it; I’ve been getting emails all week about his death.
ZANI – Apart from Weekender, what song would you say, was the most symbolic of their style?
Alan McGee – It’s On
ZANI – I love that song too. But going back to Weekender, when I heard a promo copy of it, I thought the same as you, I thought fucking hell it’s The Who. I remember there was talk of ‘Flowered Up’ doing a cover version of Down at the Tube Station at Midnight, which at the time shocked me. But in hindsight I wish they had.
Alan McGee – It would have been good.
ZANI –Do you think ‘Flowered Up’ might now be seen as a big influence to the Brit Pop thing?
Alan McGee- Not sure, I know Noel is a fan, but a lot of people would probably commit to Weekender. It was a classic track
ZANI – How do you think Liam would like to be remembered?
Alan McGee – As a unique talent, and I never had a bad word with that dude. Never an itch of a bad moment with him, I don’t even have a record label at the moment, and I am still having bad moments with some of my old artists. Liam Maher was a good guy, he was above having bad moments, I never heard him speak ill of anybody. He was a cheeky chappy, and loyal.
And he certainly was, in the words of Liam Maher: “Whatever you do, just make sure it makes you happy”
Liam Maher July 17 1968 , October 20th 2009 RIP
© Words – Matteo Sedazzari