Bigmouth Strikes Twice: More Great 1980s Music Quotes


Art Blakey

Here’s another selection of choice quotes taken from various 1980s magazines, TV shows, biographies and anthologies that have drifted through my transom in the last few months.

Check out the first instalment here if you missed it.

‘Morrissey’s a precious, miserable bastard. He sings the same song every time he opens his mouth. At least I’ve got two songs: Love Cats and Faith.’

Robert Smith of The Cure, 1989


‘It’s a better product than some others I could mention.’

David Bowie defends the Glass Spider Tour, 1987


‘Back then I thought I’d lost it and I did a bunch of things I was really unhappy with – all in public and on record. But it turned out not to be true. My ability hadn’t deserted me. And it won’t go away. Ever.’

Lou Reed, 1988


‘The gig I have as the drummer in King Crimson is one of the few gigs in rock’n’roll where it’s even remotely possible to play anything in 17/16 and stay in a decent hotel.’

Bill Bruford, 1983


‘When I toured with The Rolling Stones, the audience would come up to me after the show and say, “Man, you’re really good, you ought to record.” How do you think that makes me feel after 25 years in the business?’

Bobby Womack, 1984


‘I find politics ruins everything. Music, films, it gets into everything and f*cks it all up. People need more sense of humour. If I ran for President, I’d give everybody Ecstasy.’

Grace Jones, 1985


‘I’m not the most gifted person in the world. When God handed out throats, I got locked out of the room.’

Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, 1988


‘I’m lazy and I don’t practice guitar and piano because I’ve gotten involved with so many other things in my life and I just had to make a sacrifice. Stephen Sondheim encourages me to start playing the piano again. Maybe I will.’

Madonna, 1989


‘Nile (Rodgers) couldn’t afford to spend much time with me. I was slotted in between two Madonna singles! She kept coming in, saying “How’s it going with Nile? When’s he gonna be free?” I said, “He ain’t gonna be free until I’m finished! Piss off!”’

Jeff Beck, 1989


‘I’ve never really understood Madonna’s popularity. But I’ve talked to my brothers and they all want to sleep with her, so she must have something.’

Nick Kamen, 1987


‘They ask you about being a Woman In Rock. The more you think about, the more you have to prove that you’re a Woman In Rock. But if you’re honest, it doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female. That’s the way we work.’

Wendy Melvoin, 1989


‘In Japan, someone told me I was playing punk saxophone. I said, “Call me what you want, just pay me”.’

George Adams, 1985


‘In the past, we’d bump into other musicians and it would be, “Oh, yes, haven’t I heard of you lot? Aren’t you the bass player that does that stuff with your thumb?” But once you’ve knocked them off the number 1 spot in Germany, they’re ringing you up in your hotel and saying, “Hey, howyadoin’? We must get together…”‘

Mark King of Level 42, 1987


‘We played London, we played Ronnie Scott’s, and I noticed that there were a lot punk-rock kids in the audience. After we finished playing, we had to go to the disco and sign autographs, because “Ping Pong”, the thing we made about 30 years ago, is a big hit over there.’

Art Blakey, 1985


‘I believe music – just about everything – sounds better these days. Even a car crash sounds better!’

Miles Davis, 1986


‘It’s a dangerous time for songwriters in that a monkey can make a thing sound good now.’

Randy Newman, 1988



‘To have those glasses on the cover was important because it was a statement and you have to understand that it was like John wanted you guys to see those glasses.’

Yoko Ono, 1989


‘I’ll f*cking… I’ll go and take on anyone, any white singer who wants to give me a go.’

Matt Goss of Bros, 1989


‘I’ve never said this before but my drums is so professional, man, know what I mean?’

Luke Goss of Bros, 1989


‘I hate parts of my own albums because I know I’m hearing something that doesn’t translate to piano. In fact, I’m being dishonest by playing piano at all.’

Keith Jarrett, 1987


‘When I began to see how Elvis lived, I got such a strong take off of it. It was all so revolting!’

Albert Goldman, 1989


‘The best way to make great art is to have it trivialised by other people as much as possible. That way, you fight and fight and fight.’

Julian Cope, 1989


‘Whatever you’re tops in, people is trying to bring you down, and that’s my philosophy.’

Samantha Fox, 1987


‘Call me fat and I’ll rip your spine out.’

Ian Gillan, 1983


‘Sure I care about my fans. Because fans is money, hahaha. Muh-neee! And who does not care about money? Me, I like muh-neee, haha.’

Chuck Berry, 1988


‘I have this long chain with a ball of middle-classness at the end of it which keeps holding me back and that I keep sort of trying to fight through. I keep trying to find the Duchamp in me.’

David Bowie, 1980


‘People who say, Oh, I don’t know anything about music – they’re the people who really do know about music because it’s only really what it does to you.’

Steve Winwood, 1988


‘I notice that critics and others don’t credit black people with the ability to write ingenious, creative lyrics.’

Nile Rodgers, 1981


‘I’m below the poverty line – I’m on £16 a week. We needed some clothes and our manager said, “I don’t know what you do with your money. I mean, 16 quid!”’

Gary Daly of China Crisis, 1984


‘You take four or five of those rattlesnakes, dry ’em out and put them inside your hollow-box guitar. Lightnin’ Hopkins taught me that trick.’

Albert Collins on his guitar tone, 1988


‘People are bored with Lionel Richie going “I love everybody, peace on earth, we are the world…” F*ck that! People love bastards.’

Terence Trent D’Arby, 1987


‘Epstein dressed The Beatles up as much as he could but you couldn’t take away the fact that they were working-class guys. And they were smart-arses. You took one look at Lennon and you knew he thought the whole thing was a joke.’

Billy Joel, 1987


‘I remember when the guy from Echo & The Bunnymen said I should be given National Service. F*** him...’

Boy George, 1987


‘The industry is just rife with with jealousy and hatred. Everybody in it is a failed bassist.’

Morrissey, 1985


‘I couldn’t stand it – all that exploitation and posturing, the gasping at the mention of your name, the pursuit by photographers and phenomenon-seekers. You get that shot of adrenalin and it’s fight or flight. I chose flight many a time.’

Joni Mitchell, 1988


‘I’m strongly anti-war but defence of hearth and home? Sure, I’ll stick up for that… I’m not a total pacifist, you know? I’ve shot at people. I missed, but I shot at them. I’m sort of glad I missed…’

David Crosby, 1989

Bigmouth Strikes Again: The 34 Greatest Music Quotes Of The 1980s

chrissie hyndeMusicians gave good quote in the ’80s.

There were various factors at play: an eclectic, popular, influential music press, a phalanx of opinionated, ambitious journos, the rise of tabloid ‘diaries’ and of course a surfeit of great interviewees.

The decade’s cultural mix of politics, drugs, sex, music and fashion also made for a rich brew of conversation topics.

Young, gobby and fearless artists wanted to make a significant first impression, knowing that good quotes made great publicity, while the big names of the ’70s were still hellbent on coming across as relevant or at least engaged.

So here’s a parade of sometimes preposterous, sometimes profound, sometimes downright weird and sometimes even intelligent quotes, archived from interviews, anthologies and mags of the time, all unapologetically taken completely out of context. Enjoy.


34. ‘A lot of songs that have been called sexist are about my daughter. I did a song called Girl which went: “You treat me like a dog and I shake my tail for you”, because she’s the only girl who’s ever had me on all fours doing impressions of horses.’

David Coverdale of Whitesnake (1984)


33. ‘Women rule the world and no man has ever done anything that a woman either hasn’t allowed him to do or encouraged him to do.’

Bob Dylan (1984)


32. ‘Sex? I’d rather have a nice cup of tea.’

Boy George (1983)


31. ‘You do an interview and they ask you if your guitar is a phallic symbol. F**k off. I don’t hold it because it’s shaped like a cock, I hold it because it’s a guitar.’

Lita Ford (1989)



30. ‘A lot of people I know are dead because of him.’

Chrissie Hynde on Keith Richards (1986)


29. ‘I’ve smoked so much pot I’m surprised I haven’t turned into a bush.’

Joe Strummer (1984)



28. ‘I’m self-made. I always wanted to make myself a better person because I was not educated. But that was my dream – to have class.’

Tina Turner (1986)


27. ‘People only get one chance to meet you, and if you’re not an arsehole, why give them the opportunity of thinking you are?’

Phil Collins (1989)


26. ‘I don’t like to relax. Show me a motherf****r that’s relaxed and I’ll show you a motherf****r that’s scared of success.’

Miles Davis (1983)


25. ‘I think I’m fairly consistent with people. But at the end of the day, I don’t give a bollocks.’

Bob Geldof (1989)


24. ‘When you look like a cartoon, you act like a cartoon.’

Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top (1989)


23. ‘Fancy being a bee, leading an incredible existence, all those flowers, designed just for you, incredible colours, some trip.’

Kate Bush (1989)


22. ‘A lot of people think I’m clinically mad.’

Morrissey (1989)



21. ‘I’m as good as anyone. Even Prince.’

Kevin Rowland (1988)


20. ‘I don’t mean to sound big-headed but I honestly don’t think we’ve put a foot wrong in 20 years.’

Mike Rutherford of Genesis (1989)


19. ‘Don’t forget Spandau did “To Cut A Long Story Short”, “Chant No. 1” and “True” – three big changes in music.’

Gary Kemp (1984)


18. ‘One more hit and we’re the most successful girl group of all time. We’ll pass The Supremes. Sad, isn’t it?’

Sarah Dallin of Bananarama (1988)


17. ‘I was walking down the street the other day and I heard this sound. I thought it was a great new band playing something intriguing. It turned out to be an air conditioner unit in an elevator.’

Reeves Gabrels of Tin Machine (1989)


16. ‘Don’t buy one of those pointy guitars, kids. They’ll give ya VD.’

Paul Westerberg of The Replacements (1987)


15. ‘Unlike other guitarists, I don’t play things that are rubbish.’

Yngwie Malmsteen (1984)


14. ‘Some of our best songs were written on one string.’

The Edge of U2 (1987)


13. ‘I’ve just always been like this slowhand…like the arthritic guitar method.’

George Harrison (1988)


12. ‘I will say one thing – I invented the electric bass and everybody knows it.’

Jaco Pastorius (1983)


11. ‘Lots of people think songs without singing is not a song. Tell Beethoven that and he’ll kick your ass!’

Eddie Van Halen (1985)


10. ‘After the first album, Meat just lost it completely. “GRUNT! GRUNT! GRUNT! GRUNT!” I had to listen to that for nine months. That pig can’t sing a f***ing note.’

Meat Loaf producer Jim Steinman (1989)


9. ‘Protect my voice? From what? Vandals?’

Tom Waits (1983)


8. ‘I’m listening to my album now and wishing that I had kept my yap shut. I hate my voice. It just makes me sick.’

Chrissie Hynde (1989)


7. ‘Bob is Bob and he always will be. And that’s why he’s Bob.’

Jeff Lynne on Bob Dylan (1989)


6. ‘I hate it. It’s the worst. A pile of shit. There is not one good thing I can find to say about it.’

Lee Mavers of The La’s on their debut album (1989)



5. ‘I’m not putting Elvis down but he was a shit-ass, a yellow belly and I hated the f***er.’

Jerry Lee Lewis (1989)


4. ‘Once upon a time it was enough to know that U2 are crap, but not anymore. Now you’ve got to know why they’re crap.’

Julian Cope (1983)


3. ‘My son likes Madness. I though he was going to start liking A Flock Of Seagulls, which worried me a lot…’

David Bowie (1983)



2. ‘I get a strange swell of pride when I hear of our football hooligans causing trouble abroad.’

Joe Strummer (1989)


1. ‘If you’re unemployed in New York, you’re an artist. If you’re unemployed in LA, you’re an actor. In London, everyone’s unemployed so it doesn’t matter.’

Lydia Lunch (1983)