It is with great sadness that Brainwashed has learned of Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson's passing.
Christopherson passed away quietly in his sleep at his home in Bangkok on November 25th, 2010. A book of condolences has been set up at unklesleazy.tv.
Peter Christopherson wrote, on July 31, 2010, in response to his interview in The Quietus:
"we are all only temporary curators of our present bodies, which will all decay, sooner or later. In a hundred years or so ALL the humans currently alive will have died. I take great comfort in knowing, with certainty, that thing that makes us special, able to enrich our own lives and those of others, will not cease when our bodies do, but will be just starting and new (and hopefully even better) adventure...
If we don't get to meet in this Life, maybe in the next you can buy me a beer! ,-)"
Sleazy will be remembered for his fruitful music career with Throbbing Gristle, Coil, SoiSong and The Threshold HouseBoys Choir as well as his visual work as a music video director, photographer and his stint with design company Hipgnosis. His work frequently was outside the bounds of normality and indeed challenged the very idea of normality. His art touched us all and his innovative and free approach to music cannot be denied.
"Our dearest beautiful Sleazy left this mortal coil as he slept in peace last night.words cannot express our grief."
Chris has also posted the following on his blog:
"I first met Sleazy in 1975 when we were both in our early twenties. We immediately hit it off - talking endlessly about films, the merits of John Barry or Martin Denny's arrangements, the aesthetics of gay vs straight porn, the why's & wherefores of programming in Basic, or the best place in London to get a decent ice cream sundae. Sleazy was the first person to give me an Abba album, in 1976 - and it being Sleazy it was of course a 'signed' copy.
Over the 30 odd years we knew each other mine and Cosey's relationship with him got closer as we grew older and spent more time together - lately comparing our various ailments and aches & pains, or the latest Apple gadget. There was (there is) nobody else on this little blue rock that I shared such disparate and diverse interests with, no one.
I last saw Sleazy about a week ago, just before he left for home to his beloved Bangkok. He was clutching a bag full of Apple goodies and he never looked happier or, ironically, healthier. He had new schemes and plans for X-TG's future and was looking forward to finishing the Desertshore project and playing us rough mixes of "his baby". He gave Cosey and me each a kiss and one of his infamous 'bear hugs', jumped in a waiting taxi and was gone… forever.
To quote the same movie three times (including the title):
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain..."
"The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly…"
Chris and Cosey released an expanded statement this evening on the Throbbing Gristle site:
"Peter Christopherson, affectionately known as Sleazy, died peacefully in his sleep on the 24th of November at his home in Bangkok, Thailand.
The music and art world has lost a great talent whose unique approach ignored the conventions of the day and often challenged the status quo.
Sleazy’s playful and inspiring creativity saw him pushing boundaries as a musician, video director and designer throughout his life. He had recently returned to Thailand from Europe, where he had played a short but spectacular series of live shows as a member of Throbbing Gristle and in the newly formed trio X-TG with Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter.
Sleazy's visual art career included work as a member of the influential British design agency Hipgnosis, creating iconic record sleeve artwork in the 1970s for Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and, later, Factory Records. He took the first promo photographs of the Sex Pistols, created a highly controversial window display for Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's clothing shop, SEX, and went on to design the logo of the hugely popular fashion company, BOY. In 1976 Sleazy met Cosey Fanni Tutti, Chris Carter and Genesis P-Orridge and together they formed electronic music provocateurs Throbbing Gristle and Industrial Records, creating one of the first independent record labels of the era and laying the foundation for a new genre of music. The band was infamously described in the Daily Mail by Tory MP Nicholas Fairbairn as "the wreckers of civilisation".
TG ceased operations in 1981, after which Sleazy formed Psychic TV with Genesis P-Orridge and they produced two albums. The second, Dreams Less Sweet included his future life partner Jhonn Balance as a member, with whom he went on to form Coil and to release an extensive body of work up until Jhonn's passing in 2004. Subsequently, Sleazy left the UK to live in Bangkok, Thailand and to continue his artistic and musical vision in the guise of The Threshold HouseBoys Choir and Soisong.
Following their original break-up, Throbbing Gristle's legacy steadily grew within the music and art world, leading to their reformation in 2004 and a series of sold-out performances, including in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall.
At the time of his death, Sleazy was in the midst of assembling what was to be Throbbing Gristle's next project: a cover version of Nico's Desertshore album.
Sleazy was a kind and beautiful soul. No words can express how much he will be missed.
Throbbing Gristle / X-TG
Cosey Fanni Tutti
However, as sad as his death is, it is impossible to not be affected by Sleazy's optimism and his music in recent years strove towards happiness and positivity. After the loss of Jhonn Balance and the end of Coil, Sleazy's relocation to Thailand gave him the spiritual and emotional boost he needed to create new, even more personal music. His performances as The Threshold HouseBoys Choir celebrated life and living just as his work with Coil celebrated a life less ordinary and the freedom to be your own person. Most recently, SoiSong and X-TG (the remains of a divided Throbbing Gristle) seemed to be opening new avenues to his music, his creative energies never seeming to dim (even if he got easily sidetracked).
In an interview with The Quietus earlier this year, Sleazy reflected on his own life and work:
"I just try to continue to live my life honestly and happily, helping local people where I can, bringing when I can, any new found knowledge or insight to the western public via music or art. If sometimes this means sticking your head over the parapet, or even "going over the top", I try to do so when it's safe (and legal) but we owe it to the people who were in this foxhole before us, to do our bit for our comrades in arms."
An update to the SoiSong blog on myspace reads as follows:
"Just like to many of you, it is very hard for us at SOISONG to express how deeply we are saddened by Sleazy's sudden departure. He was, in a multitude of his own special ways, a true vital force - both in the collective and as a Human, a Friend. To celebrate that force we will try our best to continue and finalise the projects once started together, but for now, we would like to share with you a few glimpses of Sleazy the way we will always remember him: full of Life. Please visit a small photo gallery at www.soisong.com.. and smile with us."
Former Coil contributor Danny Hyde told us:
"I just keep checking the net as if the news will change. In all my life of working in studios Pete was without exception the most positive, creative and all round great person to be around when making music, and equally when recieving non-judgemental life coaching I will not underestimate his worth to me, and from this day on, it would not be overstatement to say that for me nothing will ever be the same again.
I spent yesterday afternoon replying to a long email I received from Pete dated 24/11 talking about various things including finishing TG's take on Desertshore album, something we had started in 2006 and had slowly been updated by TG, it seemed it was at last to see Life. I replied back to him, and for the first time was really honest about how much his help to me had been, I awoke this morning to discover he was dead, I have no way of Knowing if he read my reply.
What can I say that hasn't been said by others, but for me an exceptional human being has passed on."
Thighpaulsandra, Coil's most frequent collaborator during their last, most productive decade, had this to say:
"A great friend, confidant, teacher and inspiration. Our meeting changed my life for ever. We shared some of the best times and some of the worst. I will never forget him.
All my love,
Stephen Thrower, former Coil contributor and half of Cyclobe with Ossian Brown posted the following on his blog:
"I awoke this morning to the shock news that 'Sleazy' died in his sleep last night, at his home in Bangkok. I'm stunned. He visited us just a few weeks ago. Ossian and I can hardly believe it. At 55, Sleazy's appetite for life was immense, and brooked no argument! I suppose it makes sense there was to be no gradual slide to a halt. A sudden end, an extraordinarily full life.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Sleazy's work in Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, SoiSong, Threshold HouseBoys Choir, and most of all in Coil, will continue to change lives, passing on the great gifts of lucidity, imagination, honesty and awareness that he offered to us all.
Seeing into darkness is clarity.
Knowing how to yield is strength.
Use your own light And return to the source of light.
This is called practicing eternity.
David Tibet told Brainwashed:
"Sleaz was one of the kindest, gentlest, funniest and individual people I had ever met. I met him in 1982 as part of the fledgling PTV/TOPY grouping, when Genesis took me round to his house in Chiswick, West London. Geff Rushton had just moved in. Sleazy was incredibly open and welcoming to me. He remained a friend for all these years; he was especially sweet to me when Sebastian Horsely died. Of his remarkable art and utterly individual vision, I must write later."
David Tibet also made this statement on his own Coptic Cat website:
I am immensely saddened and shocked to hear of the passing of Peter Christopherson early this morning at his home in Bangkok. I am too upset to think clearly of what to write, but I thought I would put up this email that Sleazy sent me 23 June 2010 after Sebastian Horsley went on. Not only does it show Sleaz’s immense kindness, humour, love and generosity of spirit, but what he said about Sebastian’s leaving his body and us also sums up what I would like to say about Sleazy. Peace and Love always to you, beloved Sleaz, now with beloved Jhonn, at play in Æon. I will never forget you and your kindness and your love. I miss you deeply.
David Tibet, Hastings, 25 XI 2010
Commiserations about Sebastian Horsley.
Although you and I are probably both physically and scholastically many many miles apart, I hope you feel as I do that the part of him that made him so wonderful – his Soul if you like, although the words are different here – is not lost in the same way our temporarily custodianed bodies cease to useful any longer when we die.
In whatever way or whatever form or on whatever “bardo”, the spark that really made him so special will continue to beautify and enlighten future generations somehow.
I know it’s horrid to have someone you love, and love the company of, snatched away (especially unexpectedly) but to quote one of Geff’s improvised lyrics “I am not here… I am here!”
You will always be able to bring the Sebastian that was, to mind… unless you are gaga, in which case it won’t matter for long ,-)
Don't forget there will always be a spare room for you here in Bangkok, should you feel like a break from the UK – well a comfy and private houseboy-free sofa (unless you’ve changed more than I thought in which case, the houseboys can be provided also!).
Why not “be here now”? :-)
Robin Rimbaud warmly recalls his friendship with Sleazy:
"I met Sleazy just at the release of the first Coil album. I remember the fondest moments with him and one aspect that always stood out was his generosity and gentle nature. He would always offer time to talk and respond. At the release of the first Scanner CD in 1992 he told me it was the first album he'd listened to all the way through at the time! His final words to me last month in London at the last TG show were in a conversation about airport security and he told me 'there's nowhere left to hide anymore' - I wonder where he's hiding now though."
Robin Rimbaud and Mute's Daniel Miller were also interviewed on BBC's 6 Music digital radio channel which can be listened to here.
Friend and collaborator Marc Almond wrote on his website:
"It is with great sadness we have to tell you that Peter Christopherson, affectionately known as Sleazy, passed away in his sleep last night. As well as being a member of iconic experimental and highly influential band Throbbing Gristle. He was also one half of Coil who I worked with and contributed vocals to their albums on a number of occasions. Peter also directed a number of my earlier videos, some of my best such as Ruby Red, Melancholy Rose and Mother Fist. We had lots of fun seeing how subversive, ironic and mischievous we could be in a pop arena though in the case of Ruby Red it just got us an outright ban! He was also a good friend as was John Balance, the other half of Coil who also sadly passed away a few years ago. We kept contact throughout the years and this news gives me great sadness. Peter was much loved and we have lost a great creative person."
The Guardian have also ran an obituary on Sleazy which can be read here.
John Kealy writes:
When I met him at Brainwaves in 2008, I found even in his jetlagged state that he was never less than a perfect gentleman; his quiet demeanor betrayed by a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. His live show as The Threshold HouseBoys Choir that weekend was unlike any other performance I had seen, it was more like an informal chat with Uncle Sleazy than a concert. In contrast, seeing Coil's final performance in Dublin in 2004 was a white hot blast to the mind. Again, unlike anything else but world's apart from that night in Boston.
Diamanda Galás writes:
Sleazy worked like an animal when i knew him. He would go between industrial jobs that were around the clock, get no sleep and then go into the editing suite and edit for 12 hours. I look at the young deaths of many of my comrades and I think it is because of this insistence not to do crap art, but support themselves doing unrelated work as technicians. Here you have Sleazy, who is transgression epitomized but who would have never condigned himself to the hypocrisy of soirees with the moneyed lot to ask for financial help on a project that was ahead of its time. And on the other side you have the businessmen of the artworld who have no original ideas and get paid millions for going to proper dinner parties. He could not be inspired by such crud.
He was superbly funny; he had a classicist's skill, and the warped eye of a visionary who has stared too long in the darkness looking for the thing that is known but noone has seen before.
It was a joy to work with him because we saw eye to eye. What we did together was made possible only by the leagues of friends that worshipped him and were proud to work with him. It was also, as is the general rule, possible to do what we did because of his access to things that his industrial work availed him.
I look back at DOUBLE-BARRELLED PRAYER and think how wonderful not to have to fight for what I wanted to do, and how great to be able to stand there at 5pm in the underground shrieking with his crew there goading me on. How rare for me. What a pleasure to be invited to be what I am, the other warped eyeball, staring into his. I cannot bear the loss of the people with whom I should have grown old, those with whom, in a richer time of our dotage, I could have done the wildest work yet.
Why are they gone these relatively young geniuses? Overwork, underappreciation, more overwork, fights with those who take the kindness and generosity that took them by surprise, and abused it, expecting miracles for a buck fifty. They should rot in Hell. If it were only true that I might see Sleazy on the other side I could be happy. But that's it. The world sucked him dry. He was a superb human a stellar artist and a terrorizing force on the pusillanimous, who sit now in their garden estates with their tots and their swimming pool and their rolls royces lined up for the season at the Tate.
Little Annie writes:
Still cannot get my mind or heart around the idea of Sleazy's passing, he has/was/is such a part of the landscape.
Dignified quietly hillarious, warm, a loving presense no matter where he was/and now is. I need not mention his enormous talent as that speaks clearly for itself, though he will be dearly missed by many. I like to think he has joined Geff and in some place joyful. I still remember meeting him getting on 30 years ago, and my first impression was, this is a gentlman, and indeed my initial opinion never change. He was/is a beautiful and much loved gentleman.
JG Thirlwell writes:
I first saw Throbbing Gristle play in London in 1979 at the Cento Iberico and it really blew me away. It was so powerful and cathartic and confrontational. I worked in a record store on Oxford street, and when Heathen Earth was released, TG came down and do a record release signing. That doesn't seem unusual now, but in those days, you didn't have artists from the "counter culture" do something as commercial as a record store appearance. I think they appreciated the perversity of that.
A few years later I was signed to Some Bizzare and through that universe became friends with Geff Rushton (Jhonn Balance), who was in Psychic TV at the time. He liked my work and asked me to produce Coil. We had a bunch of meetings at their house in Chiswick where I heard some of the material we were to work on, which became Scatology. On one memorable occasion I went to visit, Sleazy answered the door and we went up the stairs to the studio to listen to some tracks. We passed an open door on the landing, and inside was Geff tied up and lashed to a toilet. For some reason this didn't seem so unusual. Sleazy was always kind and and soft and sweet and very intelligent. They were totally open to many ideas of where the songs could go.
When we came to record their version of "Tainted Love," I felt Geff's vocal was too deadpan. I asked Sleazy to go into the vocal booth with him and wrench his arm behind his back, and pull on it now and then, to put a bit of pain into the performance. They liked this idea and it improved the vocal immensely.
Foetus and Coil played together at the Royal Festival Hall in 2000 at the request of the honorable David Sefton. We talked about Geff's depression and other states with concern.
When I was in Bangkok in 2007 I caught up with Sleazy. We had lunch and went to his p(a)lace. He was working on some Threshold Boys Choir material with Danny Hyde. He seemed incredible happy with his life. there and home and proudly showed me where they were putting a new building, and the army barracks down the street. There were some houseboys hanging out playing video games. He had a fulltime maid.
The lifestyle suited him. Of the oppressive heat, he advised to acclimatize and slow down. He seemed to enjoy the pace and be in his element.
I saw Sleazy again when we played at the Brainwaves fest in 2008. He held court in the hotel room after the show and seemed really happy. Of course the TG reunion shows were amazing, blowing away even the highest expectations. He was beaming after the first NY show.
Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson left a large and important legacy of work and left an indelible stamp in my life. Taken too early. He will be sorely missed.