I was recently moved to reminisce about the night Lou Reed invited me to dinner after a show at the Hammersmith Odeon, an occasion that famously ended up in chaos when he was annoyed by something David Bowie said to him that sparked off quite a lively assault, Lou smacking Bowie somewhat savagely around the head.
What David actually said to Lou to spark off the assault has long-since been the subject of much speculation. Just before it all went off, the pair took a circuit of the restaurant in Knightsbridge where we were eating, toasting each other and their renewed friendship.
Whatever David said that ignited Lou’s fury, he made the mistake of repeating within minutes, thus provoking another flurry of slaps and punches and Lou’s dramatic departure – frogmarched out in the grip of his own minders, probably for his own good as much as Bowie’s or anyone else’s.
My thanks to Chuck Hammer, who had played that evening with Lou at Hammersmith, and has replied to my post with the following email, which takes the story on a little further:
‘As a guitarist in the Lou Reed band at that time, I was actually sitting next to both David and Lou at dinner when this exchange took pace, I can tell you exactly what transpired verbally.
‘Lou had been discussing details regarding his upcoming new album- as yet un-recorded. Lou asked David if he would be interested in producing the record and David replied yes – but only upon the condition that Lou would stop drinking and clean up his act. And upon that reply, the aforementioned chaos ensued.
‘It should be noted that this verbal bantering also continued into the night back at the hotel -With Bowie in the hallway demanding that Reed “come out and fight like a man” Eventually it all quieted down as Lou never reappeared to continue the fight, and was most likely already fast asleep.’
Boys keep swinging, indeed