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He's gotta have it
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Sunday, 6 March 2011
In the early 80s on Merseyside as a Casual culture was evolving, a new magazine hit the terraces. It fitted in perfectly with the times and gained cult status. It would be a fore runner and inspiration to many other publications in the following years. ‘THE END’ was the brainchild of Peter Hooton. Before finding fame with The Farm, lifelong Liverpool supporter Peter needed a vehicle for his witty observational thoughts. Using Phil Jones mod fanzine ‘Time for Action’ as a creative stimulus, the two joined forces and with the help of Mick Potter and produced what is now a part of 80s Casuals culture. Dave Hewitson interviewed Peter for the website.
D.H. Peter, tell us how the idea for ‘THE END’ came about?
P.H. The original idea for ‘THE END’ was to reflect Liverpool. I didn’t have a clue about doing magazines, so there was a mate of mine called Phil Jones who used to do a mod fanzine called ‘Time for Action’, so because he done this magazine I thought he was a genius. He had done 3 issues and I read it and thought it was good, plus another music mag was the ‘Merseysound’ Fanzine which was sold in Probe [Liverpool record store] and basically I thought we could do something and I always wanted it to be satirical. A year or two earlier I did a best man’s speech with loads of observations on Liverpool life and I got told to write these things down. Anyway a few years later after seeing Phil Jones’ fanzine I remembered this crackpot idea.
D.H. Was the idea for a music mag then?
P.H. The first issue was dominated by music. It was always my intention to get across to the lumpen proletariat of the city, which was a deliberate act, so the idea was to suck them in by mentioning pubs, clubs and things they may relate to.
D.H. So is that how the Ins and Outs column came about?
P.H. The Ins and Outs was a direct result of seeing something in a fashion magazine about what was In and what was Out for the next season, so anything people were wearing in Liverpool that was fashionable at the time went in the Out column and anything not being worn went in the In column. It was a satire at the fashion magazine.
D.H. Where did the title ‘THE END’ come from?
P.H. There was a lad who would come into this notorious pub in Liverpool and he’d go ‘That was the end’ ‘this was the end’ everything was the end. It was a popular saying in Liverpool at the time ‘that match was the end’ etc. The way it was said I thought it would make a great title.
D.H. How was it printed?
P.H. We went to a place called Victoria Settlement in Everton which was a Youth Opportunities place, Mick Potter’s [fellow writer and salesman] brother was on a YOP Scheme there and he said they had a printing press. So we got it done there for nothing.
D.H. There’s a story behind the first cover isn’t there?
P.H. The fella who designed the 1st cover, had experience doing design, committed suicide soon after. That’s what that cover became famous for. He had nothing to do with us, he just worked in there.
D.H. How many did you intend to print?
P.H. The 1st run was 500 and it was very difficult, we identified Probe and record stores but I also thought because I was a big Liverpool fan, I wanted to get across to people who go the matches. So we started selling at the matches, I always remember the keenest seller we had was Mick Potter. He helped me sell the 1st one, we stood outside the Anfield road on a cold night and the Bullens road on a cold night. My selling was pathetic but Mick had a different technique which was based on cajoling and threatening people, but also Mick was well known by people at the match, so maybe they thought if he’s associated with it, it would be different from a student fanzine.
D.H. What was the going rate for the first copy?
P.H. I think they were 20p but there was a bartering system, so if someone said I’ll give you 15p, we gave them it. Trying to sell the first one was very difficult.
D.H. From an initial run of 500, you got up to 5000 didn’t you?
P.H. By number 13 we sold 5000. That had a Billy Butler and Derek Hatton interview, plus the famous tattoo men and wedding days. Over the issues less and less music was involved and more and more observations. People wrote in to buy it after seeing revues in the NME and Sounds. The biggest seller was HMV in Liverpool. It sold a 1000 each issue in a couple of weeks. There was a shop by Lime Street station and he sold 500 in a weekend to all the lads going the away game. So we were like, great, how many more d’ya want? And he said he couldn’t take any more, ‘if anyone finds out I’m selling this I’ll be sued.’ It had things like the Ron Atkinson’s long leather poem, which wasn’t really offensive to anyone but Ron Atkinson. But there was probably a bit of libellous stuff in there. No one is interested until it starts going massive, then you’ve got the ‘Private Eye’ syndrome. You need a lot of money behind you with backers in that case.
D.H. Tell us about the letters, surely some were made up?
P.H. Lads started to send in letters. People thought we made the letters up, although I must admit, the ones in the 1st or 2nd issues we may have made up but those letters from the Derby Lunatic Fringe or the Lincoln Transit Elite were not made up they were genuine letters.
D.H. When did ‘Awaydays’ author Kev Sampson get involved?
P.H. Kev got involved by issue 10. Phil would do the music side and the introduction. Me and Potter tended to do the stories, and a lad called Tony McClelland, he did a few stories and so did Kevin Sampson.
D.H. Was it getting harder to write?
P.H. It got easier actually because the things that were in “the End” you could print today whether it was taxi drivers, coach drivers, bouncers, no mates etc.
D.H. Sounds like an Arctic Monkeys record.
P.H. Yes, I’ll pick one issue, crowd behaviour, fun pubs, Joe Wag’s in there, hairdressers, totally useless brothers, Jekyll and Hide, how people change after a few pints. And the cartoons were done by John Potter who’s still an artist now. John does murals all around the world. It got easier to do. But the novelty of picking them up from the printer wore off, then by the later 80’s the Farm became busier. The Farm started about the same time as the End., but the End wasn’t meant to be a vehicle. People like John Peel were into the End before he had heard of the group, and he voted our magazine his favourite magazine along with Viz. We got a letter off Viz saying how come you can sell 5000? A few years later they were selling a million copies and we were selling 3000. But I was a spectacularly unsuccessful businessman in that respect. There was no business plan, but we didn’t really want it to go the way of Viz because we would have to have toned it down and it would go away from it’s original readership. We didn’t want to do that really.
D.H. How did you go about getting the interviews, any tips?
P.H. What I found hard to understand was how easy it was to get hold of people to interview, whether it was the Undertones or Madness, It was very easy as a fanzine writer to get hold of them, they were so un-protected. I just door-stepped the Clash. Everyone thought I was with Pete Wylie, who was playing with the Clash in Paris for 7 nights and Pete Wylie thought I was with the Clash, so I became the adopted son for the week. Even the tour manager who was from Liverpool, thought I was with one of the others.
D.H. What brought about the demise of the End?
P.H. Apathy really. 20 issues was a good number to finish on, we had blown away Merseysound which done 20.
D.H. What d’ya think about all issues being published in book form?
P.H. It could be something to look at. There was talk about that when the Farm were the talk of the music mags because the End got mentioned a bit. There was an editorial meeting which I wasn’t at and everyone was arguing. Looking to do it as a bit of nostalgia, then yes possibly, but looking at what Puma and adidas have done with their retro stuff, you think maybe not, no thanks.
D.H. Cheers for that Pete, one last question though, Where d’ya get yer trainees from?
P.H. I remember getting a pair of red Puma Menotti when everyone had blue ones [Argentina], but my mate worked in Manchester’s Arndale Centre and they got two pair in for some reason. They resulted in me getting beat up at Tottenham as well because I had them on and everyone knew I couldn’t be a Tottenham fan.
The End ran from 1981 to 1988 and 20 issues were produced in that period. Soon after Peter and the Farm [name taken from rehearing at a farm and not Cantril Farm] went on to have success with a number one album ‘Spartacus’ and numerous top twenty singles. Peter now has a life of leisure, only now and again re-grouping the Farm for the odd concert, with no intention of releasing new material. He runs a kids football team in the Bootle and Litherland Junior Football League and his writing is restricted to one or two articles for the afore-mentioned league. Having done pieces for Goal magazine and early editions of Loaded, which both are no longer, he doesn’t give the website much hope with having his involvement here!