Tom Hibbert: The wit and wisdom
For a fabulous interviewer, Tom Hibbert – who has died aged 59 – was a fabulous interview.
Nary a word needed to be edited, or a phrase untangled, from the thoroughly enjoyable conversation I had with him in 2000 for In Their Own Write.
For obvious reasons, interviewing journalists can be tricky. This was not my experience with Hibbert. Probably because he didn’t care, lacking the vanity which characterises this profession (or craft, or whatever it is that we do). Talking to Hibbert was akin to reading one of his rightly celebrated Who The Hell pieces: trenchant, enlightening and highly entertaining.
Here’s a selection from that chat:
“I had my first letter published in Melody Maker in 1970. It was about Crosby, Stills & Nash and how crap Graham Nash was, which I think still stands up today.”
“Strangely enough working on Smash Hits could be difficult. You spent all your time flattering people and putting in little jokes to cheer yourself up, and then these people you never hear of any more – Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw – were always threatening to sue. It usually turned out to be about getting the name of their wives wrong. We’d have to explain that it wasn’t actually libellous.”
On Who The Hell:
“David Crosby and Cliff Richard were brilliant, as was Johnny Rotten. We used to live within two streets of each other so he used to come round, listen to old Neil Young records and drink lots of beer.”
“Arthur Lee was mad as a meat-axe. I met him in a hotel in Ladbroke Grove watching that bloke with the sideboards who does the racing on the TV, John McCririck. He spent the whole interview saying:’What is this guy on?'”
“Roger McGuinn invented my life basically, because I think The Byrds were the best group ever, but when I met him he was a completely boring arsehole.”
“Q had just cancelled Who The Hell and Lynn Barber had stolen the idea. By the end, they were getting me to interview third-rate actors from television no-one cared about. Robson & Jerome. What could you say about them apart from: Two crap actors who make dreadful records?”
“I wasn’t a big Q reader. I just read my pieces to see whether they had cut my jokes out.”