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Last Updated: Friday, 3 March 2006, 06:27 GMT
Saluting the Libertines' legend
By Stephen Dowling
BBC News

Carl Barat and Pete Doherty (Picture: Roger Sargent)
The band became one of London's best-loved
The Libertines kick-started a British music revival with their Jam-influenced ramshackle rock - and won notoriety for the tumultuous relationship between front men Pete Doherty and Carl Barat.

Eighteen months after The Libertines dissolved in recrimination, an NME journalist and a veteran rock photographer have published a book detailing their rise and fall.

The Libertines - Bound Together combines first-hand accounts of the band's rise from stumbling garage rock group to one of London's most iconic bands.

Singer-songwriters Carl Barat and Pete Doherty met as teenagers and gigged for two years before their back-to-basic guitar pop and theatrical live shows were noticed by 'the industry'.

The addition of drummer Gary Powell and bassist John Hassall saw them compared to the likes of The Strokes, with their 2003 debut Up The Bracket hailed as a landmark British rock album.

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After shooting them at an early gig, photographer Roger Sargent became an ardent fan of the band, quickly earning their trust.

"Roger got photos no-one else could have got," journalist and the book's co-author Anthony Thornton said.

Mr Thornton admits to never originally wanting to write a music biography, despite his day job.

"I'd go as far as to say I hate most rock books. There are only four or five I like.

"Generally they're rubbish, they're poorly written and researched, and full or fourth or fifth-hand stories."

Pete Doherty (Picture: Roger Sargent)
Pete Doherty's problems with drugs are documented in the book

But after seeing The Libertines play a well-received show at London's Astoria - followed by an impromptu gig at a fan's house - Mr Thornton realised the band were fast becoming a phenomenon.

"Those two gigs were both key - the Astoria proved they could pull off a gig bigger than The Barfly [a Camden indie venue], while the 'Albion' showed they were a fan band," he said.

The band had been derided by some in the industry as being 'London-centric', but Mr Thornton saw their effect playing elsewhere.

Roger Sargent is a former NME 'snapper' who photographed bands like Oasis for the weekly magazine during the height of Britpop.

He was an early champion of The Libertines, shooting them many times.

There is this weird kind of co-dependency
Anthony Thornton on Barat and Doherty's relationship

Mr Thornton said Barat and Doherty "trusted Roger absolutely" allowing him to photograph them "all the time".

Sargent was able to build up an archive of Libertines pictues taken at impromptu "guerrilla gigs".

The pictures are interspersed with interviews, recounting the band's first meeting and the days before the music press took notice.

But Mr Thornton also witnessed some of the band's most newsworthy moments, including Doherty's release from prison after being convicted of burgling Barat's flat.

With Doherty's rapidly growing reputation as a hell-raising rock 'n' roller in keeping with the likes of The Sex Pistols, Mr Thornton said keeping journalistic detachment sometimes proved difficult.

Car Barat (Picture: Roger Sargent)
Carl Barat came along to the book's launch last week

There are pictures of Doherty smoking crack, utterly unconcerned by Sargent's prying lens.

And others of Barat's reconciliation with Doherty - who was going out with supermodel Kate Moss at the time - in a north London bar in 2005.

"I ended up becoming an unofficial NME Libertines correspondent," he said.

"I was really glad I had news training - because obviously they were a band that had news value. I had to constantly keep an eye on them."

Mr Thornton calls Barat and Doherty "fascinating characters" who "both had an enormous amount of talent".

Seal of approval

He went on: "And there is this weird kind of co-dependency. Gary [Powell] put it best - he said they needed each other.

"Pete and Carl - they kind of reminded me of Mick Jones and Joe Strummer. And as front men, we haven't had a pair like them since Morrissey and Marr."

The book was launched last Thursday with a print of some of Sargent's shots exhibited next to pages from the book - and Barat and his new band Dirty Pretty Things gave the event the seal of approval.

"I wondered if Pete would make it - but he was playing a gig in Newcastle," Mr Thornton said.

  • The Libertines - Bound Together by Anthony Thornton and Roger Sargent was published on 23 February.

    Pete Doherty returns to centre stage
    23 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
    Doherty's ascent to rock infamy
    03 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
    Britain's brightest rock hopes?
    10 Jun 04 |  Entertainment

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