I first heard of Andrew Weatherall back in the summer of 1989, when he wrote about his favourite tracks of the time in the Boy’s Own fanzine. To our surprise, he said that he loved all the ballads on our second album. No one cared about that record apart from diehard fans, but he really dug it.
My memories are vague, when it comes to that summer, but I do recall a bunch of us driving around the countryside near Brighton for hours trying to find an acid house party where he was DJing. We eventually met up with him at about five in the morning in a field in Sussex. All of us off our heads on E. We just got on right away.
I remember the NME asked him to review a Primal Scream gig and he came to see us play at Exeter University. He turned up in leather trousers with really long hair – he could have been in the band! (Weatherall wrote an enthusiastic review of the gig under the pen name, Audrey Witherspoon.) After that, we’d go and see him whenever he was DJing in London.
We’d already become good mates, when someone suggested that he should mix I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have. He said OK, but his remix was a bit low-key. He loved the song and maybe he thought we’d be offended if he really went to town on it. It was Innes [Andrew Innes, Primal Scream’s guitarist], who told him to do it again and “just fucking destroy it”. That’s how Loaded came into being, basically. We gave him free rein and he went for it.
The thing about Andrew was that he was a non-musician - Loaded was only his second time in a recording studio. Because he wasn’t aware of the rules, he broke them. He wasn’t trying to make hit records. That never entered his mind. He just wanted to make interesting tracks that worked on the dancefloor.
And, of course, he was the first person to play Loaded in a club. I think the reaction completely took him by surprise. It certainly took us by surprise! I remember Innes went to see him DJ at Subterania in west London. Afterwards, he called me in the early hours and said: “Bobby, it was insane. Weatherall played Loaded and the whole place went ballistic.” He told me that Mick Jones (from the Clash) and Kevin Rowland (from Dexys Midnight Runners) had come up to him afterwards and shook his hand.
Loaded just exploded on dance floors across the country. Looking back, it definitely caught something of the time. That was down to Andrew. All I can say is that the experience of standing in a club and seeing people go wild to it was something else. Kids would come up and hug you afterwards.
Then it really took off and suddenly we were on Top of the Pops. It was wild for us, because I think we’d been written off a bit, but not by Andrew Weatherall. He heard something in the songs. He was a rocker at heart and he initially connected with those songs on that level. Basically, he took a bluesy Primal Scream ballad and turned it into something ecstatic. The ecstatic blues.
His remix of Come Together was another track that was gigantic in the clubs. It became one of those songs that DJs ended their sets with as the sun was coming up. Liam Gallagher still goes on to me about hearing it at a massive rave in Scotland; thousands of kids going mental to it.
By autumn 1990, we had a little studio in Hackney near the Creation offices. For Screamadelica, we gave him tracks and tracks of melodies and songs, loads of stuff that he put together somehow. His skill at arranging was off the scale. No one else would have thought of constructing tracks like he did, arranging our melodies and music into abstract pop songs. I have to mention Hugo Nicholson here, too, because I think maybe his best work was done with Hugo. They were a team. Andrew had the vision and Hugo Nicholson had the studio skills needed to realise his ideas. They just killed it every time.
I remember Andrew came on the road with us soon afterwards, when we did a short British tour. The Orb would go on first, then we’d play a short set, and afterwards we’d do a few Es, and get on the dance floor with the kids for Weatherall’s set. Great days. He loved the madness, the chaos of rock’n’roll, but he also saw the absurdity of it all, which is rare. I think he was an outsider artist in a way; he preferred being on the margins doing his own thing. He could be more free out there. Music was a portal for him to escape the straight life. He made music and he loved music – rockabilly, garage rock, reggae. He was into spreading the word. He was inclusive, such a generous guy.
I think of him as a true bohemian; he made etchings, he wrote, he read a lot. Andrew always had a book on the go, maybe two. I remember he gave me his copy of Hunger by Knut Hamsun when I told him I hadn’t read it. There was this other side to him that was deep, curious, well-read. I guess he was a classic autodidact, hungry for knowledge.
It’s hard for me to talk about him. He was a good friend and it’s so raw. I’m still in shock, to be honest. I never saw it coming. At all. What can I say? I’m going to miss his wit, the glint that he had in his eye when he was up to some mischief. He was a kindred spirit and he was true to himself above all else. I have nothing but good memories of Andrew Weatherall. He changed my life, he really did.