Peter William Wolfe (born 1968 in Maidstone, Kent and more commonly known as Wolfman) is a London musician in the band, Wolfman and the Side-Effects. He is also a friend (and an alleged corrupter) of Peter Doherty. Wolfe is an occasional guest at Doherty's solo gigs and the author of songs Darksome Sea and Broken Love Song, both of which have been recorded by Doherty. Additionally, Wolfman and the Side-Effects often supported Doherty's bands, The Libertines and Babyshambles in their early days and Wolfe is musically recognized for his authorship of hit single, For Lovers. Babyshambles songs Back from the Dead, La Belle et la Bete, Stix and Stones, Un Bilo Titled, and Libertines B-side Cyclops are also credited in part to Wolfe.
Not much is known about Wolfe's mother, except that she left when he was four years old. The lyrics of the song Wolfman imply that Wolfe's "mother was a junkie" and his "Dad drank Special Brew" (a lager often associated with binge drinking amongst vagrants in the UK). It is likely this refers to prescription medication that was widely used by stressed mothers at the time. However, Wolfe's father, a carpenter, was indeed an alcoholic (though he has been sober for many years).
Wolfe left school with no O-levels and he became a plumber. At 18, Wolfe moved to London, and for a short while shared a flat with Shane MacGowan. In the early 1990s, he moved to a flat in the Blackstock Road and worked on his career as a musician. However, Wolfe was "relentlessly unsuccessful". Throughout the 1990s Wolfe was regularly in and out of the major recording studios (Island, EMI, and Sony), but failed to secure a recording contract. He later moved to New York, before moving on to Paris, France. In 1998, Wolfe published a book of poetry (and one short story) called Pornografika. Though the book is now out of print, some of the poems can be found on Wolfe's Myspace and Facebook accounts. When he returned to London his marriage was divorced, which led to heavy drinking and suicide attempts.
In February 2001, Wolfe was the subject of a film documentary commissioned for The Other Side on Channel Four in the UK. The half hour film titled, The Greatest Unknown Rock 'n' Roll Star was directed by his old friend, filmmaker Andy Lee, who later worked for a year as Wolfe's manager (2006–2007). Later in 2001, Wolfe met Pete Doherty in Islington. They formed a relationship based on songwriting. Wolfe about their relationship: "He turned up at my flat and started hanging around saying he was in a band. He's a great fucking person. Sometimes really awful but sometimes very kind. Maybe he was the first person to look at me through eyes which didn't say, 'This guy's a cunt.'" Among other factors, this relationship and Wolfe's association with drugs contributed to the tensions that eventually built between Doherty and Carl Barat and led to the separation of The Libertines. Barat and Wolfe are known to hold an active dislike for each other.
In April 2003, Peter Doherty wrote of Wolfe:
"Peter Wolfe, Wolfman, Wolf, the son of god, Big Bilo, the skag and bone man, bloodclot weirdo - many are the titles of this most mysterious and intricate of London`s ever dickensian characters.
Handsome as the heaving morning, he thrice denied the wolfbone afore masked in the afterlife.
Out of interest and perhaps divine curiosity, you might be interested to note that the line
you enjoy the company that you loathe to bear`
from The Delaney, was perloined from the Clerkenwell tenement Wolf Den, as it seemed to perfectly capture the dark and glorious social scenario that pervaded our mindsouls landscape during a certain type of time.
The wolfden was in a block off the ever mesmerising Merlin Street, more of which in the soon to be photocopied and flogged novella (Peter and the Wolf).
In the future perhaps you will chance upon his poetry, in the meantime I have something he wrote in the new book of Albion just before we left for Japan
`once upon atime in a quiet desolate home just about a short distance from anywhere, Bilo stood, shaking - enhanced. ghosts of the mad and incarcerated trampled through a young mans finnial mainlined beauty and dream.
He remembered once then twice then callous dismembered the moment approaching. This only could one of himself allow, for the malice of afterthought and only powerful adversary contain the Bilo could agonies incredible promised or as safety disfigure them.
I watched awhile then approached the sullen prince of exhiliration. I asked him
"How did we arrive here"
I cannot describe his look, and he turned away and drank from a glass made of stars. And replied.
"It`s just like you`re in another world, you can`t see the danger on show"
I cried tears that turned to hail as they fell to the ground and shatterred into a million more. Bilo swore solemnity was the carcass of the autosexual god that was president of the panoramic unhappiness. I reached out to hold Bilo`s hand but he was made out of satanic vapours that could never return mortal emotion. He said
"Look at wolfy there huffing and puffing he`s becoming a miserician"
"Here in my eyes"
I looked into them and saw of what could reasonably be alike to something I had dreamed but I couldn`t be sure
"Is that me"
"He`s life to death and death to life"
"Yes" Bilo sank into the cunts of a billion bilious whores. His voice echoing Across the universe.` End \
above all the cloak and dagger eating pigs and children the wolfman is the finest poet alive and has a deathly insight into the high midnight heavens.
Later in 2003, Wolfe recorded "For Lovers", together with Doherty. Wolfe had written the song in the mid 1990s and recorded a demo with his old school friend and musical collaborator, Julian Taylor. Doherty altered the words to one verse, and musicians in Wolfe's band, "The Side Effects", along with record producer Jake Fior made other changes to the arrangement for the single recording. The single was Wolfe's biggest success as musician, reaching #7 in the UK Singles Chart. Despite the success of the single, which was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award for songwriting, the pair reportedly received little money. Rumours that the publishing rights were sold for "a small amount in a pub" are unfounded, as the rights were shared amongst the musicians who worked without pay on the recording.
2007 - 2009
On July 12, 2008, Wolfe joined Doherty on stage during his solo show at the Royal Albert Hall and they performed For Lovers together. However, Wolfe's appearance did not meet critical acclaim. According to critics, the song was ruined by Wolfe's "out-of-tune vocals" and lack of charisma.
Wolfe authored Broken Love Song, which was recorded by Doherty and Stephen Street for Doherty's solo album Grace/Wastelands. Doherty contributed to the lyrics of the album version, telling through the song the story of his imprisonments. Wolfe plays guitar on the recording, the only track of the album on which Graham Coxon is absent. However, Doherty told NME Radio that Wolfe was no longer welcome as a guest on his March 2009 solo tour as the pair had recently fallen out. Doherty described Wolfe as an unrecognized talent but irremediably bitter.
On 12 July 2008, Wolfe joined Doherty on stage during his solo show at the Royal Albert Hall and they performed "For Lovers" together. Wolfe's appearance on stage however did not meet critical acclaim. According to one critic the song was "sabotaged" by Wolfe's out-of-tune vocals. On 16 March 2009, Doherty's solo album, Grace/Wastelands was released. It featured "Broken Love Song", a song co-written with Wolfe. A picture of Wolfe talking to Doherty and a painting of Wolfe appeared in the album art.
Like Doherty, Wolfe has had a long-standing addiction to heroin. On 28 September 2010, Wolfe was charged with possessing and supplying cocaine, whilst Doherty was charged with possession, in a police investigation into the death of filmmaker Robin Whitehead, a member of the wealthy Goldsmith family. On 20 May 2011 he was sentenced to one year imprisonment, which was later reduced to eight months on appeal for two counts of possession of cocaine and one count of supplying cocaine linked to this episode.
On 30 August 2012, Wolfe confirmed he is working on his debut solo album with English producer, Adem Hilmi. Wolfe was also listed as co-writer, with Peter Doherty, of Stranger in My Own Skin which appeared as a track on Babyshambles' Sequel to the Prequel album bonus disc.
More recently, no information has been made available about Wolfman's solo effort, which is presumed scrapped and could be linked to a public falling out between Adem Hilmi and Doherty.
Pete Doherty and Peter Wolfe interview with The Observer (Killian Fox) Sunday 22th April 2007
I'm waiting for Pete Doherty and the Wolfman (aka his best friend and occasional songwriting partner Peter Wolfe) in the basement flat of a Hackney tower block. This is Wolfman's retreat, apparently, and every square inch of paintwork contains some arcane poetic sentiment scrawled in red or black ink. Just as it's emerging that the red-inked graffiti (sample: 'Manila killer I'm a gangster cut-throat') may not actually be red ink, Pete bursts into the room with a blood-curdling yowl. The Wolfman trails in behind him. Tall, gaunt and looking like he's just been out digging graves, this is the man who, according to some, corrupted the ex-Libertines and Babyshambles singer and led him down the hell-raising path to self-destruction.
Together they are at first terrifying. But when the dust settles, this pair seem anything but.
Describe your first meeting.
W: He was working in Filthy MacNasty's [in Islington, London] as a barman.
P: And the girl he was hanging out with was a regular and a mate of mine and she was always banging on about her fella.
W: I remember you came around in the morning and the girls were all there and we took a trip and drank in the pub and laughed, laughed, laughed, laughed, laughed. It was a really good day, but then I sort of lost it a bit in the end like a grumpy old git. That's my memory of that night, about five or six years ago I think. We spent a lot of time here, in the Wolf Den.
P: And we wrote all these songs together, these beautiful songs: 'Sticks and Stones'; 'Back From the Dead'; 'Delaney'.
W: 'Skag and Bone Man'.
So music is the most important thing for you?
W: We always have to be making music.
P: I'm the poor man's Wolfman when it comes down to it. I'm really jealous right now, because what he's writing is just out there.
Do you think your friendship has changed since you became famous?
P: I don't think it's changed at all, no. The things we dream about are still the same. Getting him out of the house is an issue, but when you're playing 'For Lovers' [their top 10 hit together, three years ago] in front of 5,000 people in Brixton, like we did the other week, and everybody's going mental to that song... Do you know what I mean? It's incredible.
W [paraphrasing from 'For Lovers']: 'We've got a nomination to turn the wolf out/But the key is mine/I keep a spare one every time.' Very important line.
P: Thanks Pete.
Do you ever fall out about your music?
W: I get pissed off sometimes that he's giving me no acknowledgment. When we first met I thought that I was going to be a mate. But obviously I'm not important. I'm just his little side-effect. [They both laugh.]
P [sincerely]: I love this guy.
W: If I could say something along these lines as well... Pete is the only man that ever ever ever - that ever ate a whole bag of Kentucky Fried Chicken in one go.
What's the best thing the Wolfman has ever done for you?
P: The Wolf Tidy. Even my missus [Kate Moss] the other day, she was like, 'How did you learn to do the Wolf Tidy?' It's a rapid-fire reconfiguration of the scene. After a night or two of absolute debauchery you get the Wolfman doing the Wolf Tidy, and all of a sudden, look, there you go, bang. Cleanliness! He gets the laundry done, puts the records back in order. He's the motherfucking king.
W: I like to be helpful. [Pause] Actually, I want to say this: Peter is the only man who ever believed in me. I'm in love with Pete, you know? He's the only man.
Can you be open with each other?
P: We can talk about anything. Because Wolf has seen it all. We're completely open. He saved me when I was drowning. He keeps me afloat. Look at this. [Doherty displays a tattoo on his arm, a skull and crossbones and the word 'Wolfe'.]
Is your relationship always positive?
P: I wouldn't believe myself if I said there weren't a few negative things about it. My girlfriend doesn't let me deal with Pete [Wolfman] so much. No, I shouldn't say that. Pete is one of the few friends of mine she actually does like.
Was she wary of him to start with?
P: Well, he was very different the first time I met him. He was working on a building site by day and trying to write songs by night. He was very aggressive back then.
He doesn't seem that way now...
P: He isn't. At heart. I've sat down with him and I've been with him and... He's different now. There's lots of madness and mayhem in my life, too, but me and the Wolfman, we can get on a level and have a good time. [He runs over to the Wolfman, hugs him and gives him a kiss.] There's not many people in the world I'd do that to.
Full namePeter William Wolfe
Born52 years, 3.Aug 1968