Gary Powell, the enigmatic drummer of The Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things has led a wild life, to say the least. As a quarter of the London rabble-rousers The Libertines, he helped to inspire a generation, kicking off a wave of British indie music that spawned the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand.
Although The Libertines are a seminal outfit, often, their musical output was overshadowed by the infighting and excess that we saw so often in the tabloids. They became just as famous for their hard-partying lifestyle as they did their music. This then extended into the members’ respective bands after The Libertines split in 2004, with co-frontman Pete Doherty going on to form Babyshambles and other co-frontman Carl Barat and Powell forming Dirty Pretty Things.
There are many crazy tales from this period, as Powell recounted during a 2021 interview with The Independent. Looking back at his “wildest festival moments”, Powell, who was always regarded as one of the more chilled out members of The Libertines, shocked us all when revealing one particular vignette. This awkward moment came in 2006 when Powell was in Dirty Pretty Things, and it involves stunning one of the most iconic rockstars of all time.
Powell recalled: “There was an awkward moment at Isle of Wight in 2006. Management were going to watch the Foo Fighters – before that we’d been onstage as Dirty Pretty Things. Our booking agent also looked after the Foos, and he introduced me to Dave Grohl and we had a little chat. I think that spurred me on for the day, because Dave is awesome. Later on, though, I started drinking. I didn’t stop drinking. Foo Fighters came on but by that point I was gone.”
Powell carried on his personal crusade to get as drunk as possible, to hilarious effect: “I was wasted to the point they had to escort me to the backstage area – Bobby Gillespie was there with Primal Scream, and for whatever reason, we decided to run around trashing people’s dressing rooms. Security helped carry me out, but in my mind, they thought it was really funny.”
The most shocking moment was yet to come for the unruly drummer though: “They took me back to the bus and locked me in until we were on the ferry and I managed to get off again. But by that time, I was naked. Everyone else was walking around [upstairs], and I decided I needed to go for a wee. So I stood behind the truck – the wind was blowing everywhere – and who gets off his bus but… Dave Grohl. He looked at me and went, ‘That’s a good look, man.’ Dave Grohl saw me naked!”
One of the highlights of Powell’s career, we’re sure that he’ll be telling this brilliant anecdote for years to come. I’d love to know what Dave Grohl‘s thoughts on the matter are too. He’s obviously seen his own fair share of hellraising, and I wonder if he even remembers seeing Powell in his birthday suit at all.
Watch footage from Isle of Wight 2006 below.