Show Chapters

Paul Hewson - coming home


Thatcher Street was a cul-de-sac that ran off Kepa Road in the eastern Auckland suburb of Kohimarama. Through the window of Dorothy Hewson’s unit there you could see over the Kepa Bush Reserve towards Remuera on the other side of the Orakei Basin.

From the basement, Dorothy ran a children’s clothing manufacturing business and it was to this small room with a bed, among piles of sewing, that her second son, Dragon songwriter Paul Hewson, came to stay in October 1984, dubbing the space the “engine room”.

Dragon had not long completed their hugely successful Body and the Beat tour, after which Paul revealed to Dr Danny Hameiri he was contemplating a return to New Zealand because of his “trouble in the band”. He seemed depressed and the doctor “thought he was mildly suicidal at the time”.

Just prior to leaving Sydney, Paul paid a visit to Dragon guitarist Robert Taylor and his wife Sue, where they ate homemade bacon and egg pie and discussed the future of the band. Paul was in a good mood, but admitted to the Taylors that he had to get away from Australia, that it was killing him little by little.

Kicking old habits

When Dorothy Hewson broached the subject of her son’s ongoing drug battles, Paul just brushed her off. “I can’t understand this heroin thing,” she said. “Explain it to me.” “No, you wouldn’t understand,” he answered and the topic was never again brought up.

She had known of his addiction for some five years, though, having been sent a newspaper clipping while holidaying in Canada, which said Dragon “hoped Paul would be out of hospital soon”. When she called the band’s management to find out what was wrong she learned her son was in hospital with hepatitis B. “Didn’t you know he was a heroin addict?” the staffer bluntly asked.

New Zealand in 1984 was probably the best place to be in the developed world if you were trying to kick heroin. Since the 1980 collapse of the Mr Asia drug syndicate, New Zealand police and customs had all but eradicated the importation of the drug into the country.

However, the resulting shortage and an established market had resulted in the development of kitchen and bathroom laboratories throughout the country producing morphine and heroin from codeine readily available without prescription from any pharmacy. The product of this procedure became known as homebake.

It was only a matter of days before Paul was approached to play keyboards for a tour of the country.

All-Stars Play the Blues

Although news of Paul Hewson’s return to Auckland hadn’t been trumpeted about, word had got out and it was only a matter of days before Paul was approached to play keyboards for a tour of the country by a group of well-known local blues musicians calling themselves All-Stars Play the Blues.

The tour was the brainchild of promoter and entrepreneur Paul Walker, who had hit on the idea the previous year – a trip around the provinces by a supergroup of three or four name artists in theory attracting three or four times the fans than if they toured individually.

This time was slightly different in that it also included British headliner Wilko Johnson, the original Dr Feelgood guitarist, later of Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Would Paul be interested? You bet.

The featured singers were Sonny Day, Midge Marsden, Hammond Gamble, and Walker’s wife, Beaver, who had been an early member of The Pink Flamingos with Paul before a forced withdrawal after an operation to remove nodes from her vocal cords.

Paul was also familiar with All-Stars drummer Dennis Ryan, with whom he had played in Freedom Express and Cruise Lane, and bass guitarist Neil Edwards, formerly of The Underdogs, who was briefly joined by Paul in a band called Dallas just prior to Paul joining Dragon.

The line-up was completed by slide guitarist Mike Farrell and saxophonist Walter Bianco, and it was a nervous Paul who joined the entourage in Palmerston North already a couple of dates into the tour.

He was diligent about learning the songs and playing them properly and it soon became evident to the others he was more than just a pop pianist. Midge and Hammond, the real blues stalwarts, were particularly impressed by Paul’s knowledge of the Great American Songbook and in awe of his ability to play anything from blues and country to jazz and contemporary.

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All-Stars Play the Blues end of tour dinner at Christchurch, 1984. Rear, left to right, Dennis Ryan, Hammond Gamble, Beaver, Wilko Johnson, Jane West, Neil Edwards, Paul Walker, Midge Marsden, Mike Farrell. Front, Walter Bianco, Sonny Day, Paul Hewson. - Photo by William West. Courtesy of Paul Walker.

On one date, Paul sat in with Wilko Johnson – who had been doing a set with just Neil and Dennis midway through the show – and immediately latched on to a guitar figure with a complementary piano part and henceforth became a permanent fixture of Wilko’s segment.

Neil and Beaver did notice that Paul was more cynical than when they had previously known him. Neil was keen on Paul’s dry, sarcastic and sometimes cruel wit and it wasn’t long before they were the tour’s prime mischief-makers. Nobody wanted to share a room with Paul or Neil so they became roommates by default.

The Doctor

The van would be chugging along somewhere out in the back blocks when one musician or another would pipe up, “Shit, I’m bored.” “Up, down or sideways?” Paul would ask as he dipped into his trusty Globite school case.

The case had been a constant through many a Dragon and Pink Flamingos jaunt and, besides a chess set and something to read, contained Prednisone to reduce swelling in Paul’s arthritic fingers, and Dilantin, Serepax and Doloxene – all part of a regime that had been worked out in Australia by a consultant in drug abuse as “the way to maintain him without the need for him to indulge in narcotics”.

Paul earned the nickname "The Doctor" during one drive after rendering a drunkenly obnoxious Neil Edwards immediately unconscious with one potion, much to the relief of the rest of the band.

When the tour reached New Plymouth, Hammond and Beaver were both suffering sore throats. It was decided a visit to a qualified doctor was in order. Paul assembled the pair and told them what they should request from the doctor. Hammond promptly forgot and was given paracetamol while Beaver was prescribed a liquid medicine.

When they met up with Paul again he drank half of Beaver’s medicine before asking Hammond, “What did you get?” “Paracetamol,” came the reply. “Hammond Gamble went to the doctor and got paracetamol?! You could have got that from a bloody chemist! That’s the last time I take you to the doctor!”

On the long haul from New Plymouth to Rotorua, Paul and Neil decided to drink the trip away with a couple of dozen beers, which they stashed in large plastic bags of ice. They drank, got loud, laughed a lot and kept requesting toilet stops.

Eventually, losing precious time, the driver refused to stop, so the boys in the back of the van started pissing into the plastic bags, by now full of empty bottles and melting ice. Soon the van floor was awash with watered down urine, not to mention the stench.

On reaching Rotorua, Paul and Neil just shrugged it off and got on with the gig. It took some of the others a little longer to forgive their behaviour. Of all their egging each other on, this was Paul and Neil’s nadir.

During the tour Paul spoke with Paul Walker and media liaison Jane West about his place in Dragon. Both got the impression he felt on the outer with the band and was keen to be around friends in New Zealand. He felt his health wasn’t up to the gruelling Dragon schedule.

At the tour’s completion, life back in Auckland revolved around The Gluepot, one of the city’s two major music venues. Walker began booking a stripped back version of the band – now sometimes called The Goodtime Band with the addition of Tommy Ferguson – into the hotel.

Post-gig Paul would often stay at a bandmate’s rather than catch a cab back to his mother’s in Kohimarama. Mostly he would stay at Walker and Beaver’s home in Sentinel Road, Herne Bay, just up the road from The Gluepot.

This was also a time for Paul to reconnect with family and friends.

It was there that Paul met Walker’s boarder, singer-songwriter Barry Saunders, who had been back in New Zealand six months after an unsuccessful stint in Sydney with The Tigers.

Paul, in his trademark red scarf of the time, would appear at the Sentinel Road house most days and he and Barry would play songs together and talk about music. They developed an interest in country music, playing George Jones – The Grand Tour a particular favourite – and Hank Williams LPs, as well as The Band.

They would talk half-heartedly about getting something going and picking up a rhythm section, almost an embryo of Saunders’ band of later in the decade, The Warratahs. Barry played Paul some of his songs, including an early rendering of ‘Maureen’, a song that would achieve success for that band.

Paul played a lot of half-finished ideas but appeared to be in a rebuilding phase. Later, the pair would wander down to The Stables, buy a flagon of port and jam most of the day before making their way to The Gluepot.

Reconnecting

This was also a time for Paul to reconnect with family and friends, some of who he had not had significant contact with since leaving New Zealand in 1975. He made tentative steps to strike up a relationship with his children, who were living with their mother and her new husband, art tutor Martin Ball. Paul got on better with Ball than the children did and was grateful of him being there for them.

His previous visits to the Ball household may have only amounted to once a year but they were always memorable. He would drink strong coffee, smoke lots of cigarettes, consume all the alcohol and on one occasion wandered the quiet house at 4am mimicking the call of the morepork at the top of his voice.

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Jane West, Paul Hewson and Nicki Walker at the Waterfront Cafe, Auckland. The out-of-focus crane in the background inspired Paul to write across the photo, “Jane, Nicki and Paul. Paris, November 1984.” - Jane West collection

12-year-old Daniel Hewson was aware of his dad’s achievements with Dragon and was also aware of his heroin addiction and all that entailed. Paul told his son he intended leaving Dragon, remaining in New Zealand and kicking his habit. Daniel was rapt but Syreeta, then nine, wanted little to do with her dad.

Paul caught up with his two sisters and was anxious to see his big brother, John, with whom he started making music in a band called The Gargoyles nearly 20 years earlier. The pair planned a rendezvous in the engine room at Dorothy’s Kohimarama unit.

John was living on a 12-acre property on Great Barrier Island and intended sailing his own boat to the city for the reunion, but there was a lack of wind on the night and he was eight hours late. When he did arrive, Paul gushed, “I bought you a bottle of wine, but I’ve drunk it!” The brothers made plans for Paul to visit John, his wife and four sons on Great Barrier Island late in November.

On his first night on the island Paul went AWOL ... obviously suffering acute withdrawal symptoms.

On his first night on the island Paul went AWOL, reappearing at five in the morning, pale, trembling, covered in cow shit and obviously suffering acute withdrawal symptoms. Whether intentional or not, he’d left his Serepax in Auckland and was now paying for it.

John had a friend whose elderly mother was on Serepax, so he coaxed his brother onto the back of a motorbike and sped to the home of the friend, who located the medication while his mother slept, putting an end to Paul’s torment.

Later in the day, the district nurse on Great Barrier Island made an urgent call to Paul’s doctor, informing him that Paul had no Dilantin or Serepax and was in a very agitated state. Aware of his past history of epilepsy upon acute drug withdrawal, the doctor issued a prescription for both drugs.

During the stay, John noticed changes in his brother – his once sharp mind had dulled. John had hastily arranged for the island’s top chess player to challenge Paul, and Paul was not impressed on being trounced twice.

He was drinking heavily, “popping Serepax like lollies” and told John he’d been given a death sentence. He said having been on heroin for so long and feeling so incredible as a result, there was a big hole in his life and he always had a craving for it. It appeared to John he had swapped the drug for alcohol.

Paul said a doctor had told him his liver was in a bad way and that if he felt compelled to drink he should stick to beer and stay clear of spirits, but he stuck to bourbon regardless.

Before departing Great Barrier Island, John took his brother out to the local club. He warned him to keep a low profile because there was a real woman shortage on the island and the local men got jealous when a new arrival was afforded any attention.

Paul took the advice on board but was soon recognised by one woman as a member of Dragon. The woman sat on his knee but soon fled when Paul leaned forward and whispered something in her ear.

Soon enough, the woman’s boyfriend appeared and smacked Paul in the mouth. As he was staggering backwards, Paul spat, “I thought you could do better than that!” Before the man got a chance John swooped and jockeyed his brother out the door.

Back in Auckland, Marc Hunter and Annie Burton were in the city with their son, Titus, to visit Marc’s parents in Glenfield. Paul and Marc inevitably caught up and Marc asked when he would be returning to Dragon. He didn’t strike Marc as being too enthusiastic.

The band’s manager, Steve White, had maintained sporadic contact to keep him up to date with what was on the horizon, but, although pleasant, Paul was non-committal on when he would return.

Saving Up

December found The All-Stars at Mascot Studio recording a Sonny Day single called ‘Saving Up’, a Bruce Springsteen-penned song suggested by guitarist Mike Farrell, after he found it on a rare album by E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons.

 

Paul Hewson’s piano and organ featured prominently in Sonny Day’s ‘Saving Up’ although he had passed on by the time the video was filmed

Paul Walker financed the recording, which was initially produced by Bob Jackson, and it was intended that Paul Hewson would write the flipside. But as The All-Stars were getting carried away with how good the tracking for ‘Saving Up’ had turned out it suddenly dawned that they didn’t have an instrumental bed for the B-side. In fact, they didn’t have a song at all.

All eyes turned to Paul but, despite Walker’s urgings, he had nothing to offer, so the band laid down a standard 12-bar blues throwaway with a couple of Sonny’s chord variations. The backing track was completed and Paul Hewson was issued the task of returning with some lyrics.

When the sessions reconvened later in the month, Paul and Neil Edwards presented Sonny with a set of lyrics they’d written together called ‘The Moonfish Shuffle’. It was a misogynistic rant about a woman taking a broken-arsed pop singer and bleeding him dry.

In Edwards speak of the time "moonfish" had progressed from a slang term for shit to a slang term for a very bad-looking woman. Sonny took one look at the chauvinistic lyrics, exclaimed, “Forget it, I’m not singing those,” and settled in to write the words himself. When the single appeared in 1985 the flipside was titled ‘Take It Easy’ and was credited to Day and Hewson.

Walker asked Paul if he might have anything that would suit Beaver and he submitted ‘What Kind of World’, the type of ballad on which Beaver could shine. Walker produced a demo along the lines of Cilla Black’s ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’ but felt the recording didn’t capture the feeling he was after. When he failed to interest any of the major record companies the song was shelved.

Old friends

Around this time, Paul sought out two old friends from the Auckland band scene of the early 1970s. A white soul singer, Paul Hartland had sung in Freedom Express with Paul, and the pair had come under the tutelage of older jazz arranger Denny Boreham.

Paul rang Hartland and suggested they should get together for a beer when The All-Stars were playing at Mainstreet. Hartland turned up and was immediately struck by how unwell his old mate looked. Paul explained his appearance was the result of kicking a heavy heroin habit. He discussed getting a small band together with Hartland, but Hartland, now a car salesman, reneged.

Next, Paul landed on the doorstep of Boreham’s Mount Roskill state house where he would occasionally sleep in the sun porch looking out onto the May Road War Memorial Park.

He was interested in striking up a partnership with Boreham in which they would write and arrange songs for New Zealand singers to record. He wanted to write melodic, retro material similar to Dusty Springfield’s 1966 chart-topper ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’.

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The Goodtime Band, summer 1984-85. Left to right, Sonny Day, Neil Edwards, Walter Bianco, Josie Rika, Mike Abbott, Beaver, Barry Saunders, Paul Hewson. - Jane West collection

“Don’t worry about a thing,” he told Boreham, funding was in place and he could use anything he liked – strings, whatever. He gave Boreham a cassette of ‘What Kind of World’ as an example of what he had in mind. “We’ll do something great and big.” Boreham was ecstatic to be working with an unlimited budget and eagerly awaited Paul’s next call.

Former Hello Sailor frontman Graham Brazier invited Paul to sit in with the latest incarnation of The Legionnaires at the city’s Foundry Nightclub, introducing Paul to long-time acquaintance and Hello Sailor fan Graham Hughes, a part-time bass player who had talked about working with Brazier.

Dragon on the line

Back in Sydney, Dragon had appeared sans Paul at the Hordern Pavilion and lip-synched ‘Body and the Beat’ on Countdown. The performances were the final blow in Marc Hunter’s growing resentment of guitarist Robert Taylor, or more Robert’s attitude towards the band.

Robert had been to see Richard Clapton perform and was blown away by the performance. “Jesus, that band really plays together,” he told Todd. To him, Dragon was going through the motions, not fulfilling their massive potential. His heart wasn’t in it and he wasn’t quiet about his disenchantment, increasingly performing drunk.

Steve White was dispatched to the Taylors’ Woollahra home to sack the guitarist. “You’re no longer required,” he said. “Well, fuck ’em!” Robert shot back before showing the manager the door. He and Paul had never discussed the band’s desire for the pair to clean up their act, but, surely, the writing was on the wall now for Paul.

Shocked and bitter, Robert returned to his role as a clerk at Citibank, still seething from the fact Dragon had just completed one of Australian rock’s most successful tours and he was in a worse financial position than when the band had re-formed two years earlier.

Paul was informed of the sacking by White but seemed disinterested. He was also told the band would be travelling to England in the new year for a big PolyGram International convention to try and sell Dragon to the world. Marc began calling Dorothy Hewson’s to try and coax Paul back in time for the trip, but Paul was seldom there.

Besides staying nights at Walker and Beaver’s home, Neil Edwards’ Henderson flat and Denny Boreham’s sun porch, he would sometimes sleep at Graham Brazier’s, Tommy Ferguson’s or at the home of freelance publicist Jane West.

Jane had progressed from journalism to radio to doing publicity for the Sweetwaters festivals before working for Paul Walker on The All-Stars tours. She quickly earned a reputation as one of the music industry’s best PR people and eventually went on to work for Neil Finn.

On the occasions Paul stayed at Jane’s Gibraltar Crescent, Parnell, address, her flatmate, a shy Napier woman named Debbie Harwood, would often give up her bed and sleep on the couch allowing Paul more comfort for his bad back, nestled down with a saucepan full of medication at the bedside.

By now enough water had flowed under the bridge for Paul to make amends with his former Pink Flamingos partner Dave McArtney.

By now enough water had flowed under the bridge for Paul to make amends with his former Pink Flamingos partner Dave McArtney after that band’s messy demise in 1982. Paul had dinner with Dave and his fiancée, Donna Mills, late in December, but it was a darker Paul who visited the couple a week later.

In the throes of organising their February wedding, Dave and Donna had not seen much of Paul that summer and were surprised when he called. “There’s no hope for me now,” he told Dave. He listed his Serepax habit, the fact his liver was damaged, his hereditary scoliosis condition. He said a doctor had told him if he didn’t change his ways he’d be dead in two months.

Early in the new year he felt compelled to clear the air with Robert Taylor over the Dragon sacking. Although he played no part in the decision to let Robert go he also put up no resistance.

When Paul rang Sydney, Robert was at work, his wife, Sue, answering. Paul was feeling down and he explained that he was very sorry about what had happened to Robert and he felt really bad about it. He ended the call with the rather cryptic, “I’ll be next.”

Musically, 1985 had dawned brightly for Paul. Dragon were seeking the date of his return with the PolyGram International convention looming, there was a proposal for a low-key Pink Flamingos reunion tour, Hello Sailor had talked of reuniting with Paul as honorary pianist, The All-Stars/Goodtime Band were working steadily and there was the writing/arranging with Denny Boreham. Paul had also contemplated a solo album.

For any of it to come off it was imperative he kicked his habits and got healthy. Singer Tommy Ferguson came up with a plan when Paul admitted he wanted away from the whole heavy Dragon scene. “Come up north with me,” Tommy said. “I’ve got 100 acres up north at Mitimiti. You should come with me. I’ll fill you up with seafood, get you straight, man.” They decided to travel to Mitimiti in the middle of January.

Time to quit

On Wednesday January 9, after The All-Stars/Goodtime Band had struggled through a lacklustre rehearsal at The Gluepot, Paul announced he had made a monumental decision – he had decided to quit Dragon and stay in New Zealand. He was looking forward to working with Sonny Day and Beaver and didn’t want to get involved with the drugs scene in Sydney again.

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Paul Hewson’s last run of gigs with The Goodtime Band. After he passed away in the early hours of January 10, the Auckland Gluepot shows went ahead as a tribute with Gluepot staff covering his piano with flowers.

Paul, Jane West and some of the band stayed on at The Gluepot for a few beers, and Paul and Jane arrived back at Jane’s Parnell flat at about 8pm. Her flatmate, Debbie Harwood, had already eaten so Paul cooked bacon and eggs on toast for the two of them.

The three friends watched a videotape of Sweetwaters 83 highlights from a Radio With Pictures television special. When The Legionnaires appeared on screen, Paul became anxious to get in touch with Graham Brazier but none of them had his current phone number on hand.

Paul talked to the women about his intention to leave Dragon and stay in New Zealand before excusing himself to ring the band’s management.

Paul talked to the women about his intention to leave Dragon and stay in New Zealand before excusing himself to ring the band’s management. He seemed determined and relieved to be leaving the pressures of the Australian scene behind.

Taking the call, Dragon’s manager, Steve White, wasn’t worried – every member of the band had quit at some stage, only to change his mind later. “Here we go again,” he thought. But Paul was quite emphatic. “No, I’m staying in New Zealand.”

“Do whatever you have to do,” White told him. “I’ll be in touch with what we’re doing.” Paul was very straightforward, “I’m really leaving,” he said. White didn’t sweat it too much and said he would call back with whatever Dragon was up to next. When the 10-minute call ended, White rang Marc Hunter with the news.

Last call

Paul made a quick call to his mother, who was pleased to hear he was staying in New Zealand, and settled back in front of the TV drinking two glasses of Scotch, neat, the only alcohol in the house.

At about 10:30pm, he rang his arranger friend Denny Boreham to see “what was happening”. Oddly enough, Paul’s other old mate Paul Hartland was visiting Boreham and they had just finished listening to the cassette of Beaver’s ‘What Kind of World’ demo.

After Boreham spoke, Hartland came on the line and suggested they all go into town for a drink. Paul agreed and Hartland noted the address and said he would pick him up.

Half an hour later, Hartland’s silver left-hand drive 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass pulled up outside with Boreham and his girlfriend Jocelyn Webster as passengers. They stayed a short time and left with Paul.

He asked Hartland what he’d thought of the song Boreham had played him earlier. “I don’t like it,” Hartland said bluntly. “Why, man? I like your car,” Paul declared. A silver American car with red velour trim wasn’t a common sight on the streets of Auckland.

He climbed into the back seat with Boreham and offered him some pills, taking one himself. He suggested the group go to a nightclub he knew of near the post office in Ponsonby, but they couldn’t find it so settled for Cheers, a popular musicians’ hangout in the city.

Paul drank a glass of tequila and some beer and the four shared a bottle of champagne and spoke mainly about music. Paul was rapt to catch up with Ross Hunter, Marc and Todd’s younger brother, who had worked as a roadie for Dragon in the late 1970s.

He told Ross he had just quit the band and was looking forward to pursuing a different musical direction. The long Dragon tours had taken a toll on him, he said, and although he loved the band he preferred the less stressful New Zealand lifestyle.

Not long after midnight, now Ross’s birthday, Ross offered Paul a ride home, but he said he was with people and he was staying in Henderson. The two parted company and Paul returned to his mates, and they left not long afterwards.

At about 1am on January 10, the Oldsmobile arrived back at Boreham’s Mount Roskill address where Boreham made a cup of tea and some macaroni. Paul and Hartland briefly went inside but returned to the car. Jocelyn went to bed.

Boreham took the tea out to the Oldsmobile and fed Paul a couple of mouthfuls of macaroni before the two men left. Paul asked Hartland to take him to Lincoln Street in Ponsonby to score some dope.

When they parked in Lincoln Street, Paul wanted Hartland to go inside one of the houses with him “to try something”. Hartland said he didn’t want to know about it and would wait in the car. He was tired from working all day at the car yard and was feeling drunk after the time spent at Cheers.

Paul said he would be about 15 minutes, and when he hadn’t returned in that time Hartland climbed into the back seat and went to sleep, leaving the car unlocked for his mate’s return.

Flat number two was the home of Graham Hughes, the man Paul had been introduced to at the Foundry the month before, and Paul knew he could score some homebake here.

Hughes had been a cannabis dealer, but during the previous three or four months had got together a kit to manufacture homebake morphine. He would rely on acquaintances to obtain pharmacy-available medication like Pirophen or Panadeine, anything that contained the opiate codeine.

Six boxes of the preferred Pirophen would result in four cubic centimetres of homebake, enough for six fixes. Hughes commonly sold the homebake at $80 per cubic centimetre, or one syringe full. For those acquaintances that supplied the codeine medications their fix was greatly discounted.

On average, Hughes would undertake six cooks per week resulting in 24 cubic centimetres of homebake per cook, but the process had only a 50% success rate. He hadn’t managed to manufacture to the heroin stage, but he guessed he would be making codeine or morphine. He referred to it as homebake because he didn’t really know what it came out as.

Paul Hewson’s knocking interrupted the late movie on TV and the younger of the flat’s two occupants answered the door. Paul told the man he wanted to see Hughes. Hughes recognised the visitor but couldn’t recall from where. “Who are you and what do you want?” he said.

“I’m Paul Hewson. I play with the band Dragon. I play keyboards. You know I’m cool.” Hughes invited him in, the three men sat at a table in the lounge and Paul said he had a rich mate outside who had his own car yard. He continued that he had plenty of money and wanted to “get a taste”. By that time Hughes knew he wanted to score some homebake.

Paul said it would have to be a credit deal because he had no money on him but he would give Hughes payment that day when he could obtain cash from the band he was playing with at The Gluepot.

Hughes said that he did not have enough of the substance and what he had he needed himself, regardless of how much money his visitor had. Paul offered his possible benefactor some Serepax and Doloxene, and kept on at him to give him a taste.

The conversation went round in circles until Hughes, feeling sorry for the persistent musician, caved in. He collected a syringe from the kitchen and half-filled it with a combination of homebake and water. “Can you handle it?” he asked as he showed Paul the syringe. Paul assured him he could.

He rolled up his sleeve and without any fuss injected the liquid into his left arm.

He rolled up his sleeve and without any fuss injected the liquid into his left arm. Hughes was surprised how quickly Paul administered the hit. He had not used a belt and had appeared to use the rolled up sleeve of his jacket to get the vein up.

Paul placed the empty syringe on the table and the three men talked. Paul told them he had quit Dragon. After about half an hour he became groggy and wobbly and fell to the side of his chair.

The other man, who had been introduced as Mike, asked Hughes if he thought Paul was alright. Hughes wasn’t sure and the pair lifted him out of his chair by his shoulders and walked him around the lounge. Paul said he was alright, but Hughes thought he should get some fresh air.

They walked him outside and a few metres up and down Lincoln Street and he appeared to come right. Hughes and Mike told Paul they had to go out to separate places and they would leave him in the car he had come in.

Paul agreed and was placed in the front passenger seat of the Oldsmobile. The men noticed a man asleep and snoring in the back seat. They returned briefly to the flat, Hughes collecting the empty syringe Paul had used, and then left in their own cars.

When Hughes returned around 3am, having thrown the syringe out the car window bit by bit on his journey, the Oldsmobile was still parked outside. He checked on the car’s occupants, found both men were snoring, and went into the flat.

Soon afterwards, Mike arrived, gave Paul a shake through the open window and checked he was breathing. He too went inside where he told Hughes he thought Paul was alright and the two men went to their beds.

Sometime between 7am and 7:30am, a foggy Paul Hartland awoke stretched out on the back seat of his car. He noticed Paul had returned at some stage during the early morning and was slumped in the front passenger’s seat asleep.

He looked at the time. “Shit, it’s late,” he muttered. He had to get Paul home and get to his job at Hanson Motors. Climbing back into the driver’s seat he noticed Paul looked ill but didn’t think much of it due to his knowledge of his mate’s habits.

He felt Paul’s head and hands and they were cold, so he started the engine and turned on the heater before pulling away. The only person he knew that Paul had stayed with for any length of time was All-Star Neil Edwards and he decided to drop Paul at Neil’s Keeling Road, Henderson, flat, about a half-hour drive west.

Along the way, Hartland stopped and bought a pie, eating it as he paced around the car. Back in the cabin he began nudging Paul, trying to wake him, saying “Come on, man.” Hartland was beginning to worry.

When the Oldsmobile pulled up outside the block of 11 wooden flats in Keeling Road, Hartland was swiftly out of the car and banging on the door of flat number two. The din woke Neil’s flatmate Kristine Lyall, but Neil had not been home.

Hartland said Paul was asleep in the car and could he leave him at the flat because he had to go to work. Paul had stayed there in the past and Kristine said to bring him in and leave him on the couch.

Hartland revealed he couldn’t wake him and that he thought something might be wrong. A long-time member of the United Surf Club, Kristine went out to the car and saw that Paul was stiff and clammy. She tried unsuccessfully to find a pulse or a heartbeat and noticed that his chest was purple.

She told her sister to call for an ambulance, but, now in shock, Hartland insisted they shouldn’t because they might get Paul in trouble. Kristine took another look at Paul and decided if he wasn’t dead already he very soon would be and she went inside and made the emergency call herself. The time was 8:02am.

The ambulance arrived at Keeling Road five minutes later and when the St John officer checked for signs of life there was no pulse. Paul Hewson was dead. He was 32.

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Colin Hogg reports Paul Hewson's funeral for the Auckland Star, January 1985

Parts one and two

The early years

In the Dragon's lair

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