I was just informed that Peter Gutteridge has died this morning. I’m torn here, I do not wish to be any sort of ambulance-chaser with news like this. At the same time Gutteridge was something of an underground hero, so important to people in love with so much around what New Zealand music means and does and sounds like – that music that’s a vital part of our culture outside and away from the mainstream. Gutteridge was a founding member of The Clean and The Chills – and he fronted Snapper. Then there was The Great Unwashed. He released a solo album that has only recently been reissued. And in the last two years there was a return to the stage for Snapper and Gutteridge took the stage with The Clean including a recent trip to America.
It was something special to hear and see his lacerations of guitar earlier this year with The Clean in Wellington just before Puppies shut its doors.
I wrote of that moment on that evening:
It’s a wonderfully ramshackle night and includes an eventually very-prescient version of
Getting Older. You see the band played it as original member Peter Gutteridge stumble-ambled to the stage. The “Gutt-man” was on holiday with the promise of a walk-on and though he looked like an advert to stay clean – if not stay in The Clean – he played with that same wild-frenzied sound, as if he hadn’t so much picked up a guitar as grabbed onto a thunderbolt of sheet-metal lightning, draining extra fuzz from it as he pinched down and drowned out his own frail voice with more and more and even more guitar noise.
Just to see him on that stage – with that band – was enough. To hear him a bonus. Just to see him there was, I guess, a bit like the Floyd of the mid-70s if welcoming Syd Barrett to the stage, or the Fleetwood Mac of the same time announcing that Peter Green was going to let loose some of the old juice.
I know very little about Gutteridge’s life. But I was touched by his music. I’m writing this now to pass on the news so that those of you who were similarly touched by his music and those of you who knew him, knew the bands he worked in, the records he made can have you own private chance to reflect on this news. To grieve the passing of one of the heroes of New Zealand’s alternative music; the true New Zealand sound. Gutteridge was one of the icons of Dunedin music, the Dunedin SoundTM – he had a wildness in his heart and in his head it seemed. He channelled that in ugly/beautiful measures in the music he wrote and played.