And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #165: Morrissey v Gordon Ramsey

By | Published on Friday 12 July 2013


Morrissey’s not a big fan of meat, or things that are related to meat. This is pretty common knowledge. I’d imagine there are remote tribes who have never had any contact with the modern world who could tell you that Morrissey is something of a militant vegetarian. In fact, I’d imagine more people are familiar with Morrissey’s take on the food industry than are with that tired remote tribes/pop culture reference cliche.

Despite all that, someone at Channel 4 decided in 2011 that it would be fine to use Smiths song ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’ in a trailer for a Christmas edition of Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Cookalong Live’ show. A programme that was no short of footage of dead animals being cooked.

OK, you can see the thought process. A soppy cover of the song by Slow Moving Millie had already converted it into an unlikely Christmas tune, and the temptation to point out that it hadn’t been originally written for this purpose might temporarily make someone forget that The Smiths also released an album called ‘Meat Is Murder’.

But either way, Morrissey was not best pleased. Though it’s hard for artists to do anything about such syncing, because most of the big TV networks in the UK have blanket licences from the music industry’s collecting societies, which generally means they can utilise songs and recordings without getting specific permission from an artist or copyright owner. Something exemplified by Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi Birgisson’s frustration that his band’s music had been “raped” by British telly firms in 2010.

However, Morrissey did do something about it. You’ll no doubt have seen this week that he was given £10,000 by Channel 4 in recompense for the “unauthorised” use of his song. Some reports even went so far as to explain that Morrissey was awarded this money as damages by a court, after the singer sued the broadcaster.

None of that is actually the case, except that Channel 4 did indeed give him ten grand. A spokesperson for Channel 4 told CMU this week: “This was a one off payment in addition to the blanket agreement. It was not awarded by a court, nor did Morrissey sue Channel 4”.

Why the company made this payment isn’t clear, and Channel 4 weren’t especially keen to explain it. Possibly it was just to stop Morrissey from shouting. Though if it was, then it didn’t really work, because he promptly donated all the cash to PETA’s campaign against the sale of foie gras, the production of which is illegal in the UK, at Fortnum & Mason in London. And then did a bit more shouting.

In a statement to go along with the donation, in which he described the inflated duck liver treat as “torture in a tin”, he said: “Ramsay may very well stick his head in his microwave when he hears that the money I received from Channel 4 is being donated to PETA to fight foie gras. Foie gras is so cruelly produced that he’d be against it if he had an ethical bone in his body”.

Though I’d imagine Ramsey quickly took his head back out of the microwave and had a little chuckle. Because it was reported later the same day that Morrissey had postponed the South American tour he was due to begin this week due to a serious bout of food poisoning. That seems like the kind of thing Gordon Ramsey would find funny.

This news came via a slightly dramatic statement from the promoter of two shows in Peru, Rodrigo Perez, who said: “On Sunday, Morrissey [and] about eight people went to eat at a restaurant [not recommended] by us, with regrettable consequences. Within hours, one by one they fell, resulting in severe gastric problems … The hotel has almost become an outpatient clinic. There are people who [have not been] out of bed for 48 hours, and the prognosis is not very encouraging … Most of Morrissey and his team will [now] return to London”.

Perez also claimed that Morrissey’s entire Latin American tour had been cancelled, though promoters of later dates in Brazil and Argentina have said that their shows will go ahead as planned. Though shows in Chile, which make up the bulk of the tour, do seem to have been cancelled, even if there has been no official word on the matter as yet.

Whatever the situation, this is the latest in a string of health problems for the singer this year. As previously reported, he cancelled the remainder of a US tour and a festival date in Mexico earlier this year as he underwent treatment for double pneumonia, a bleeding ulcer and throat condition Barrett’s oesophagus.

And earlier this month Morrissey told Chilean newspaper La Tercera: “I spent over four weeks on a drip, but I refused a blood transfusion. I managed to do some more shows in the US, but when I arrived in Mexico the doctors told me to stop. Not being able to finish the tour was devastating, but doctors warned me: ‘A few weeks ago you almost died, and now you say you’ll do eighteen shows more? Are you trying to kill yourself?’ In fact, I think that was what I was doing … There will be much time to rest, once we get to the grave”.