Did you ever see a ghost?
Ahh... well, I did. It was in England. But yes, I did once.
Can you tell me about it?
Yes! It was January 1989, and it was a very bitter winter. I went with three friends onto Saddleworth Moor in the north of England, which is the most barren, desolate, desperate place . . . a place of many, many murders throughout British history — many bodies were dumped [there] because it was so hostile. [In the mid-’60s, several Manchester schoolchildren were brutally murdered and dumped on Saddleworth Moor in a crime known as the Moors Murders. The killings left a deep scar upon the community. In fact, the first song Morrissey co-wrote with Johnny Marr, “Suffer Little Children,” was about these murders.]
There’s nothing for miles, and it’s very easy to lose your way. We had driven through darkness even though it was only 6 p.m. — you can only see as far as your headlights. At one point, we tried to step outside the car and the wind was so ferocious, a bitter chill of winter. You can’t see lights for miles, because there’s nothing there, just peat and heather. Very, very unfriendly terrain.
And suddenly, as we turned onto a side road, from the side of the road, from the heather, somebody pleaded to the car [throws arms wide, leaning forward, blue eyes wide, but blank — desperate, almost like a suffering saint].
It was a boy of maybe 18 years, and he was totally gray, and he had long hair in a sort of 1970s style, one of those strange feather cuts, and he wore a very small anorak and nothing else; he was completely naked. He just emerged from the heather and pleaded to the lights, and we drove past because we all instinctively knew that this was a spirit.
So, we went to the nearest phone box in the nearest village, and we called the police, and we said, “We have just driven down the Wessenden Road on Saddleworth Moor, and somebody has emerged from the side of the road and pleaded to the car.” The police said, “Keep an open mind [mimes hanging up a phone].” So, the next day we drove back to the spot where we had seen the figure, and in daylight we could see that there wasn’t a building, not a hut...
Oh my god.
...Nothing for 100 miles. So, who was this person? Was it somebody trying to ambush the car, so therefore we’d stop to help and then suddenly a gang would emerge and take everything from us? Or was it somebody who was being chased? Or was it somebody — was it the specter of somebody who had been dumped on the moors, on Saddleworth Moor, many years ago? What would you have done?
I don’t know what I would have done.
Yes, but it’s a split second. You have to know. Because it had a history of being a place where so many bodies have been dumped and buried, and it’s not really a kind of place you hang around. This person is not human, and it was very, very frightening, and we were all very intelligent beings, and we simply all together went, Ahhhhgh! Go go go! And because his skin, his body, his face, his hair and his small jacket were all gray, it wasn’t just that he seemed visually like an ordinary person, he didn’t. He seemed like something from beyond.
Read the entire excellent LA WEEKLY interview...The world is fairly lucky to have this man around still. And the music is still good, the music is still good.