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Pete Doherty on growing up in Belfast with an army dad: ‘The kids at school would say, ‘Hey, we love your daddy, he kills Catholics’

Rocker says father’s job as soldier earned him playground plaudits


Pete Doherty

Pete Doherty

Pete Doherty on stage with his father Pete snr in 2017

Pete Doherty on stage with his father Pete snr in 2017


Pete Doherty

Kids at rocker Pete Doherty’s primary school in Belfast used to joke that they loved his father, who served in the British army, because he “kills Catholics”.

The Libertines and Babyshambles singer moved to Northern Ireland when he was three years old when his father — also called Peter — was stationed here during the Troubles.

Pete (43) revealed: “He was a sergeant major when we were in Belfast, but we never talked about his Army life at all.

“Being in Belfast with him when he was stationed there in the early ’80s is the first strong memory I have of living anywhere.

“Belfast was one of the few times during my childhood when we didn’t live on a barracks.

“I suppose living in a Protestant community, in Army-provided housing, in Belfast was the equivalent of being on a barracks.

“The kids at the primary school I went to would say, ‘Hey, we love your daddy, he kills Catholics’.

“We looked under the car every morning for car bombs.”

Hellraiser Pete spoke of his time here in his new memoirs, A Likely Lad, and told how his dad once chastised him after he picked up a rhyme with racist connotations.

He said: “I was in Lambeg County Primary School, and I vividly remember coming home one day singing a song I’d picked up but didn’t really understand.

“It was a corruption of the children’s counting rhyme ‘Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a n****r by the toe’, and my dad got really angry with me. I was upset and scared.

“My Nanny Doll was visiting, and she said, ‘Oh leave him alone, he’s just a kid’. And my dad went, ‘No, he’s got to understand this’, and he sat me down and said, ‘Right, how many people does Wembley Stadium hold?’

“And I knew at the time it was 100,000, and he said, ‘Right, now times that by sixty,’ quite a complicated sum for a six-year-old, but I said, ‘Six million.’

“He said, ‘Right, that’s how many people died in Nazi Germany because of songs like that.’

“I used to repeat that to people. I was on holiday, years later, and some kid at a swimming pool said something to a Chinese kid and I said, ‘Oi, how many people does Wembley Stadium hold?’”

Pete also revealed that his sister AmyJo had life-saving surgery carried out at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

He said: “AmyJo was born with a hole in her heart, and when we were in Belfast, she had an operation to fix it, and it was a success.

“She was told before she went into the hospital, which was right on the Falls Road, if anyone asks you what your dad does, you tell them he works for the Post Office.

“It was only a few months after that, in 1986, my mum went to hospital again in Belfast and came back with my little sister Emily.”


Pete Doherty on stage with his father Pete snr in 2017

Pete Doherty on stage with his father Pete snr in 2017

Pete Doherty on stage with his father Pete snr in 2017

The rock star said that his dad suffered mood swings during his time as a soldier serving here.

He explained: “There were times when he was in a black mood and just wouldn’t talk to anyone in the house. It was really dark, really weird.

“He was holding it all in. I don’t know what it was about. When I was little, I thought it was what was going on in the Army, but I’m not sure.

“I adored my dad, absolutely idolised him. He was born in London, grew up in a tight-knit Irish Catholic community.

“His dad, Ted Doherty, came over to England from Ireland just after the Second World War, in 1946.

“Ted would sing rebel songs in the pub, so it was quite controversial when dad joined the British Army.

“He was an airborne soldier, a paratrooper, but he wasn’t in the Paras, the Parachute Regiment.

“He was in the Royal Corps of Signals who were attached to the Paras, 216 Parachute Signal Squadron.”

A Likely Lad by Peter Doherty is on sale now

The headline on this article has been changed to reflect the exact quote from Mr Doherty’s book. There is no suggestion Mr Doherty agreed with those views and we’re happy to confirm that he has always abhorred sectarianism. We apologise if any other inference was taken from the original headline.

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