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Johnny Depp misses Ralph's Loose party

By Alan Smith

The village of Loose is noted for its stream and numerous fresh-water springs, but on Sunday it was beer that was flowing, not water.

The American Flying Dog Brewery took over The Chequers pub for the afternoon to host a birthday party for celebrity artist Ralph Steadman, who lives in Old Drive, Loose.

Mr Steadman, who was 80, was joined by Maidstone’s other renowned artist Graham Clark and by the novelist and political columnist Will Self, the singer/songwriter Ed Harcourt, the Radio 4 broadcaster Laurie Taylor, the Canadian artist Anita Kunz and the film director Charlie Paul, who directed No Good Reason, the 2012 movie about Mr Steadman’s life that was narrated by Johnny Depp.

Ralph Steadman with his 80th birthday cake

Ralph Steadman at his birthday party

Hollywood movie star Mr Depp was also due to appear, but had to send his apologies at the last moment.

There was a good turn-out for the birthday bash

There was a good turn-out for the birthday bash

Around 250 Loose villagers crowded into the Chequers garden and car park, where Flying Dog laid on a total of 10 of its speciality casks and bottle beers to try.

The Flying Dog beer proved just the ticket

The Flying Dog beer proved just the ticket

Mr Steadman had designed the brewery’s distinctive labels and the company also named one of its beers - Gonzo Imperial Porter - after the Gonzo school of journalism that Mr Steadman founded with his long-time friend and collaborator the American author, Hunter S Thompson. The pair worked together on the cult book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The chief executive of Flying Dog, Jim Caruso, was at the event: He said: “In the States, Ralph is a huge name.”

Ralph Steadman with the CEO of the Flying Dog Brewery, Jim Caruso

Ralph Steadman with the CEO of the Flying Dog Brewery, Jim Caruso

Live music was provided by the June Bugs, a band from Mr Steadman’s home town of Abergele, who composed a special birthday song for the artist and also by local band Mr Zen. Mr Self climbed the pub’s balcony to call out the raffle prize winners.

Novelist and commentator Will Self at the birthday bash

Novelist and commentator Will Self at the birthday bash

Mr Steadman’s daughter Sadie Williams said: “Dad loved seeing so many of his old friends. He had a really good time.”

Sue Shaw accepts a cheque for £3,00 on behalf of the Heart of Kent Hospice, from Ralph Steadman, assisted by Graham Clarke

Sue Shaw accepts a cheque for £3,000 on behalf of the Heart of Kent Hospice, from Ralph Steadman, assisted by Graham Clarke

The party was used as an opportunity to raise funds for the Heart Of Kent Hospice, and the charity’s representative Sue Shaw was presented with a cheque for £3,000.

 

 

 

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