We used my flats rank toilet on the record sleeve with my guitar shoved into it though I put a plastic bag over it first
James Jim Bob Morrison, vocalist/guitarist
I had read about a dodgy landlord in the South London Press. The drug-dealing, the phoney prescriptions, the awful living conditions for his tenants: it was all in the newspaper, even his physical stature. All I had to do was change his name and Id turned an awful story into poetry and pop music.
Fruitbat and I recorded the track in the same place we recorded the first four Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine albums: a brick shed in producer Simon Painters garden. There was no room to swing a cat, let alone set up a drum kit two important factors in the bands sound, since we used a drum machine. We knew the track was something special and it quickly became a live favourite, but it wasnt really a success until we signed a major record deal with Chrysalis, who rereleased it.
I used to love the chaos when we performed the song live in 1989 and 1990. There would be so many people moshing around the band, it was difficult to tell where the stage ended and the auditorium began. We made heavy use of strobes in our sets and theyve left my neck scarred. On good days, it looks like Im wearing a posh scarf. When its hot in the summer, the tingling on my neck makes it feels like Im being followed.
The lyrics namechecked some celebrities of the time, including the businessman Nicholas van Hoogstraten and the Prince of Wales, and we even mentioned Crossroads. Apparently Paul Henry [the actor who played Benny in the soap] got a bit miffed about Fruitbat appropriating his blue woolly hat. Im not sure if bands today could get away with the More aliases than Klaus Barbie line. Big Cat Records, our original label, didnt ever question anything in any of our songs. Maybe thats why Fatman wasnt on daytime Radio 1 as much as it could have been.
Sheriff Fatman used to be my Ralph-McTell-Streets-of-London-in-Big-Train moment where the singers forced to perform his big hit over and over. But Ive completely come to terms with it all being Jim Bob from Carter, filling my solo sets with virtually nothing but Carter classics. Everyone knows Sheriff Fatman is coming: they just need to wait for it. And, now were all a bit older, I just enjoy an extended clap-along in the middle section of the song.
When the Bohemian Rhapsody or Rocketman producers begin casting the Carter USM movie, Id like Sheriff Fatman to be played by either Michael Caine or Christian Bale in a fat suit.
Les Fruitbat Carter, guitarist/vocalist
I actually had a very decent landlady at the time, although the flats toilet was a bit rank its the one we used on the record sleeve. I covered the top of my guitar in a plastic bag before I shoved it down the bowl for the photo.