Michael met Francis Bacon in June 1963 in Soho’s French House to request an interview for a student magazine he was editing. Bacon invited him to lunch, and over oysters and Chablis they began a friendship and a no-holds-barred conversation that would continue until Bacon’s death thirty years later.
Fascinated by the artist’s brilliance and charisma, Michael accompanied him on his nightly round of prodigious drinking from grand hotel to louche club and casino, seeing all aspects of Bacon’s ‘gilded gutter life’ and meeting everybody around him, from Lucian Freud and Sonia Orwell to East End thugs; from predatory homosexuals to Andy Warhol and the Duke of Devonshire. He also frequently discussed painting with Bacon in his studio, where only the artist’s closest friends were ever admitted.
The Soho photographer, John Deakin, who introduced the young student to the famous artist, called Michael ‘Bacon’s Boswell’. Despite the chaos Bacon created around him Michael managed to record scores of their conversations ranging over every aspect of life and art, love and death, the revelatory and hilarious as well as the poignantly tragic. Gradually Bacon became a kind of father figure for Michael, and the two men’s lives grew closely intertwined.
Francis Bacon in Your Blood: A Memoir was chosen Radio 4’s ‘Book of the Week’ and by The Sunday Times as its Art Book of the Year.
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