Rocker Pete Zulu launches new book inspired by old aftershaves + win signed copies

Former Toy Dolls band member and Chef Pete Zulu with his latest book, photographed in The Black Horse Inn, West Boldon. Picture by FRANK REID
Former Toy Dolls band member and Chef Pete Zulu with his latest book, photographed in The Black Horse Inn, West Boldon. Picture by FRANK REID
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Former Toy Dolls singer turned top chef Pete Zulu is hoping his latest book has the sweet smell of success.

In a unique twist, Pete’s new book, Triggers, is inspired by aftershaves he’s used over the years and how their distinct scents evoke memories of the chapters of his life.

From the Patchouli Oil he wore before he was old enough to shave to his first kisses wearing Brut to the cool scent of Lagerfeld in his pop punk days with the Toy Dolls, each bottle of aftershave (he only ever uses one bottle of each scent) has come to signify a distinct time in Pete’s career and love life.

The Sunderland-born artist, who grew up in Hendon, has had a colourful life, filled with highs such as hit song Nellie the Elephant to lows, including the early death of his mother and heartache born from past relationships, and it’s a rich patchwork of recollections which are all touched upon in the book.

Today the 63-year-old runs the successful Black Horse pub in West Boldon where he held the book launch for Triggers, featuring postcards sprayed with the memories of his past.

“The reason it’s called Triggers is because it’s mechanisms that set off chain reactions,” he explained. “Smells have that ability to transport you to the place you were when you first smelt it and it doesn’t have to be an aftershave, it could just be an air freshener, but it takes you to that place.”

A photograph called "the Toy Dolls being adored in Sunderland" from the 2nd book by former Toy Dolls band member and Chef Pete Zulu. Picture by FRANK REID

A photograph called "the Toy Dolls being adored in Sunderland" from the 2nd book by former Toy Dolls band member and Chef Pete Zulu. Picture by FRANK REID

Pete has already sold far more copies of the book than he expected, which is only available to buy at his pub so far, and he says people have really related to its narrative, which leads into a collection of his photographs from across the decades.

He said: “It’s an interesting way of telling the stories and everyone starts guessing which aftershaves will be in there. Everybody seems to love it, they say it’s made them laugh, and cry.”

Pete has expanded the writing element to his books after being spurred on by the late Denise Robertson who was a regular to the Black Horse.

She read his first book, Willsdiamonds, in which he wrote poignant captions to accompany his candid snapshots. Pete said: “Denise was a lovely lady. “Willsdiamonds is mostly a photography book, but I’d written some pages with anecdotes on and she said the writing was brilliant. So for this book I started writing the first chapter with the first smell and it went from there.”

The cover of Triggers features a pointillism portrait of Pete by his former art teacher Jack Andrews from Commercial Road School in Hendon, Sunderland

The cover of Triggers features a pointillism portrait of Pete by his former art teacher Jack Andrews from Commercial Road School in Hendon, Sunderland

•Triggers is available to buy from The Black Horse in West Boldon priced £15

Win signed copies of Triggers and Willsdiamonds

We’ve got four signed copies of Pete’s books to give away.

Two winners will each receive a signed copy of both Triggers, worth £15, and Willsdiamonds, worth £18, both of which are available to buy at Black Horse.

Former Toy Dolls band member and Chef Pete Zulu, photographed in The Black Horse Inn, West Boldon. Picture by FRANK REID

Former Toy Dolls band member and Chef Pete Zulu, photographed in The Black Horse Inn, West Boldon. Picture by FRANK REID

To be in with a chance of winning, return the token in today’s paper to Pete Zulu Competition, Katy Wheeler, Johnston Press North East, 2nd Floor, Alexander House, 1 Mandarin Road, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton, Sunderland, DH4 5RA by October 1.

Make sure to include your contact details, including your daytime contact number. You only need one token to enter. The winner, or a representative, will need to be available to collect the books from our offices in Rainton Bridge.

Pete in 1980 during his Lagerfeld period

Pete in 1980 during his Lagerfeld period

We're giving away signed copies of Triggers and Willsdiamonds

We're giving away signed copies of Triggers and Willsdiamonds

A photograph of Becky a waitress at The National Glass Centre, from the 2nd book by former Toy Dolls band member and Chef Pete Zulu. Picture by FRANK REID

A photograph of Becky a waitress at The National Glass Centre, from the 2nd book by former Toy Dolls band member and Chef Pete Zulu. Picture by FRANK REID

A photograph of Simon Almond, from the 2nd book by former Toy Dolls band member and Chef Pete Zulu. Picture by FRANK REID

A photograph of Simon Almond, from the 2nd book by former Toy Dolls band member and Chef Pete Zulu. Picture by FRANK REID