“I’ve killed between four and seven people depending on the way you look at it,” he tells the show.
Once Melbourne’s most feared head-hunter, robbing and killing with impunity, Chopper Read is now a cancer victim nearing the end of his life. The Feed speaks exclusively with Chopper Read as he reflects on a life wasted and reclaimed.
On a farm outside of Melbourne Chopper is set to embark on his most audacious endeavour yet: a literal swan song as he records a blues album.
Chopper describes his upbringing as no more violent than anyone else’s. His mother was a devout Seventh-day Adventist and a piano player. A lot of the music he grew up with was hymns but his real passion was country music. He’s drawn to the honesty and truth in the lyrics.
So strong are Chopper’s connection to Blues music, he has the lyrics of ‘Plastic Jesus’ a song made famous by the 1967 film ‘Cool Hand Luke’ tattooed on his back.
“‘I don’t care if it rains or freezes long as I got my plastic Jesus.’ I lived many years by those words. Strangely I used to do what I did but I could always look at myself in the mirror and I don’t believe I ever hurt anyone that didn’t have it coming to them,” says Chopper.
Chopper to this day admits to having no remorse or guilt. He was 17 years old when he went to prison and he spent a total of 23 years and nine months, roughly a third of his life time behind bars.
“I think if there’s a heaven and I go to it I honestly believe someone owes me an apology.”
“I mean they were trying to kill me, plotting to kill me, involved in a plan to kill me or they certainly would’ve. If I hadn’t gotten them they certainly would’ve gotten me. That’s the way I look at it.”
But at 59 there is still time for Chopper to leave a different legacy for his two sons, one that is quite different to what is said about him in the school yard.
“I’d like to leave my sons a bit of a memory of their dad. If I can get the American southern accent down pat I’d like that. If I can get the American southern drawl I like the sound it makes,” says Chopper on his new direction as a Blues singer.
SBS 2 at 7.30pm Thursday night.