And what did he use that for?
He let people stay there, friends and relatives, when they'd come to town. He never fixed it up. He picked it out, and his dad paid for it. I took his dad over to look at it. I made the big push and said, "Billy really wants this." And he's like, "Seems like a good place." Me and Billy and his dad met up again with the architect to see it – there were two different units that can be made into one big one. His dad thought, Well yeah, if this is what he wants, it's reasonable. I mean, it wasn't reasonably priced: it was ungodly expensive. But it was a reasonable place for him to be, you know. A solid structure! [Laughs.] The old man gave him like a quarter of a million bucks to move, and an unlimited furniture budget. Then Billy and I went out rug shopping, and he spent all kinds of money on rugs. And that was it, he just bought some rugs. Once he bought the rugs he lost interest.
Why do you think he never moved into that place?
Well, three or four reasons. One, he didn't own it: his trust owned it. Which is good, because otherwise he would have given it to some street musician or something. [Adopts dour Billy voice]: "Would you like to a two million dollar condo? Here." You know he would! He felt secure with the family that owned the house he lived in. He liked them. I don't know. It was a strange thing. But Billy's story is full of strange things.
Maybe it was a way of just causing more trouble. Maybe it was a way of staying in his dad's eye. His dad loved him more than anybody, and his dad was the nicest man in the world. He just never gave up on Billy. And Billy went to his dad all the time for the anger. And made up crazy shit. I remember when I met his dad, it was Billy's 27th birthday and he took us out to dinner at Cafe Budapest, and I was like, "Oh my god." The portrait Billy portrayed of him was completely wrong. It got me to understand a little more just how nutty Billy was.
From your prospective, what did Billy's dad make of Billy?
He loved him, and didn't care how Billy was. He was not embarrassed by Billy one whit. At Billy's 30th birthday party, the one that got the Middle East started, he got up on stage and read a poem he'd written about how much he loved Billy -- in front of everybody there. And that was rich-ass Bill Ruane: he didn't care, he loved that boy. And he just didn't know what to do to help him. People got confused in that, when Billy would take Lithium, he was just a delight to be around. But it was not a delight to be Billy. It wasn't cool for him. He looked cool and he talked cool, but he did not dig it, because it was not who he was. He was this mania-chasing wild man. And he chased that mania like a hound, let me tell you. Because I was chasing right behind him trying to get it away from him. I was like, "Noooooo!"