Some of you may be aware but I do a bit of singing and strumming of the old guitar. I’m not brilliant but I think I have something, enough to make me pick the thing up every couple of years and spend some time practicing with the general aim of getting out there and playing some tunes live, a gig or two maybe to feel the adrenaline pumping… Most of the time other things get in the way; real life mainly paying the bills, ids, wife, family, work, gardening, decorating, dog walking….
I suppose I do better than many who dream of rock’n'roll stardom but end up selling all their gear, sadly never to touch an e-string again. I’ve never given up just lowered my ambitions; I keep up a small sliver of hope (it’s hung in the loft next to my amps, bass and spare guitar) and try to maintain my MySpace, YouTube and other sites (though most of them are geared towards my writing mainly these days which looks likely to be as successful a personal endeavour as my musical one…). I did once have a lady comedian who’d actually appeared on TV (in an episode of Jonathan Creek none-the-less) pick one of my songs on MySpace for her song of the week! Ah stardom! You do hear of people being discovered, long-lost treasures hidden away but given the vast size of web these days as it groans under the weight of budding ‘stars’ I think I may have to wait a very long time to be discovered!
I decided the other day it was about time that I dipped back into my rock’n'roll days and get back in touch with Andy my sparring partner in my first band days round 1987 along with Will our guitarist. We started off without a real drummer but did have a wonderful little drum machine!
We were the Candidates for a short while and I managed to blag us some good gigs at the local Bradford Queens Hall – I felt quite brave marching in to the guy’s office – I forget his name but he later left the role under a very big black cloud. I still remember his thinning blond hair, white Miami Vice suit and thick glasses which magnified his eyes to an alarming size. Anyway he gave us a gig and it could have been quite a good one to tell our children about! We were down to support The Levellers who went on to score a few hits and quite a big following. Instead they pulled out (couldn’t take the competition I think) and instead we supported Jester Turtle (a South African band of who I can now find no record of existing apart from in the dusty corners of my mind – I remember tight zebra trousers and permed mullets and a vaguely Africa meets Abba feel to their music).
Andy was in the last band I played live with (apart from a quickly rehearsed works bands I fronted for a 40th party bash for a fellow colleague when we played Love is All Around). The Lost Patrol died in 1991 live on stage, thanks to the efforts of our drummer a thin mustachioed chap who decided he needed a pint or ten to play spot on. He was quite wrong of course, it did hinder his timing a touch and as he got faster and faster me and Andy tried and failed to keep up. We’d managed to fill the place, again the Bradford Queens Hall cellar bar, with 500 paying customers. This was partly down to an excellent write-up (by yours truly) hailing us as Bradford’s next big thing and to our support band’s larger group of supporters! We went on last of course and managed to clear the place in half an hour (it should have been at least an hour) which saved us having to sign any autographs afterwards and meant we could split the profits (a fiver each after costs – PA, security, rider etc – no we didn’t pay the drummer, in fact we never saw him again) and get home in time for a mug of cocoa and the 9 o’clock news!
I do have a record of my solo spot the night before – I’d not been able to get my band colleagues to agree to do a full gig so I did it alone (there was no money involved just a pint – I basically turned up, plugged in and played!)
The massive nerve induced headache subsided after about a week and I’ve only ever done solo spots since (apart from the one off gig mentioned above). And of course another local band stole our thunder and became the best band from Bradford or thereabouts – to be fair Terrorvision were a little more together than us and their drummer could keep time.
Back to Andy. He introduced me to a whole range of musical styles, a universe of artists I’d either only briefly heard of or not at all. He was heavily into eclectic music collecting and his tastes ranged from Stevie Nicks to Sonic Youth, Velvet Underground to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He was John Lennon to my Paul McCartney – I was the soft poppy guy he was the razors edge. I loved the way he played bass.
I’m now back in touch with him and I can’t believe it’s 26 years since we practiced in his basement. At least we tried and even though we didn’t make it we still have those memories of trying.
Anyway time to do some practice – and boy do I need it…