Thursday, 26 August 2010

1976/1977 Mother Superior

The New Year begins and Mr. Campfield manages to get us a slot on the Cliff Richard show 'It's Cliff and Friends' that is reserved for new talent. We are not awfully impressed, comments like 'are you out of your mind?', 'we are not doing it' were flying about and Campfield is hurt and disappointed by our reaction. Cliff's people will not let us use our name and we have to agree to be called Superior for the show, I ask why couldn't we be called Mother and what was the point in doing it if we can't use our name. I got nowhere, we were doing it and that was it.

22nd January we rehearse with Cliff somewhere off Sussex Gardens, as we are going to perform 'Sweet Little Sixteen' with him as well as 'Love the One You're With' on our own. He was somewhat paranoid about us being able to come in on time and decided he would make some elaborate arm movement to bring Audrey in on the guitar intro. Having said that, Cliff was courteous and helpful and on the following day, the day of the recording he came down to the make-up room to chat and encourage us, the guy was a total pro. I almost felt guilty about loathing his music...  As he left, the make-up lady says to me, 'It's time to get into your stage gear', 'I'm wearing it.' 'Oh'. At this time I was favouring green lipstick and maroon eye shadow, the make-up lady was becoming increasingly unhappy with me and eventually we agreed a compromise, I could keep the green lipstick as long as I went with green eye shadow too. I had long since ceased to care and just wanted to get the entire episode over with. Jackie's soft toys she kept on her bass drum had been banned incase of copyright infringements (or maybe they just didn't like them), but she sneaks them back in. Audrey has something very peculiar done to her hair by the afore mentioned make-up person, she is almost unrecognisable. Playing behind Cliff and watching him sing and dance is a sight I don't think I'll ever forget.

The show is broadcast on the 24th, we are playing at the Tavern Club in Dorchester that night and pray that no one has watched it, of course they have. We are so pissed off that when we come out on stage and start playing, the audience all move back a few yards and stay there.

Our gigs are many, but rarely close together, Keele followed by Penzance back up to Leeds, mostly in the Transit, or if that was out of commission we'd hire something, usually a box or Luton Transit, which meant two of us would ride in the back of the vehicle cut off from the cab. One night Jackie and I were in the back, a long trip back to London lay ahead, the gear was packed so there was some floor space near the shutter. Once the van started moving we would take it in turns to ride on the trolley. This was seriously good. The trolley was planks of wood attached to four wheels and could build up some speed on cornering. This particular night we were too tired for fun and intended to sleep, Jackie was on the other side of the van, perched on a speaker cabinet with her duffel coat hood up. I was chatting about the gig and wondering why she wasn't replying. It took a while to realise she was actually sat right next to me fast asleep. All this and without the aid of pharmaceuticals.

March 1976
A tour of Sweden is arranged, we leave for Harwich in our 'new to us' ancient BMC bread van which has just had an engine fitted. This was all last minute and not ready on time, we had to drive fast to make the ferry - huge error.

All went ok until the second night of the tour, on the way back to the hotel from a gig, we come to a halt on a motorway in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by snow, snow and more snow.  We are on a hill, we all get out and start pushing while Mick, the roadie tries to start the engine, no success.  We try again and again till we are exhausted. Later we discover that the big end has gone and no amount of pushing was ever going to get it moving again. It's about 4.00am, very cold, nothing has passed us on the road in either direction, we can't see any buildings and are beginning to think we will all be found frozen, huddled together like some stranded polar expedition. Suddenly headlights hit the mirror, we leap out, stand in the middle of the road, waving and jumping up and down. Thank god the guy stops. He is delivering newspapers, puts us in the back of his lorry and take us to our hotel. What a hero. The next day the roadie and someone from our Swedish record company drive back to the van, unload the gear and some personal belongings. Our van is towed off the road and we continue the tour in a Mercedes truck, this is a much more pleasant affair. We get regular reports from other bands on the state of our bread van in its slow deterioration, alone and abandoned.

Of our 17 shows in Scandinavia, one was in Sandviken the home town of my long time pen pal Hanne, it's great to see her at the gig and a shame we can't stay to chat after, we have to leave to catch another ferry this time to Fredrikshavn. Customs decide to search our van for drugs, good luck boys - we couldn't afford them even if we wanted them. They unload all the gear and then bring out their secret weapon, the drug dog - an overweight black Labrador, struggling for breath, looks disinterestedly at the equipment and then has to be lifted into the vehicle. We could see it rocking from side to side as the poor thing trudged up and down, breathing hard and finding nothing. They had to retire unsuccessful, leaving us to repack the van.

Our manager is now sick to death of us (the feeling was entirely mutual), what with the van debacle, phoning him in the middle of the night for help and money to get our gear back to London because we no longer have a vehicle. He is keen to get rid of us and passes us on to his pal, a Mr. Mills, who at first is thrilled (perhaps a bit too thrilled) to have us and pays out for all sorts of things, a new handmade guitar for Audrey built by Stephen Delft, a Peavey PA and a Mercedes van. Of course he expects to get paid back for some or preferably all of his purchases.

Two months later we are going to tour Finland, Mr. Mills elects to drive the Mercedes there filled with our equipment, via Hamburg, we fly to Helsinki to meet up with him. On arrival we are given roses, there is a press conference and a free haircut! We're asked to sign our names on the wall of the salon, there are many already there including Frank Zappa. I choose to get my long hair cut really short.

The gigs are spread all over Finland, several are outdoors, in the middle of nowhere,  with an audience appearing magically from the surrounding woods.  Sometimes travelling in our own 1920s rail carriage hitched to the back of a train.  People wave to us as we go through stations, I doubt they have the first idea who we are, the week before the same carriage was being used by the Finnish prime minister. There are bunk beds, a kitchen and sitting room. The carriage is parked in sidings at night, not very comfortable but very appealing. One night we come out of a gig around midnight, get on the train to see the sun setting on side and rising on the other, the sky was a wonderfully lurid shade of pink.

Driving along the Russian border there are many signs warning you not to stop or take photos. While we are stationary, taking a photo of Russian peasants working in the fields, behind barbed wire next to a watchtower, we see an old man on a bicycle coming towards us. He tells us to get back in the van and tries to take the film out of Jackie's camera, she says there is no film in it and off he pedals. An international incident closely avoided.

Lesley and I are sharing a room in a hostel, she's asleep, I'm drifting off when I hear what sounds like the door opening. I think I must be mistaken, till I realise there is a tall figure standing in the room, I still can't really believe it.  The man walks towards me, I sit up, he moves away from me and heads for Lesley's bed.  At last I start shouting, Lesley wakes up, we are both out of bed, yelling at him to get out.  Now we are all out in the hall, many people have opened their doors and are staring at us, well I say us, probably at Lesley who is stark naked. The guy is carted off by security.

The day before we fly home we record a jingle for Lee Cooper 'Feel super in Lee Cooper', we receive free Tshirts but no jeans.

Not sure what this Finish article says but I always liked the title, so if anyone can translate it...hope it's not insulting.

The tour seemed to go quite well, but as so often seems to happen, turns out to be the beginning of the end. On our return from Helsinki the manager's family have a 'chat' with us, laying out their feelings regarding our lack of commercial success and threatened to take our instruments (that we owned except for Audrey's guitar) away if we didn't start writing hit singles. We were what we were, not exactly a hit single machine. Lesley decides to leave and joins an Australian band 'The Daughters of Zeuss'.

We start auditioning singers and keyboard players.

21st August 1976
Mick the roadie and I go to see the Stones at Knebworth, with 10cc, Lynryd Skynryd, Todd Rundgren and no doubt others, we stood around for ages waiting and were rather fed up. Sound was not good, but as it happened Mick (Jagger, not our roadie) had dispensed with singing any recognisable melody lines and seemed more interested in dancing. I really did not enjoy this, not any of it to be honest. We had to stay to the end because we could not get the car out.

The auditioning for Lesley's replacement is proving difficult, at last we find a keyboard player, Simon Etchell, a fine musician, but promoters expect us to be a band of females, and although skinny and very cute, there is no way he'll be mistaken for a girl. Still looking for a singer, we go to check out a girl singing with a band in a South London pub, we don't really fancy her, she looks a bit odd and has a weird voice - her name? Kate Bush. Luckily none of us are planning a career in A and R.

During this period Audrey drops her bombshell, she is leaving to join Brandy, so now we need a guitarist too. It is decided we should ask Janis if she is interested. I give her a call, luckily she's happy to do it.

Now that Audrey and Lesley have left, Mr. Mills has lost interest and takes the Mercedes which is parked outside Jackie's house with most of our gear in it. I have my bass, but no equipment. Apparently he is holding it for ransom. We have to sue him, a long and exhausting procedure

Meanwhile more auditioning for singers until we find Kate Buddeke, an American with a loud hard hitting voice. After joining she invites us over for dinner - cauliflower cheese and garlic bread. Kate and her husband live in World's End above SEX, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's shop. It is not the biggest flat, and has a revolving wall that turns if you push the mirrored section in the middle which opens into the bedroom and bathroom. How good is that?

Our agent is not happy we are no longer an all female band, but wants us to do the tour he has already booked. The day before this is to start Mr. Mills agrees to give us back the equipment, we have to hire a van and drive down to Hampshire to pick it up, what a charmer.

We add some new songs to the set at rehearsals in Greeenwich and at Simon's, The Mothers of Invention's 'King Kong', Alex Harvey's 'Midnight Moses' and Steve Miller's 'Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash'.

Around this time my brother, Bobbie is the singer with a band called 'Michigan' with Igal, Melvin, and Elliot, sometimes I join them to sing 'Love the One You're With'. It's good fun playing in a band with your brother.

Mother Superior at the Rock Garden

Mother Superior hit the road and have a pretty good time, it's nice to be playing again, we hired a PA, Steve a roadie with a van and I take my car -  a Vauxhall Viva. The driver's door doesn't really close, it's pretty cold, we have to be wrapped in blankets for the long drives up and down the country's motorways.

Kate on the road
If we're near North London various band members visit my
parents flat in Islington to relax, get fed, that kind of thing.  My Mother was always cooking, occasionally she would get sick of it and tell us that the cafe shut at 10.30pm, but for the most part fish and chips, sandwiches, coffees etc. could be had round the clock - thanks Mum.

Depending on the time of day my Dad was usually sat in his chair sanding or sawing pieces of wood for some model he'd be making and shouting at the TV. Another regular was Russell from downstairs who had a penchant for lethal weapons, and practised his crossbow technique by firing bolts from the living room at a target in the kitchen. We had to ask him to desist a couple of times because my Mum was out there cooking my Dad's stew.

Vivien Goldman review in Sounds

Nearing the end of the tour Janis says she wants to leave to put a band together with her husband Wilson. It's disappointing but at least she says she'll finish the gigs. Sadly this does not happen.  While parking the van after dropping off some gear at the Golden Lion in Fulham to get set up for the gig that night, she and her husband get in to a row with the manager because he won't let Wilson stay in the pub while it's not open. I walk in the door to find they've both left and the manager is shouting at me telling me we have to play the gig I'm yelling at him saying it's his fault we have no guitarist. My boyfriend Pete comes to the rescue and agrees to sit in if I go back to Finchley to pick up his stuff. Under the really stressful circumstances it turns out to be quite a good show, Pete does an amazingly good job, which is just as well as Vivien Goldman from Sounds comes down that night to review us. We enjoyed the write up and we referred to Jackie as Crowe for an unnecessarily long time.

After a prolonged fight with the people we hired the PA for the tour from - they'd palmed us off with Celestion speakers in the bass bins instead of the Altec Lansings we requested and been billed for. We'd paid half up front and refused to pay anymore until they'd recalculated, what a marathon, but by now I'm in no mood to capitulate, eventually we get the reduced bill. Man this is tiring, dealing with all this organisational stuff is very time consuming, boring and removes you from the real business of playing and writing. 


Crowe and I were interviewed for an article on females in rock in the Evening Standard. We've been auditioning guitarists for a bit, but as luck would have it the band Pete was in breaks up and it seems like the logical thing would be for him to join us and so he does. We write some new some songs, Simon and Kate write a couple, I write with Pete and with Simon, and prise them into our already schizophrenic set.

Geraint Hughes and Jeffrey Calvert who are Typically Tropical and had a hit with 'Going to Barbados' are interested in recording us. We sign with their Coconut Airways company. They suggest we do 'Dancing in the Street', don't have a problem with the song, although Motown is not exactly flavour of the month, but we don't see how it makes any sense for us to do it and no one is ever going to sing it better than Martha Reeves.

We are quite friendly with a band called Burlesque, Billy Jenkins, Ian Trimmer, Steve Hughes (Antonio Vivaldi Jr), Steve Parr and Steve Knight, too many Steves. They were doing well, made an album, had a fairly extensive following. We went to many of their gigs, nice and eccentric in a Mothers of Invention kind of way.

While I think of it have to say a big thank you to Simon and his family, which I'm sure we didn't do at the time, who let us rehearse at their house on a very regular basis. Cannot have been a lot of fun for them, but it saved us a lot of expense and enabled us to put this version of Mother Superior together.  It's doubtful this is what his parents wished for their youngest son - to be touring the UK with an all female band, when he could be doing a proper job. They also had to squeeze past my huge Zoot Horn bass cab that was stored in their hall.

My right hand is giving me a lot of pain, I visit my doctor, Dr. Reckless, always worrying. She says I've strained my tendons and bandages it with one of those sticky tight things right up to my elbow, what a nightmare. She suggests I don't use it for three weeks, but leaves my fingers free enough to play.

In May we are in at Morgan's recording 'Midnight Moses' written by Alex Harvey, my songs 'Back Track' and 'Circumstantial Evidence' and 'Dancing in the Street' written by Marvin Gaye, William Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter.

Bandage is off, but my hand is still not good, I'm referred to the Royal Northern, who recommend heat treatment and exercises. We move on to microwaving and more bandaging, this is making playing very difficult and painful. Nothing has worked and now it's to be hot wax baths, all a bit 'Carry on Screaming'. Actually the wax baths do eventually solve the problem and I do enjoy peeling off the wax when it's dried, like a big scab, but less gross.

Heard from Audrey, she's left Brandy and is going to play bass with the Ivy Benson Band.  We go to look at some basses, she wants a Fender and gets a Music Master.

As a band we hang out a lot together, drinking, seeing other bands, eating out. Mother Superior was pretty much our entire life. Possibly this was a mistake, but there we are, we were a happy bunch, for a while.

Crew invited me over for dinner, we were having a big laugh till about half an hour after eating the really tasty mushroom omelette she'd made I feel ill and start throwing up. I don't realise why yet, but I have developed an allergy to mushrooms. How cruel, to be vegetarian and unable to eat mushrooms. Possibly a cosmic message I failed to notice.

In August I get a call from Holly, I go over to see her, played her tapes of the band, she seemed to like them OK. Later we went to see Bonnie Raitt, Holly's friend Rayner got us in for nothing, thanks Rayner. Bonnie is a red hot slide player. We had drinks backstage, a rather jolly evening, I like Bonnie a lot.

Supporting Johnny Du Cann at the Music Machine in Camden, we went down well he didn't. A few days later we're back at the Brecknock, do pretty good and get paid extra.

Simon is now playing with Blood Donor as well as us. I think it's called hedging your bets, not sure how this will pan out.

Michigan are playing the Greyhound, they are getting more gigs than we are and paying me more, err I think it's called hedging your bets!

An all female band called Jam Today are playing at Ronnie Scott's, a bunch of us go to see them and who should be on drums, but Frankie, the drummer from all those years ago at the King Cross rehearsal rooms. We had a nice chat after the gig, it was good to see her playing, she said she had seen Mother Superior and thought me and Jackie played well together - thanks Frankie.

23rd September we are playing at the Rockgarden, we play at 11.00pm and get paid £80.00 pretty good. It goes well, quite a few friends come down. We are getting better gigs, building something of a real following and are being paid more money, but we are falling apart.

Mother Superior Top Ranking, Kate Jackie and Pete

A few days later we were sleeping in Simon's front room before leaving for the Plymouth Top Rank, we had to share the room with an enormous clock that ticked all night, we got about an hours' sleep. We drove down to Devon, but were pretty exhausted, surprisingly the gig went really well, but the van broke down on the way home and we didn't get back till 10.30am the next day.

Pete, Jackie and me are recording with Davy at Riverside Studios did two tracks 'Catherine' and 'Part of You', someone says we sound tired. That'll be right, we need putting out of our misery.

Played at the Brecknock and get booked back.

October, we're supporting Jenny Haan's Lion at Thames Poly, we are well received and quite a few people come up to us after the gig to tell us they thought we were really good and way better than the headlining act. All very pleasing, but a bit after the fact.

Did some more recording at Morgan's 'Easy Lover', 'Single Thing' written by Kate and Simon and 'Do Ya Need It' by me and Pete.

Kingston Poly as support to Burlesque, Steve their bass player and I shared our gear so we could both play stereo. Our relationship with them was good and we had lots of fun at our joint gigs.

The following day was the Brecknock for us again.

On the 17th we went to the Vortex, a basement club off Oxford Street, to see Simon playing with Blood Donor, a good band 'Rubber Revolution' should have been a hit. Charlie the singer includes fire breathing in his act, very exciting and a little frightening with a low ceiling with polystyrene tiles, I had one eye on him and the other on the exit.  

We draw a good crowd for a Tuesday at the Brecknock, we got paid £25. £15 to the roadie and the rest went to the singer as she was short of cash. Not a good night for cash, thank the lord for the DHSS.

We add Alex Harvey's 'Faith Healer' to the set.

November, we are supporting Burlesque again, this time at Leicester Poly, I borrowed Steve's amp after mine broke down. Their road crew fixed it for me, really nice guys.

After another good Brecknock Tuesday, a guy who had been taking photos of us, asked me to autograph a pile of polaroids of me and his friend was wearing a Jacky Badger badge. Fab I have a fan club!

Royal Veterinary College has booked us to headline their gig, we go on about 1.45am to an amusingly surreal sight of the entire audience in fancy dress.

Support Burlesque again at Essex University we had a good laugh and both went down well.

Blood Donor is playing at the Tramshed, we all go to see them and then go on to Ronnie Scott's.

Some guys from Burlesque, me and Simon go to see Tubes at Hammersmith Odeon, was pretty good, I thought they might be a bit too theatrical, but I liked it.

Again we are supporting Burlesque, this time at Sheffield Uni, infiltrating each other's performance, Bill plays drums on King Kong and we go and sing with them.

It's Brecknock time again, we get a great reception. Steve Hughes and Billy Jenkins from Burlesque join us for 'King Kong' and 'Gimme Shelter'. Kate had a big shout at our roadie Curly Pete, can't remember what about, he says he won't work for us anymore, but relents later. Some of us went to see Janis and Wilson in their new band Axess at Ronnie Scott's, they were pretty good.

29th November, at the Brecknock for our last but one gig, Kate is ill but makes it anyway. Lots of friends come to see us, it's not a bad night but we all get in argument with Kate, who by the end of the evening is very angry and won't speak to us.


Steve Hughes and his brother cut my hair, not that well, but at least it is short.

I get a call from Simon with the dreadfully sad news that Tony, one of Burlesque's roadies and a really nice guy, has been killed in a crash on the M1.

Smith Brothers gig Jackie and Jackie

7th December, Simon has arranged a gig at Smith Brothers Christmas Dance in Tooting, billed as Ralph and Cindy, Steve Hughes is playing bass, Lesley is in there somewhere playing keyboards (maybe she was Cindy or perhaps Ralph), Deirdre Cartwright, Jackie and me were singing as the Cindyettes, I think I played bass on 'Blue Suede Shoes' and 'Honky Tonk Women'. We were asked to wear dresses. The evening ended painfully for me on the way home when a mic stand in the van took off like a javelin and hit me in the back of the neck. Was a bit stunned but recovered by the next morning. Went to Blood Donor's CBS audition with Simon and then to the Spaghetti House on Goodge Street.

Jackie, Jackie, Lesley and Simon last gig
Two days later on the 9th it is the last Mother Superior gig, the singer doesn't turn up, but as luck would have it Lesley Sly is with us, so she and I end up sharing the vocals, what a strange end - shame Audrey wasn't there.
Love the One
Bullshit Boogie
Circumstantial Evidence
Easy Lover
Evil Ways
Midnight Moses
King Kong
Do You Need It
Gimme Shelter

This seems like as good as place as any, to give some recognition and a huge thank you to all the guys who roadied for Mother Superior, usually for peanuts. Sorry there was never a big pay day chaps.  So... to Rod, Kevin, Mick, Big Pete (who morphed into Winston in Splodgnessabounds), his pal Little Dave and Curly Pete - THANK YOU. Apologies if I've missed anyone out or got your name wrong, please consider yourself thanked.

On the 17th Sly had her goodbye party, as she' returns to the land of Oz tomorrow. Many friends come and get very, very drunk, Steve Hughes actually turns green.

Go to see Blood Donor at the Marquee on the 29th, have to go searching for paraffin cos Charlie's run out and needs to breath some fire. Good gig, audience full of people I know, more like a party.

New Year's eve is a Michigan gig, goes quite well after a long protracted argument with DJ who thinks he should have the stage rather than the band. Eventually he sees sense. Steve Hughes phoned me to say that Burlesque had split up too, he was not happy.

At least Frank Zappa's coming to town, he'll be at the Hammersmith Odeon on 24th January perhaps it's a good omen. Come on 1978.

Monday, 24 May 2010

1974/75 Mother Superior

The summer of 74 was hot, I was bored, Cosmetix are playing at the Lord Nelson on Holloway Road, I went to say hello. They tell me the bass player was leaving to become a nurse and ask if I would like to join. I said sure and we arrange to meet up the following week at a rehearsal room in Blackheath.

I arrive with my gear and walk straight into an almighty row between the two singer guitarists, Gaynor and Audrey, who decide they can't resolve their differences and are going to split up. What?  Gaynor leaves, Jackie, me and Audrey stay together. We choose to add a keyboard player and put an ad in Melody Maker. Lesley Sly, a New Zealander, who is here to further here career as a journalist, finds the ad intriguing and gives us a call. A meeting with Jackie and Audrey at Pizza Hut in Croydon is arranged, they get on well, but are dubious as to whether she plays the keyboards or not because of her long finger nails.

We audition each other at a rehearsal room at Greenwich Swimming Baths, although our tastes are very different we enjoy playing together, so now we are a four piece. Rehearsals begin immediately as there are some Cosmetix gigs to fulfil and we are starting from scratch. We manage to write some instrumentals, do a song I wrote when I was with Janis and Holly 'No Time Toulouse' and then the choice of covers begins - 'Rikki Don't Lose That Number' Steeley Dan, 'Long Train Running' The Doobie Brothers, Elton John's 'All the Young Girls Love Alice', 'Love the One You're With' Crosby Stills and Nash, I went along with all of these, but almost ignited when Lesley suggests Gilbert O'Sullivan's 'Get Down'. We all sang and could put together some pretty impressive harmonies.  Jackie Crew was particularly good at this and could reach notes only dogs could hear.

There is a lot of musical freedom in this band, which probably lead to its downfall, but we work well as a unit. I love playing with Jackie (drummer) she has great attack and I think we had a strong natural connection. Audrey is a fabulous guitarist, wonderful tone, impressive technique, a powerful feel for melody, and a big voice too. Lesley was red hot on the keyboards and along with Audrey gave us nice wide ranging lead vocal possibilities.

I particularly enjoy composing with Lesley, music theory was and is largely a mystery to me, Lesley with her keyboard way of thinking could take me in a direction I would never have been heading, I liked that a lot.

Some discussion about a name had gone on, but nothing came up, so one evening after rehearsal at Audrey's Nan's house, we decided to not leave until we had found one. The hours passed, some of us were drunk, still nothing. About to give up and go home I say as a joke 'we should call it Mother Superior'. The others loved it and that's what we were called.

Some gigs ate up a huge amount of songs, occasionally we had to do 3 x 45 minute sets and in these cases did get a bit desperate for material, at one point we even included the theme to the Pink Panther. We added Stevie Wonder's 'Living for the City' and 'Gimme Shelter' by the Rolling Stones, These were two of my favourites. Crosby Stills and Nash's 'Love the One You're With' always went down well. One time we were playing at Wandsworth Prison, Lesley was half way through the introduction to Santana's 'Evil Ways' when we all realised the significance, especially the opening line 'You gotta stop your evil ways...' The inmates found it hilarious.

Our first gig was an American Airbase in Huntingdon, bourbon, men with guns and we manage to get through it without too many duff moments, result.

2nd November we play the Marquee, although still billed as Cosmetix. Love to be in that tiny dressing room and walk out onto the stage with the green and white striped canopy where I'd seen so many of my favourite bands play. We went down well and they say they'll have us back. What a thrill.

26th December, Boxing Day in a transit van with two roadies we leave by ferry for Ostende, heading for Germany to play American Airbases in Ashaffenburg. As we are coming ashore we find that we should have completed carnet forms, that lists all the equipment we are carrying, previously we had told by the promoter we did not need to do this. This turns out to be a scam, that many bands are stung by, we have to pay money to the customs before they'll let us in, the tour operator gets his cut. Welcome to the music biz. We have to wait all night on the harbour waiting for the office to open, before we can pay and leave. This makes us really late and broke, we have to drive like crazy, no chance to eat and have to go straight to the gig. We are so tired by the end we fall asleep on the stage while the roadies take the gear out. This is pretty much how the tour went. There was a distinct lack of food and sleep and being vegetarian in Germany was laughable, sometimes I shared a meal with Lesley, she'd eat the meat and I'd get most of the vegetables.

On the night off, we hitch into town and start drinking with the locals, lager with spirit chasers that are described as being made from wheat, maybe, it was tricky conversing, none of could really speak each others language. We were all drunk, except for Lesley, who recently reminded me that she was tea total at the time, so we drank hers too and bought her fruit juice. Anyway, drunk or not we all get into a car with the local madman who is meant to be taking us back to our BandB, he doesn't, instead he drives really fast out of town into the forest. We're all yelling and shouting at him till he agrees to take us back, when we are somewhere near our destination, we make him stop and we all jump out. What his plans for all four of us were we could only guess.

Our last night of the tour is New Year's Eve at the Playboy Club on the Airbase, we were extremely popular, especially around midnight.

The drive back to London in the back of the transit, sat on the floor amongst the equipment, is long and cold. We are wrecked.

January 22nd 1975 and our first gig after the tour is at the Royal Oak, nearing the end of the second set, I realise that Audrey's solo is getting slower and slower. I turn round to see her slumped against a piano at the back of the stage. Friends in the audience jump up on stage, remove the guitar she is still gripping and take her to A and E, clearly she is unconscious and we are all really worried. It's a sad sight to see her attached to drips in her hospital bed. Probably exhaustion from the German tour and luckily she recovers quite quickly. In the meantime we cancel some gigs, then Pete deps for her till she makes it back in February.

We have an agent, but we feel the need for management and after much indecision we decide on a Mr. Campfield rather than Bunny Lewis who is also interested. Campfield has some music biz connections including the DJ Alan Freeman. We sign a deal with him, which includes his right to sign for 'minor' things on our behalf. How naive we are is almost beyond belief, of course the word minor is the important thing, what it actually meant is that he could sign anything on our behalf including passing us on to whoever he felt like, which is what he does the following year.

He is also responsible for this piece of advertising and a publishing deal with Panache.

On the 2nd April we begin recording an album at IBC studios on Great Portland Street, a place used by many groups, the Rolling Stones, the Who, etc.  We are given down time, usually late at night, and I get to hear the famous phrase 'it'll be all right in the mix' for the first time. It will be the last time I actually believe it. This is Hugh Jones first job as producer, the engineer is Keith Bessey. Many hours spent, some happy some very frustrating. Fascinating keyboards for Lesley to play with, Steinway, Mellotron, Moog and Oberheim. The album is finished and called 'Lady Madonna' - a management choice and comes out on a Swedish subsidiary of Polydor, no British record companies have the slightest interest in us. One night at the Golden Lion, the place is rammed with an audience of men and women, Sony have sent an A and R man down who says to us after two encores, that he can't see who our market is, women would be jealous of us and men wouldn't buy our records because their girlfriends wouldn't like it. Luckily this dreadful outcome is adverted as our album can only be purchased in Scandinavia, where apparently they can deal with such things.

We gig endlessly, pubs bring in about £20, Unis more, clearly we are not in it for the money, although we must have earned something because in April I am able to buy the black and white Rickenbacker 4001 stereo bass I had been longing for, I love it's metallic sound.

Can't remember what started it, but I have been learning to juggle, nothing extravagant, just the three balls, and it sounds like fun when someone suggests I do some if Audrey breaks a string. Surprisingly at the next gig she does just that. I put my bass down and start juggling, I am utterly dreadful, balls are bouncing all over the stage and the audience is hysterical. I have the feeling we won't be repeating this.

Being vegetarian on the road in 1975 is not easy, the best place to eat is on UK motorways where you can be guaranteed egg, chips and beans, in Germany nothing came without meat. As I said Lesley and I sometimes shared meals, she ate the schnitzel and I'd eat most of the potatoes and sauerkraut. The French wouldn't even entertain the idea of non meat eating. One place we stayed in France, the owners of the B&B offered to make dinner for us - they gave me a large bowl of lettuce. In Scandinavia all meals, even bread and cheese came with fish on top. Few people understood the word vegetarian and if they did they couldn't understand why you would choose do such a thing. I was so flipping hungry, if I did find food it was usually at breakfast where you might come across the component parts of a cheese roll.

Love are at the Lyceum, Arthur Lee wearing a turban, was his delightfully crazy self, I think this gig is recorded and released.

The Golden Lion in Fulham is a regular for us, with a great audience of enthusiastic Aussies, who build pyramids of empty lager cans on the stage. I like them.

September we are back in IBC recording our first and only single 'Back Track', this is never released.

In November we play our second Marquee gig, a year after the first one and not headlining, but supporting the Scorpions - oh well at least they kept their promise to have us back.

A week later we're on a ferry - touring France, Luxmebourg and Belgium, supporting the Scorpions in Leige (we'll have to stop meeting like this). More strange places to stay and motorways to drive down.

Zoot Horn cabinet with Jackie + Audrey 
 I have a Hi Watt 100 amp and want to change my 4x12 for a Zoot Horn, which is a serious piece of equipment the size of a small wardrobe with 1x18" speaker. One is for sale in Paddington, I arrange to try it out and Mick our roadie agrees to come with me. We are quite close to the address when I screw up the directions and we turn into the wrong street, that leads to the square behind Paddington Green police station. Mick is turning the van round when he accidentally reverses into a car, which very unfortunately belongs to a detective who is sitting in it. You may know that this particular police station is the one they use to take terrorists, which at this time would be from the IRA. The detective is hysterical and is out on the pavement screaming at us, perhaps he thought he was being targeted, probably lucky he didn't shoot us. I have to run off to get to the guy with the Zoot Horn because he won't stay much longer. Mick has to leave his details with the police and then follow me to the squat where I'm trying the cabinet out. I love it, pay for it, we carry it down many stairs (no easy task) and put it in the van. Mick understandably is not happy, but the detective's reaction gives us a few laughs on the drive home. 

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Early 70s Dr. John, Capt. Beefheart, my first band with Holly and Janis

First gig of the new decade for us is Roland Kirk at the Festival Hall, a very talented jazz musician, he is blind, wears shades, and has quite an imposing physique. With the use of circular breathing he is able to play several saxes at once and the flute with his nose. I think I've made him sound like a circus act, he's actually seriously good.

Valentine's Day and the Soft Machine are at the LSE.  It's a good venue with a nice laid back vibe and I've always been very fond of Soft Machine, saw them play often and their previous incarnation with Kevin Ayres too. The current line up is Mike Ratledge, Robert Wyatt, Elton Dean, Lyn Dobson and Hugh Hopper. Me and Pete didn't really go for the Valentine's celebration, but this was a good evening.

4th May - Kent State University, Ohio is all over the news, four students are shot dead, several others injured by the National Guard, because of their protests against the US's invasion of Cambodia.  Some of those shot were just walking by, looking at what was going on, it is a dreadful over reaction by Americans against other Americans. It is an appalling event, many songs are written about it, including Neil Young's 'Ohio' recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Festival time is here again, I'm going to the Bath Festival on 27th/28th June with Pete, and can't wait to see Dr. John. We're going to sleep in Pete's van and although not that comfy it's got to be better than a tent, particularly as it rains all night. We take a camping gas stove and to my surprise manage to cook something edible. There's a pretty good line up, Frank Zappa, Jefferson Airplane, John Mayall with Peter Green, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Canned Heat, Country Joe and the Fish 'give me an F, give me a U' yep we knew where this was headed, the rousing fish/fuck cheer.

Someone comes on stage asks if there is a doctor in the house, the audience can see Dr. John walking up behind him. Exactly what I'd want if I was having a medical emergency. He began the set as dawn was breaking, his bright yellow robes, his voice, his fabulous New Orleans voodoo  - 'Gris Gris', 'Walk on Guilded Splinters'. There were some big acts at this festival but I think Dr. John took the prize. We were packing up the van and eating our last meal, the festival had over run and we were left with a can of baked beans, gingersnap biscuits and radishes. We cooked the beans, broke up the biscuits and chucked some radishes into the two cups we were using for drinking and eating (not necessarily at the same time), a rather indigestible concoction, but strangely appealing, I think I can still taste it.

I've been placing ads in Melody Maker with my boyfriend Pete to make and sell bespoke jewellery and clothes (Pete is a jeweller as well as a guitarist), we get some work but not enough.  It is becoming clear that I need more skill and eventually make the decision to leave work and start a two year course at the London College of Fashion. It goes well, I'm learning things I need to know and improving on the work I'm doing. Best of all I like tailoring and make several jackets and coats. One of my designs is shown in the end of year show and I have to say I really enjoyed seeing my creation on a model strutting down the catwalk. Danny Noble is in my class, his girlfriend is the choreographer Arlene Phillips and he often turns up wearing her clothes, making derogatory comments about the state they were in, which were pretty funny. He said his dad had changed his first name to Lord, and would now be known as Lord Noble, whether Danny would be inheriting the peerage I don't know. Being at college has been a good move, I get a grant and also make and sell clothes, so not doing too badly, meet some nice people and generally have an interesting time. I call my label Big Mutt, I thought it was funny although I doubt it increased sales.

I'm still playing guitar, but it's not really doing it for me. Pete's bass is lying around and as soon as I pick it up I know this is it. I play his for a while until I can afford my own, a Gibson EB0, which Pete fits an extra pick up to. I buy a Selmer 50w bass amp and we build a cabinet for a 15" speaker, paint the chipboard black and add a pink and gold front cover. It's a work of art! I can't wait to get going, my learning is mostly done by playing along to records.

Finally the album 'Brian Jones presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka' gets released in October 1971, it was recorded back in 1968 when he and Brion Gysin went on a trip to Morocco. These Master Musicians are stunning and can seriously mess with your head, in the nicest possible way of course. I would love to hear this music live and of course I do, not yet though.

Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band are on at the Albert Hall, Rockette Morton (Mark Boston) starts the show and what a start it is, unusual to open with the bass player, playing alone and Rockette is just the guy to do it.  Roy Estrada another bass player, Zoot Horn Rollo (Bill Harkelroad), Winged Eel Fingerling (Elliot Ingber), on guitars, Ed Marimba (Artie Tripp) percussion are all part of the madness along with the Captain.

See the Faces play many times, entertaining though they are, sometimes it seems like they are having more fun than the audience.

The time has come when I have to start auditioning, there are a few ads in Melody Maker for female musicians and I answer those. I have no experience and am a bit of raw recruit, not everyone wants to take that on. They are quite nice about it, but in the end rejection is not that easy to take.

The time has also come to have another go at driving because I have to keep asking people, mainly Pete, to drive me to rehearsals, auditions etc. and I think I've begun to wear out my welcome. Let the mayhem begin.

Ooh another appearance of the mesmerising Captain and his band, Rockette Morton, Zoot Horn Rollo, Alex St. Clair/Snouffer and Ed Marimba this time at the Rainbow. There's never been anything like this before and I doubt there ever will be again. They are unique.

9th May 1973, the day of the driving test, which I elect to take in Mill Hill, a nice quiet north London suburb rather than the manic Wood Green which was my nearest centre and pass first time. No one is more surprised than me, unless you include my driving instructor, who all the way back to the BSM office in Kings Cross keeps saying 'I can't believe you passed'. On some of our lessons, he told me I drove like a girl and should be more firm with the gear stick (not a euphemism). I could hardly afford to learn to drive and had booked my test before I started my lessons, as I thought I would probably not pass first time I took as few lessons as possible leading up to the first one. The driving school were not happy with this approach and did not let me forget it.

Not long after, I replied to an ad in Melody Maker from a female singer looking for other women to form a band. Four of us meet at a rehearsal studio in Kings Cross and attempt to find a song we all know so we can play something. There is a drummer called Frankie, Janis, a guitarist, I'm on bass and the singer who placed the ad. Unfortunately she's too nervous to open her mouth, we try to encourage her, but she can't bring herself to do it. We agree to meet at the same place the following week to try again, she doesn't come but the rest of us do. A few rehearsals later, while we are still looking for another singer, Frankie says she's not ready for this, thinks she would hold us back and refuses to come again. Good grief - I thought we were all in the same boat.

While thrilled that I had passed the driving test, I now need something to drive. I find a mature dark blue Ford Cortina estate, with fake wood dashboard and trimmings. It was quite an item and very useful when it's running. It chose some really awful places to break down. On my way to jam with Janis one rush hour evening, it overheated near the top of Muswell Hill. Steam was gushing out from under the bonnet and it would go no further, so I rolled it backwards, down the hill, in the dark and swung it into the car park of the cinema that used to be there. A lot of hooting from the irate drivers who had been stuck behind me, this was seriously stressful.

Janis and I continue to meet up and play together while trying to find other like minded females to join us. Many hours are spent with the two of us jamming in her and her husband's various flats, along with her young son Gary, a cute kid with curly red hair, who would go on to make more headlines than we ever did, by hacking into the Pentagon's computer. Her husband Wilson is a guitarist too and very supportive of us. Finally Holly Beth Vincent answers our ad and becomes the drummer. She's from California, plays with great verve and brio and is very funny, we all get on well. We find a singer - Kris from New Zealand. Holly has been hiring a drum kit, while her parents arrange to fly hers over from LA. We go to collect it from Heathrow and now need somewhere to keep it - where else but my Nan's front room. She's OK with it, I'm not sure my parents are, but I think she enjoys our visits, admittedly some of them are rather late at night. We do a lot of rehearsing, but not much more, eventually we see the writing on the wall and it comes to an end. Janis stays with singer and I stay with Holly.

Holly and I advertise ourselves as a female rhythm section looking for a guitarist singer, we get quite a lot of replies, all male who seemed to find us puzzling, amusing and/or a novelty. Mark Knopfler was one of them, we could tell he was good but didn't think he was for us, although he took to Holly in a big way. This photo is from 5 years later with me and my husband on the left and Mark Knopfler and Holly on the right.

Went to see the Rolling Stones at Wembley Empire Pool, pretty good show, although I'm not really a fan of big venues. Obviously I was/am a big Brian Jones fan, but Mick Taylor is a smart choice, he's a good foil for Keith, their styles are quite different, he brings an extra dimension and lifts their game. Billy Preston, the brass and the backing singers are all top quality.

January 1974
Pete, Gary and John Walden a harmonica player are putting together an instrumental band to play at a works party and they ask me to play bass, I presume I have Pete to thank for this opportunity. I say yes, but am really nervous and don't think I'm ready. I'm not sure when I would have felt ready, so it's just as well I was pushed. (The photo is of me and Pete).

The gig is one of those where the bingo is of way more interest than the band, but for me it is the first time I've played in public, I am still extremely nervous and anxious not to let anyone down. During the set I notice the tempo is changing speed, I look over at the drummer and find that his attention is fixed upon two girls who are dancing and grinning at him. Clearly the extra curricular activities are of more importance than playing the drums.

March 74 - Holly and I join up with a guy called Rick, who plays guitar and sings, he wanted a female rhythm section to back him in his band called Amazin' (according to him this was a play on the words amazing and Amazon). We play one gig at Edgware Football Club and we record at Sarm Studios in Whitechapel. This is my first time in a studio. It is a dreadful experience, I am ill with flu and have a raging temperature. I manage to get the bass part down and spend the rest of the night passing in and out of consciousness. I don't know how many takes Rick did to get the vocals down or how long the mixing took, but I thought I would die if I ever heard that song again. Somehow it's been wiped from my memory and happily have no idea of how it went or what it was called.

Some of Rick's friends decided they would choose outfits for me and Holly to wear on stage. When they gave Holly some denim dungarees, a straw hat and a red and white spotted scarf I knew it was not going to end well. If they thought she was ever going to put them on, they were sadly mistaken. I think her words were 'I am not wearing this fucking shit' and they found themselves out on the street very quickly. I don't think we met Rick again.

Out of the blue I get a call from a band called Cosmetix. They ask me to join them, as their bass player has been injured in car crash and can't play. I offer to stand in until she recovers. We meet in a hall somewhere in South London, we'd been jamming for a bit when their bass player also called Jackie staggers in to show she is ready to work and has no need for a stand in. We'd enjoyed playing together, but obviously now was not the time.

My favourite band of the moment is Sharks, they're often on at the Marquee. We missed their initial line up with Andy Fraser on bass, only seeing them on OGWT. Busta Cherry Jones from Memphis, had replaced him by the time we see them live. Keyboard player Nick Judd joined around this time.  We love this band, we are already big fans of the guitarist Chris Spedding, the singer Snips, is wild, dresses really well and has a powerful raw voice. Busta sounds great, certainly makes his own visual statement and works well with the drummer Marty Simon. They have a bunch of impressive songs 'Kung Fu', 'Snakes and Swallowtails', 'Sophistication', 'Revolution of the Heart', 'Surrender' among many. They made two albums 'First Water' and 'Jab It In Yore Eye' neither of which remotely capture what they were like live. The third album produced by John Entwistle was never released (except now in 2016 it is - titled 'The Car Crash Tapes' - with some eye watering bass playing from Dave Cochran - love it).

30th March 1974 - Holly and I answer an ad in Melody Maker to join the guitarist Mike Corby in a band to be called Tintagel. We rehearse quite a bit and actually get paid for doing so. Something of a revelation. Mike and I were both using Ampeg speakers and 350w amps which sound fabulous, but regularly overheat and cease to work. Mike was a lot of fun to play with and had a nice big fat guitar sound. We were a powerful rocking three piece.

There was always an audience at our rehearsals in the ITN building, who brought free drugs and alcohol and if they didn't have what you liked someone would go get it for you. How pleasingly rock and roll.

We moved our rehearsals to Sound City on Lots Road, the midnight to six slot, the French radio station owner who is financing the band comes to see us. I think he was happy with what he saw and was about to leave, he opens the studio door and shouts something in French. We all stared at him, apparently he had left his briefcase containing a whole lot of dosh, outside the door and now it had disappeared.  What kind of idiot is this guy? He said he thought the whole place was was secure and it would be safe there. Why would you think that? Who would leave a bag full of cash in a hallway? The studio called the police. 'You've called the police!' the guy with the drugs shouted and began to leg it, only to see them pulling up outside, he shot back in and sat on the case of coke. Luck was with him that night, the police were not particularly interested in him or us, even though he was sitting on a briefcase very much like the one that had gone missing. They wrote in their notepads for a while and then we were all allowed to leave. What this was about I never found out, whether it was some sort of scam or the guy was as stupid as fuck I don't know. This band came to an end soon after and I didn't see Holly again for quite a few years.

I was back out auditioning and now have the confidence to answer any interesting bass playing ads not just those aimed at females. At this time you were quite often asked to play your favourite riff.  This was a no brainer for me, I only knew one, which was the first thing I ever learned to play on the bass. It was a guitar riff played by Chris Spedding on an Ian Carr's Nucleus track called '1916' and as I find out many years later, titled for its time signature and not the year. Of course no one could ever work out what the hell was going on and would accuse me of playing it differently each time.  Eventually they would get hung up on solving it. This gave the impression that I was a genius at playing complex time signatures, not the case, I'd learned this particular riff because I liked it and until I began playing it to others had no idea how complicated it was.

Great night out - Gaumont State Kilburn, Ron Wood, Keith Richards, Willie Weeks, Andy Newmark, Ian McLagan and Rod Stewart. This is a top feel good gig, the way it was with the Faces except for the winner addition of Keith and a rock steady rhythm section. 

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

1969 the end of a decade

Dobells on Charing Cross Road is a regular lunchtime hang out, I love the blues import section and today I found a Muddy Waters album - Muddy Waters - Folk Singer. I love this album, it feels so real like you're in the studio with them - Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, Clifton James and Muddy Waters - wouldn't that have been something.

One evening I got home from work to find Pete waiting there for me. A really nice surprise, good to have him home from the wars, and soon we are back clubbing, John Mayall, Jeff Beck, a few movies thrown in, a great Hammer Horror double bill 'Pit and the Pendulum' and 'Horrors of the Black Museum', 'Bullitt', 'Twisted Nerve' and 'Les Bicyclettes de Belsize' a strange pairing, the Hendrix film and 'Wonderwall', good movie, nice music. 

Me and my Dad were watching the evening news when surprisingly The Beatles came on. They were performing on the roof of their Apple building in Savile Row causing all sorts of chaos in the neighbouring streets, so of course, the police had to be called. They had not performed since August 1966 in San Francisco until today 30th January. They get through a few numbers from the Let It Be album before the authorities bring it to an end. It was a great performance, aggressive and with a lot of of energy.

The desire to get musical has not gone away and I really want to play bottle neck, Pete said he would teach me. My brother has been having guitar lessons at school from, as we are stunned to find out, Derek Bailey, a well known jazzer, who tells him the guitar he's using is awful - it's got an action you could drive a bus under. Bobby gets something playable and I use the old one. Today is the first lesson and I'm very nervous. it's a strange feeling performing in front of someone even if it is my boyfriend, or maybe because, in his living room.

Weather report - it's snowing, I love London in the snow, it never looks better. Tonight we have tickets for Freddie King at Regent Street Poly. I've got a dental appointment in the afternoon, the dentist is injecting my gum, but the novocaine is trickling down my throat, it's hard to speak with someone's hand in your mouth, but I get his attention and he has another go. A few hours later and back home, my tooth is still aching, I take an aspirin with some gin. We drive to the gig, but for most of the evening I sit on the floor half asleep, I managed to stay conscious and vertical for Freddy's set, which was difficult but well worth the effort. I was really made aware of Freddie King by blues bands over here, it was a real thrill to hear his music played by the man himself. Pete took me home, I fell asleep in the car and again when I got indoors. Remember not to mix those things again unless I want to be unav. 

Jimi Hendrix is playing the Albert Hall, of course he's top class, but the sound in that place is diabolical.

Roy Harper is on at Gary's club, I told you he gets everywhere. Good fun though.

Gary pays for me and Pete (an event worth noting in itself), to check out Led Zeppelin at the Hornsey Wood Tavern on the 7th March. I already knew they didn't knock me out, but there was no denying the club was rammed. We reported back and as far as I know he booked them for his club although I can't see it in any of the listings. Hey Mr. Shombert if you happen to read this - did they or didn't they?

A bit of a Polanski fest for us 'Rosemary's Baby' nice and spooky.  Followed by a fabulous double bill of  'Repulsion' featuring Catherine Deneuve and 'Cul de Sac' with Francoise Dorleac (Catherine Deneuve's sister who'd died two years earlier), she gave a fabulous performance and looked marvellous.

Lindsay Anderson's 'If...' is on the go too, inspired use of the 'Missaluba', and a beautifully shot film.

Duke of Edinburgh is visiting our library today, why I have no idea, but there have been many meetings and we have been told in no uncertain terms not to make eye contact, seemed OK to me. I was considering not turning up at all, but I did and as soon as he walked in my eyes locked with his like heat seeking missiles. Nothing happened though, no complaints are received and I didn't end up in the Tower. A huge wind up for not very much.

An amazing piece of television tonight 7th April, Jimi Hendrix Experience live on the Lulu show, they open with 'Voodoo Chile' and after an intro from the lovely Lulu herself, they begin 'Hey Joe' get a couple of verses in when Jimi announces they are going to stop playing this shit and launches into 'Sunshine of your Love' dedicating it to Cream who are splitting up. Things are obviously going on around them in the studio and they are eventually stopped from finishing the number. Live TV is so entertaining.

Pink Floyd have increased their profile and now we have to see them at the Festival Hall instead of the Country Club, and while you don't begrudge them their success, these bigger venues do not have the atmosphere of a club. This concert features a conceptual piece 'The Man and the Journey' mixing old songs and new material that will turn up in some form or other on the 'Ummagumma' album later this year. I like the Floyd at lot, but sometimes they make me want to be unconscious.

I've been to so many gigs and have lots of favourites, but Howlin' Wolf at the Marquee on 29th May must be the most emotionally powerful of them all.  Being in the same room as Chester Burnett when he sings 'Smokestack Lightning' is the biggest thrill ever. Total voodoo. I am a 19 year old white girl, born in London and somehow feel a complete and utter connection to this old black blues singer from America's deep south. I don't know what it is, but he is on a direct line to my soul.

Mothers of Invention are doing the Albert Hall, I know I've said this venue has rubbish acoustics, which it does, but it was a real treat to hear Frank Zappa play 'Louie Louie' on the mighty Albert Hall organ. The current LP is 'Uncle Meat' and 'King Kong' is one of my favourite all time tracks.

8th June 1969 Brian Jones is fired from the Rolling Stones, the band he started. I guess it had to happen, he is a total mess and there really is no place for him in the band, certainly not with the Keith and Anita double act. I guess the upside is, this gives him the chance to put something new together, but it does feel dreadfully wrong.

3rd July 1969 finds me working at the Library taking a phone call, Hilary, one of my colleagues comes in shouting 'Brian Jones is dead'. The other library assistants are all looking at me, one of them takes the phone from my hand. I've stopped speaking, tears are rolling down my face. I walk out into the street, the billboards are screaming 'Brian Jones dies in pool tragedy' I couldn't bear it. It was too real and all I wanted to do was to make it not be true.

He'd been working on putting another band together, there were plenty of musicians and singers interested in playing with him, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, even though his drug convictions caused touring problems, it wouldn't stop him recording. He was fascinated by the Pet Sounds album and the amazing things they'd achieved in the studio. The Mellotron had already attracted his attention, he would have loved and made great use of all the new inventions that were coming.

5th July the day of the Hyde Park free Rolling Stones concert with new guitarist Mick Taylor. This was arranged as a show case for the new guitar player, now it is all about Brian. Mick Jagger does his Shelley reading for him and sets free a whole load of white butterflies, many of which are roasted by the lights, how ironic. The whole event is somewhat excruciating and then they play so out of tune I could hardly stand it. What a dreadful day.

21st July the Eagle has landed, it's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. It was also dreadfully dull, interminably long and ultimately a bit of an anti-climax. Apparently it was very important that the west made it to the lunar surface before the USSR, so hurrah for the USA.

I'm planning to make some changes in my life, I have started making clothes for people. Working in the library is becoming increasingly frustrating - it's a dead end job and my boss has left and her replacement has zero sense of humour and I've had enough.

30th - 31st August will be the Isle of Wight festival. We leave on the Friday night, drive down in Pete's van, take the ferry across to the island in the morning. I've no holiday left and I need to take the Monday off work. The only option is to pretend to be ill, of course no one will believe me because they all know exactly where I'll be. Oh well...

For our shelter we are carrying two tarpaulins and a whole bunch of rods, we plan to build a Bedouin tent. This is a good idea and a really bad idea, good - as it is very easy to spot in the field because it looks so crazy, bad because the component parts are extremely heavy, amazingly we do manage it without arguing or crying. The best place we can find is on a slope and the ground is full of rocks. Eventually the thing is erected, but I don't recall getting much sleep. Masses of people, tents, long queues for the toilets and the usual warnings of bad acid, there was no doubt we were at a festival - quite a line-up Free, Battered Ornaments, Family, Pretty Things, Richie Havens, Marsha Hunt, Pentangle, The Who... I know for sure I saw Bob Dylan although it seemed more like a hallucination.

Stones 'Let it Bleed' album is released on 5th December and contains the incredible track 'Gimme Shelter' with that amazing vocal from Merry Clayton, and even though I believe they were a better band with Brian Jones, I don't think they've ever written a more powerful song. Brian is only on a couple of tracks on the album as is Mick Taylor

6th December the Rolling Stones put on another free show. this time at the Altamont Stadium in California. Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Flying Burrito Brothers and Crosby Stills and Nash are all on the bill of this now infamous event. After using Hells Angels to successfully do the security at the Hyde Park gig, the same plan is put into action here. Sadly this does not go well, Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane is knocked unconscious on stage and a member of the audience, Meredith Hunter is beaten and stabbed to death by those who are meant to be providing protection, after someone says he has a gun. The film documentary 'Gimme Shelter' made by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin marks a very clear end to the sixties.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

1968 and Captain Beefheart

I'd already seen 'The Magical Mystery Tour' in black and white on Boxing Day and 10 days later I'm going to Pete's to see it again this time broadcast in colour, there's quite a few friends there - colour TVs aren't cheap so not many people have them.  After we'd all crowded into Pete's parents' living room the consensus was that the show was a pile of crap. I kind of liked it, some good songs I thought, although to be honest some of the visuals were a bit trite.

Saw Bonny and Clyde at midnight in Leicester Square, great film, extremely good casting, Faye Dunaway, Warren Beattie, Michael J Pollard, brilliant.

January 20th - what a fantastic Saturday night at Middle Earth - Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band (Alex St. Clair Snouffer, Jerry Handley, Jeff Cotton and John French/Drumbo). It was like someone had reached into my brain and seen exactly what I wanted to hear. The rhythm section, the guitars, the Captain, everything. They take the blues to a strange and fascinating new place. I totally love this band.

Fleetwood Mac, this time at the Manor House, I can't believe how many times I can see these guys, they are so good.

A big blues night at Middle Earth, Fleetwood Mac, Duster Bennet, Boilerhouse, Doc Ks and John Peel. Very strangely enough, me and Pamela saw Doc K's Blues Band play in Southgate in March 2010, the more things change the more they stay the same.

An odd gig today, Graham Bond Organisation lunchtime at the Pied Bull, Angel. Was good to see them of course but Graham Bond at lunchtime? Surely a person of the night.

March '68 and Tariq Ali is down at the barricades, Mick Jagger, Vanessa Redgrave have been protesting at the American Embassy. The Vietnam War is on everyone's mind, particularly young American men who are one of the many pawns in the game and are desperate to dodge the draft.  Who could blame them?

Jeremy Spencer was on good form tonight, Fleetwood Mac were on at the LSE, in between numbers he held up a condom filled with water (we hoped), saying 'it would take Mick Fleetwood a week to fill this and let's face it he's king wanker.' Audience fell about.  Some good jazz on too. Don Rendell and the Ian Carr Quintet, we really like Chris Spedding, Ian Carr's guitarist.

Sometimes we visited the Arts Lab on Drury Lane, occasionally good stuff happened. I love the idea of performance art, but in practice it often promises more than it ever delivers.

We'd seen Peter Green FM at the Fishmongers, and a week later at the Marquee, then went on to Middle Earth to see Arthur Brown set his head on fire again. How I find time to go to work, eat and sleep I have no idea.

May '68 and students are rioting in Paris, in fact they're rioting all over. De Gaulle has run off to Germany, how ironic is that? My old boyfriend JoMa is studying in Munich and is now extremely political and anti the Vietnam war as many are. We still write to each other at this point, but eventually we stopped and lost touch.

May 6th is Pete's birthday, he gets a car from his mum and dad, and a Skip James album from me, lucky old Pete. The following night we go see John Mayall at Klooks Kleek.

Michael Winner's film I'll Never Forget What's His Name, was on, with Carol White, Orson Welles and Oliver Reed, Marianne Faithfull, Edward Fox - wasn't bad.

A few days later me and Pamela go to what turns out to be one of my all time favourite gigs, Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band at the LSE. The majority of the audience were sat on the floor, we were up and dancing, the Captain spotted us and sang right to us -how good is that? And the night didn't end there we went on to Middle Earth to see the Byrds and Spider John Koerner, an almost impossible to beat, top class evening.

Four nights later we're back at Middle Earth to see the Byrds again, this time Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull come too.

21st May and Brian Jones has been caught with hash again. The police are determined. The establishment really do not like the power and influence they have and will not leave them alone.

One of our favourites, Julie Driscoll is on tonight, she has the best voice and spectacular phrasing.  The Skatalites are on too, I picked up a really good poster of theirs from the gig. An especially nice souvenir and decades later is framed and hanging on my kitchen wall!

We're stood in the Manor House waiting for Jeff Beck, the band were late arriving, which was not a problem, except that sometimes Jeff did a runner.  It was OK this time, the entire group turned up and were bloody great.

A new TV programme 'Colour Me Pop' an extension to Late Night Line Up on BBC2 started tonight 14th June. It helped if you had a colour TV, but it was good to have another music show nonetheless.  Manfred Mann was on, could be interesting, but not guaranteed, Free, Small Faces, Mothers of Invention. Brian Auger, Bonzo Dog (how we loved Viv Stanshall). A lot of dross too, but that's to be expected, dross is always king.

Truman Capote's film 'In Cold Blood' ooh this is good.

A good double today, a concert in Hyde Park- Pink Floyd, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Jethro Tull, Roy Harper. If there was a festival you could guarantee Roy would be there. You remember him - funny and folky with long blond hair. And on the way home as we walked up Kingsway we saw that 2001 A Space Odyssey was on at The Royalty Theatre so we nipped in to see that. A good weird way to finish the day.

July '68 Woburn, I'm there with Pete and Dave Ewer (he was in Rare Bird and Spinal Tap, probably other things too, but I don't remember). Paul Jones, ex Manfred Mann singer comes leaping on the stage shouting, ' Do you like good music?' about to enter into the well known song. Sadly the audience had moved on from sweet soul music and the loud en masse reply was, 'No'.  I felt a bit sorry for him, he had an entire set to wade through. We were all waiting for Jimi and his 'Purple Haze' - who of course did not disappoint. Jimi is a powerful presence - the other two not so much, but to be fair they were part of the magic, I don't know if it would have been better with other musicians - sometimes things work just because and together they surely made some great music.

Spent the night under canvas in a minute tent I'd borrowed from my brother - it's impossible to over state how much I loathe camping - the outdoors life does not call to me - ever, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Today's line up was good enough, Donovan, John Mayall, Champion J
ack Dupree, Tim Rose, Taste, Duster Bennett, but Jimi was the real reason for being there.

15th July opening night of Gary's (drummer in Pete's band) blues club in the Black Bull, Whetstone, Taste Rory Gallagher's band are on and  Pete is DJing. This is good news we have our own free club to visit.

The Country Club in Belsize Park is another good club, Tyrannosaurus Rex tonight.

The second of the Hyde Park Concerts, Nice, Traffic, Pretty Things, Action and Juniors Eyes, it was good, but not as good as the first one.

August and time for the Jazz and Blues Festival, this time it was being held in Sunbury. Jeff Beck lit up the place with some raging guitar. During Arthur Brown's dramatic set, a stand at the back collapsed and some people on or under the roof were hurt...but hey the show must go on and while the injured were being attended to Arthur brought on midgets, a choir, a fire eater and two jugglers.

The third Hyde Park concert, more Roy Harper, The Deviants, Ten Years After, Fleetwood Mac and Stefan Grossman, bit of a mixed bag from my point of view. I'm not that keen on outdoor music at the best of times - the sound is never very good and this line-up was of only partial interest for me.

Pete and I go to so many gigs, it is an endless stream and it seems like it will never end. Gary's club is going well, Pete is DJing there, and the bands Gary books are OK, not great but certainly OK. One night the Black Cat Bones are on, Gary tells them he doesn't have enough money to pay them, which goes down like a fart in a diver's helmet. A rumour goes round that the guitarist is carrying a gun and is not leaving without his money. Gary suddenly disappears and returns with the necessary dosh. Who knows how true the rumour was, but the threat worked a treat.

The lead is Marianne Faithfull, she'll be wearing a leather catsuit, riding a motorbike and having an affair with Alain Delon, this really must have been a difficult sell! 'Girl on a Motorcycle' wasn't the best film I'd ever seen, but I have to admit Marianne did look hot as did Alain.

Went to Camden Passage my friend from school Angela was working on a stall there, I bought a 1920's black beaded dress, which I do still have 40 years later, minus a few beads, it is a wonderful item.

The Jazz Expo is taking place at the Hammersmith Odeon, we see some top class American artists, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, T-Bone Walker, Jerome Arnold. It's always a delight to see these guys, but would rather it took place in smaller surroundings.

Mothers of Invention at the Festival Hall, this is a really good band and especially love it when Frank and Captain Beefheart team up, they are hysterical together.

Jon Hiseman's Colisseum are playing at Gary's club tonight, with Jimmy Litherland playing guitar and singing, Dick Heckstall-Smith on sax, a very interesting line up, I really enjoyed it.

Back at the Country Club for the Pink Floyd. Mostly enjoyed it rather a lot, although I did get a bit desperate during the solo in 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' - silently praying for the return of that well known riff.

We've been hearing about someone called Dr. John and his album 'Gris Gris', my friend Stephanie who works in her Dad's record shop get's a copy for me and I take it to a DJ gig Pete is doing at Notre Dame Hall in Leicester Square. Wow the voodoo is powerful tonight, the audience made him play the title track and 'Walk on Guilded Splinters' over and over.

A sad moment for music fans this November - the goodbye Cream gig at the Albert Hall, with Yes as support. I guess we understood they had to split up - before someone got hurt! But these three are a lot better together than they are apart. Brilliant gig,

10th December at The Marquee and the first time I saw Led Zeppelin, I thought they were funny and old fashioned. Jeff Beck had been doing this stuff for sometime and a whole lot better too, although Led Zep has a powerful rhythm section which could be a bit of a dodgy area with Jeff's band.  Luckily I've never had the desire to work in A and R.

Pete was playing with John Walden's blues band and they were going to be working in Paris for a couple of weeks. Oh no, my boyfriend will be away for Christmas and New Year, that's too bad.

I am not going to go to Trafalgar Square for New Year's Eve again, instead I've decided to go to Alexandra Palace with my boss Vicky. Not a bad night - Small Faces (the gig when Steve stormed off and left the band), Free, John Mayall, Spooky Tooth, Bonzo Dog some good bands, but I think lacking a really top act. Definitely an improvement on the Square. I don't know how we got home, I can remember being outside in the rain, walking through the mud in the Palace Gardens. Very possibly I was drunk.

The last year of the decade has begun.