New Year; old memories.

Having contracted flu on 24th December, and therefore being forced to celebrate the season by feeling sorry for myself, I spent some time remembering happier times. Previous readers of this “blog” (and I know that is about three people!) will know that after a viral infection some three years ago, I am now virtually deaf. I wear a hearing aid (when forced to, as I don’t like it) in my right ear, and – with patience and a great deal of concentration – I can make out enough of a conversation to be able to respond. Iget it wrong at times, but – thankfully – not to any great embarrassment so far. I have absolutely no hearing in my left ear. Mine is a “mono” world!

I grew up in the ’60’s and ’70’s (ok, subjective statement – I got older!) and lived in North London then. It was a  great time to be a teenager/ young adult (I was born in 1954). The music scene was simply amazing, and my friends and I were out at live gigs at least three or four nights a week. It seemed every pub had a room with a live band on, and admission charges were – even by the relative standards of the day – cheap. I was in my element. I absolutely lived for the music. I was blessed too, with an open mind and a wide taste in genre. If it was good music, I’d listen to it.

I can recall seeeing bills as diverse as “Little” Stevie Wonder (as he was called then!), The Four Tops, the Temptations and Gino Washington one night; Tony “TS” McPhee and The Groundhogs and Stray another night; and The Beach Boys a third. You’d need a second mortgage for that sort of quality nowadays.

In my “prime”, I was fortunate enough to see some incredible acts: Joan Baez (possibly the purest singing voice ever?); Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Iron Butterfly, Yes, Vinegar Joe, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Mountain, Led Zeppelin, Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band, Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher/Taste, Hawkwind . . .  jeez, i could go on (and frequently did!) for hours. I attended two days of rain and mud in 1972 in a field in Lincoln and still have the mud-spattered programme – it was Roxy Music’s first major gig, I believe.

Even when I moved from London, I still managed regular concerts – Beefheart again at Colston Hall (“Mr Zoot Horn Rollo, play that LONG note slow . . .); Miles Davis at St Davids Hall; Muddy Waters at the Victoria Apollo; Ry Cooder at Hammersmith Odeon and at NEC Birmingham; and John Martyn (sadly missed now) at so many places – I think he was the one I saw most, possibly 10 or 11 times? Everytime different, everytime brilliant.

I saw a few lemons along the way. I wish I could forget Grand Funk Railroad at Royal Albert Hall and the 25 minute TEDIOUS drum solo!; but I also saw some landmarks – The Who opening the Rainbow Theatre; Pink Floyd – at RAH for “saucerful of secrets”, – at the Rainbow for “Dark side of the moon”, and at the Crystal Palace bowl. I saw Peter Green, recently split from Fleetwood Mac, play a beautiful solo set before his illness took him away from us for so long. He was – amazingly – playing live in a converted garage behind The Salisbury pub in High Barnet! I saw Steppenwolf at the Edmonton Sundown, who were responsible for the iconic track of my youth, “Born to be wild”. I said I could go on . . .

I also, naturally, accumulated an impressive collection of vinyl, then cassettes, then cds. The “master plan” was when I retired, I would spend my dotage annoying the kids with a constant barrage of progressive rock and blues music. It gathers dust now, as I haven’t the heart to dispose of it.

When I wasn’t at live gigs, I was glued to the radio. TV was not a factor in my life then. Listening to John Peel was an essential requirement, and I rarely missed his shows. If I did watch TV, it was “The Old Grey Whistle Test” with Whispering Bob, or “Rock goes to college”. I recorded so many of those on cassettes from a portable Sony B&W set! They all gather dust too :’-(

Life is never as we envisage it, and it only takes a small thing (in my case, a tiny virus) to completely transform your plans.

OK; memory lane exorcised. I’ll return to the long-overdue “Welfare part 2” eventually. thank you for the encouraging remarks.


2 responses to this post.

  1. discovered your blog via your guest post at Benefit Scrounging Scum. You have seen the bands of my teenage years. I did see (Little ) Sevie Wonder at the Marquee club in London in 1966. Used to listen to John Peel (sadly missed).

    I have worked with hearing impaired children and i am always interested in how people cope with their lack of hearing.
    I’ll add you to my RSS feed


  2. Thank you for your comments Wendy, we had THE best music, didn’t we ! x SD


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