The next 8 posts will all be from our friend from the land of fish and chips, the place where they call soccer “footie-ball”. It’s a lengthy piece, but a very, very interesting comment on fame from someone who lived it/loathed it back in the day. Enjoy, folks!
Is That IT?
Andy Warhol famously predicted that “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” What he should have added is that once those 15 minutes have passed one will, in all probability be left feeling somewhat nonplussed and wondering what all the fuss was about.
I suppose we all have our own definitions of what fame is. Some count it in monetary terms, others as popular acclaim. To some it means becoming global, others find its meaning on a far more localized and intimate level.
Now look, I’m not saying that I was actually famous, not for even 5 of those 15 minutes, yet there was a brief period between 1978 and 1984 when it looked as though I might, just conceivably catch a glimpse of fame’s lower slopes, even if I knew I was never destined to actually reach the summit. I was the climber aiming to scale Everest but finds his luggage lost somewhere between Gatwick and Katmandu.
When I look back on my long and undistinguished rock’n’roll career, there are so many things I can feel justifiably ashamed of.
Those moments of gut-wrenching embarrassment that only a few people get to witness.
Events that maybe only one in a hundred of us are unfortunate enough to experience.
When I recount my rock’n’roll past to folk unwise enough to listen, they will often say; “Wow, that must have been amazing”, to which all I can say is….yeah, but no, not really.
If only they knew the truth.
What follows are the recollections of an also-ran. Someone who, were it not for circumstance and a conspicuous lack of real ability might conceivably have ‘made it’.
Think of me as an entrant in the Kentucky Derby who in actual fact was more suited to peacefully pulling a cart in some Amish community in rural Pennsylvania.
If fame is a glass of the finest champagne, then I am the gatecrasher in the corner furtively trying to extract those last few dregs out of a bottle. If it were a photograph, I’d be the idiot at the back pulling a stupid expression.
You get the picture?
Playing in a band is much like wooing the girl of your dreams. There’s the thrill of that first date, the excitement of reaching second base, and months later finally hitting a home run. All this excitement dissipates after a while of course, to invariably be replaced by arguments, infidelity, erectile dysfunction and inevitable divorce.
And as you sit there in the aftermath with only a few faded photographs as memories, one can’t help but wonder; “Is that it?”
My aim is to show that certain moments commonly regarded as potential ‘big breaks’ or “Oh Wow” moments are invariably boring at best, and more often than not, massive let downs. For convenience and brevity’s sake I’m going to tackle three areas of ‘fame’, points when, “I was standing on the verge of getting’ it on.”
Now I’ve played some dives in my time but I’ve also played some fairly civilized venues, and I can tell you that the bigger the gig, the greater the ‘****-up factor’. I’m proud to say that I was co-founder of Portsmouth’s first ‘punk’ band on the back of seeing The Sex Pistols some months earlier in 1976. We played maybe half a dozen gigs in 77-78 before splitting up, working on the premise that we had said all there was to be said in those 14 songs we had.
We mostly played gigs where toilet windows were the wisest exit routes, since the Portsmouth area was the last resting place for all previous youth cultures, trends that had grown old gracefully elsewhere in the country. In Portsmouth you would find Mods, Rockers, Teds and Skinheads all gathering in desultory little groups resenting the passage of time, and venting their frustration on us, the new kids on the block…the punks.
I’m not saying there weren’t good times…like being asked for your autograph by someone who actually isn’t taking the ******, (being asking for your autograph, then having it ripped up in front of you with a laugh & a sneer…now boy that’s hurtful!).
Seeing your band’s name on a kid’s school bag is so ****** cool, oh, and hearing a bunch of guys singing one of your songs in the street…fantastic.
These fleeting moments I would rate as the absolute high points of my ‘career’, ones I would happily cling onto at the expense of all the other stuff…(to be continued…)