The first band I can ever recall playing in, consisted of Bob Mardon on drums (and serious Afro!) Paddy Mulville on lead guitar (and seriously long RED hair!) and me on bass, a Gibson SG copy a la Jack Bruce, loaned from my dear old mate, Nick Fisher. Think I must have been around 14, probably the Summer before my 15th birthday. We played endless rounds of blues jams, me playing the basic boogie riffs that Jed had showed me. It was a gas, we rehearsed at Paddy’s, his family home was at Beeleigh, a beautiful old farm house, which smelt wonderfully of his Mother’s Gauloise cigarettes. We were surrounded by gorgeous unspoilt Essex countryside. Hey, we could play with the doors and windows open if we wanted, no neighbours!
One day, we decided to take the amps and drums outside, into the garden, but I think our alfresco jamming was short lived, as Pad’s Mother though we might get complaints from Maldon!
Paddy and Bob were in the Sixth form at the Plume school. They were both fairly mad, amazing people, big boys to me, and aspiring Freaks to a man. The three of us did have another band which had a little more legs, it had two other guitarists other than me, a bass player, and a vocalist whose name was Matthew. I can recall our local rag coming down to interview us and take some pics, truly we were the “Next Big Thing”.
Sadly, shortly after our local publicity blitz, the usual “musical differences” set in. I’d like to say it was mid way through our US tour, but as we hadn’t played a single gig, this would be gross exaggeration. And if we had been touring, it would probably been at a gig in Latchingdon or Cock Clarks, or somesuch. Bob and I went on eventually to form Dawn Treader, cept Bob couldn’t borrow a kit at that time, so the line up consisted of David Coulthread (Coffer) vocals, Nick Fisher, bass, Mark Robins (on, get this, RHYTHM guitar!) and me, laughingly, on lead guitar.
But prior to our assembling, Paddy had started playing with a group of excellent local musicians. I’m not sure if they had a name, but the line up was: Paddy, lead guitar, Nick Fisher, bass guitar and general genius, Morrie Pitt on drums (son of Doug Pitt, a friend of my Pa’s, our insurance man and organist extrordinaire!) Helen Terry, vocals and Janis Joplin-isms (later to find fame with Culture Club) and the very wonderful Zap, otherwise known as Martin Newell (of One Little Ziggy/Cleaners from Venus/XTC buddy/Carl Seager collaberator) on keyboards and stoned “Hey Man” vibrations. I recall Will and I seeing them several times, rehearsing at the local British Leigion hall, a musical education indeed! And of course Will sold his old Harmonium to Zap, who re glued some of the white keys back on, he said, with honey!
Think I’d realised by that time that I was never going to be anything other than a guitar strummer of some mediocrity, able to hold down a tune, but little further. I loved the sound that my newly aquired Yamaha SG copy made, distorting wonderfully through Nick’s Linear amp.
But how could I possibly compete with Paddy and his blusey Clapton-isms, the brilliant, almost Hendrix-like wonder that was Mark Robins, in later years Kelvin Pratt (mad but marvellous, a country picker and Rock’n’Roll player of national renown) and to top it all, Ben Newton(Reeves Gabrel’s bastard son?) in Thee Light Brigade, closely followed by Marc Dion (Essex’s answer to Cliff Gallop, with added distotion), in the latter day Surf Rats.
Forget it! I needed a new strategey, and Punk rock, a mere year or so away, was just the thing………..