It might seem that in 1977 Britain was just on fire with punk, new bands were appearing from unlikely places and bands that were less than a year old had become spokesmen for their generation. This was, of course patently untrue but with hindsight we’ve created out own story about what happened. The great British public however remained largely unmoved, no one was buying shedloads of records by the Dammed or even The Clash. The Sex Pistols, titans that they were came close to having the perfect number one record at the perfect time with ‘God Save the Queen’ but the records show that the public preferred Rod Stewart. In fact Rod was the nearest the charts came to a rock number one otherwise it was various shades of MOR from Abba to Leo Sayer.Also largely unaffected by punk was my own band The Rockwell Buzz company, to be referred from now on as RBC in an attempt to stave off carpel tunnel syndrome. The RBC were into quality ‘head’ music from Led Zeppelin to Soft Machine. Rhythm guitarist Plainy lent me a soft machine compilation and the summer of 77 is tempered for me by the sound of Robert Wyatt’s singing and difficult time signatures. At this point Plainy was back for the summer but the previous year he had left to go to Nottingham University to study something clever. This put the band into their first crises, as well as loosing Plainy our singer Steve was also off to some learning establishment on the south coast. The loss of Steve was negligible in a musical sense, he was the Bez of the group in many ways but we missed his ‘vibes’.
It was decided that we needed to replace Plainy. Reluctantly I put forward my old friend Phil who although a fine guitarist was so introvert it took a few months to pick up his sense of humour. Sucho, our current lead guitarist and general lead band member tried to engage Phil in conversation at what might pass for an ‘audtion’.
Sucho ‘So what sort of music do you like?’
Phil ‘er.. blues’
Sucho ‘what like Led Zepplin?’
And so on.
Phil could play better than he could interview and I suspect Sucho felt a bit threatened, Whatever Phil didn’t get the job which instead was given to a young man called David G.
David knew his place and stuck to Rhythm. He was to go on to play a slightly bigger role in Norfolk rock attaching himself to a group called The Farmers Boys who were on the edge of greatness for about 20 mins in the 80’s. Doing a bit of high quality research it appears that he is now a photographer, I hope that’s the case as the only people traceable with the same name are an Osteopath, a dead person and a sex offender.
In 1977 however Dave was just a speccy spotty young man with a guitar, he was certainly the youngest member of the band which counts for a lot when you are a teenager.
So we were almost back to strength. I don’t really know what we did regarding vocals, Sucho and Robbo the bassist would have a go but they weren’t singers even by punk standards. We did briefly audition a guy call Royce who showed us his lyrics, one of which went
‘Come with me on a trip to eternity
Ride my Chariot of fire’
Luckily was well as writing crap lyrics he couldn’t sing so we had a lucky escape.
And so we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed, according to my diary rehearsals were a frustrating business as quite often someone would not turn up or, when Plainy and Steve were back from university too many people would turn up. In addition to the band there were a number of hangers on, more than I can ever imagine squeezing into my bedroom. To their credit my parents coped with this admirably, Mum would make tea and biscuits while Dad would engage some unsuspecting biker, whose chariot was leaking oil over our front lawn, in a discussion about replacing pistons.
Our only gig I can remember all summer was at Sucho’s girlfriend’s house. I was now mixing with the Norwich college set some of whom were pretty posh and whose parents had big houses. Sucho’s girlfriend’s was not necessarily one of these but I remember the front room was big enough to hold our meagre equipment as well as a few people who actually wanted to watch.
The ‘gig’ was ‘of course’ a well-received disaster. I captured it in a drawing which seems to show that both Plainy and Dave G were present giving us an unnecessary Lynyrd Skynyrd triple guitar line up.
Following my first gig (see earlier post) I remained sober as had Plainy and so we were unprotected from the musical disaster of it all. Coming ‘offstage’ I found that everyone else was blind drunk in a way that only teenagers can manage. Finding myself lagging behind I got wasted myself by which time the first guard were falling unconscious leaving me to wander about on my own before throwing up and falling asleep only to be woken by the early drinkers making breakfast.
I assumed that my life would be forever like this, we were like Traffic getting it together in the country (well probably the suburbs), hanging out, getting loose and cooking breakfast together, we were so bohemian and punk was just a little dot on the horizon.
The trouble with posh people though is however laid back they might seem there’s always a life plan running in the back of their minds. Come September it became clear that’s lots of my friends and acquaintances were now finished with this stage of their lives and were off to train to be doctors or lawyers or accountants it appeared we were not going to live in a commune and live off space cakes and jam together all day after all.
And so reluctantly I would be forced to move towards adulthood.