Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Right Note: 2

In the 1930s/40s my grandfather, Nobby Clark, was a bit of a hardman.

He was a bare-knuckle fighter around the east-end of London.

During the war, it was his job to fix the roads after the Germans had finished bombing the place, and the majority of his workers at that time were Irishmen, whose favourite pastimes were drinking, fighting and singing (not necessarily in that order.)

My grandfather was in his element with these guys because he loved all those things too - especially the singing! - oh, and drinking - oh, and . . .!

What has all this to do with the local music scene?
Well, I have often wondered HOW I “got the music,” and what twists of fate led to me being invited to write this column, and I attribute much of it to spending a lot of time with my grandfather.

Every Sunday we would walk to his local, and I would sit behind the stage with a bottle of pop and a bag of crisps while he entertained, singing Hank Snow and Hank Williams songs.

I realise this next incident is just coincidence, but it makes for an interesting story all the same.

Whilst living in England in the 60’s, my family were allocated a council house. The surname of the people moving out was Hales, and they were emigrating to New Zealand.

Mr and Mrs Hales son, Shane, went on to become the top NZ recording artist known as “Shane” with his song “Saint Paul.”

In 1969 my family also emigrated to New Zealand, but it wasn’t untill a few years later that music would start to elbow its way into my life.

In the early 70’s I started to frequent a new record shop situated in Wharf Street called “Joyce Colour and Sound.” In true 70s style it was decked out in various shades of psychadelic orange, complete with feature wall made of polystyrene that looked like a bad acid trip! Mike Joyce, the owner, offered me a job! I had to ride a pushbike (which he would supply) and in payment he would give me a record of my choice every week (new records were $5.75) - what a deal. That was until the bike turned up. It was an old-fashioned shop delivery bike that weighed about as much as a small car, painted bright orange, with a huge wooden box on the front, complete with advertising. Still, it beat doing a paper round, and I would have spent the cash on records anyway.

It was at this time that I encountered my first local musician.

He was a very cool dude and he worked in the record shop. He was a drummer by the name of Simon Graham, and he knew everything about all kinds of music, and it was he that introduced me to bands like Little Feat, Patti Smith, and Mott The Hoople.

In 1973, Slade, Black Sabbath, and several kiwi bands, played at a 3-day Music Festival in Ngaruawahia, which was the first large outdoor event in New Zealand to feature music as the main focus.

The advert on the radio featured Slades "Get down and get with it," The sheer energy of this song, and the recording of it really grabbed my attention, and from that moment on I was a big Slade fan.

The first two albums I selected from the record shop were “Very 'eavy, very 'umble by Uriah Heep,” and “Slade Alive.”

This festival was notable for several reasons apart from the music.
It was here that Corben Simpson - quite likely on a much higher astral plane to most!- stripped naked onstage and was promptly arrested during his performance.

In the evening, Black Sabbath set fire to a gigantic cross on the top of the adjacent hill, and of most importance historically to New Zealand music, it was here that the Hunter brothers put a band together, wrote some original songs, and performed for the first time - they called the band Dragon.

My mother said if she had anything to do with it there was no way I was going! - she had LOTS to do with it, - and I didn’t go!


People always want to give me free advice

well its something that I always tried

but you get what you pay for, thats what I say

And now Im paying, and paying and paying

I lost everything I had

Starting over from scratch

Mark Sandman - Morphine


From the Album YES


Anonymous Bill Bacon said...

Quite often it is not until we are well down the track do we truly realize and appreciate the influence and support from family and friends in our musical directions. My mum bought me my first guitar at age 14 it was a cheapy but I would spend hours listening to her Johnny Cash/Marty Robbin records and my dad's Hank Snow/Jim Reeves records. Years later I loaned the guitar to Barry Stockley and never saw it again but he did turn me onto Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Howard Devoto's Magazine when we played in our band Various Artists together so a fair swap I would say for the musical education. Opening up the world of music and sharing with others not a bad mantra to live by.

2:15 pm  

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