The Author. The Myth. The Legend.
(with previously unseen incriminating evidence)
The Early Years
The author was born into a humble farming family, from Croft Marsh on the East Coast of Lincolnshire, who owned a modest few thousand acres spread over the Wolds and the Fens. There was also a large beef herd and a stable of successful racehorses, which made the top bloodstock prices in the early sixties. Owning a racehorse was particularly useful when one wanted to go out for a quick pint, or two, as the direct route to the nearest pub would be over the fields. There was also the added advantage that one could not be stopped by the police on one’s own land, for either drinking, or speeding. In any event, the nearest town of Skegness did not have a mounted division and the suggestion of requisitioning the donkeys used by holiday makers for rides on the beach, as an alternative, despite their frightening turn of speed on the Annual Donkey Derby Day when confronted with the sight of a ton of carrots dumped at the end of the pier, as the tide went out, never held any serious credibility.
From an early age, the author developed a keen sense of hearing. He not only excelled at the local pastime of listening to the grass grow but could actually differentiate between the different varieties growing at the same time: Cocksfoot, Meadowfescue and Timothy. It was this ability to concentrate for a long period that gave the author his spiritual and reflective nature. Then, in part, to compensate for the tedium of the long winters, when nothing grew anyway, he discovered music, which opened up the dynamic, if not rebellious side of his personality. The first single he acquired was Johnny Burnette’s “You’re Sixteen” which he persuaded an aunt to buy on his behalf. From a succession of 16-17 year old nannies, who were engaged to look after his three younger sisters, he discovered Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard and was already a confirmed “under the bed clothes Luxy-Listener” to Radio Luxembourg at the age of seven.
With these formative influences, the author was sent to boarding school the following year. Whilst a holiday resort in the summer, the seaside town of Broadstairs, situated at the southern most tip of the North Sea, seemed for most of the year to be as remote as the Fens. The school still maintained the tradition of discipline as the backbone of England’s fading days of Empire.
But in 1967, there was to be no escaping the cultural seismic change that was to alter the Western World: the Summer of Love and the arrival of the Hippy. With an already precocious interest in Pop music and a deep desire for clothing that offered a colourful alternative to the school uniform of herring bone suits and the cavalry twills of the County set, the author found a spiritual home that was to be a formative influence for the rest of his life. Having introduced the word ‘Psychedelic’ to the school, he set about his self appointed role as Peace Emissary, although this was to see him up before the headmaster on a regular basis, as members of staff had frequently misconstrued his fingered gestures of peace as a personal sign of ill-intent. But he had the personal satisfaction of seeing his attempts as Peace Broker lead him to become Head of School a year later.
The Teenage Years
A new era saw a move to a new school, much closer to home, at Uppingham in Rutland, the next door county to Lincolnshire. Immediately the author’s writing talents were recognised and he was awarded the Fourth Form English Prize for a year’s worth of creative writing. Unfortunately, creative writing was not as enthusiastically received at home and by the time of A Levels, the author tired of not being taken seriously as both a writer and guitar player, took a stand during his mock History papers and refused to answer the questions and handed in copies of his poetry in protest instead. Still retaining his sense of humour, given the unprecedented situation he was creating, one of his submissions included a tongue in cheek poem entitled The School Revolutionary in the style of Leonard Cohen.
To this day, the locals still talk in hushed tones about the Night Of The Great Stampede. According to Lincolnshire folklore, the author had been left in charge of 500 head of cattle one summer’s evening and had decided to combine this role with practising guitar at the same time. Putting a series of extension leads together, he ran a 100 yards of cable from a nearby barn, to power two 100 watt guitar amplifiers going through four 4 X 12 speaker cabinets.
As the Fens are notoriously flat and open with no hills, a few trees and the occasional hedge screening off a farm dwelling, the author realised that by standing on the top of his Land Rover he had a perfect view of the whole herd. With a 100 watt stack placed either side of the Land Rover, to create a stereo effect, there was nothing left but to plug in his Gibson Les Paul Deluxe and from a vantage point that made him lord of all he surveyed, release his innermost guitar hero.
It is not a misnomer that power chords are thus named. Stripped down to three essential notes, delivered with a downward swoop of the right hand, this trilogy of musical shock and awe delivers a payload of direct, no compromise “In Yer Face” confrontation. Like a guided missile there is no escape. With the aid of the stillness of the balmy summer’s evening, the opening salvo of power chords could be heard within a four mile radius along the coastline and registered momentarily on the Richter scale. Simultaneously, the tide, which at that point had been coming in, was repelled that far out that the ruins of the original Skegness, which had been under the sea for more than seven hundred years, could be seen poking out from the mudflats and sandbanks. Also, a low level flying Russian spy plane, three miles from the coast, suddenly found that its high tech surveillance equipment was not working and word was to later reach the Kremlin that the English had developed a new form of sophisticated jamming technology.
Unsurprisingly, the entire herd bolted. The locals insisted that the cattle were in fact so stunned that some primeval force took them over and they were running in a South Westerly direction towards the nearest abattoir, situated twenty two miles away on the Boston docks. However, the author did show the presence of mind, to rescue the prize pedigree Charolais bull by rounding him up with an extra long curly guitar lead, used as a lasso, and then tethering him up with a set of tungsten steel guitar strings through the ring in his nose.
The locals were to fare a little better, as they could at least take sanctuary in the nearest pubs and hostelries. The significance of this was not to be lost on the local brewers from ye olde market towne of Waynefleete, which had been the home of their good honest ales for nearly two hundred years. On finding that demand for their range had increased by 200% across the board overnight, a deal was struck between the traditional, but forward thinking, brewery and the author. They would keep him in guitars and equipment, if he played on nights of the full moon and added the occasional touch of Wah Wah pedal, as the locals would assume this was some form of strange ancient tongue of bygone spirits possessed with marsh fever and therefore prefer to stay inside and drink the pub dry. In addition, there was a gentleman’s agreement to cover any fine and post bail, if appropriate.
It is also known that at some point in his later teenage years, the author’s father sent him to the Royal Agricultural College of Cirencester, for what could be regarded as a three year tour of duty. However, on arriving with shoulder length hair, it became evident within a period of weeks that a career as tour manager of the Grateful Dead was looking a stronger possibility than becoming a fully fledged estate manager who wore Plus Fours and got away with a Minus Two I.Q.
The notes left on his study door further bore this out. His fellow students would leave notes reading, “At the sugar beet demonstration.” “Taking part in the ploughing competition.” “ At the conference of Unusual Aspects of Animal Husbandry.” However, the author’s weekly itinerary resembled a tour schedule.
Tuesday Victoria Hall (Bristol) Richard and Linda Thompson
Wednesday Bristol Colston Hall Yes
Thursday Southampton Gaumont Status Quo
Friday Gloucs. College of Education Fable
Saturday Royal Agricultural College Shakin’ Steven and The Sunsets
Sunday Earls Court. London Led Zeppelin
It was apparent that the author could not grow a field of wheat to save his life and his idea of a quick cash crop was an outdoor music festival. So with no desire to go on designing cow sheds for another two years and his first year project of the Acoustic and Recording Properties of Early Saxon Barns failing to impress his tutors, he did not turn up to his first year exams, apart from law, out of a sense of respect for Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry had once been asked what advice he would give anyone going into the music business and he duly replied “Study Law.”
The A is for Adult Years
Surprisingly little is known of the author’s early adult years. It was rumoured that one night, whilst taking on some voluntary community work, fire-watching for the Armada on the coastline, he managed to say it all in one note when strumming his guitar. However there was no one to hear this moment of musical perfection, apart from a flock of seagulls, who were fleeing from a Nato bombing exercise at the furthest point of the Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve, two miles outside Skegness. It may well have been at that moment that he decided to retire to grow organic vegetables in the area that was Lincolnshire’s answer to the Mississippi Delta, known to the locals as the Wash Basin. But at some point, he was to take the journey from the East coast to London’s East End, where his love of music, aptitude for law and estate management background found an unexpected role in the pioneering Black Gospel Scene emerging from the aftermath of the Brixton riots.
Years later there were reports that he had been spotted driving the back roads of the Southern Counties at night, in the character challenged world of vintage guitar dealingAs yet no police records have been able to confirm this.