21.5.15

THE WHO AT NASSAU COLISEUM, 20 May 2015


Here’s a brief show report from last night’s Who concert, sent to Just Backdated by my roving East Coast Who correspondent Lisa Seckler-Roode, who also took the pictures.


The sleeping dragon has shaken off the dust and is spewing fire again. The Nassau Coliseum show was (for the way things are now) pretty damn great. ‘A Quick One’, ‘I Can See For Miles’ and ‘Bargain’ were pretty damn fantastic, ‘Amazing Journey’ and ‘Sparks’ remarkable. Great stage banter about people smoking dope in the venue, prompting an offering from Pete to shove the weed “up the smoker’s ass”, a vintage Pete style comment. Roger made it very clear he would walk off if it didn’t stop. He had problems with his in ear monitors, leading him to repeatedly yank them out, going so far as too tell the poor guy trying to put them back on him to fuck off. More great piss and vinegar! Overall, thoroughly great set by what exists as The Who today.


Next week Lisa will be reporting from Forest Hills, where The Who last played in July, 1971, two shows that opened their Who's Next US tours that year. 

20.5.15

PETE TOWNSHEND - The First Profile I Wrote, Part 2

This is the second part of the profile of Pete Townshend that I wrote for Melody Maker in May, 1974. I think at the time that MM was running a series called The Giants Of Rock, and each month we featured a fairly lengthy profile of top flight rock stars. This one on Pete was the only one I was asked to write, probably because I had my hands full running MM’s US coverage at the time. To be honest, I’d have been a bit miffed if they’d asked anyone else to do it.
          The first part ended with the success of Tommy and Leeds as a stop-gap follow-up.



Another shot taken at Jacksonville, August 7, 1976, one of the batch if pictures from this show sent to me by Mark Starcke.

Time passed and nothing happened. Townshend himself must have been going through mental torture at this time, knowing that unsympathetic observers were writing him off as a one-shot while he was desperately trying to come up with something new that would stand alongside Tommy.
          His first attempt, now referred to as the Lifehouse Project, failed although the ideas behind it seemed sound enough. For Lifehouse, Townshend wanted to involve a bunch of Who fans with the group to such a degree that the whole complement became one big rock group. Then they’d compose together and the resultant action and music would form both a film and an album.
          Practically, of course, it could never work and all that came from the idea were a number of rehearsals at the Young Vic Theatre near Waterloo Station which ultimately resulted in the tracks on their Who’s Next album.
          The group themselves were dissatisfied with this record. Townshend obviously felt he could do better, but it did produce a great single in ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ and a good quantity of other tempting rock offerings. Any other band would have been well proud of this album, despite its bad taste sleeve design.
          The Who continued touring and Townshend became one of the most quoted of all rock personalities, simply because he was such a good talker. Townshend thinks a great deal about rock and its place in today’s society; he also thinks about its future and comes up with ideas which, although often impractical, are always interesting.
          There was another long delay following Who’s Next, punctuated only with the release of Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy, an anthology album of greatest hits and others. Townshend has stated publicly that this is his favourite Who album because it sums up their career and takes the band back to their roots so well.
          Though Who buffs would probably own all the material on the album, it is certainly the most recommended for the beginner. But there still remained the nagging thought that Townshend had yet to produce an album to match Tommy which was, by this time, becoming something of a sore point within the group.
          It was generally known that they were fed up to the back teeth with playing the music, even though fans continued to lap it up, and there followed a lengthy period of inactivity for the band. Townshend himself put out a sort of solo album called Who Came First, dedicated to Meha Baba. It was a surprisingly quiet affair, on which the tracks were as unlikely as the arrangements. There was Jim Reeves’ ‘There’s A Heartache Following Me’, apparently Baba’s favourite commercial song, and a Baba prayer which Townshend set to music. It was all sweetness and light, a far cry from the violent, prancing figure of The Who’s stage show.
          The rest of the band went their own ways, too. Roger Daltrey put out his first solo music and had a hit single on his own. John Entwistle stepped up his solo output and talked about a new group called Rigor Mortis which he was forming as an additional activity to The Who. Keith Moon went into films and looning full time.
          Then there were faint rumblings in the early part of last year that something was happening at last. There was talk that they’d bought their own recording studio in Battersea because they weren’t satisfied with anything else around and that hard work was in progress fitting the place out.
          Long sessions were taking place morning, noon and night and Townshend was, for once, refusing interviews in case his concentration on the project in hand wavered. His attention didn’t waver and Quadrophenia was the result, finally burying Tommy once and for all. Quadrophenia is a story of mods and The Who’s own background, containing some brilliant rock numbers and far and away the most ambitious production job the group had ever attempted.
          Significantly, perhaps, Kit Lambert’s name re-appeared on the sleeve production credits, but the whole epic double package was really Townshend’s creation. He wrote the entire score for Quadrophenia even though the initial idea is credited to Daltrey. Townshend arranged the piece – no mean feat in itself – and his guitar playing stands up to the highest critical standards.
          Though Townshend himself would be the first to knock his skill on the guitar, Quadrophenias shows him to be up there with Page, Clapton and Beck in skill and technique. Visually, of course, he’ll forever be streets ahead. The sheer scope of Quadrophenia reflects the scope of the man’s imagination. He aims high and often reaches higher still. Few artists in rock are capable of the concentration involved in producing epics of the size of Quadrophenia.
          Peter Townshend is the perfectionist’s perfectionist. Many bands would swop a date-sheet of good gigs for one of The Who’s bad nights, but Townshend, whose temper breaks out on these occasions, takes the matter to his heart and fist. It was only recently that he physically attacked Bob Pridden, The Who’s most respected sound engineer, when something went wrong during a show at Newcastle. And Pridden has been with The Who since they started*.
          But he still hasn’t lost his sense of humour, even though he has aged considerably since those early, crazy days. He’ll still kick a TV set in if the mood takes him, and celebrate a good show by throwing cream cakes over one and all. The glint in his eye is forever there.
          His guitar wrecking now seems confined to rare occasions. Usually it occurs after a particularly good or particularly bad performance. What Townshend considers to be an average performance will not end in the once nightly ritual of snapping a Gibson twixt neck and fretboard. And nowadays, of course, he could afford to smash three a night.
There are fewer more exciting spectacles in rock than watching Townshend put all his energies into the destruction of a Gibson Les Paul guitar that has apparently displeased him.
          It’s a merciless onslaught and while the guitar purists may frown at what they consider to be a cheap (or too expensive) gimmick, anyone who has watched the spectacle from close quarters will know how the adrenalin flows when the neck finally parts company with the body. And to sacrifice the remains to the crowd is surely the ultimate in showmanship – as Caesar proved in Rome.
          No appreciation of Townshend would be complete without mention of the legendary demo discs he produces for the rest of the band before they enter the studio to begin recording.
          At home in his private studios, Townshend painstakingly overdubs everything until he has produced a solo single of his own. This he duplicates and sends out to the other three so that they may learn their parts, and improve on them before the actual group recording. In hushed corridors it’s said by those who have heard Townshend demos that they frequently rival the finished product**.
          To this end Townshend is a competent drummer, bassist and keyboard player. He also tampers with Moogs and synthesisers and possesses a rather nasal but fine and pure singing voice. He hasn’t the power of Daltrey, but it serves to offset The Who’s violence in music with more thoughtful lyrics here and there.
          It was no secret that he was heavily into drugs until influenced by Baba. The Who were the mod band and mods took uppers and downers until they rattled when they danced. Townshend has since appeared on TV discussions relating his experiences with drugs and emphasising that through Baba he has found a better way of dealing with the problems of life.
          Townshend is also something of a Good Samaritan in the field of rock. He discovered Thunderclap Newman and produced their number one hit ‘Something In The Air’; he was associated with the early acceptance of Golden Earring; he encouraged Eric Clapton to perform on stage again at the two London Rainbow shows last year – but was happy to take a relatively back seat when it came to the actual playing.
          Today he’s a family man with a wife and two daughters living by Eel Pie Island near Twickenham. He involves himself in all facets of rock and is keenly aware of The Who’s need to carry on live performances in all parts of the world. He will not be dictated to by business demands.
          “I am the business,” he was once quoted as saying when a record company were anxious for a new Who release.
          He can write interesting newspaper articles: three years ago he wrote a series of thought provoking articles on the rock scene in the Melody Maker.
          As 1974 turned, Peter Townshend could look back on a satisfying ten years. He is a perfect member of our exclusive rock giants clubs, always striving for better things and always maintaining a super-high standard in whatever he does. He’s still out there playing and intends to carry on as long as The Who can survive.
          Over the last eight years I’ve watched The Who perform upwards of 25 times, and at least 20 of these have been within the last three years. On every occasion they have brought me to a peak of excitement that may happen once or twice with others but never every time.
          For that I have to thank Peter Townshend.

* Actually since December 15, 1966, when Bob made his roadie debut a gig at the Locarno Ballroom, Streatham in South London.

** This was written long before Pete’s demo were made available on the Scoop albums and elsewhere of course.  

19.5.15

PETE TOWNSHEND – The First Profile I Wrote


Happy 70th Birthday Pete.
          In 1974 I was asked to write a profile of Pete Townshend for Melody Maker, and to mark Pete reaching his 70th I am reproducing it below, in two parts, today and tomorrow, virtually word for word. It was published on May 18, a day before Pete’s 29th birthday.
          Since I researched and wrote this piece 41 years ago, Who scholarship has come in on leaps and bounds. Nowadays there are several detailed books on The Who by authors who have investigated their career in minute detail, many of them among the best rock biographies and chronologies ever published. None of these existed when I wrote this nor, of course, was there an internet to explore. As a result there’s a few mistakes and sweeping statements that make me cringe today, but there’s a certain naïve enthusiasm I quite like, and although I can’t remember how, I must have gone to some trouble to find out all this information. I had interviewed all four by this time, and asked questions about their early career but I was in New York in 1974 and didn’t have access to the MM’s cuttings library. The only Who book to have been published was Gary Herman’s pioneering biography in 1971, which I still have, and I think I talked to Nik Cohn a bit too, also Vicki Wickham and probably Peter Rudge.
          A month later I saw The Who play four nights at Madison Square Garden.

This shot was taken at Jacksonville, August 7, 1976, one of the batch if pictures taken at this show and sent to me by Mark Starcke.

It may well have been pure chance that produced the most visually exciting guitarist in rock. If Pete Townshend hadn’t been born with a big nose he might never have picked up a guitar in the first place, and if he hadn’t accidentally bashed his fretboard against a low ceiling in a club at Acton one night long, long ago he might never have developed his peculiar – and totally original – style of playing.
          It was in the earliest days of The Who, when they were called the Detours, that Townshend, imitating Keith Richards somewhat deliberately, spun his arm around propeller fashion, knocked his guitar against the roof and smashed the fretboard.
From that day onwards The Who was born. They were the most violent, antisocial, debt-ridden band of the sixties. Then they grew up, became superstars and millionaires but still have a genuine claim to being the most exciting live act in the business
          Townshend, too, grew up. He watched and learned until it was time for him to become a trendsetter himself. He led The Who through stormy waters and watched them conquer the world.
          He became one of the most eloquent spokesmen on rock in general, a man whose views are respected by all. He also found Meha Baba which transformed the fighting, angry young man into a sensitive, mature adult and musician.
          Few can argue that, in the light of the day, Peter Townshend IS The Who. While his three colleagues undeniably contribute a great deal to his amazing little rock band from London’s Shepherds Bush, they would be the first to admit that without Townshend’s guiding light there would be no Who.
          It was Keith Moon who told me, during a rare moment of seriousness, that Townshend was in his opinion, a true genius. Moon spoke in hushed, revered tones and meant exactly what he said.
          Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend was born on May 19, 1945, in Chiswick Hospital, in West London. He attended Acton Grammar School and Ealing Arts College. He’s said often enough that he was a skinny, ugly youth who couldn’t pull birds and whose big nose made him a frequent subject of ridicule among his school mates. So he turned to the guitar, possibly subconsciously thinking that guitarists in groups could pull birds and joined the band that was later to become The Who.
          At this time Roger Daltrey was the undisputed leader, the lead guitarist and the lead singer. Pete played rhythm guitar. Some say he always has.
          First they were The Detours, then The Who, then The High Numbers and back to The Who again. Their first public appearance was in 1964 in Acton and their decision to change their name back to The Who coincided with the arrival of their managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp.
          Lambert was an out of work film producer and Stamp was the brother of actor Terry. Both immediately realised the potential of The Who and immediately cashed in on the mod craze that was beginning to envelop the London area. They stuck their Who on at the Marquee Club on Tuesday nights, formed a fan club called the 100 Faces (a top mod was known as a “Face”) and encouraged the group to self-destruct at the end of their act.
          Townshend would ram a Rickenbacker into his speaker cabinet, Moon would walk over his kit and Daltrey – the sharpest looking “Face” of them all – would snap his fingers and boast about the number of pills he’d taken that evening. Entwistle, of course, would just stand there.
          There were records, too, all coming from the pen of Townshend who by this time had become the star attraction. Their first hit ‘I Can’t Explain’ was a deliberate rip-off from the Kinks’ chunky chord style. There was, in fact, a great deal of ripping-off in the early Who. ‘The Kids Are Alright’ was a dead-ringer for the Beatles, ‘A Legal Matter’ and, to a certain extent ‘Substitute’, were pure Rolling Stones, and all the while arguments were going on within the group because Keith Moon wanted them to harmonise like The Beach Boys and Roger Daltrey was after a rhythm and blues/black soul sound.
          But Townshend steered a middle course and The Who became a competent if slightly controversial, pop band. They made excellent singles, like ‘I Can See For Miles’ with a superbly delayed chorus line, and ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere’ where Townshend began experimenting with the on/off switch on his electric guitar, and using feedback to good effect.
          He also wrote what was to become the anthem of the mods and one of the greatest rock singles of the sixties, ‘My Generation’, still arguably the group’s most potent number and an important contribution to rock culture. The classic line “Hope I Die Before I Get Old” will stand forever.
          Clues as to Townshend’s further capabilities were slipping out as the group sought to establish themselves firmly. Arguments will rage forever about who released the first concept rock album, but long before Tommy was even thought of The Who put out THE first rock opera, albeit a mini-opera, titled ‘A Quick One’.
          It was the first time any band had recorded two or more songs linked together to form a story, but its significance on rock’s future was totally missed at the time. Concept albums had never been thought of before The Who put out their third album, The Who Sell Out. On this all the tracks on the first side were linked by commercials that sounded like pirate radio stations. Another first for Townshend – again before the world woke up to the fact.
          Commercial radio, in fact, had a large hand in the growing acceptance of The Who. Lambert and Stamp were quick to realise the promotional potential of the pirate radio stations and they plagued the pirate deejays with Who singles.
          There was also Ready Steady Go!, the ITV TV rock show hosted by Cathy McGowan on which The Who were frequent guests and on which Townshend, looking mean and moody, would parade his Union Jack jacket amidst “oohs” and “aahs” from the strictly mod studio audience.
          For all their local London and South East success and their clique following, The Who lost money hand over fist. Various estimates as to their total red figures run well into six figures, mostly because of guitar damage, and they had yet to crack America where they toured with “bigger” English bands like Herman’s Hermits and the Dave Clark Five*.
          In 1968 the tide turned. Townshend found Meha Baba and began work on what was to transform The Who into one of the biggest rock acts of all time. It also revealed him as one of the greatest creative talents in rock as well as the most visual instrumentalist.
          This was Tommy, previewed at generous volume in a live performance before ecstatic critics at Ronnie Scott’s London jazz club later that year. Over three-quarters of Tommy came out of Townshend, including the electrifying ‘Pinball Wizard’ and the huge crescendo of ‘See Me, Feel Me’ which still remains the best climax to any piece of rock music to this day.
          And while The Kinks had tried their hand at a rock opera a few months previously, it was The Who and Townshend who scored supremely, simply because they could put it over live with the most dynamic act in the world.
          Townshend had begun phase two of his career. Now he was utterly respected and, unlike in previous years, considerably more approachable. He took Tommy on the road where it was received with wild adulation and in 1969 he was generally voted the most outstanding artist at the legendary Woodstock Festival.
          He had also perfected the group’s stage act to such a degree that, although perhaps a little predictable, there was really no one to touch them on a live stage.
There was motionless Entwistle, lassooing Daltrey and flaying Moon. But standing majestically to stage right, his tall skinny frame angling like rubber, was the most incredible gymnast of them all.
          Jumping, spinning, writhing, splitting, vaulting, and leaping as if in a trance, a spinning top whipped by the violence of the music he was playing, sometimes angry sometimes laughing, but always making that block chord in time with the spin of his right arm.
          Tommy and that act brought financial rewards at last. They paid off their debts, bought big houses and big cars and slowed down considerably.
          And it was at this point in their career that Townshend’s great dilemma took control. Having produced what was generally regarded as a masterpiece which elevated the group to the attention of serious music observers everywhere, how was he going to follow it up?
          First there was the Live At Leeds album, a particularly good live set on which one track – the extended version of ‘My Generation’ – will stand out as one of their best recorded works. But it was hardly a follow-up to Tommy, more of a delaying tactic.

Part 2 tomorrow.


* DC5? Rubbish I know! Someone must have told me this. 

18.5.15

SITAR MUSIC - A Post Script


Further to my post about sitar music my friend Adrian Boot has created a playlist for anyone who fancies checking out the best tracks by the crème de la crème of sitar players: ‘Mand’ (by Nikhil Banerjee),‘Mand’ (Shahid Parvez), ‘Baul’ (Nikhil Banerjee), ‘Thumbri’ (Nikhil Banerjee), ‘Raga Deshkar’ (Shahid Parvez), ‘Raga Desh (Shahid Parvez), ‘Dhun Bhatiali’ (Shahid Parvez), ‘Raga Bihag (alap)’ (Shahid Parvez), ‘Vilambit (slow)’ (Shahid Parvez), ‘Raga Misra Mand’ (Ali Akbar Khan), and ‘Raga Bhairavi (Madhyalaya)’ (Ustad Vilayat Khan). 


Nikhil Banerjee (1931-1986)

16.5.15

SUNNY AFTERNOON - The Kinks' Musical


A few weeks ago Ray Davies was in the building that houses Omnibus Press to attend the launch of a book entitled 100 Years Of British Songwriting, a lavish coffee table affair commissioned by the Performing Rights Society for Music that we had effectively packaged for them. So I sidled up to Ray and had a chat, firstly about his book Americana, which I’d recently read, then about Effingham where Ray had lived and which is close to where we live now, and finally about Sunny Afternoon, the musical based on the music of The Kinks that is playing at the Harold Pinter Theatre near Leicester Square. He was, he said, on his way there to check that some new cast members were doing their job in the manner that was expected of them, which is why he ducked out of this bash early. It was a genuine hit, he told me, clearly pleased, and this was the first time I realised how closely involved he evidently is in its production.
Well, it deserves to be a hit I thought last night as I left the Pinter Theatre along with the rest of my family who had conspired to take me there as a surprise birthday treat. It’s lots of fun, like The Kinks a bit topsy-turvy, full of spirit and energy as it combines the juke-box musical format with a plotline that follows the far from comfortable trajectory of The Kinks’ career from The Ravens to headlining at New York's Madison Square Garden, though this latter episode is bolted on at the end a tad hurriedly.
For anyone unfamiliar with the real story of The Kinks, and what was going on behind the scenes, Sunny Afternoon will be a bit of an eye-opener, for Davies – who with playwright Joe Penhall wrote the story as well as the music – hasn’t tried to hide the less than edifying goings-on that were hidden from view, at least until drummer Mick Avory chucked a cymbal at Dave Davies during a gig in Cardiff in 1965. Dave was rushed to hospital, Mick did a runner and it hit the headlines. All this is dramatically played out as the climax to the first act, so audiences who are either too young or unversed in Kinks lore to know about it will probably assume it is dramatic licence. It isn’t.
Neither are the management woes involving the pair of toffs, Robert Wace and Grenville Collins who took them on as The Ravens, inviting experienced impresario Larry Page to join them along with music publisher Eddie Kassner. All these characters are present and correct, all taking their cut and leaving the increasingly paranoid Ray Davies to ponder the wisdom of a career in showbiz that seems to benefit all but him. This isn’t helped by the disaster that was The Kinks’ introduction to America and their subsequent banning from the land of plenty, which occupies some lengthy and especially funny scenes in the second act.
The action is set in Swinging London in the Swinging Sixties with Swinging Dollybirds dancing go-go style against a backdrop of wall-to-wall speakers and along a catwalk that stretches out into the stalls and fosters a close connection with the audience. When the fashion-dedicated group sings the title song towards the end of the second half ticker tape floats down from above, all to recognise the inescapable fact that the world spun around England in those days. After all, we did have The Beatles, the Stones and the World Cup.
Rightly the show is centred around the character of Ray, sympathetically portrayed by gangly John Dagleish, who finds the balance between art – the integrity of his songs – and commerce – the need to be productive – difficult to maintain. The plot hinges on this and his difficult marriage to Rasa Didzpetris (Lillie Flynn), the daughter of Lithuanian refugees who settled in Bradford. Ray – the real Ray – is to be commended for his willingness to permit these glimpses into his private world to be aired in this way.
Meanwhile younger brother Dave (George Maguire), perhaps inspired by the example of Keith Moon, embarks on a debauched journey that involves a regiment of groupies, a fondness for wearing their clothes and a sea of booze, all of which displeases his elder brother to the extent that their relationship descends into toxicity. The ying and yang of the brothers’ relationship serves as a secondary plotline, the more Ray backs away from the pop world’s more disagreeable traits, the more Dave embraces them.
Of course, all this unpleasantness is accompanied by a wealth of brilliant Kinks music, from ‘You Really Got Me’ – with Dave shoving a screwdriver into the amp speaker to create distortion, as per the legend – to ‘Lola’, played as a sing-along encore at the end, as it often was at real Kinks concerts. All the great Kinks songs, and some not so well known ones, crop up along the way, not all of them played by the group. The girls, who double as Ray’s many sisters, screaming fans and dancers on shows like Top of The Pops, get their fair share, as do the male characters from the management, and all of them seem to play some instrument or other, including trombones, trumpets and a banjo. The sound is fattened out by a guitarist and piano player at the rear of the stage and is rarely less than rock gig volume. Nevertheless, ‘Days’ is given a particularly effective a cappella treatment, ‘I Go To Sleep’ is sang by Rasa, on the phone to homesick Ray in America, and ‘Dead End Street’ sees Ma and Pa Davies grumbling about their downtrodden circumstances.
Pride of place, though, is given to Ray’s masterpiece ‘Waterloo Sunset’, played by the group with Rasa on back-up vocals as the penultimate number in the show. Here we find The Kinks in the studio working on the song, bassist Peter Quaife having just decided not to hand in his notice (yet) because he loves playing the descending bass line intro, Dave figuring out the licks on his electric guitar, Ray strumming the chords, Mick tapping softly in the background until it all comes together. “What are the words Ray?” asks one of them. Ray approaches the mike. “Dirty old river…”

As long as I gaze on

It was the cue for the theatre audience to rise as one and sing along, as did we. Back in the nineties I used to drive my two children to primary school each morning and (to discourage squabbling) I taught them to sing this lovely song as we made our way down Percy Road past Ravenscourt Park to Flora Gardens. They’re no longer kids nowadays but as I glanced across the seats I noted that they still remember the words; paradise and the Southbank sunset were ours. Thanks L, O & S, and thanks Ray for this wonderful song.

         

15.5.15

RICK BUCKLER - That's Entertainment


The middle of May marks the anniversary of my washing up on Melody Maker, joining the music industry as an immature but rock-mad lad of 23, so this year I’m celebrating 45 years on the obstacle course that my dear departed friend Derek Taylor christened The Industry of Human Happiness. I’m not sure it’s quite such a happy place now as when Derek spoke those immortal words, though it certainly was when he was in his prime. While it would be going too far to call it The Industry of Human Misery, nowadays it’s more of a sprawling land mass, much of it troubled, and occupied – as ever – by ne’er do wells, by get-rich-quick hawkers of tat (hang your head in shame descendants of Opportunity Knocks), by too many lawyers and accountants, by too many musicians hanging on for dear life, by those who made their pile and by genuinely nice guys whose pile ought perhaps to be a big bigger.
         One of the latter is Rick Buckler whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with this year on his autobiography That’s Entertainment: My Life With The Jam, which Omnibus Press published this week. I’ve had plenty of close-encounters with rock stars over these 45 years and few have struck as such an all-round, down-to-earth nice guy as Rick who hasn’t a bad word to say about anyone – not even Paul Weller who, in a manner of speaking, pulled the rug from beneath his feet – and seems truly grateful to all of us at Omnibus for publishing his book. Rick is cheerful, friendly, gracious to everyone he meets, a tribute to his profession.
         Last night Rick was at our offices for the book’s official launch – see photo below – and he’s spent all this week helping to promote it, including an appearance on Breakfast TV.

Rick with CC & Chris Magill, visiting from Australia.

With an introduction by Keith Moon biographer Tony Fletcher who began his life as a writer by publishing a fanzine called Jamming, That’s Entertainment is both an insider’s intimate chronicle of the heyday of The Jam, and a revealing personal memoir. In exhaustive detail, Rick retraces the story of his fifties childhood, one of many kids who went through school dreaming about being in a band. Unlike almost all of his fellow dreamers, Rick got his wish. Rick takes fans through the whole story: growing up in a working-class family in Woking, the early Jam – a covers band who worked their asses off until they got it right – the early records, the competition with the Pistols and the Clash – they were never really punks – through to the glory days and the break-up, then the post-Jam realignments of personnel through a succession of other groups and even a spell as a craftsman-like furniture restorer. It is the story of the dissolution of schoolboy friendships, the highs professional triumphs, the lows of quarrels, and the ongoing influence of a politically abrasive band that for so many music fans dominated late seventies and early eighties British rock.  
         He was also a damn good drummer as testified by a slew of great Jam songs.