THE WHO – Metropolitan Opera House, New York, June 7, 197

Among the other bits and pieces I found in my old folder of Who stuff was this silver programme from The Who’s ‘recital’ of Tommy at the New York Metropolitan Opera House on June 7, 1970, perhaps the most prestigious show they ever did. I wasn’t there, of course, having joined Melody Maker a month earlier, but I picked this up at Bleecker Bob’s record store in the Village for a few dollars when I landed in NY in 1973. The cover was designed by David Byrd and the image of the bloke with his wedding tackle on show is the same as used on the screens during the Who Hits 50 tour currently taking a break between US legs.
For those fans who never grabbed a copy of The Who Concert File, published by Omnibus is 1997, edited by yours truly and designed by Richard Evans, here’s what authors Joe McMichael and ‘Irish’ Jack Lyons had to say about the show:
“The Who kicked off their 1970 American Tour with two performances of Tommy in this prestigious 3,788–seat venue. Gross was $55,000.
“1st Set: ‘Heaven And Hell’, ‘I Can’t Explain’, ‘Young Man Blues’, ‘The Seeker’, ‘Water’, Tommy (21 songs), ‘Summertime Blues’, ‘My Generation’, ‘See Me, Feel Me’, ‘So Very Long’, ‘Naked Eye’, ‘Sparks’, improvisation, (encore) ‘Shakin’ All Over/Spoonful’, improvisation.
“2nd Set: ‘Heaven And Hell’, ‘I Can’t Explain’, ‘Water’, ‘The Seeker’, ‘Young Man Blues’, Tommy (21 songs), ‘Summertime Blues’, ‘Shakin’ All Over’, ‘My Generation’, ‘See Me, Feel Me’, ‘So Very Long’, improvisations, ‘Naked Eye’, improvisations, ‘Sparks’, improvisation.
“A Bill Graham/Nat Weiss co-promotion and the last and most famous of the opera house shows, with the tickets being sold at the Fillmore East. Rudolph Bing, director of the Met Opera Company, initially wouldn’t book The Who – he didn’t much like the idea of a loud, rowdy rock’n’roll group at his prestigious Lincoln Center concert hall – but he was invited to listen to the Tommy LP and this changed his mind and the booking was accepted for the loudest and rowdiest rock group of all. The concerts were promoted as being the last ever performances of Tommy. The audience and the Met didn’t mix too well, however, and Bill Graham himself was on hand to quell any potential disruptiveness. Both concerts received standing ovations of over ten minutes and VIP’s present included Warren Beatty and Julie Christie.
“At the first show, every line of ‘Young Man Blues’ was cheered by the audience, as if in vocal agreement with the sentiment of the song. The new song ‘Water’ received its first airing in concert (at least in the States – it might have already been played in the UK). As Townshend commented: ‘In a way we feel that we have to play something new because it’s a special occasion. We haven’t really altered our act radically since the last time we played. This is one that’s appearing on our new album...’ Daltrey sang ‘Water’ with great power and commitment, it being a perfect vehicle for The Who’s onstage style. The highlights of Tommy during this performance (and others) were ‘Overture’, ‘Sparks’, ‘Pinball Wizard’ and the moving ‘See Me, Feel Me’. With the ‘opera’ dispensed with, the band ploughed straight into the frenzied rock’n’roll of ‘Summertime Blues’ and the ‘My Generation’ medley, which included the second new song ‘Naked Eye’. This was still rather rough in its structure, and although Pete Townshend sang the second verse (as on the final recording), the third verse was omitted and it moved into further improvisations.
“As he returned to the stage for a rare encore, Pete joked with an ecstatic Kit Lambert, ‘You really book us on some bum gigs, man!’ ‘Shakin’ All Over’ moved into a bludgeoning riff that became the basis for a wild, improvised instrumental, featuring a drum solo and some impromptu slide guitar playing (with the mike stand) from Townshend, forming one of the most unusual and exciting improvisations that The Who ever played. Pete finally threw his guitar about the stage, before casting it into the audience. It was caught by long-term Who fanatic – and later rock musician – Binky Phillips.
“Phillips later recalled the show vividly: ‘It was the best show I had ever seen. Pete came out there and showed everyone he didn’t give a damn about the opera. They were so violent and vicious. They sounded like the old Who. That was the night I caught Townshend’s guitar, which was the culmination of everything for me... Townshend walked to the tip of the stage with his busted guitar and looked at me as if to say ‘Are you ready?’ I stood up and all my friends stood back. They all wanted the guitar as badly as I did but they stepped back. It was like a Joe Namath pass over the 30–foot orchestra pit. It just fell right into me.’ (from The Who by John Swenson, 1979.)
“The second set was witnessed by many who had been present during the first show and had doubled up on tickets. Prior to Tommy, Townshend explained that the show was hopefully to be the last performance of the work, although he must have had doubts that the act could survive its loss so abruptly. ‘My Generation’ moved from ‘So Very Long’ into a few lines and guitar figures from ‘Water’ before moving into ‘Naked Eye’, and an improvisation which had been released already on Live At Leeds. The band didn’t return for an encore this time, and the discontented crowd wouldn’t disperse until Townshend reappeared alone, to face booing: ‘After two fucking hours, boo to you too...’ and he threw his mike stand into the crowd.
          “Reviews were ecstatic. Albert Goldman said in Life (July 10): ‘Rock music may have reached its all-time peak with the recent performance at the Metropolitan Opera of Tommy... From the moment the boys walked on stage, it was obvious they were determined to give their greatest performance. Flashing their tawdry show tricks, they worked the Met as if it were a grind house in Yorkshire... Having outclassed the competition by miles and miles, The Who ought to be honoured at this point with a splendid award. I propose an architectural competition. The theme? The world’s largest opera house for the world’s smallest opera company.’
Fred Kirby wrote in Billboard (June 20) that The Who were as ‘dynamic as ever... While the two hours stretch may have been too much for many in the audience, The Who continue in a class by themselves when it comes to hard work.’
“Twenty years later, Roger Daltrey rated these two concerts as the finest The Who ever played, though at the time Rolling Stone thought that a rock act playing at the Met was merely a gimmick. Ever the non-conformist, Pete Townshend considered the Met shows ‘dire’.”


THE WHO – Badges & Passes

In that green folder of Who memorabilia was a plastic bag containing lots of buttons and badges and – miraculously – the backstage pass for The Who’s concert at London’s Oval Cricket Ground on September 18, 1971. Signed by promoter Rikki Farr, it’s a bit ‘distressed’ as auction houses describe items that have seen better days, but considering it’s really no more than a flimsy piece of paper it’s done very well to have survived at all. I doubt there’s many more of these in the world. (There's a post about this show elsewhere on the blog.) 
Up to this point I don’t think I was ever given a backstage pass for any Who shows even though I definitely was backstage on many occasions. Security didn’t seem to exist in those days which wasn’t to say that anyone could wander into their dressing room, you just needed to look like you belonged and in you went. It helped if a few people in the entourage recognised your face, of course, which they did after I’d been on Melody Maker for about six months.
          In the days before laminated backstage passes acts on the road issued either stick-on passes, sometimes with your name written on, which you peeled off from backing paper and stuck to your clothes, or buttons like this one below that tour manager Pete Rudge gave me when I went down the East Coast of America with The Who in November of 1971. This was the first time I’d ever visited America – and what better way to go than with The Who touring party.

By the time of the Quadrophenia tour in 1973 they’d moved on to laminates but I seem to have lost my yellow plastic pass with the nuclear warning icon that they used on that tour. I remember having one for the two shows at the LA Forum in November 1973. Nevertheless, along the way I’d picked up these buttons, the ones with the concentric circles – pin-on and sew-on – from around the time of Who’s Next, with the Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy, Odds And Sods and Who By Numbers ones a bit later. Towser Tunes is a bit of a mystery. I think it was a music publishing company that Pete launched in the seventies but why he had buttons made for it is anybody’s guess. The four Who heads are from Madison Square Garden, June 1974, one for each night, and they were the same ones scanned by Richard Evans for use in the booklet accompanying 30 Years of Maximum R&B.

When The Who opened the Rainbow Theatre in London with three straight nights at the beginning of November 1971 its manager John Morris gave me this Rainbow pass which enabled to walk in free to every show there, backstage too. Who aside, this was the bet pass I ever had, and John, an American, became a good friend of mine while he lived in London and ran the Rainbow.


WHO'S LAST - Track listing

Responding to requests prompted by yesterday's post, this brief post details the track listing of the aborted Who's Last double vinyl LP, as given to me by someone from the Polydor Records marketing department in 1983.

Side 1
I Can't Explain
Squeeze Box
Boris The Spider
Fiddle About
Baby O'Riley

These tracks recorded at Charlton (May 18, 1974) and Swansea (June 12, 1976) football grounds. They did not specify which tracks came from which show.

Sides 2 & 3
Sister Disco
Music Must Change
Who Are You
Long Live Rock
Dancing In The Street
Can You See the Real Me

These tracks recorded at the Philadelphia Spectrum on either December 10 or 11, 1979

Side 4
Cry If You Want
The Quiet One
Dr Jimmy
Twist And Shout

These tracks recorded during The Who's final tour of America, November & December 1982 - no further details given. 


WHO’S LAST – The Alternative That Got Away

Most of the material in the green folder of Who material I'm scanning consists of press cuttings and magazines, and a few first drafts of text for the two books with scribbled notes in the margin. There were no computers in 1981 so everyone wrote on typewriters which meant that if you made a mistake you had to start again or use Tippex to plop a splodge of white stuff on to the paper, then type over it.
I had completely forgotten that in 1983 Polydor, The Who’s record label, commissioned me to write sleeve notes for a double live (vinyl) album they were planning which would be called Who’s Last, so it was a bit of a surprise to come across my six pages of A4 typed notes for this. If you can read it, here’s the first page:

The last few words on the final (sixth) page were: ‘The Who is dead. Long Live The Who’.
Polydor had sent me the track listing and the record looked interesting: side one recorded at Charlton (May 18, 1974) and Swansea (June 12, 1976) football grounds; sides two and three recorded at the Philadelphia Spectrum (December 10 & 11, 1979); and side four from various shows recorded during what was grimly announced as The Who’s final ever tour of the US during November and December, 1982. (Many of the tracks would subsequently turn up on 30 Years of Maximum R&B or as bonus tracks on reissued Who CDs during the nineties.)
Side four closed with ‘Twist And Shout’ (probably from Toronto, December 17, 1982), sung by John, and I remember calling him up to ask for a quote: “In the days of The Detours I used to sing ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘Twist And Shout’ because Roger couldn’t sing them, couldn’t get up there. We started getting five requests a night to do ‘Twist And Shout’ and I used to end up going to the tax office in the morning with no voice at all.”
In the event, of course, this album was never released, although an entirely different album called Who’s Last was released the following year. I cannot remember why the first Who’s Last was cancelled or even whether I was paid for writing the notes, but I was less than delighted with the Who’s Last that eventually came out and vented my spleen in my 1995 (revised in 2004) book The Complete Guide To the Music of The Who. Here’s what I wrote:

It’s a crying shame that The Who waited until 1984 to release a full-blown double LP designed to represent an entire concert. By this time they’d given up touring completely and this came out almost as an afterthought, although at one time there were plans, regrettably abandoned, to include retrospective material from the early Seventies.
This release is a reasonably accurate reflection of the way the band sounded on the 1982 US tour, and by any standards apart from their own, they didn’t sound bad at all. They’d become what Roger and John always wanted: a streamlined, professional, major league rock attraction, capable of selling out vast arenas to fans who wanted to hear a diet of classic songs from The Who’s splendid back catalogue. Roger and John (and Kenney Jones) were happy to oblige; Pete wasn’t but he went along anyway, knowing that he had nothing left creatively to offer The Who.
 Most of the young crowds who came to see The Who in 1982 hadn’t seen them before and knew nothing of the glorious spark that illuminated them in days gone by. The fans sang along to ‘See Me, Feel Me’, punched the air to ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ and played air guitars to ‘My Generation’, and then went home happy, well satisfied with what The Who had given them. The Who got well paid (at last!), so why should anyone complain?
 Well, for starters it was a shoddy state of affairs that any live material from this era – recorded when the band was coasting – should find its way on to the market legitimately, while there was very little live material available – Leeds excepted – from the era when The Who genuinely reigned as the world’s greatest live rock band. Secondly, Who’s Last was heard by younger critics of the band – not to mention younger potential fans with perceptive ears – who inevitably turned around and quite rightly questioned if there was anything special that set The Who above and apart from other bands (as one critic put it, “wished they’d died before they got old”). Thirdly, most of these tracks were taken from the Toronto show that had been released on video the previous year (as The Who Rocks America), so hardcore fans already had this material. Older fans with treasured memories just shook their heads in resignation. Even the packaging – a dodgy ‘Union Jack burning’ cover in the UK and dull black and gold effort in the US – was rank. What had happened to quality control? Why would The Who willingly allow their reputation to be trashed in this way? Didn’t they care any more? Who knows (or cared)?
Keith Moon would have rolled over in his grave if he’d heard it. It’s to be hoped he didn’t.

Not really suitable for sleeve notes!


THE WHO – Focusing On Nowhere, Investigating Miles

This photograph of yours truly with Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones, taken is Los Angeles in 1973, appeared on my Facebook page last weekend and came from a bulging green envelope folder that was named ‘Who Bio Etc’ that I found at the bottom of a pile of old Q magazines underneath our staircase. It also contained piles of Who documents that date from 1981 when I was researching my book The Who: The Illustrated Biography, published by Omnibus Press in 1982, and my book on Pete Townshend that came out a couple of years later. In view of the high standard of many subsequent Who-related books, both seem rather slight nowadays but at the time I was quite proud of them.
So I scanned some of the documents in the folder to post on Just Backdated with a few notes about each item.
When I wrote those books I asked Pete for his help. It was, of course, during the period when he ran his own book publishing company, Eel Pie Books, so the request was a bit of a long shot as I was writing for a rival company. Nevertheless Pete took the trouble to reply, gracefully, as the letter below indicates, and even cc’d the letter to his mum and dad in case I went snooping around their house in Ealing. Heaven forbid! Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure nine out of ten rock stars would have thrown my letter in the bin.

Denied access to the source I did what all researchers do and went to the Public Records office, in those days at Somerset House at Aldwych where records of British births, marriages and death are kept. Over the course of several days I painstakingly looked up such documents as I could find that related to the Townshend family. I found Pete’s birth certificate, his mum and dad’s wedding certificate and the wedding certificates of both of his grandfathers, Horace Townshend and Maurice Dennis, respectively a fishmonger and a ‘tailor’s butter’, whatever that is. Happily all of these documents were in my Who folder and they are below.

All the information I gleaned from these documents enabled me to flesh out the opening chapter in my biography of Pete. There was no internet in those days but I somehow discovered that Horace Townshend, whom Pete refers to as Horry in his book Who I Am, was a semi-pro musician and composer who with his wife Dorothy (Dot) performed at music halls and at seaside parks in the 1920s, sometimes with the Jack Shepherd Concert Party. A bit of asking around led me to an expert on Music Hall, a very old bloke who lived in a small flat in Bayswater that was chock full of Music Hall memorabilia, and in a book he showed me there was a picture of the Jack Shepherd Concert Party on stage in Brighton. Unfortunately he was reluctant to lend me the book so I couldn’t include the picture in my own book, not that I knew for sure that Horry and Dot were in the picture anyway. But – surprise, surprise – it’s on the internet now, and I’ve reproduced it below. My Music Hall expert did vaguely recall Pete’s paternal grandparents when I mentioned their names and they might just might be on this stage. Even if they aren’t this is the sort of event that Pete’s granddad and granny would have appeared at – a bit different from smashing guitars at the Marquee Club I know, but everything starts somewhere.

More bits and pieces tomorrow.



So Sony now owns ATV Music which in turn owns Northern Songs, the company formed in 1963 to administer and benefit from the Lennon-McCartney songwriting catalogue. Its original owners were music publisher Dick James, Beatles manager Brian Epstein and songwriting Beatles John and Paul. If the reports in today’s newspapers are true, Sony has bought from the Michael Jackson Estate the 50% of ATV Music it didn’t already own for $750 million, meaning that its total value is $1.5 billion. Granted there’s more to it than just The Beatles’ songs but they are the jewel in its crown so it’s not a bad result for a couple of Liverpool teenagers who, in their own words, “sagged off” from school so they could spend their afternoons writing songs together at Paul’s Forthlin Road house back in 1958. “Another Lennon-McCartney Original” they would scrawl above the words to songs like ‘Too Bad About Sorrows’ and ‘Because I Know You Love Me So’*, neither of which they completed, let alone played or recorded with The Beatles.

The story of how the “Lennon-McCartney Originals” changed hands many times and ended up being worth well over a billion dollars and owned by a Japanese electronics conglomerate is long and convoluted. Many years ago I commissioned an entire book on the subject – its cover is above – but in a nutshell Dick James got cold feet when John ran off with Yoko and sold his 50% to Lou Grade, the owner of ATV which in those days was a television company. Clive Epstein, who had inherited 10% from his brother Brian, sold out to Grade too, and John and Paul were persuaded by Allen Klein to pledge their 20% each to a bank in a deal to acquire Northern Songs that went sour, thus enabling Grade to snap up their share as well. Grade subsequently sold out to an Australian entrepreneur who, when his business went pear-shaped in 1985, sold out to Michael Jackson who was looking for somewhere to park the massive royalties he’s earned from Thriller.
The sale price then was $47.5 million, a tiny fraction of what it is worth today and a sum that Paul could have raised had he felt so inclined, especially if Yoko chipped in. Paul, miffed that he would have to stump up such a tidy sum for what he felt was rightly his in the first place, didn’t feel inclined and relations between him and Jackson thereafter went into terminal decline. When Jackson’s spending habits got out of hand in the early 2000s he sold half to Sony for around $100 million and now Sony has bought the other half for seven and half times that, meaning Jackson’s three children are what Jane Austin might have called “eligible”, to say the least, though, according to reports, under Michael’s will they have to wait until they are 30 to get their hands on the dosh.
All of which makes me rather sad, and I’m sure that Paul McCartney – wherever he happens to be today – will be feeling the same as he scans the newspapers over his boiled egg, toast and coffee. Of course he’s massively wealthy anyway, probably the richest rock musician in the world, and he’s recently announced a series of tour dates for 2016 at which he will no doubt sing many of those “Lennon-McCartney Originals” to massive acclaim yet again.
But the fact that the legacy of The Beatles – their songs – is owned not by Paul and Yoko is a triumph for unrestricted capitalism and a tragedy for those who create music, whether it be as magnificent as that of The Beatles or simply any mediocre songwriter who’s been obliged to sell the rights to his work to eat. It is also a depressing echo of how so much else of cultural merit that this country has produced is owned not by those who created it but by sharp businessmen wherever they may lurk.
Lennon & McCartney gave us magic. Businessmen only give us their funny paper.

*I am indebted to Mark Lewisohn’s wonderful Beatles biography Tune In for the titles of these two phantom Lennon & McCartney originals (very rough versions of which finally saw the light of day on the ‘Fly On The Wall’ bonus disc that accompanied Let It Be Naked.)



There have been so many premature deaths of men and women associated with The Beatles that it comes almost as something of a relief that their great record producer George Martin bucked the trend by living to the age of 90. One of only three men upon whom the title of ‘fifth Beatle’ might deservedly be bestowed – the others are Brian Epstein and Neil Aspinall – Martin’s greatest achievement was not so much the production of The Beatles’ records or even in recognising the group's potential in the first place. No, for my money it was giving them the space in which to grow, marshalling their talents without in any way curbing their instincts and never – unlike so many other record producers of his era – dictatorially imposing his own ideas on the way their music should sound. In taking this course Martin allowed the Beatles’ extraordinary collective imagination to flourish without constraint, with the result that their catalogue of songs remains virtually peerless, a blue print for excellence in popular music that has yet to be surpassed.
          Looking back at his life up to the moment that he came into contact with them and Brian Epstein, this might seem unlikely. Although not rich, Martin was ‘officer class’, a man with bearing whose presence commanded respect. I met him only twice and briefly at that, once in London at some record company reception during the seventies and again in 1990 at Paul McCartney’s farm near Peasmarsh in Sussex on the occasion of Paul’s daughter Mary’s 21st birthday party. (At the time Mary was working as a photo researcher at Music Sales and I was her boss.) On both occasions I felt inclined to address George Martin as ‘Sir’, even though he wouldn’t receive his Knighthood until 1996. The reason was his bearing, his air of distinction, the appearance of someone to whom respect needed to be shown. On the first occasion he was wearing a dark blue suit and on the second dressed immaculately as Sir Thomas More – it was a fancy dress party – but even if he’d been wearing jeans and a t-shirt I doubt I’d have addressed him as whack, let alone expressed a disapproving opinion with regard to his tie, as the other George famously did during their first meeting at Abbey Road in 1962.
So it is to his immense credit that instead of balling them out after George’s remark or  more importantly  when they showed a distinct lack of enthusiasm for recording ‘How Do You Do It’, the promising Mitch Murray song, he overlooked what was in reality a precedent-setting infraction of music biz protocol and allowed his new signing to record their own ‘Please Please Me’ instead, at the same time suggesting a change in tempo and arrangement. A few weeks later ‘Please Please Me’ became The Beatles’ first number one (‘How Do You Do It’ was also a number one, of course, for the far less intractable Gerry & The Pacemakers) and a lesson was learned by one and all. George Martin would give The Beatles their rein but at same time chip in where he thought his considerable skills as a trained musician might help. In return The Beatles would treat Martin as an almost-equal partner in the studio but never as a sergeant-major who must be obeyed. It was the ideal creative relationship but it would never have happened if Martin hadn’t been flexible when faced with this potentially destructive early skirmish.
There’s a lot more to be said about George Martin than this of course and I’m sure the tributes will flow tomorrow, along with far more comprehensive accounts of his life and achievements. Nevertheless, I believe that alongside the many other instances when Martin’s musical skills, generous devotion to duty and persuasive diplomacy smoothed The Beatles’ progress, this early example of good judgment over ‘Please Please Me’ was crucial in establishing the mutual respect that became the key factor in the alliance between him and the greatest pop group of them all. We have much to thank him for.
RIP Sir George.

I think the photo I took from the internet is of J, P, G & R with George M getting their gold disc for ‘Please Please Me’. Looks like it from the length of their hair.


R&R HoF 2016

As a voter, I have been remiss in not commenting on this year's inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame., so here goes…
        It is a truth universally acknowledged that groups whose personnel has fluctuated radically during their life span will undergo problems when it comes to being inducted into the HoF. Death is not an issue, but living former members certainly are, especially as the ’25-year rule’ dictates that this length of time must elapse between the release of a debut recording and nomination. This creates situations where founder members can be nominated and inducted while current members, who may not have contributed to classic recording but have still been a member of a group for donkey’s years, are excluded.
        Those who will be inducted at the ceremony in New York this April are Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller and NWA, with songwriter-producer Bert Berns as the non-performer. The nominees who failed to get past the selection process were The Cars, Chic, Janet Jackson, The JBs, Chaka Khan, Los Lobos, Nine Inch Nails, The Smiths, The Spinners and Yes. I voted for The Smiths, Deep Purple, Yes, Cheap Trick and Steve Miller, this latter choice the result of polling visitors to Just Backdated, so three of my five got in.
        I was less than surprised that The Smiths didn’t get in, not so much because they didn’t deserve it but because Morrissey’s legendary truculence would have weighed against him. The organisers don’t really want someone with his waspishness delivering a speech promoting vegetarianism or whatever cause he is espousing this year and, of course, it’s unlikely he would have willingly shared a stage with Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, his sworn adversary since the High Court ruled against Morrissey (and Johnny Marr) in the Smiths’ royalty dispute.
        I thought Yes stood a better chance as their claim goes back further and although their personnel has been unstable (20 musicians have passed through Yes at the last count) no one seems to bear a grudge against anyone else any more. Also, their nomination would have been a fitting tribute to bass player Chris Squire, who until his death in 2015 was the most consistent member of the group and the one who worked hardest at holding it together.
        As regards those who did pass muster, Cheap Trick have had their ups and downs personnel-wise, with only vocalist Robin Zander and guitarist Rick Neilsen consistent throughout. Bassist Tom Petersen is back in the fold after a wobble in the eighties, and drummer Bun E. Carlos, who sued the band over something or other, is back in the fold, albeit nowadays as a non-performing member.
        Which brings me to Deep Purple, once a group with whom I was on friendly terms and whose semi-authorised biography I wrote back in 1981. I say ‘semi’ because not everyone involved co-operated on the project, the most regrettable absentee in this regard being guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who along with Jon Lord founded the group in 1968. Jon died in 2012 but Ritchie is alive and well, albeit it estranged from the current band which nowadays comprises the third founding member, drummer Ian Paice, as well as singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover, who have been with Purple on and off since 1969, guitarist Steve Morse, who joined in 1994, and keyboard player Don Airey who took over from Lord in 2002 when Jon decided he didn’t want to tour any more.
        Deep Purple are a relatively stable group these days, though by the time they decided to call it a day for the first time, in 1976, ten musicians had passed through their ranks. In addition to Morse and Airey, the line-ups since their reformation in 1984 have also included singer Joe Lyn Turner (1989-92) and guitarist Joe Satriani (1993/4), who was hurriedly (and briefly) recruited when Blackmore walked out on Purple for the last time in 1993.
        There is no love lost between the current band and their manager on the one side and Blackmore on the other which is why, even though he will be inducted, the guitar legend has evidently declined to attend the 2016 Hall of Fame ceremony on April 8. It seems the current band have refused to perform with Ritchie who would have been obliged to sit and watch them perform his songs, no doubt ‘Smoke On The Water’, their best known number with a riff so well known that even I can play it.
        According to reports, David Coverdale (lead singer from 1973-76) and Glenn Hughes (bass playing singer during the same period) are being inducted while current members Morse and Don Airey, who have served for the last 22 and 14 years respectively, have been excluded. I have no data regarding the two other original members singer Rod Evans and bass Nick Simper who were ousted in 1969 to make room for Gillan and Glover, but if they too are inducted it would seem to be an injustice against Morse and Airey whose length of service now exceeds even Blackmore.
        Personally I think they should let bygones be bygones, and get Ritchie up on that stage so he can crank out ‘Smoke On The Water’. It’s credited to all five members of the ‘classic’ Purple line-up but I have a sneaky feeling that it was their man in black who coined that legendary riff.



This is an extract from the newly published autobiography by Michael Bradley, the bass player in The Undertones who joined his school friends in the group in 1974. Four year later they recorded ‘Teenage Kicks’ which famously became John Peel’s favourite song ever, just as The Undertones became one of the most fondly remembered groups on the post-punk era.
          Michael’s story is a bitter sweet, heartwarming and occasionally hilarious tale of unlikely success, petty feuding and playful mischief during five years of growing up in the music industry.
We join Michael and his friends on the night in 1974 when John Peel played ‘Teenage Kicks’ for the first time on his radio show. Their world would never be the same.

We were in O’Neill’s kitchen that night listening to the radio.
          Some moments in your life can never be bettered and that was one. There wasn’t an outbreak of cheering, high fiving or back slapping. A few ‘Yes!’s may have been uttered but that was all. The reference to Loudon Wainwright III left us a bit puzzled but I suspect at that moment we would have been happy to be compared with Loudon Wainwright II or even The I.
          John Peel liked our record. Damn it, John Peel LOVED our record.
          It took a few days from Peel playing it to the first phone calls arriving from London record companies. We didn’t have a phone in our house, so I would get updates each day when I went down to Beechwood Avenue. Not that there was much to be updated on, as none of the companies suggested bringing us over to see them or, even more unlikely, them coming to see us.
          Not until the man from Sire Records got in touch.
          The story as told by no less a man than Seymour Stein himself is that he was driving – or being driven – to a Searchers show in the south of England. Seymour owned Sire Records, a New York label which had The Ramones and Talking Heads. Before punk Sire had specialised in signing British bands, including Barclay James Harvest and the Climax Blues Band, but we’ll forgive him for that.
          By 1978 he’d started to recruit new UK bands (The Rezillos) and old UK bands (The Searchers).
          He was listening to John Peel the night ‘Teenage Kicks’ was played and decided he wanted that band. Us.
          To prove he was serious he sent the entire staff from Sire’s London office to Derry to see if we were worth the chase.
          Paul McNally was that entire staff. Paul was tanned, fair haired and a very gentle man. To our ears he spoke with a posh English accent although we had only the Queen and Peter Purves to compare him with. He arrived at the Casbah in the company of Terri Hooley, who spoke the native tongue, and Ian Birch, a journalist with Melody Maker. I think the real reason Paul came over was to check that we had more songs than the four he had heard on the EP. Which we had, of course.
          There was an atmosphere of celebration when it became known that someone from Sire was in the room, someone who might give us a deal. Record companies never came to Derry. Not proper record companies who offered contracts, who released records around the world and who had bands on Top Of The Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test. The Casbah was so small that we were in eye contact with Paul McNally the whole night but we weren’t at all nervous. We had the confidence that the Patronage Of Peel gives you. Even if Paul hated us, we were still sure that someone else would come through the Casbah’s doors, tossing 30 pence into Big Tony’s outstretched hand and holding out a piece of paper and a pen to sign it with. It turned out that Paul did like us, as did Ian Birch. After a quick conversation at the bar after the show, it was agreed that we’d meet up again the next day at Feargal’s house for a meeting about The Future. Ian Birch impressed us with the fact that he had a really nice Steel Pulse badge in his lapel. It wasn’t the standard round button job, but the band’s name cut out in, presumably, steel and attached to the lapel with a small stud fastener. Much too tempting for one of our fans who, with admirable sleight of hand, managed to remove it while Ian had his jacket casually slung over his shoulder.
          Paul McNally once said that he had difficulty working out who was actually in the band and who wasn’t, when faced with nine of us in Feargal’s front room the next day. The band were there, of course. So was Vinny, naturally. Eugene Martin took his usual place, as did Paddy Crawford (now sporting a Steel Pulse badge) and Joe Breslin. Undeterred, Paul ploughed on with his comments on the band, last night’s performance and his intention to sign us to Sire. We were flattered that the home of The Ramones was even interested in taking us in so when Paul handed us the contract he was already half way to a deal. Sixty per cent, in fact. We decided there and then that John, Billy and Dee would put their names on the dotted line as it stood. Feargal and I would only sign after negotiating better terms with the man himself, Seymour Stein.
          In 1978 Derry’s legal community was busy representing young men who were involved in the many and varied attempts at overthrowing the state. Rioting had been in decline since the early seventies but still had the occasional revival. Some of our school friends had taken the cause of Irish Republicanism a little further than others and found themselves charged with membership and possession. Membership of the IRA and possession of arms or explosives.
          So it was entirely reasonable that our local solicitors were expert at representing teenagers with guns, rather than teenagers with guitars. Feargal took a copy of the Sire contract to a legal professional on Clarendon Street, home to many solicitors offices. He looked at the clauses. Not having anything to compare it with, he declared that, yes, it was indeed a contract. Nothing unreasonable in its contents.
          So, like Michael Collins some 60 years earlier, Feargal and I were off to London to negotiate on behalf of our people back home. Collins went to Downing Street to negotiate with Lloyd George. We went to Baker Street to parley with Seymour Stein. Neither party came back with a good deal.
          The London trip started well. For one thing, we flew in an aeroplane. This is important, because a couple of months earlier, Feargal and I (along with Billy and Eugene Martin) decided to go to London for a holiday and could only afford the train. Trains were cheap then, planes were expensive.
          It is, I know, the reverse today.
          Northern Ireland Railways ran a cross-channel service to London via the Larne to Stranraer ferry. It left Derry at twenty to three in the afternoon and arrived at Euston Station the following morning at five minutes past eight. No sleep and no sleepers for us. Sitting upright on the seat and worrying about being robbed were the main ways of passing the time. We went to London to see what the centre of the punk rock universe was actually like in 1978. Neglecting to bring much money, we soon discovered that even the most horrible B&B in the most horrible street wasn’t cheap. We had enough cash for the four of us to share one room for three nights in Earls Court. After that, we were directed towards a large camp called Tent City, which was way out west. Acton, I think. We got refuge in a large green tent. Can’t remember how much we paid, but compared to the £12 each for the B&B it was a bargain. It also meant we could afford to eat. I remember on that trip we went out for something to cure our hunger and stood in the doorway of McDonalds on Earls Court Road. I was amazed at the cost of the hamburgers. We had just come from a city where even a Hawaiian Burger (pineapple ring and thousand island dressing) cost 45 pence. In 1978 the golden arches had yet to reach across to Derry but I had read about McDonalds in NME and was curious about it.
          Not that curious that I would spend 75 pence on a Big Mac, though.