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Danny & the Heart-Throbs
dreamed up in about 1970 by Malc Harker and initially planned in my family sitting room. The plot was that Danny (played by Coal Board manager Paul Moreton) was a rock & roll singer who became terminally ill in the 50s but had been frozen until the eventual cure was discovered and he could resume his "King of Rock & Roll" position in the world. This was to be a one off Xmas gig in the Lanchester College refectory, publicised in the college mag with full theatricals on the night. No-one in the band was to be allowed on the stage sober. Bear in mind that in 1970 rock & roll revivals were unheard of, this was new ground. The students fell in love with the idea, Danny arrived on the night, to screaming hoards, in a Mark X Jaguar escorted by Hells Angels. The crowd stomped and enjoyed it so much that the upstairs refectory walls were cracked (at a cost of mega-money) and the room closed to performing bands in future. We played a return the following Spring at the Lanchester Arts Festival, with a grudging Melody Maker write up which implied that our Top of the Bill Rating (over Yes, Free & Mott the Hoople) was simply due to the fact that we were on last. But we bought the house down. I, as Superstar Jet James, cavorted about the stage, saxophone in hand, and never played a single note ... we had musicians to do that. It was pure theatre, great fun for band and mega-audience, never to be repeated by us but to set a new trend for others
Davies, Cyril
a truly original singer and player who unfortunately died of leukemia in early 1964, shortly after I became aware of him. Had a harp style all his own, the vocal style of a trad-jazz singer with an electric, hard-hitting backing band, a remarkable combination. Started playing blues as a duo with  Alexis Korner in 1954 before later forming the legendary Blues Incorporated  and in 1963 the Cyril Davies Rhythm & Blues All Stars with Bernie Watson on guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano, Ricky Brown on bass & Carlo Little on drums, all recruited from Screamin' Lord Sutch's Savages. They, to my knowledge, only ever put down 4 tracks on an EP which is now unobtainable. Remarkably, Keith Richards describes Cyril as a "strong, hard man". Use the AMG Allmusic Guide for more details.
Davies, Neol
with Pauline Black, the founder and leading light of Selecter, a tremendous 70s/80s Coventry band. I must admit that I always thought of Neol as principally a songwriter until, a few years ago, he formed "Box of Blues" with Horace Panter (ace bass player of the Specials) and Anthony Harty (a young guy who can play any instrument well) on drums. He now performs original songs with this excellent blues band and is, in fact, an original and ace guitarist. He's also a great guy who, once a year throws legendary "birthday bashes" in a local venue, always throwing obscure numbers at you to perform with the impromptu "band of the night". Although correct, "Jamming", as a description, would give the wrong impression of these usually excellent performances
Davis, Miles
someone once described the sound of Miles's muted trumpet as "walking on eggshells". In 1959 he recorded an album called "Kind of Blue" with John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley amongst an "all-star" cast. The album was not only superbly played but the composition was in "modal" style, breaking completely new ground and sounding as magnificent today as it did then. So most people would then stop, and spend the rest of their lives milking the success. Not Miles, he immediately moved on to "Sketches of Spain" with Gil Evans and later to "Bitches Brew" with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, being an innovator until the day he died, some 30 odd years later. Other critics would point to the 1950 "Birth of the Cool" sessions as being his first great innovation or "Miles Ahead" in 1957. They are superb albums but, to me, "Kind of Blue" was the landmark. It is, however,  difficult to pick landmarks from such a diverse a musical archive.Spend a day on the web if you want to find out more. Or click here for a good all-round site
Dempsey, Kevin
son of showband drummer Frank Dempsey and was aged about 14 with a squeaky voice when when he played with the Bo-Weevils. Wherever we played everybody asked who the chick was on drums. A very solid commercial drummer although I preferred Joe Craner's jazzy style. His Dad was always nagging him over his obsession with guitar "which will get you nowhere son". Wherever we went Kev would take his guitar and play Stones licks. Kev, of course later became (underground)  famous as virtuoso guitarist with folk outfit Dando Shaft. I think he still does well on the continent in this vein. I don't think he has played drums since the Weevils split up
looking back with hindsight, crept in during 1977. By the time I returned from a weekend in Dublin in the November. I was about 9 stones in weight, losing half a stone a week and, without the gory details, generally not feeling well. My father was diabetic and I should have seen the symptoms earlier. Eventually I went to see my GP, Dr Parker who referred me to hospital outpatients and a consultant called Dr Vince, a waste of space. I thought that this was the end of uncivilized life as I knew it but with trouble and research your lifestyle need only be observed and acted upon, rather than changed! The first 10 years were not easy but the advent of pocket blood-testing kits virtually ended my ongoing relationship with hospital casualty departments. But for all of this the golden rules of type 1 diabetes are quite simple "stick to your diet, stick to your insulin and keep fit". For further information it's well worth surfing the net but if lazy try Diabetes Explained for a good links page
Life was never easy, and 6-8 injections a day aren't fun, but after catching a particularly nasty virus in 2003 I was unwell and badly controlled afterwards UNTIL, on 18th July 2005, I managed to get an insulin pump, which has literally changed my life and has, as predicted by other users "given me my life back". It was a lot of hassle getting the thing but, by God, it was worth the trouble.
Dive Bar [1963-1996]
was originally converted from an underground  "drainage ditch" (cess-pit) in about 1963 and then opened as the Lady Godiva Inn, Jordan Well, Coventry ... first frequented by me as an alternative to school dinners (steak & kidney pie, chips & a pint of bitter for 16p in today's currency). The pub was always scruffilly hip and, unlike all other city centre pubs, had unchanged layout & decor for its whole life. Inhabited for the last 20 years by bikers who looked frightening but were harmless provided you didn't start trouble with them. The only pub that I could call my "local" as an affectionate, rather than geographic title. The last "proper" landlords were Dave & Jackie Reynolds, 1987-1995, during which time it was the only town pub where "security" was handled by the punters. I dj-ed and performed there for nearly 20 years until 1996 when the pub was taken over by bikers, died a badly managed death, and was then redecorated and renamed "Red Square", finishing up like all other city centre pubs. Lady Godiva was, of course, the lady who rode naked through the city of Coventry a thousand years ago so as to persuade her husband, Earl Leofric, to reduce taxes on the citizens of the day.
DJ ing
or being a disc jockey, started in 1977 when Brian Stafford asked me, knowing I had a large record collection, to help him out by DJing the Dive Bar for one night. I protested that I was not a heavy metal freak and the punters would not, therefore, like it. Brian protested that he was in trouble, stuff the punters, and I agreed. After nearly 20 years of working Mondays, Thursdays and some Saturday nights, that favour finally ended. I think it was a combination of the punters starting to like a little enforced variation in their musical diet and me discovering that not all "metal" was rubbish. I remember being told by a punter in 1979, when a badly broken ankle had stopped me working in the cellar bar, that the punters didn't like my replacement because "he only played what they wanted to hear". You can work that one out for yourself, although it is not as illogical as it first sounds. I in fact finished up as the longest serving DJ of all, 18 years!
Dog & Trumpet, the
opened as Coventry's first and only basement "Beer Keller" in Hertford Street, where many hip persons finished up dancing on table tops like drunken morons - strong stuff, German Beer. The trend quickly died and manager Jeff Holland renamed the pub, based on the logo of the HMV record shop upstairs at street level. The pub became famous for the "real beer", real music and real nutters running it. On exiting from a stayback (at about 6am) Holland once made history by getting us all banned from Corley Services on the M6
Drifters, the
say the name and everyone sings "Save the Last Dance for me", which is a shame because they performed some superb songs, the best of which, I think, is "On Broadway", which features in my current show and generally has all ages singing along - which is rare for me!
OK, now we are really getting controversial. To all drummers I know, I love you all ... well, most of you, so no vitriolic e-mails please. It remains a fact that music industry jokes about drummers are as numerous as stand-up comics' jokes about Des O'Connor. It all goes back to the 50s and 60s when bands formed in home sitting rooms (the downstairs reception room that nobody ever used). The kid with the best guitar became the lead guitarist, next in line (could play chords but no solos) became the rythym guitarist, next in the queue (could only play one note at a time) was the bass guitarist. Finally, could play no notes at all, didn't have a guitar, and tried to join in by banging on an empty waste-bin came the drummer. No bands then started with separate singers, their dad always got them in later by taking over as manager (and transport provider). No kid who could play a piano would want to join a rock band because nobody in a rock band could read, play or understand music. All saxophone players played jazz and hence came from another planet
I think, one of the best cities in the world. I first went, invitation of Trax, in 1977 and '78. I remember superb pubs, Smithwicks, Guinness, restaurants, shops, a city, with a London-like atmosphere, that you could walk around, Aer Lingus (made BA look p*ss poor), seeing an unheard of band called U2 playing on the bandstand in Dublin Park and thinking "they're good, they might get somewhere...."
Dury, Ian (1942-2000)
first came to my notice in the late 70s with the Blockheads, a bunch of A1 musicians. Like a few people I know (or in some cases knew) Ian suffered from polio in the 50s before the nationwide immunisation campaign virtually wiped out the disease. His slightly deformed gait, combined with his wonderfully observant lyrics, gave him an almost Dickensian aura. If all of this sounds very serious, don't forget that his "greatest hit" was Hit me with your Rythym Stick, which made him seem to not take himsef too seriously ... although the same could have been said of Dickens' "The Pickwick Papers". There are some superb "best of" albums, all well worth a listen. Ian sadly died of cancer earlier this year.
or the use of both high and low volume to put emphasis into your music. Play loud all night and you've got nothing left to wake up the audience with. Not used much in pop or rock these days because of record producers' laziness. It's a damn site easier to put it all through an electronic "compressor", which takes out all  the peaks and troughs, and produces "easy to listen to" lift music that will drone away all night without causing you to really take any notice of it. Skillfull users of dynamics in their live performances in the 60s were the Spencer Davis Group and Manfred Mann, although both groups fell into the usual cesspit of having record producers for their later "hit-drivel". You would never hear classical music played that way which is why it rightly deserves the title of "serious music".
English Weathericicles.jpg (14439 bytes)
where else on the planet can you get all 4 seasons in one day, sometimes in one hour? My Thai relatives all dream of coming to this country only to be drenched, frozen and blown about by the wind when they get here, and this is in June! They then can't wait to get home ... but when they get back they proudly show off their photos which, I must confess, always look great ... so much so that more of 'em come flocking over. But when the sun does shine ... well ... you can have a look at the weather now, courtesy of the BBC
Fame, Georgie, (and the Blue Flames)
a sad case of the cesspit striking again. Georgie formed the Blue Flames in the mid-sixties, a band with himself on Hammond organ, 2 saxes, guitar, bass, drums & Speedy Aquaye on congas. A tremendous live band, they played jazz, soul, ska and were the hippest thing on the planet. As far as I know, they recorded one album, live at the Flamingo, Wardour Street, London. If you ever get a chance, buy it, and listen to Speedy driving and verbally coaxing the band along. Of course, this was not good enough for the record companies who turned him into a solo artist who later produced such drivel as "Bonnie & Clyde". He has, over the years played jazz, regrettably the forgettable lacklustre British type, "doobie-wap-dap-doo". He has, from time to time re-created "Blue Flames" bands but never with the vitality and creativity of the original. A sad waste of a great talent, a man who clearly needed being surrounded by the right people and only ever managed to do that once in his life
Fender Guitars
when I was about 12 years old I wanted to be a rock & roll singer and guitarist. I used to look in the window of the local music shop at a pink Fender Stratocaster and I wanted it! Trouble was it cost £135 (multiply by 20 for today's inflated value).tele3.jpg (18161 bytes) Having a paperboy's income of £1 per week this was a bit out of my league but I instead decided to buy a cheaper version from a second hand shop, all I needed was £15 - which I didn't have. So I started cutting lawns, washing up and generally working for my parents to accumulate the money to buy what I now thought was a hipper guitar than the Fender. Of course, by the time I had the £15 the guitar had gone and I bought a new fibreglass fishing rod and Intrepid DeLuxe spinning reel instead. Oh, the fickleness of youth. I later got into and bought a blues harp for 10s 9d (55p). All of this waffle is to set the context for today, when you can buy genuine Fender guitars (albeit made in Mexico) for the same £135. Name me any other product for which the price hasn't changed in 40 years. I finally bought a red Mexican Telecaster a couple of years ago although I'm still trying to play it properly. See the Fender website for more details
Fletcher, Tony
a sort of academic at the Lanchester College who was allowed to join Monster Magnet because he could get us free rehearsal rooms and gigs. He was very enthusiastic but no percussionist. He also had a talent for obtaining substances and I remember, before going on at the Lanchester, being given a piece of fruit cake in the bar. I thought this was hilarious and did not believe that you could cook "substances" into cakes . I am told that the gig, in front of about a thousand people, was superb but I only remember the first couple of numbers before it all got blurred ... Tony left college to work for the DHSS (?!) before he discovered hang gliding and went off to the Welsh mountains where I believe he has become very successful at it.
Ford Capricapri.jpg (15803 bytes)
a splendid looking, cheap to run, motor which cost no more to buy than your average family saloon. In its day this meant that ordinary people could buy flash motors for the first time in living memory. I had a couple or three, they weren't the best cars I ever had but they were my favourite (if you understand that bizarre logic). The hatchbacks were perfectly adapted to the double life of normal car/gear transporter and the saloon got by with bits of things and people sticking out of the windows
Fortunes, the
for an out & out pop band they were, and are, a class act. Singer Rod Allen has a unique and original vocal style and is a prime example of someone who could have gone a lot further as a solo act. But he is happier with a band and good luck to him. Rod is the only one left of the original band members, but Paul Hooper, Mick Smitham and Bob Jackson are excellent musicians, far superior to, and have played in the band for far longer than, their predecessors. I worked with Paul, Mick and Bob in Monster Magnet, the fact that they are also very old friends of  mine has not affected this review one iota... honest! Visit the Fortunes official website
GEC Apprentices, the
this august body, under the leadership of  Colin Towe, Denis Cook, Dennis Cronin and my brother Pete ran a wonderful outfit. They ran monthly outings, by bus, to the Marquee and other allnighters and to all sorts of places that chairman Arnold Weinstock would not have approved of. They held a splendid , and memorably outrageous barn dance at Wolston in May 1965 which the Boll Weevils performed at (nepotism at work!). But what sums them up was a trip to Coalville, Cronin's idea on the grounds that, statistically, the town had more female bodies per male body than anywhere else in the country. Where all this talent was on the night we went I have no idea, there wasn't much to do there but drink, so we drank ... and drank ...
Golden Cross, the
in Hay Lane, next to (the old) Coventry Cathedral, was originally the Coventry Mint but opened as a pub in Elizabethan times.I first went there in 1964 with the lovely Barbara Dempsey (sister of Kev) and got thrown out for not drinking enough. The pub later figured in the Pete Townshend biography "Behind Blue Eyes" as a place to score drugs and talent but I wouldn't know anything about that. I played there with Monster Magnet in the early 70s and again with the One Man Band in the 90s. It hadn't changed much although that was due to manager "Coddy" who had to evict the National Front when he took the place over in 1991 determined to put live music on. Was famous for showing a placard as a "football-free zone" during the 1998 World Cup.  
about 12 years ago, when my normal lunchtime visit to the swimming pool was prevented by school children on summer holidays, my ex-partner Brian Owen persuaded me to accompany him to John Reay's golf driving range. I sceptically went along , stabbed at a few golf balls until ... kapow ... one took off and that was it, I was hooked! As a generally non-sporting musician I couldn't understand it, but sometimes you just have to roll with the flow. In the words of Winston Churchill "golf is a good way to completely ruin a nice walk". But a 5 mile walk twice a week can't be bad for you. When played well (about 4 times a year) the game can lift you into the clouds, for the rest of the time it throws you into a pit, tips manure on you and jumps up and down on top. So are golfers masochists ... probably yes ... all that I've known over the 12 years don't understand it either. But it's cheap, in this area £500 buys you golf club membership (at a very good, rather than household name, golf course) for a year and after that to play costs nothing. It cost £90 each for junior membership for my 2 sons, who now play off handicaps of 2 and 12 ... so I have done something useful in this game, my own handicap being a comparatively humble 17. Update 99.4.04:- handicap now 18!!

1mbb website by Tim James