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Someone To Blame? Yes, It's All The Fault of Pink Floyd and Roger Moore

My introduction to music was through the classic TV theme tunes of the '60s and '70s - The Saint; The Persuaders! (yes, my boyhood hero was indeed Roger Moore); UFO; Dr Who; Department S; The Protectors; The Avengers; The Prisoner; Mission Impossible and others all had brilliant music which was an essential part of the fantasy action worlds which so fascinated me as a kid. I absorbed it all without thinking too much about it. (Funny some of the things that stick in the mind: I remember my brother-in-law used to play classical music and I could not understand why Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was considered better than the 1812 Overture: the former being rather ploddy to my way of thinking while the latter had canons going off in it for goodness' sake!) It was not until my teens that I really became conscious of music as something capable of shaping my life.

The first music I recall liking outside of TV was mainstream pop. There was nothing remotely cool about it. In the age of punk rock I remember being asked by some kid at school what music I liked. 'ABBA' was my distinctly uncool answer. The truth was that at that time I wasn't really that interested in any music at all. I just quite liked a catchy tune. Then, during a chemistry lesson I wasn't paying much attention to, a friend told me about an album his older brother had bought recently. It had on the cover a photo of two men casually shaking hands. And one of the men was literally on fire. For some reason, I was sufficiently intrigued by this to buy a copy of the album. It was the first album I ever bought and I knew nothing of the music it contained or of the band it was by. I bought that album 40 years ago, in 1978, at the age of 14; 3 years after it was released. The album was 'Wish You Were Here' by Pink Floyd, and it did change my life.

So, at the age of 15 or 16, having added The Who, King Crimson, Rush and Led Zeppelin to my favourite bands list (I did get round to punk several years after that and have remained significantly behind the curve ever since) I started to realise what I wanted to do with my life; which was to play guitar in a band. I figured I could do this up to the age of about 36, when I might have to find something else to do, but it wouldn't matter because I would have made so much money by then I could easily afford to start a new career. Or just retire. I had no interest in writing songs or composing music. I would just make ace contributions to the songs of some lucky band and give them the edge they needed to stand out from the crowd. Easy! And if I could just get a grant and go to university I would have 3 whole years to develop my craft (the sacrifice of street cred by not going out and getting a job was just something I would have to skate over in the many interview requests I anticipated receiving). But what to study? Well, I could try something obviously useful like Law, which would help me get a decent job, or I could do something I hadn't studied at school, like Politics, which would not be much practical use, but seeing as I was only ever going to end up being a musician that didn't really matter.

I graduated from Nottingham University in 1985 with a degree in Politics. I did not immediately join a successful band, but took a slight detour by moving to London and spending 30 years in the civil service. After some time in the last decade playing keyboards in The Meteor Shower I decided, in June 2018, to spend some of my hard earned redundancy money on piano lessons, thus resuming a long-dormant interest in acquiring formal musical tuition. Things are finally looking up, I feel.

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Yes, I like all them. The first record I ever bought was Metal Guru by T.Rex. Strange, primaeval kind of hymn, perhaps to an ancient alien astronaut. Wasn't the same after that.


Nov 19, 2018

Fantastic article. A lot of things resonate with me. I had a growing awareness of music, and I loved songs before I knew it, if that makes any sense. A lot of the songs that I strongly associate with my childhood (Bend Me Shape Me by Amen Corner for example) I wasn't really 'aware' that I loved them until much later. My first real interest in music started with 'Rocket Man' by Elton John and this was the first 45 I bought (released in 1972 or whenever). I also remember having a great fondness for 'Don't Let it Die' by Hurricane Smith (the first truly green / eco-conscious record as far as I am aware) partly because of his sorrowful…

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