Having been tagged by fellow time-traveller Simon, Old Cheeser to all you bloggers out there, I have been summoned to reveal all! Well, not quite all!! Five facts about myself, in fact. Everyone knows of my passion for “Doctor Who” but, around the time of becoming a teen, or perhaps even earlier, emphasis shifted to music; initially pop from which it broadened out to encompass much more. So, I thought I’d try and stick to a musical theme being a qualified composer, but how did I get there?..
The first gig I went to was a revelation. It was at the Cheltenham Town Hall in 1972 and the band was Mott the Hoople. It was shortly after their initial success with “All the Young Dudes”, my all-time favourite single which disappointingly they didn’t perform, but before follow-up hit “Honaloochie Boogie”. It was a wall of sound. If you opened your mouth and spoke it was as though nothing came out. But, I guess that must’ve been when I decided I wanted to play in a rock ‘n’ roll band! What I really wanted to learn in school, thereafter, was how to write music down.
The next revelation was the single “Virginia Plain” by Roxy Music. At the age of 13, it was the weirdest thing I’d ever heard. I can analyse it now. See the mix… of chords with no thirds, descending chromatic bass line, one note synthesiser solo, Ferry’s unusual vocal delivery of his strange lyric, not so much sung as spoken with vibrato, but, back then, the song must have seemed like Stockhausen to me! And that might well be why I went to University to study music and specialise in composition.
A third defining moment was meeting 10cc the very week they were number one for the third and final time. The original line-up had scored number one hits with “Rubber Bullets” and, most famously for six weeks, the spectacularly brilliant “I’m Not in Love”. 10cc mark 2, a 6-piece, reached the top for just one week with “Dreadlock Holiday”, the week I saw them at the Colston Hall, Bristol. The new line-up included one of my keyboard heroes Duncan Mackay whom I’d seen twice before, at the same venue, as part of Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel. I was introduced to him backstage afterwards for a chat, along with founder members of 10cc, Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman.
Another shining beacon from my musical history would have to be seeing Kate Bush in Liverpool on the first date of her one and only tour. She was just two albums into her career and responsible for another of my all-time favourite singles, “The Man with the Child in his Eyes”. I didn’t actually like “Wuthering Heights”, initially, until I saw the sheet music and thought, “Wow, unbelievable”, this looks interesting. Incidentally, as well as Steve Harley’s number one “Make Me Smile”, another all-time favourite, and 10cc’s “Dreadlock”, Duncan Mackay’s other number one was playing keyboards on Kate’s only chart topper.
Life’s so much more complicated than that, of course. Liking a few pop records doesn’t get you into University! A lot of hard work does and it doesn’t stop when you get there. I was very lucky to have a brilliant music teacher at school in Michael Rangeley. He laid all the important musical foundations in me. Students in other fields found it surprising that I could be interested in pop, being classically trained. But having been in a band at home, Boulevard, I formed another at Uni, The Disturbed, as glam made way for punk!
From studying with John Tyrrell and composer Nigel Osborne at Nottingham and Stanley Glasser in London, I got to meet Peter Maxwell Davies, composer on Ken Russell’s movies “The Devils” and “The Boy Friend”, work with John Harle, a brilliant saxophonist and composer of the “Silent Witness” theme, but, best of all, become friends with the late Tim Souster, known to SF fans as the arranger of the theme tune of Douglas Adams’ “Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. As you might have guessed, I never became a rock star. Education made me Captain Sensible!