story - part 1
story - part 2
story - part 3
story - part 4
- 2004, the "pink" party
story - part 1 / "When the going gets tough"
My story begins in the city of Sheffield, Yorkshire.
We have been at war for two years and the opposite forces have
instigated the first attacks on non military targets and are
openly bombing civilian areas.
Sheffield was then the worlds centre for steel production and
wars need steel like no other material. Most people worked and
lived in the cottages built by the factories along the River
All the enemy pilots had to do was follow the course of the
river and blanket bomb the areas, taking out the steel works
and the workers houses nearby.
Florence Lycett is a twelve year old girl at home with her big
sister Mary, her little sister Violet, her mum, dad, and grandad
and grandmother who lived in the attic. The men are in the front
room playing with Violet, the girls and the women are busy in
the kitchen and Florence goes out into the back yard to visit
the toilet 10 metres away. Whilst she is in there the air raid
sirens start up as they do most days and the familiar sounds
of the bombing runs get closer.
Florence runs to the back door of the house but before she gets
there the house suffers a direct hit and she is knocked to the
ground. When she is able to stand she runs into the kitchen
to find the women weeping, the front room is gone and fires
burn in the crater of what is left.
On the table is part of the lower leg of Violet only recognisable
because it wears the shoe that had been passed down to the smallest
child. The father and grandfather are atomised by the blast
and now the women have to work together and suffer five more
years of war with no men to help them.
Florence recovers from the physical pain as do the other women
but she has been destroyed emotionally and never fully recovers
from the trauma. Her life is punctuated by months of lucidity
followed by months of severe mental breakdowns, tended for by
hospitals that were no more than prisons. She would be straightjacketed,
sedated and locked in a padded cell until she calmed down.
Some of my earliest memories are of these institutions, thank
god it is not the same now. Florence was my mother. Harry Byrd
is a bright young man of sixteen when war breaks out, he has
a promising career as a metal assayer testing the purity of
gold and silver etc. Like most young men he joins the war effort
and sees action throughout the entire conflict. He is at the
Liberation of Paris, and the fall of Berlin and serves through
the whole of central Europe.
After the war is over he serves in India at the time when they
wanted back their land. When he is demobbed he returns to Sheffield
where he takes up in the steel industry again. He meets the
now grown up Florence who is now a waitress in a pub, they fall
in love and marry.He knows of her problems but says he will
look after her and she finally feels safe again.
They have three children and I am the middle child, born in
the front room of our steelworkers cottage by those same rebuilt
Where life goes on again. There was not the money to rebuild
the destroyed houses yet so I grew up in a strange kind of war
zone during the fifties. Life was tough and rough and run by
gangs of families and neighbours who looked after each other.
If you were liked it was ok but if you weren't you moved away.
To be able to cross the road you had to be on good terms with
the opposite gang or you would be beaten. Then you had to earn
their respect by being able to fight them and win.
I took to this very naturally as I was learning first hand by
being beaten myself on a daily basis and soon found my niche as
a fearless fighter. I learned to never give in and that fear was
the only thing to be afraid of. If you showed no fear you could
get out of any situation and it still holds true today.
As the 60's took over there was a wonderful optimism in England,we
had been through the hell of World War and beaten the bad guys.
A new feeling was being translated by pop music, we had The Beatles,
fashion, money and we were a World power again.
I was entranced by the music and my parents paid two weeks wages
to buy me a guitar in 1963. I began to learn to play the tunes
of the time and would be glued to the tv watching the hands of
the guitarist's to try and learn how they did it. Nobody knew
how to play the guitar then, except for a young hippy lady teacher
and a young male teacher who
started a guitar club at my school at lunchtimes. I attended and
was soon showing them how to play as I overtook them within weeks.
I have to thank my headmaster at Primary School for giving me
the only education I ever had, as I was selected to be head boy
and captain of the sports teams. He always told me that I would
do well in the world and if I was honest, polite and worked hard
I would achieve my dreams. I can still hear him now although he
must have been dead for 40 years. He taught me how to be a sophisticated
person even though we lived in the slums of a desolated city.
Wherever I go I like to visit the ghettos to feel that presence
that is so familiar to me. If I am told "whatever you do don't
walk west of 21st street" by a cab driver in New York I will seek
it out alone at night. I have an angel who watches over me. I
walked down sniper alley in Sarajevo when entertaining the troops
during the recent war,playing a guitar and nobody shot me. I want
to go to Iraq but they won't let us yet.
In Sheffield there was a singer called Joe Cocker who had a hit
with a song called "With a little Help From My Friends"; the track
was arranged by Tommy
Eyre, a keyboard player who lived down the road from me. When
I was 15 I was in a band with him and Kenny Slade the drummer
from The Grease Band. We were into jazz and funk and never played
a tune in 4/4. Always compound rythmns like 5/4 7/8 and so on.
Here I really learned a lot from masters at work. I left secondary
school disillusioned with the purpose of education aged 15. I
began to work as an apprentice electrician, basically a slave,
for £5 per week. Even on so little I was able to buy/trade a scooter,
a Vespa and it become my hobby to rebuild it. This was the ultimate
Mod fashion accessory around 1970 and I made crash bars and backrest's
and painted it red with black side panels and number 9 racing
numbers on the side. I foolishly crashed into a concrete post
on private land before I was old enough to go on the road, wrecking
Thats when I saved and bought a Fender Strat on hire purchase
in 1971. Next came a Marshall stack bought weekly from a catalogue,
so even with so little money I had a fully pro guitar rig. I practised
all the hours god sent me and my poor parents must have been driven
crazy but hardly ever complained, unlike the neighbours. I had
discovered Jimi Hendrix,distortion and the dive bomb sound of
depressing the tremolo arm on the guitar.
One night I cranked up the volume to full, opened up the windows
and gave them a free display of Machine Gun and Star Spangled
Banner I had learned from the Woodstock album, all the houselights
in the street came on and people came out of their houses looking
at the sky, for a lot of them it was a sound they would rather
never hear again.
I was in big demand to play in the pubs and clubs in the area
and was in a trio with a famous club drummer whose name I forget.
I wasn't happy playing some of the terrible pop of that time so
I was writing and gigging with my friends playing Jazz, Rock and
We were called Seabyrd which we soon changed to 8th Day after
a few gigs at local Universities and Theatres. Alan Dunn, my keyboard
player friend from then, was classically trained and I learned
all the Bach fugues and Bartok Romanian folk tunes with him; this
gave me a technique like no other rock player and gave me an edge
I still can use to this day.
We wrote and performed music for The Earthworks Theatre group
in the early 70's and after rave revues Alan and I were asked
to write and perform at the new Crucible Theatre. Very exciting
for two young teenage guys. Our first play was with the then Avengers
(classic UK tv series) lead Tara King (Linda
Thorson) and my first business lunch ever was just me and
her. I remember I had a bad cold and no handkerchief and felt
so common with my strong Yorkshire accent, but she was so beautiful
and kind. She made it easy for me to work with some of the most
georgeous and talented ladies of the 80's and 90's. She gave me
the confidence to feel good about myself.
By now our band, 8th Day was doing the best it could in Sheffield,
so we had to make a move for London.We went down to London and
stayed at Linda Thorson's flat in Regents Park, two boys with
not a penny in our pockets.
We went to Virgin records with our demo tape. They really liked
our music and Richard Branson wanted to see us live.We arranged
to lend a theatre in Sheffield for a private showing. On the day
though the Gods were against us and everything went wrong.
story - part 2 / "Putting out the fire"
We had managed to lend a very nice theatre at a private school
where my sister worked. It would seat a few hundred people so
was quite small but with a proper sized production stage. We
set up our equipment in the morning as Virgin were due to come
quite early between 12.00 and 1.00 in the afternoon. We were
late night people, used to jamming all night and sleeping till
late afternoon, so this was a bit strange for us.
The sound system was two very tall speaker stacks on each side
of the stage. They must have had ten or twelve 12 inch speakers
in them as they were about four metres high and wobbled about
a bit with no fixed base. We got a sound for the drums, bass,
guitar, keyboards and sax and flute in the PA system and even
though it was so early to play we seemed quite happy and had
a break to rest before Virgin arrived.
The head of A&R was Richard
Williams, a very well respected journalist now for The Guardian
newspaper. We met him as he arrived and chatted for a while
about the band and what we would like to do. We were playing
complex mixed rythms with quite difficult tunes, all instrumentals
and relied a lot on improvising to lift some difficult pieces
and make them seem natural.
Without the feedback from the audience at a gig this is very
hard to get into in the middle of the day playing to the head
of A&R for Virgin Records and we became quite nervous as we
prepared to go on stage. Our keyboard player walked on the darkened
stage and caught his foot in a cable for the PA system. As he
walked off this toppled over with a large crash and fell across
the stage. We rushed over to sort it out to find that it had
landed on the sax and flute stand, so we put the speakers back
and the sax player hurried backstage to see what the damage
Of course we had no roadies or soundmen so we were not very
good at this. The sax player was looking very pale. The sax
and flute have a complicated system of levers and pads that
open and close in many different ways. Both instruments had
been damaged so much that it was almost impossible to get more
than two or three notes out of them and most of the tunes were
played on these instruments.
We were in big trouble,we had no time to get replacements as
we only had Virgin there for an hour, so in the finest showbusiness
tradition, "the show must go on", so we did. Now the nerves
had turned to panic. Would we be able to play any of our tunes?
It turned out no. We did our best but on that cold lonely stage
with just one man sitting to watch, our music died. Our poor
sax man suffered humiliation as he struggled to control these
damaged goods. All of his beautiful melodies were reduced to
crazy screechings, this guy was a genius player and he was reduced
to not knowing what sound or pitch would come out next.
The interplay between the group, our main energy was gone. We
struggled on for the rest of the set but knew we were hopelessly
lost. The Virgin man made a quick excuse to leave before we
could explain what had happened and our dreams died too. The
hopes and excitement of the occasion had been reduced to a laughing
stock by a cruel twist of fate. It was one that we never really
got over and the band lost its way, fizzled out and we went
our separate ways.
As always you get over it and I decided I would try to earn
some money for recording equipment by doing paid gigs again.
I was offered a job in the music shop I used. I would demonstrate
guitar at the busy weekends and do some guitar teaching in the
week. Also the owner said he would get me paid gigs as well.
It worked out great, I was playing guitar all day and the shop
was selling most of the stuff I demonstrated so we were both
happy. One day the owner said "Right I have a gig for you",
he gave me the place and time and said it was easy Rock n Roll
and I would have no problem with it. I asked what to wear and
he smiled and said "Oh the usual, white shirt and black trousers"
then he said "Here take this with you they'll like this" and
he gave me a footpedal effects box. I looked and saw that it
was an Octivider, this gives you a tone one or two octaves lower
than a guitar making synth bass like sounds. I thought it a
bit odd but said fine.
On the day of the gig I turned up quite early and the venue
was a fire station. All the fire engines were inside and I looked
at them and talked with some of the firemen. It was their annual
ball and they drove out the engines and cleaned oil spills off
the floor and built a low stage down one side of the room. They
said they were all looking forward to the show as Fred and the
Flintstones (the name of thegroup apparently) were well known
for a good laugh. I had no idea what they were talking about,
as all I knew was, it was Rock n Roll.
The band started to turn up and set up the stage. One guy set
up a guitar amp for himself and one for me on the other side.
I thought it would be good to ask him what we would be playing
and get some chord sequences. I started to get my Gretsch Tennessean
guitar out and he said "Where is your bass?". I told him I was
booked to play guitar and whilst I could play a bit of bass
I hadn't brought one. I said I have this bass pedal though and
he said "Oh that will do fine, just play whatever you want to".
I was a bit baffled by this and would tell off the guy who sent
me the next day, but at least I would make some money.
When all the others had arrived they started to play a god awful
racket that consisted of everybody playing an untogether madness
and the singer screaming into the mic. I had no idea what they
were doing, or myself, and just tried to join in. After a while
they said "Thats fine lets go and have a pint", so completely
bemused I went with them.
As we chatted they said "We've got you some costume backstage
so don't you worry". I said "It's ok I have a white shirt and
black trousers of my own thanks". They seemed to find this funny
and we had another pint. They were nice enough working guys
all with day jobs and liked to play for fun and beer money so
I just went with flow. It was time to go back and get changed
for the show.
We went back and people got undressed and one of them opened
a large hamper and started to throw strange coloured, fake fur
leotards out to everyone. They threw a pink one to me and said
"Try this". I said "What do you mean?". They said "We're Fred
and the Flintstones, this is our stage gear". I couldn't believe
it, my friend at the shop had set me up bigtime. Helped out
of my embarassment by the couple of pints I said "At least give
me one in blue, this doesn't go with my skin colour". They threw
me a blue one and I put it on. I looked ridiculous, as did they
all, to make it worse I was wearing my brown cowboy boots, quite
cool in 1971 but just adding to the crazy effect of the fake
fur leotard and my long skinny legs.
We went on and did the gig, the strangest thing I've ever played.
It was a total cacophony but the firemen and their guests loved
it and danced all night and booked us back for next year. There
is no accounting for taste is there?
The next day I was furious with the shop owner, but needed to
keep in with him. He said "Steve you're the best guitarist in
Sheffield, I can't even understand what you're doing most of
the time and you can go on to become the best in England or
more,but always remember what its like down here at the bottom
ok?". I knew he was right and that he had taught me a good lesson.
Whenever I am down I can think of that memory and it will just
make me laugh.
I worked there for a while longer and one day the phone rang
and I answered it. A voice said "I'd like to speak to Steve
Byrd". "Speaking", I said. He went on "My name is Chris Parry,
I'm the A&R manager at Polydor Records*. I have your demo tape
here and I'm very impressed with your playing. I am looking
after a band called Zzebra,
we're doing our second album and the guitarist has left. The
keyboard player is Tommy Eyre and he has recommended you for
the job". I was dazed and shocked. "Is this a wind up?", I asked.
"Absolutely not, can you come down to London tomorrow to try
out in the studio?", came the reply. "Yes of course I can",
I replied. "Good, I'll book you on the 10.30 train to London
Kings Cross tomorrow, just bring your guitar and enough clothes
for a few days. I'll have a car waiting for you at the station,
see you tomorrow".
*[Chris Parry landed
the Jam, Siouxsie and the Banshees
and the Cure, amongst others, for Polydor - PM]
I put the phone down and just sat there in a dreamlike state.
London, a job offer, an album in a top studio with my hero friend
on keyboards, what could be better. I went home and told my family
who were very excited for me, I packed my clothes and the next
day my dad went to the station with me. I was just 18 and had
the chance to prove myself to the world. As the train pulled out
of Sheffield and my father waved me off, I somehow knew that my
life was changing now, it would never be the same again, I would
never live in my hometown again and I set off for the adventure
of my life.
story - part 3 / "The sweetest hangover"
It's November 1974. I am on the train bound for London. I had
been there as a ten year old with my old headmaster and class
on a school trip. We caught a boat and sailed through the capital,
still a great way to see it for anybody who may be interested.
We sailed up to Windsor and visited the castle. I remember winning
first prize in a photo competion with an early Kodak Brownie
camera. It was the first photo I had ever taken, I still have
The next time was a brief visit to see Virgin and now here I
was on my way back courtesy of Polydor Records. It was about
a four hour journey on the old trains so I ate the sandwiches
that my mother had prepared for me and then got out my guitar
to practise. This was my big chance and I was not about to blow
When we arrived in London Kings Cross St Pancras I walked out
into the bustling streets. I was dressed in my grey army trench
coat, flared jeans, grandad vest lets face it would still look
cool now, maybe? I carried my guitar and my bag and then I saw
a man in a black uniform holding a board with my name on it.
I approached him and he came up to me and took my bags."Mr.Byrd
sir?" he enquired. "Er,yes" I replied. "If you'd just care to
walk with me sir, its not far". I looked around to check that
he wasn't talking to somebody else, but no. I was the only one
there so it must be me.
He showed me into a white Mercedes limousine. I can remember
the fresh smell of leather and lemon scent from the wood polish.
I had only ever been in one posh car before when my dad was
loaned a BMW for us to go on holiday in. I was used to oily
vans or the back of open backed trucks. The driver pulled out
into the road then stopped. Then he moved on again then stopped.
He did this every 100 metres or so. After he'd done it 50 or
60 times i said "Excuse me, I'm not being rude but why do you
keep stopping all the time?". "Just for the traffic lights
sir" he said. I had never seen so many traffic lights in my
life before. Of course it is a common sight everywhere now.
The driver handed me a bulky envelope and said "I was told to
give you this sir to cover your expenses". I hadn't had any
expenses, I had eaten mums packed lunch and was used to living
with empty pockets, walked everywhere I needed to go, and didn't
know any other way. I opened the envelope,it had my name on
it so it was definitely mine. Inside was £200. I had never held
so much money before and it made me quite nervous to be honest.
I put it safely away and looked out at the towering metropolis.
This was starting to seem a little unreal.
Soon we arrived at the studios. I was met at the door by a young
guy with ginger hair. "Hi", he said, "My name is Martin, Martin
Rushent" (he went on to be a famous producer, Human League
etc.). "I'm the assistant on your session with Zzebra today".
We went into the studio and my eyes were popping out at the
equipment and the overall impression of knowing power and wealth
that must have created a place like this.
It turned out to be one of the most famous studios of that era
and was called Advision. I was shown into our studio and introduced
to Ken Burgess, the producer, and Liam Genockey, the drummer,
a very hairy and muscular Irishman. On the couch lounged my
mate Tommy Eyre and a huge, hairy bearded shape called John
McCoy, the bass player. I wasn't to know that all of these people
I had just met were to become some of the most successful and
respected musicians of their generation.
They were ten to twenty years older than me but were really
warm and friendly and put me at my ease. There was an amplifier
in the recording area so I went to warm it up, but they'd already
done that for me. I got my guitar out and started to get a sound.
They gave me a set of headphones and played me a track to balance
the level of guitar to track. It was perfect, with a nice expensive
sounding reverb. If you have a good sound that is half of the
battle over, and these guys had given me a great sound.
Tommy came into the room and showed me a tune at the piano.
We played it a couple of times and then they ran the track to
me in the headphones and we started to record. After a couple
of run throughs they said "Ok we have the tunes. Can you play
us a guitar solo now?". They played me the sequence and after
a couple of run throughs said "Ok we'll do a few takes now".
I loved the track and felt inspired to show them what I could
do. I felt really good about the music, I had a great sound,
and these guys were my heroes.
Everything fell into place, I found my fingers went their own
way as if they knew what came next when even my brain didn't.
After a couple of takes there was silence. I looked through
the glass to try and see what was going on. They were talking
to each other. I began to feel a sense of dread creeping up
on me. Had I done so badly? "Come in" said a voice in the headphones.
I put down my guitar and walked in to the control room ready
to be calm no matter what they told me.
"How long have you been playing guitar?" the producer asked.
"I started 10 years ago, but have really studied hard for the
last three" I replied. "Was any of it any good, if not
I can do better,just give me a little more time". "Good?"
they said and looked at each other perplexed, "Good? It was
fucking brilliant. You've just recorded your first track on
the album". My face cracked into a beaming smile and my anxiety
melted away, the guys were on their feet and giving me hugs
and slaps on the back. "Welcome to Zzebra".
We carried on like this for some hours. I had no watch and there
were no windows so I had no idea of the time or any care for
it either. I would stay here forever if they wanted me to.
Eventually we were joined by a giant Nigerian man. He was introduced
to me as Loughty (Lofty) Amao. He stood well over 2 metres high,
he was dressed in flamboyant, highly colourful Afro/Euro clothes.
He had the tribal markings of a warrior and when he smiled his
teeth had been sharpened. He smiled a lot, and pointing to me
said "Who's this". "This is Steve, a guitarist" they told him.
"Oh what's he doing here?" asked Loughty. "He's just played
on your track" they told him. "My track? Which one?" he bellowed,
flashing his eyes and snorting. "La Si Si La So So" they said.
"What, but he's just a boy" he screamed. "Well have a listen
then" came the reply. "Sit down, shut up and listen". He glared
at them but did as he was told and they played him the track.
As the song developed Loughty was giving me sidelong glances,
but his body language was mellowing as the track went on. A
few smiles appeared, and then, when it was my turn to shine
with a guitar solo, he sat up and spun his head from side to
side. He said to me "Did you play that? Did you really play
that?". "Er,yeah" I replied. He said "It's not possible,
you are a boy, yet you play with the heart and soul of a man".
This will sound crazy to you people now, but remember we are
talking a long time ago and things were different then.
That is why the movie, This Is Spinal Tap, is so hilarious,
but true. We watched it many times on tour buses with Kim and
we used to foolishly ape the scenes, but the truth was, back
there in the mid 70's, my solos were my trade mark. How embarrassing
is that? (answer, not at all because I don't give a shit). That
was then, this is now.
After a long day in the studio we went to get something to eat.
Soho was the same throbbing, vibrant place that it still is
today. We pushed through the crowds and went into a Greek restaurant
nearby. By now it was midnight and the basement restaurant was
packed with drunken, noisy revellers. I'd never seen anything
like it as I don't think I'd eaten at a restaurant before.
We eventually found a table amongst the noisy, smoky crowds.
The other guys started to order food and drink. "What do you
want Steve?" they asked. "Anything vegetarian" I replied, as
I had no idea what Greek food was like and it got me off the
hook. Soon plates of hoummus and pitta bread arrive and I tucked
in as I realised I hadn't eaten for over twelve hours with all
the excitement of the day. Wine was poured and a glass was thrust
into my hand. Ken the producer stood up, raised his glass and
proposed a toast. "Here's to our latest band member, may we
sell a million albums with him, here's to Steve".
He threw his head back and emptied the glass in one go. We all
did the same. I gulped mine down and my eyes watered. It was
the first wine I'd ever drunk as I was only just old enough
to go in pubs and back home we drank the local beer, Bitter.
I shuddered but didn't mention it. Then one by one all the other
guys proposed a toast to me and in ten minutes we must have
had six glasses.
I started to feel a bit unwell and the room took on a strange
and surreal atmosphere, everyone seemed to be shouting and screaming
all at the same time and the room was starting to spin slowly.
Then to my amazement people started standing up, dancing and
smashing their plates all over the floor. I thought a riot was
breaking out but everybody else thought it was funny and clapped
and laughed. I didn't know that it was a Greek tradition and
thought it was really weird but just went with the flow.
I had been attending a meditation centre, studying Buddhism
for the last two years and my idea of a fun night was to meditate
and read the scriptures. I found this place like a madhouse,but
kept quiet and enjoyed the hilarious banter of the band. I woke
the next morming with my first hangover, ouch!
Life went on pretty much like this for the next few months until
the album was finally finished. Now it was time to get back
to the live concerts so we rehearsed and were soon on our way
to Paris to start a European tour. Our first club was Le Gibus,
a bohemian venue that was quite infamous. I was really excited
by my first trip abroad and Paris was so beautiful to my young
eyes. We played the gig to a rapturous reception and after we
had rested for a while we left for the hotel. At the door were
two stunning young ladies who came up to me and started speaking
to me in French. Loughty the percussionist was African and spoke
fluent French, he said "They're asking you if you want to go
with them". I said ok and walked off into the Paris evening
unable to understand what they were saying, but they showed
me the best hospitality that France can offer.
Next was Amsterdam. What another amazing city. I had no idea
as to the diversity on offer in Europe and we should all be
proud to live in such a great place. We stayed in an hotel mainly
used by touring bands and walked along the canals to the venue
The Melkweg (The Milky Way). This was also a famous venue and
in the day there was a hippy market until they reopened for
the show at night. I walked around with John McCoy the bass
player looking at the stalls. There were food stalls and John
stopped to talk to a guy at one of them. He turned to me and
said "Try this cake it's delicious". He handed me a huge chunk
and it tasted great really sweet and spicy too. We wandered
on eating our cake and went into the closed concert area to
do our sound check. Then we went back to the hotel for the rest
of the day. As time went by I started to feel very strange and
everything started to take on different colours. Also we were
all starting to laugh a lot and no matter what anyone said it
seemed absolutely hilarious.
McCoy found one thing so funny that he fell off his bed and
was rolling around on his back unable to speak or hardly breathe
laughing histerically. This had the same effect on me and I
was crying with laughter too. Soon Tommy the keyboard player
came into the room and was shocked to see us like this. "Whats
so funny?" he said, which just made us laugh even more; he was
a bit angry as we were due to leave for the show and were incapable
of standing, just rolling around laughing our head's off. "They've
had some Space Cake" said Liam the drummer. I had no idea what
that meant. In fact the cake was laced with LSD and Hashish.
I would have to be on my guard against these guys from now on,
and how we got through that concert was a mystery to me. Maybe
it was because all of the audience had eaten the cake too.
Life in Zzebra went on in much the same way. We played Reading
festival and the amphitheatre at Orange, France. We toured Europe
and the UK and made another album, but there was a new energy
rising in the country, Punk Rock. We thought it would be a passing
phase but it totally took over the music world here for the
next 5 years. We were labelled a dinosaur and we all know what
happened to them, they became extinct.
story - part 4 / "All About Kim"
It's 1982 now, I am just in the final stages of making love
with a dolphin in one of my most vivid dreams ever, when just
at that vital moment I am woken by the phone ringing next to
my head. I look at my watch and wonder who can be ringing so
early at 9.00 am. It's a singer called Martin. He tells me that
Kim Wilde is auditioning for her first live band and gives me
a phone number. I call when I have had a coffee and done the
usual things one does at that time of the day.
I call the number and am answered by Joyce Wilde. She tells
me that they are looking for a wild and aggressive band to act
as a foil to the demure and lovely star that they manage. I
tell her that I have just spent a year with Ian Gillan so I
can rock and that I am as ugly as they come. Also that I was
just working with ex Martha and the Muffins singer Martha Ladley.
Martha had just joined The Associates as we were recording tracks
with them at their North London studio, and Alan Rankine had
fallen for the lovely Doris Day like charms of Martha and given
her the gig with them as backing vocalist and keyboard player.
Suitably impressed Joyce gives me a time to arrive at a rehearsal
complex the next day. I had just bought a handmade woolen jumper
with guitars all over it in Covent Garden which I wore the following
day to the audition.
When I arrived the waiting area was full of musicians trying
to impress each other by saying who they had worked with. These
people can be a vexation to the spirit, so I sat alone in the
farthest corner and read Krishnamurti.
After a while a pleasant young man called Nick Boyles came over
to me and said it was my turn. I picked up my black Les Paul
Custom guitar and went into the room. I was introduced to Ricki
who was warm and friendly. The keyboard player Graham Pleeth
had just played on the tracks I had written with Martha Ladley
and he told Rick that I was "serious". The drummer
was Trevor Murrell who I also knew from my Jazz/Funk days.
Rick showed me the chords to Chequered Love and Kids in America
and we were off. Kim was not present and of course I was slightly
disappointed as I love to show my skills to a beautiful girl
and she was one of the hottest at the time. We got through the
songs with no problems as they are not technically demanding,relying
more on energy and vibe and I had both in abundance. They thanked
me for coming and said they would call me later.
I left quite happy but not knowing their feelings about me.
I only found out last week at Kim's Pink Party that in fact
she was watching from behind a one way window with her two blonde
girl cousins. They said that as I walked into the room they
all said pick him, pick him, I love that jumper its sooo cute.
When they heard that I could play as well that swung it and
I had the gig! So ten years studying and suffering for my art
and I got the job because they liked my top! Women eh, don't
you just love them?
I recieved a call from Nick Boyles later and he told me the
job was mine. It was to be an immediate start and the rehearsals
and first tour were to be filmed for a Rockumentary [First Time
out - PM], was I cool with that? I said of course, no problem.The
next day we were invited to Marty and Joyce Wilde's house to
meet Kim and the camera crew.
Kim was lounging on a garden bench wearing tight black jeans,
a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off down the sides which gave
tantalising glimpses of the curvature of her pert young breast's
and a mane of peroxide hair that seemed to have a life all of
its own. In short she was drop dead gorgeous. I had seen her
on tv of course but nothing could have prepared me for this
and my heart leapt into my mouth and struck me silent.
I was introduced to her and the huge warm cheeky smile she gave
me made my stomach turn somersaults. I don't remember what we
spoke about as I was in awe and it was lost to the cosmos. The
house is a huge detached property in the countryside with a
vast garden. The camera crew were filming now and it was all
very distracting. I was obviously very pleased to be a part
of all of this but it all seemed so unreal. I was in a time
and space that I had only ever inhabited in the deepest moments
of meditation when you are both at one with the Universe yet
somehow totally alone in an emptiness, but hey, this was my
job, I had to pull myself together and get back to the here
So,we had fun learning all of Kim's material. Ricki is one of
the nicest, funniest, talented guys you could ever be lucky
enough to meet. He also walks with the Devil in terms of his
sense of humour. The thrill of it all was absolute. I had to
keep doing a reality check that this was not a dream, but no
it was really happening and it was happening to me.
We learned all of the music with Rick singing as you don't want
to tire the voice of the Star by singing all day. When we were
ready Kim would arrive and sing once or twice through each song
to make sure that she was happy. As she was gifted with a brother
of such capacity it was not a problem and she only requested
the most minor of changes which we all quickly took on board.
When we were ready Marty (Big M, he's well over two metres tall)
would come and give us advice. He is the King of British Rock
and Roll and I was humbled by his remarks. I can't think of
one occasion over a 16 year period when he was ever wrong. So
we were ready.
The first gig was to be at a London theatre that my little grey
cells have lost that particular synapse at this moment. It is
across the road from Centrepoint and The Astoria on Tottenham
Court Rd. We had final production rehearsals there prior to
the gig. This was watched by Mickey Most who signed Kim to RAK,
all the family, promoters and of course the omnipresent tv crew.
OK we were all professionals but even we feel stress you know
and it was quite a gruelling time.
Mickey Most came from the school of hard knocks. He was one
of the greatest record producers of all time in the UK and he
did not pull his punches. We had an after rehearsal meeting
and he told us that the band were useless, all pulling in different
directions and he wanted to replace us all with his musicians.
Don't get me wrong Mickey only used la creme de la creme of
London session players, but I think he got the wrong idea and
Kim and the family vetoed his advice.
We were all very experienced and more to the point we all adored
Kim and gave a nice family feel to the gigs. I feel so fortunate
that they gave us the chance to show what we could do and anyway
the rest is history. So, film crew in tow backstage we made
the first live show for Kim and it was a resounding success.
The UK stage of the tour continued with great success and as
we moved north we played at the Sheffield City Hall, my own
town where I had seen big stars as a boy. It was so exciting
for me as my own family could all come to the premier concert
hall and see me playing with Kim. On the night, I met my parents
and sisters and my father was so proud as I introduced him to
Kim. It was a pleasure to see. I don't think he ever thought
his own boy would get to that stage, even though they had all
supported me for years to get there. That moment was possibly
the absolute pinnacle of my career, even over many other amazing
The night was a resounding success and we all had drinks and
talks after. The tour continued north and went through most
of Europe too. The film crew filmed weeks of footage which they
edited down to First Time Out. At the end of the tour
they put on a party in the function room of the hotel. Everybody
was in very high spirits as the tour and filming were a great
success and the drinks were flowing freely. The band and some
of the production crew had been to a novelty shop and bought
indoor fireworks and practical jokes.
As we got more and more drunk the fireworks were lit and the
buzzer handshakes came out. Some people had aerosols of foul
smelling gas and these were being sprayed liberally around.
The atmosphere was very loud and getting a little out of control.
Mel Bush was promoting the tour and his younger brother Bev
was Kim's security minder. He is not a man to mess with, as
strong as an ox and as mean as a tiger. He was getting into
a heated argument with some guy who had walked in and he just
picked him up by the throat with one hand and threw him at the
wall, the guy just slid down the wall and lay there. A beer
fight had broken out by the bar and glasses of beer were flying
through the air. I was drenched by one so I walked round the
back of the bar and picked up the slops bucket, used to collect
all of the waste beer. I poured this over the barman's head
and think I made my point. Back over with Bev Bush he was getting
sprayed by a girl production assistant with the fart spray.
He took it off her and emptied the entire contents of the tin
into her hair. She wasn't going to find any male company for
a few days! So the first part of the 80's story is told.
Well we've had a great time playing live and its time to record
Kim's next single. The band are booked into Mickey Most's RAK
Studios to record a single. We are Trevor Murrell on drums,
Mark Heywood Chaplin on bass and myself on guitar. We set up
to find that the song is a swing/rock song called Love Blonde.
Ricki shows us how it goes and we play through a few times to
get a feel. I decided to play jazzy inversions of the chords
ascending to the end of the verse, then descending for the chorus.
The drums play a soft rimshot in the verse then a ride cymbal
and full snare hit to lift the dynamics. I play small 4 note
chords in the verse then full 6 strings for the chorus and middle
8. We keep rehearsing and lay down some takes. Rick is in the
control room listening and we soon have a basic backing track
laid down. We do a few so that Rick can choose between different
takes or edit them together.
Its the early 80'so we are recording onto analogue 24 track,
2 inch tape at 30 inches per second speed. On a Studer machine
this is as good as tape sound gets. You can compress a signal
to tape in a way that digital would distort badly. That is why
White Stripes recorded their hit album at Toerag in the UK,
60's equipment you see.
After a while Mickey Most comes into the studio scowling. He
has a discussion with Rick and says we are doing it all wrong.
Send us home and he will replace us with his musicians who are
twice as good at half the price. Nice one Mickey, is that how
you inspire your artists, through fear? I don't like to speak
ill of the dead,but he clearly wanted to produce Kim instead
of Ricki. To Rick's great credit, he ignored him and we continued
together to make the record you heard.
I overdubbed the lead guitar and Gary Barnacle played saxes,
backed up by Rick's new Synclavier Digital (wow!) keyboards.
Kim did the lead vocals and Rick, me and Marty did the backup
and woah woah vocals. After a while editing and mixing Rick
mastered the track that you know today.
So Kim has a new single and she needs a video to promote it
too. They pick Mike Mansfield, a very famous tv producer for
the job. We are booked to arrive at the back of some old warehouses
in east London by the river. We all had to go and be fitted
for the tuxedos and it was a laugh as we were all punky in our
So suits on, make up on and out we go to stand in the doorways
leering at Kim as she prowled up and down in her skin tight
leather dress. Let me tell you we needed no time at RADA to
train for that particular sequence. Then finger snaps around
Kim and vocals for the chorus. Near the end of filming, Hillary
Mike's boyfriend said "Steve can you drive?". I had
just passed my test and bought a white mini the week before
so I said of course I can drive. "Ok", he said "open
the door for Kim wave her into the Rolls Royce and then climb
in and drive it off". I became very nervous, a mini and
a Rolls Royce are like a goldfish and a Blue Whale size matters
at these times, let me assure you of that.
As I sat in the Roller I couldn't recognise any of the controls,
where was the gearstick? Where was the clutch, I looked around
to no avail. "Come on then Nums", said Kim, "drive
us off they're all waiting for us". I still had no idea
what to do. Hillary came over and said "what's the matter".
"I can't find anything" I said. He said "put
your foot on the brake, release the handbrake and press the
accellerator". The handbrake was a tiny lever under the
steering column so I still didn't recognise it. "Never
mind, I'll do it", he said, "you won't be in shot
anyway". So I never got to drive the Rolls Royce, but hey
So after the success of Love Blonde, the team decided to do
another Rock n Roll track. When I arrived to do the guitars
they had a slap bass (upright string bass) part and drum track
laid down these were very skillfully programmed by Ricki. Bet
thought it was live maybe?
That is a very tricky thing to do as computers are not great
at sounding like real humans so Rick did an ace job.
Marty has a fantastic collection of vintage guitars that he
is always happy for me to use as they lie there unplayed a lot
of the time. For guitar fans I picked out a 50's Gibson Scotty
Moore, a 60's Gibson Barney Kessell, a 50's Fender Stratocaster
and my own 70's Strat and Les Paul Custom. I played straight
into the desk through a Rockman pre amp. All of the clean sounds
and distorted sounds came from that box and the excellent engineer
Pete Schwier did an amazing job. So no real bass or drums and
no guitar amps. How on earth did they make it rock like that?
I played through a Yamaha E1010 echo unit and had a tremolo
pedal set to a fast speed. That made the wobbly sound after
the "7 little Indians row all dressed up and nowhere to
go". There were lots of gaps in the track and as I sat
there I came up with a little riff. The song is in F sharp,
not a good key for guitar, so I cheated by leaving the top E
string open so that every chord had a drone in it.
I came up with that little riff dooby dooby bop bop on the guitar
and it became the vocal hook too. When Marty and Rick heard
me playing that they were very excited. "Who's riff is
that?" they said eagerly. "I just made it up"
I replied. "Quick record it record it" they shouted.
So we put it down so as not to forget it.
After that an electricity swept through the room and I just
felt better and better about this song. So I put about 6 tracks
of guitar on that track and for me it is my best pop work and
I was so happy to do it for that family. That track also showed
that I could write catchy tunes and soon after they asked me
to do some writing with Kim.
By now Kim and I were well used to each others company and I
never had a cross word with her unless she had pmt. So I used
to go over to her apartment in St. Johns Wood and we'd jam around
with a drum machine, I'd play guitar and bass and Kim is a pretty
good keyboard player.
We worked on a 4 track Tascam portastudio which I foolishly
gave to a friend in need. I could get a few bob for that on
ebay as we wrote all of our tunes on it! Kim would engineer
and then we would take those ideas to a twelve track writing
room in Knebworth to re record and add harmony vocals and overdubs.
Then these demos could be presented to the family. If they liked
any Ricki would come into their 24 track studio with us and
we would try them out properly. If they still sounded good Rick
would work on them until they were finished and propose them
to the Record company. You probably know better than me, but
I remember The Thrill Of It and Missing from
So we were out to do tv promotion for Rage to Love.
The video was filmed in The Electric Ballroom in Camden, north
London. It was a baking hot day and the stage was illuminated
with many Kilowatts of lighting. So of course we all wore leather
and ran around like lunatics. Marty was directing and his old
mate Justin Heywood from The Moody Blues had a cameo as Kim's
manager. There was so much energy expended in that video and
after a 7.00 am call we still were filming at 10.00 pm so were
On bass was my old mate John Rhino Edwards, he had just finished
with Dexys Midnight Runners and left Kim to join Status Quo,
18 years later he is still with them. I also did the guitars
on his superb Rhinos Revenge album.
So we're all exhausted and Marty wants one final scene. When
the guitar solo starts he wants me to run across the stage and
slide on my knees. Don't try this at home as it HURTS LIKE HELL!
I had to do it over and over until they filmed it right or I
didn't fall over. The next day my knees were skinned and black
and blue with bruising. Sometimes you have to suffer for your
I want to move on to Michael Jackson but the chronology should
have my lttle jaunt away from Kim. I kept on writing and recording
with Kim, doing tv promotion and tours. When Another Step was released I foolishly (as I had the lead track and single)
and I decided to team up with Culture Club drummer Jon Moss,
Steve Lambert singer from Roman Holiday and Mark Heywood Chaplin
on bass. We were called Heartbeat UK.
We got a big advance from Virgin and led a high cost lifestyle
of decadence. Everybody was using the company credit card to
excess and our videos were all done by the top people, and clothes
and stuff were all handmade so that we could never stand next
to someone in the same outfit. This was Jon's influence. He
is a really intelligent, funny man. A multi millionare who likes
to get pissed with the lads and have a food fight in the most
debonaire restaurants in the world. Mad as pants but lovely
We went to New York to do some tracks. We had done our demos
for the deal at Olympic studios Barnes before it was refitted.
In our dark old studio were doodles on the wall by people like
Mick Jagger and Hendrix. Phil Lynott was recording his last
to be, track next door. I used to share a pint of heavy with
him at the pub across the road, what a top man he was, such
a waste of talent.
So we have the deal and go to New York to record with Lew Hahn,
he was with Arif Mardin on loads of stuff. We are staying at
a Virgin hotel on Madison next to 5th Avenue, is that right?
Believe me you could get anything on room service in that hotel,
We worked in the studio in Times Square all day. Then out for
a meal then to The Limelight or other club. Then back to the
hotel, entourage intact for fun and that endless room service
We had limited success in Italy with Jump To It, but at the
rate we were spending money (pro rehearsal rooms and staff to
pay too). We spent our quarter of a million in nine months.
I remember having to pay £500 pounds at the best Japanese
restaurant in London for Sake, Tempura and Sushi. The bastards.
We used to pay for dinner in turn. One night a pub, the next
a pizza, then comes my turn and Jon goes "I know lets have
Japanese", knowing it was my tab. Easy come easy go.
Anyway, talk about coincidence. Kim was in New York to do promotion
and live pa's. So I arranged to meet her at her hotel. I was
quite stunned when as I walked into the foyer she rushed up
to me and gave me a giant hug. I was there with Steve Lambert
the singer. We all had in the band a custom made antique Levis
suit in blue denim or white. Steve wore his white jeans and
Kim invited us to a party for Julian Lennon, so of course the
lure of free drinks took us there. Later after a few drinks,
Kim was sitting by me drinking red wine and as we chatted she
had a devilish grin and started very casually to slip her fingers
in her red wine and quite distractedly flick it at Steve, staining
his white suit forever. He took it for a few minutes then left
good humouredly. Thats the only time I've seen Kim do anything
like that. I guess she was thinking, you pinched my guitarist,
you so and so, get out of here.
We all went to see her pa the next night and as she walked past
I said Hi. After the show we went to see her on the invite of
Nick her manager. When we got to the backstage door the security
wouldn't let us in so we started to get jumpy with him, we were
lucky that Nick came, as we were told later, never mess with
doormen in New York, as they are killers.
Heartbeat UK didn't have much success and I was wondering what
to do next when I had a call from Nick Boyles, Kim's manager.
He asked if I would be interested in a tour lasting up to nine
months opening for a very large act. I said that I would be.
"Who is it with?" I asked. "I can't tell you",
said Nick, "I'll get back to you".
Within days he was able to tell me that the act was Michael
Jackson. He was promoting his Bad album, am I still interested,
of course I said yes. We would be opening the show at some of
Europes largest venues. Olympic stadiums, motor racing circuits,
horse racing tracks, I think the largest one gig was at Aintree,
Liverpools horse track, it was rumoured that 180,000 people
attended. We also did five nights at Wembley football stadium,
So we got our act together. Our road crew had been asked how
long they would need to set up and clear the stage. They said
one hour, a half hour to set up and a half hour to break down.
The tour manager said ok you've got fifteen minutes to set up
and fifteen to break down. Our tour manager Keith Crabtree said
He then went and mounted every item on wheels so he could set
it up offstage, wheel it all on, plug it in and we were ready.
He would then get it all off in minutes and pack it up offstage.
The response was ok you've now got ten minutes. So he would
rig our hi tech set up in five minutes and pack it down in five.
Sounds dull but it was incredible.
Michael Jackson was managed by a very powerful manager named
Frank. This guy was the epitome of a music mogul. He wore the
most immaculate Italian suits, his long black hair was swept
back into the tightest and shiniest of ponytails. He was a man
mountain, when he entered a room he filled it with an electricity.
You feared, liked and admired him. He was the kind of guy who
would get stuff done, you could be sure of that.
Our first gig was at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. When our stage
manager arrived in the early morning, he was given a meeting
time of 2.00 pm. He stood in the hot Italian sun with no shade
all of that day. Bear in mind that Keith has the skin of a Viking,
totally white, ginger hair. He can't even take the sun in England
(he will but he burns like paper, and ignores it). The poor
guy stood there for all of the day and was severely sunburnt
and dehydrated. He managed to find a cold beer and just then
the assistant of the tour manager came out and said "how
dare you drink alcohol on a Michael Jackson gig?". She
bawled him out and he just finished his beer anyway. So that
was the atmosphere that I saw unfolding.
When Michael Jackson did the gigs that I was involved in, he
liked to have 100 of the finest Police or Army or whatever the
local force was, to form an entrance that he would enter the
Stadium through. He always looked very happy and excited by
this. Of course he would have done this 1,000's of times before,
but I think it made it all worthwhile for him.
In Italy we had a great time. Michael had a schedule of a few
days off a week for the voice and also meeting his friends such
as Sophia Loren, the prime businessmen and of course to commandeer
the Theme Parks. We had no contact whatsoever with Michael,
but we were getting on really well with his band and the crew
(hundreds of them) so all was well.
When Michaels entourage arrived at a Stadium, the whole backstage
areas would be closed down by his 100 personal security. This
would mean that if you were just enjoying your delicious backstage
caterers food, he would arrive and you would be locked in to
whichever room you were in. One day I needed to pee during meal,
so I went to the toilets that apparently had no locks, I didn't
know this but walked out of the loo and opened the door to the
canteen and there was Michael with two or three minders.
He gave me a nice smile and said Hi. The next day...he had new
Some of the best fun on the Bad tour with Kim opening
was, for me , when we had Police motor cycle escorts in and
out of the Stadiums. You can imagine that if you have 100,000
people all trying to get to the same venue or away from it,
at the same time that the local traffic was a nightmare.
As we had to be there just the same as Michaels entourage did,
we were part of the motorcade and the Police would go ahead
on motorcycles and cars with flashing lights and clear the junctions
and traffic signals ahead. We then drove along in the tour buses
through red lights and closed off junctions. There aren't many
people who get to do that apart from World leaders, so I always
found that a great thrill and we would shout and cheer at each
and every closed junction and wave to the confused drivers being
At each concert the crew would be in four or five days before
to build a small city which would accommodate all of their crew
and of course the massive and complex stage set up. The stage
was like a small town with many hidden passageways and rooms
underneath to operate the highly complex technical trickery
and pyrotechnics that the show used in abundance. It also housed
the equivalent of three state of the art recording studios for
the live recordings, special sound effects and live sound backup
to recreate the incredible Bad album.
These were off limits to all but specialist personnel but as
we got to know these guys and they were bored after two years
of doing the same show, we had guided tours and inside knowledge
of how stuff was done.
Apart from Michaels incredible singing and dancing (all live
vocals as far as I knew), the effects were awesome. If anyone
saw it they may remember him being flung out over the audience
in a blast of steam and dry ice on a huge hydraulic arm, blasts
of air dragging his clothes back and it was truly scary.
He was injured by a mechanical error one night I believe (I
forget which venue). He also had a double who was a master of
martial arts, so he could be his double in the real world, or
on stage, or protect him if need be. That would explain how
he could be on one side of the stage, then vanish in a puff
of smoke to reappear 100 metres away in a second, then reappear
again and sing and dance on the other side.
The crew were asked to wear rubber animal heads when Michael
went on stage. I think this was mainly fun for him but also
maybe it made the whole thing more managable for him emotionally.
It also meant that if you were a mate of the crew you could
stand on stage during the show, unknown. That could have been
a security risk, but by that time all the backstage areas were
so secure that only an insider with all the passes would be
Who can think of the stress for him of carrying this huge load
of responsibilty on his shoulders. At the end of the day it
was all down to him, what a burden that must have been.
I saw Kim upset a few times on this tour, I never pried into
what was wrong but I could tell the strain was hard on her sometimes.
Myself and the band just offered our friendship and support,
what else could we do. All in all it was a very successful period
for Kim. She had hit singles and good album sales. She also
must have had the satisfaction of knowing that she could perform
at the highest levels herself. I have some home footage of the
seven nights at Wembley stadium that I will show on the site
soon hopefully. It was a wonderful experience for me to be able
to participate in this tour and I shall treasure it now and
[TO BE CONTINUED]
- 2004, the "pink" party
Well fellow Wilde ones, I'm home from the partying now and can
give a brief resume of Kims party for you. I shall respect Kims
wishes for privacy in what was really a family party, but I
see no harm in giving you all a feeling of what happened.
The invite said wear something pink so I bought a pink cotton
shirt and silk tie. I haven't worn this since I left school
and found that I couldn't remember how to make a tie knot! I
finally got it right and then decided, as it was a dress shirt
with cufflinks, I would wear my only suit, purchased for the
sadder moments in my life, my own parents and uncles and aunts
funerals. I have seen it hanging there in my wardrobe for years
now and it brought back painful memories. I decided it was time
to wear it with a different vibe. It's a hand made dark grey
micro pinstripe affair with a Nero collar which I have loved
since The Beatles wore them.
As I drove up to their town I was struck by a massive sense
of Deja Vu. I had made this journey so many times in the 80's
and 90's but not for many years. I was slightly early (the session
player in me) but I turned up anyway. They were making the final
preparations and I met Kim resplendant in a beautiful Indian
outfit, pink from head to toe with delicate embroidery and jewels.
She also had a jewel on her "third eye" the centre of her forehead.
Her daughter Rose was a demure and shy similarly attired lovely
blonde girl a little "mini me" next to her mum.
As I entered the courtyard to the premises there was a fully
functioning tank aimed at the entrance maybe to deter any gate
crashers. Kim was making the final touches and said "Nums [=Steve
- PM] would you place these roses in the cannon on that tank
as its a bit too macho for my liking". I climbed up and placed
three pink roses in the cannon and it turned it into an artwork
(think Vietnam and the soldiers with flowers in their weapons).
The barn and garden was beddecked with hanging Morrocan printed
drapes and the caterers were being led through their final briefing.
I met Hal's mum first, a lovely actress and then Hal in pink
shirt and pink courderoy flares. He's a handsome and manly fellow
and I felt so pleased that they had met. Then I met Edwina who
ran the office for so many years and Nick her manager and his
stunning wife and two daughters.
The English weather did its worst but we didn't care, if it
rained we went under cover and also we had some lovely sunshine
warming the rolling green countrside with horses all around.
The food was Morrocan in theme and full of fresh herbs and barbecues
for the carnivores [i.e. the other people! - PM].
I met Kim's cousins who told me that they were there with Kim
behind a dark glass screen when I did my audition in 1982. They
said that they all picked me when I walked into the room based
on my look. I said thanks, I studied for years and you picked
me because you liked my jumper.
The schedule had to be rearranged as the poetry was going to
be outdoors so we sipped our Champagne and Mango cocktails with
the starters. The day continued with chatting with Kim's new
friends in Horticulture and I met some really nice people. Later
Martin Fry from ABC turned up with his family and some band
members and I met a really lovely backing singer.
There was more food and cocktails being brought around all of
the time and the staff were so cool, most with pink wigs but
with a really nice cheeky attitude; if you were nice they were
georgeous but they didn't take any shit if you were stroppy.
By now it was the evening and the poetry readings of the classic
Romantic poets began. Hal's parents read and some of his peers
and also Hal himself. It was wonderful, set to soft delicate
music by Eric Satie and the like. Then four musicians joined
Hal and he sang maybe six classic songs from the golden age,
Sinatra, Weill, Brecht, Gershwin (if any of you kiddies don't
know this stuff seek it out it is ace!). Hal sang perfectly
with immaculate timing and a good understanding of the phrasing
and dynamic of the piece, in all he was a consummate professional.
A duet PLEASE!!!!!
Then came the Rock and Roll, I had seen this weird lookind old
rocker guy all day with an even weirder looking jet black haired
son in tow. He was an Elvis revue and he waws brilliant. I was
rocking and jiving with Edwina even though I've never done it
before and he was such great fun, dealing with people shouting
out lewd remarks in good humour and great wit.
Then it was down to the art of serious drinking at the cocktail
bar.The guy and girl serving were so cool and had a quick drink
of all they made so they were flying too. Eventually at midnight
they said "we're off guys, help yourselves". By now
I was with Rick and Roxanne by the bar and we had to be stupid
Brits and have a drinking contest. I made I think quite nice
mixes, white rum, cointreau, mango and so on. Then Roxanne steated
to pour all of the bottles into pint glasses so it was gin,
whisky, rum and anything else. We felt compelled to drink it
and after this had gone on for an hour or so I staggered back
to my car and slept in the fields with the horses. It was a
great, fun, happy event, and I drove back to London for the
end party of Notting Hill Carnival.
So three days without sleep I am to bed.
Here you'll find audio samples or full songs written or
co-written by Steve during the last years.
Steve's Media Center
Click here to
access Steve Byrd's media center.
Marriott - Astoria Memorial Concert
On 20th April 2001, a stellar cast of musicians paid tribute to
Steve Marriott upon the 10th Anniversary of his tragic death. The
Mods joined the event to perform three tracks live. A DVD
(which can be ordered online at Steve
Marriott's official web site) was released in Spring 2004,
including the whole concert plus documentary, interviews and behind
the scenes footage. Artist Royalties from the sale of this
DVD will be donated to the Small Faces Charitable Trust.
Click on the DVD sleeve above to listen to an exclusive live
performance of "Songs Of A Baker" by the Mods (with Steve
Byrd and Johnny
Warman on guitars, and Steve
Ellis as a lead singer). Many thanks to Steve Byrd.
Get It Right (L. Fiagbe / S. Byrd) - ©1993 Mother
Click on the sleeve below to listen to a 30s sampler of the song