Listen: The London Boys / David Bowie
London Boys / David Bowie
What can anyone say about David Bowie ‘The London Boys’. It’s damp, cold, eery, but cryptically and wonderfully captures a lot of my London experiences as a kid in ’73: Wardour Street, pills, having no money, living on butter and bread, listen to the lyrics. If we come back in life after death, I would do it all over again, to a T. Read on.
So I decide, upon graduating high school, that instead of going to college, I’m moving to England. Can you believe this? I can’t.
My parents, ever understanding, desperately advised against it. But always supporting me in my ambitious dreams, finally said okay providing I do some college when I return.
My Mom was born in Great Britain, her sister lived in London, so I guess it didn’t seem all that risky at the time. I skipped a grade in high school and was therefore really a baby, boarding a Pan Am flight in early June ’73 with a huge $200 in my pocket. I would never let my kids do this today by the way. My aunt in London had me for a few weeks, then shipped me off to my cousin Diane, who lived, and shockingly still does, on Cleveland Street in London’s west end, Soho, This, as it turned out, was the place to be. Literally 4 blocks down from her council flat (Cleveland Street eventually turns into Wardour Street as it crosses Oxford Street), was the Marquee Club. Without shame or hesitation, I walked into the office midday and asked for a job. And they give me one, shockingly. I now was in charge of collecting the empty pint glasses left all around the club as the bands are playing, an endless cycle. I was a slave but deemed this as the opportunity of life.
I grew up outside of Syracuse, dreaming of the other worldly England, now here I am, working at The Marquee. Holy shit. Is this really happening? No one will believe me back home, or care for that matter.
I got paid one huge great big British pound a night, drank all the beer I could for free and got to see every band playing. All I need do is pick up the glasses. I’ll take it.
This was heaven. My days were spent trolling the used record stalls in Rupert Street, Cheapo Cheapo Records in particular, where Graham Stapleton, a good friend now, who I met decades later by shear crazy coincidence via Jim Lahat, sold all the promo/dj copies that the Radio 1 and Melody Maker staff would unload, for pennies, in an open air market stall. The stuff I got from him then…..forget about it. Crazy. We still exchange records and laugh about those days. Small world indeed.
Then there were the bands that played: Robin Trower, Thin Lizzy, Sparks UK debut with Queen opening (from whom Queen admittedly lifted many of their ideas – why Queen didn’t ask Russell Mael to join the reunion lineup instead of Paul Rodgers is preposterous), Andy Bown, Alex Harvey Band, Sutherland Brothers & Ouiver, Daryl Way’s Wolf, The Spencer Davis Group, Writing On The Wall, Climax Blues Band, Colin Blunstone, Chicken Shack, Bedlam, Wild Turkey, JSD Band, The Marmalade, Caravan, East Of Eden, Byzantium, String Driven Thing, Tempest, Colosseum, Keef Hartley Band – I could go on and on and on. Plus, I had the golden key, I could put people on the guest list.
With hormones raging and so many pretty girls trying to unsuccessfully get to the bands, they’d turn to the staff. I spent many a damp grass night in Soho Square on the green, juggling in hindsight, laughable relationships. And in the process, fell for a Scottish girl, Claire.
Claire and I became an item and went to loads of shows together (Family, Wizzard, Fairport Convention, The Kinks, Slade, Curved Air) or, didn’t bother to go to some, like the biggest mistake of all times: David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars final show ever – for which I bought a ticket (see scan above) and didn’t use. I know, stupid.
Listen: Pool Hall Richard / The Faces
Pool Hall Richard / Faces
It wasn’t the only ticket I didn’t use. Claire & I went to Scotland the weekend of Reading Festival, for which I had a 3 day, all access pass. Only a few years ago I admitted to myself, I didn’t really like The Faces (who were playing – see scan) because Rod Stewart’s voice irritates me to no end, not to mention his fat bottom half in leopard pants.
Still, their ‘Pool Hall Richard’ single has a groove that’s unmatchable. A beautiful shambles.