Chasing Fame or Cheating Fame?


Hello Good People who read this blog...

I am writing because I am about to work on some music projects and I do so reluctantly, due to the amount of work involved, but also because on a subconscious level I am troubled by concepts of “fame” and my relationship with it.

As a creative person, working on “creative projects” involves dealing with other people’s reaction to what I do,and if I ever needed to be successful enough to earn a living from music, a certain amount of compromise and chasing exposure would be required.

It seems that many young people I know are getting into acting, modelling, music, with “fame” as the eventual desired outcome and goal.  As a young person, I also daydreamed that from my music I might be accomplished enough to be famous and in my fantasy to have the respect,  power, and recognition that came with fame.

So I am writing this maybe to try to understand my relationship with fame. I don’t chase fame, I avoid it.

There have been many incidents in my life where it seemed like I was “cheating fame” in the same way people “cheat death”. Maybe I sound crazy but I think that the whole issue of fame and recognition by large numbers of people , is a worthy concept to examine, however clumsily I do this.

In our largely secular society, many seem to aspire to be famous when previously they might have wanted to go to heaven , or  might have wanted a good career and a respectable role within their social group, a happy marriage , a solid home.

It seems to me that chasing fame is a very ” conformist” thing to do, wanting to be accepted by the masses surely means having to “play the game” on some level, follow a passing fashion, please your media patrons. I feel deeply sorry for young people now who chase fame. I think this is a result of the media environment and social codes they grow up with, largely a modern phenomenon from the ever-growing forms of mass media, including my blog!

If you want to get to the truth it’s best to rely on real life experience  than theory, so sorry to bore you again with my life!

As a child I was lucky enough to grow up in Chelsea in the 1960s and 1970s surrounded by famous people. For instance,I remember seeing a Rolls Royce every day with the number plate “BOW 1”  with David or Angela Bowie and sometimes their son, being driven around.  A close relative of mine worked for Bowie and told me a few stories. What struck me the most, was that I was not allowed to know the address of where Bowie lived, he had to change his phone number at least once every six months and this number was also kept strictly secret. On the one hand you have this superstar parading around Chelsea in a Rolls Royce, and on the other you have someone desperately trying to get away from people,not the paparazzi but his fanatical fans.

I grew up in the age of Beatlemania, it was a new religion, there seemed to be a lot less famous people than now, their fame seemed greater and more enduring  because almost everything  in the sixties was groundbreaking.

An  exception to this sense of cultural revolution was the soap opera about a Midlands Motel called “Crossroads”. I think it was mostly acted and broadcast “live” which explains a lot.

I saw actors from Crossroads, my mother’s favourite TV programme, wandering about the King’s Road. I later found out that one of the scriptwriters  was staying in our guest house incognito, he would come and write there,  even his own family did not know where he was disappearing to.

In the supermarket I remember seeing my absolute heroine, Emma Peel, except of course it was the actress Diana Rigg an altogether different person. I so wanted to be “Emma Peel” when I grew up, witty and intelligent, free, and able to karate chop herself out of dangerous situations. As a child I assumed the actress was indeed that person, shopping in Sainsbury’s.

My concept of fame was pretty warped by these and many other events.As a young child, I found the idea of becoming famous exciting, like somehow my innate shyness and all my defects of character, all problems in life, would disappear just by being famous.It seemed entirely possible to become famous in London if you were in the right place, at the right time, doing something creative.

My parents hated the whole thing. My mother would complain that racing police cars had kept her up all night because the Rolling Stones had  another debauched party. My parents respected God, the upper classes,all authority figures, classical music and literature and aspired to be educated and posh. These new TV and music celebrities and the whole new culture with its shocking fashions seemed outrageous to them.

As an adult,I have had famous people around me , including my ex-partner who will read this, who like it or not, had a certain amount of fame, which was never intended.

As a musician “fame” is difficult for me, it is a barrier, it is not something to be aspired to. I aspire to use my creativity to heal my frame of mind, do the best I can, to be innovative, because I love being experimental at times, to express myself honestly, to create things from some compelling intuitive idea, derived from processing everything I hear or think about . I struggle to do anything creative which will eventually be exposed to others and must match certain technical standards, I am not naturally talented. I essentially create stuff for myself first and secondly to reach out to a few others and see if anyone is on my wavelength. However the idea of great success and fame is still there lurking in the background like a bad smell.

What would my life be like if  suddenly my phone was constantly ringing with people wanting to be my friend? What if I wanted to walk around London and be left alone?

This is a mainstream pop tune , but my intuition says it’s the right one for this post, plus I love the production on this track: Maybe Tomorrow by The Stereophonics (2003)

What if I were so successful that other people’s salaries depended on my producing  something that would sell to the greatest amount of people? What if  I got ill from the work schedule and stress? How much would I have to conform and compromise? What if I got bad publicity for something and people started to hate me? I don’t even like going on stage, I like to do a good gig but I don’t like to face a crowd of people.

So fame may be a result of hard work in the arts, of  being a perfectionist and successfully communicating something that needs to be expressed and that will contribute to the evolution of culture. But fame in itself is terrifying to me, even if you do enjoy it, once you are up there and dealing with the stresses, you either have to maintain it all, hopefully without resorting to overwhelming addictions, or choose to go back to obscurity ( if the media will allow it!).

The environment young people are growing up with now is so much crazier than mine.

Anyone can be famous,without even working at it too much, there are more opportunities to be famous than ever before and yet fame seems more transient than ever. What kind of warped morality are young people growing up with?

I don’t think it’s so bad to want to grow up and be a Beatle or Emma Peel, but what if you want to be one of the women on “4 Music” dancing round a pole?

I don’t like the mass media and I hate the music business, but in a recession even I may have to learn to deal with it, in the hope of  getting some kind of exposure to my music and getting paid for it. For me the whole process of writing, composing, lyric writing, recording and sound editing  is a very private and solitary occupation, occasionally involving others if they are on the same wavelength, but the land of mass media and fame is as alien to me as Planet Zog.

I have written so much about myself and my ego, but this was done with the purpose of opening  a dialogue about how fame personally affects us, how it affects those closest to those who  become famous, and how much it can control our choices in life, and the lives of generations to come.

Now I have thought a bit more about fame and my relationship with it , I realise that my true reason for doing music or anything creative has been for my own healing, and sometimes to bond with others, not for money or fame.

Love & Peace

Born2rant

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Green Slimy Politicians, clashing tour dates and Psychedelic Cinderella


Hello once again Good People Who Still Read This Blog

Hawkwind -“Space is Deep” a great song and a great little film (apologies for environmentally unfriendly rockets but they are cool)

How are you all? If there is a name for a really terrible blogger who has deserted their dedicated readers like an auntie they have guiltily abandoned since early adulthood even though they still get a yearly fiver tucked into their birthday card… then that must be me.

I am sorry, my life has changed and so has the world but even if my posts are rare I am still here somewhere in the known Universe.

I miss my blog oh yes I do! and I miss also doing my own music…

This morning started well, oh what a laugh! A smug capitalist politician being drenched in green custard, wonderful stuff! Even better was that the eloquent woman who did this actually got on the BBC news. She explained how “Mandy” had done some sleazy deal to get the third runway to Heathrow the go-ahead even though there was so much opposition and let’s face it our planet is slowly dying and if we don’t do as much as we can our children and grandchildren won’t have any food, water, air…very grim.

However the green custard episode really cheered me up. “Mandy” used to live right next to me and he used to throw some loud parties with really good psychedelic music so he has no excuse. If he can listen to sixties psychedelic music he ought to  be a hippie but alas as one can tell by endless prats wearing Led Zeppelin T-shirts  to look cool and trendy in an ironic-retro way, musical taste does not equate actual thinking in the brain as in the days of yore ( or “Yes!”  I wish there was a Roger Dean font then I could write “yes” and my entire blog with it…this one is levitating against my will) .

In case you didn’t catch the clip of the spectacular ” green Event”( n.b. that should read “Green Event” Steve Hillage has nothing to do with this event and is entirely blameless but I have temporarily invented my own “Logo of  70s Rock” font and will no doubt be sued by anyone who manages to find me using the new and wonderful totalitarian fascist terror digital surveillance services)

As I was saying if you didn’t catch it here is the wonderful clip..

BEFORE= “smug”     AFTER =” a bit humiliated and definitely greener”.

Please note my quote of the dayThe only Green thing about Peter Mandelson is the Green slime coursing through his veins” ( and dripping down his face.):

There’s a lot of cool psychedelic events coming up but some of them are clashing!

I hope they don’t mind me using their posters after all I am giving them free publicity.

First of all in March….

The clash of two events I want to go to, I definitely need a helicopter or maybe an old Star Trek style transporter room, or a Tardis with Jon Pertwee navigating would be even better.

On Saturday March 28th (2009 in case you are reading this some light years away from now from another planet that has internet access)

the truly lovely people from”Born To Go” (no relation) in Hitchin  are running their own fantastic psychedelic gig/club night. When I went before they certainly knew how to put on a lavish show, all they need is lots of  people!

Here’s their flyer:

born2go

Here’s some Nukli:( not much audience but festival gigs can be like that)


This is from the Born To Go myspace site :

NUKLI – veterans of the golden age of free festivals with full-on psychedelic grooves, and soaring guitar, they take you on a trip back to the Pyramid Stage, the Tibetan’s and Club Dog all rolled into one cosmic jam.SHOM play psychedelic dub space techno rock. Featuring blistering guitar and deep dub rhythms they never fail to get any audience dancing.PEYOTE GURU are a true jamming band, in fact the ‘band’ consists of 3 core members and whomever is willing to play along on the day. Loose jammed tracks emerge from the underlying synth textures to evoke the sounds of the festival scene of old.Alongside the very best of space, prog, kraut and all thing psychedelic spun by our DJ Kozmik Ken, psychedelic lights, videos, great vibe, happy smiling faces – all the usual you’ve come to expect from Born To Go!”

However I am torn between this and Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy doing a chill-out set as Mirror System on the very same night!

mirror-system

When I saw them at Solfest in 2007 , they did a fanstastic chill-out set including their first live performance of “Rainbow Dome Musik ” since its release in 1979.

What a terrible psychedelic dilemma!

If that wasn’t bad enough….

This Summer Solfest 2009

solfestmy definite favourite festival ( helped by the fact that I can be one of the crew backstage and mingle with some great people and have hung out with some of my favourite musicians of all Time and Space and Universe)  is also clashing with Hawkwind’s 40th Anniversary gig

hawkwind-gig

I am a bit puzzled by this because their 30th Anniversary was on the 21st of October 2000. I was extremely p***** off at the time as everyone I knew went but only told me afterwards because I had a gig to do and it was around my birthday too. However I was told by all those who didn’t tell me beforehand what an absolutely amazing gig it was and how even Terry Ollis and Mick Slattery were there and why wasn’t I there etc..etc..

Will there be a Hawkwind and old Hawkwind reunion this August? I hope so.


So  this time I am going to the ball, like some kind of psychedelic cinderella , but I’ll probably be in Morrocan sandals rather than glass slippers. But Solfest is also my key event to the year, it’s like my equivalent to Crufts  to strange people who breed dogs into weird shapes, or Ascot to posh ladies wearing silly hats (  I don’t know why they don’t go to one of the above gigs, I’m sure there will be odd hats there).

What will I do?

Well I guess I’ll take one day at a time… as they say at Narcotics Anonymous..”clean and serene

or “falling over in festival mud and fun” as I prefer to say.

I’ll go see Hawkwind and then see if there’s any way I can easily get to the middle nowhere in beautiful blue mountain and lake surrounded Solfest.

Lastly there is a gig or a series of gigs that is INCREDIBLY EXCITING!!!!!!!!!!!

“GONG” are  WITH SOME OF THE ORIGINAL MEMBERS ..including Hillage yey!!!!! They are touring the UK from the 19th to the 29th of  November 2009..

http://www.artistticket.com/link/?s=gong  )

The Hawkwind 40th Anniversary gig is sold out although there are other dates outside London

I want to leave my home and go on tour and write books about the entire history of all these people, bands and intersections via Ladbroke Grove in the 60s and 70s.

Well I have been interviewing  again  …if I get time and permission I’ll put some clips up here in the meantime here is the Gong Flyer

gong

Here’s them at them in June 2008 with Steve Hillage…another gig  I missed…please email me about these things!

Here’s another with dialogue from audience commenting on HUGE HEADS and the like:


Love and Peace

Born2rant

My Metaphorical Comfort Drug: Gong and a bit of Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah


Hello good people who read this blog

Are you sitting comfortably?

Well before we begin since I don’t have anything specific to urgently talk about let us listen to our first hippie anthem of the day to warm up our cockles on this cold evening ( dancing or waving arms about or playing along with wild and wonderful percussion instruments is optional)

Gong and “Builder” from the You album

The cold season was approaching  and as usual I was conned by the local nurse a few weeks ago into having a ‘flu jab as I come into one of those categories where they insist you have it due to low immunity …

Naturally just  like last year  ( see my blog entry around this time ) this meant within 24 hours I had what my doctor would call  “a  reaction to the ‘flu jab “as it “doesn’t contain any live viruses”.

My “reaction” started off by being weak, having no appetite and aching all over with a high temperature and a sore throat shortly followed by three weeks of coughing day and night, being too ill to go out , losing my voice completely for 10 days,  more fever and now a month later being still very weak and needing steroid medication to  breathe.

So next year I think I’d like the opportunity to catch the ‘flu the  conventional way rather than have it directly injected into my bloodstream. But every year I give in to doctor’s pressure ….

More music to cheer us up the excellent Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band

In the Canyons of your Mind

Well lots going on in my life, busy,busy,busy,ill,ill,ill, busy,busy,busy…..

The bad thing about being busy is that it actually stops you from thinking , if you have lots of other things to occupy your brain and your time  then there is just no time to watch TV, read the news, think about the usual stuff let alone do anything creative like write music or blogs or even talk to friends and relatives.

In some ways this is a good thing as the news is so bleak. I feel that when I watch the news on TV it’s a similar activity to pulling out your own eyebrows compulsively or practising some kind of self-harming activity.

Watching and actually listening to the news is like a neurotic compulsion which serves to deepen that  sense of helpless lack of control over anything and everything…

“Expect to lose everything” the newsreaders and commentators insinuate “job, home, savings, pension, expect not to afford food, heating.. maybe not right now but in a couple of year’s time”...and then on top of it to hear that some companies are making record profits ………..and then there’s still the youth crime and the end of the world through climate change…and ARGH!

Gordon Brown’s smug face and even smugger statements about how Britain isn’t really responsible for all this ….. Get out the bottle of whisky now .

I don’t drink whisky but it’s a metaphorical bottle of whisky to deaden the senses and worries and sore throat all in one.

The news is scaring everyone to death and surely that’s in part what is causing the economy to fail.

The  music in this blog entry is my metaphorical bottle of whisky or metaphorical old fashioned joint (without skunk and just strong enough to make me mellow and creative) ..more music from the lovely gamelan-influenced Gong . “Love is How You Make it” from one of my favourite albums of all time Angel’s Egg ( every track is a gem):

I cannot embed it anymore sorry!

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=O-QuwUWySG0

“The Rich” behaving like “The Poor”

Just one or two little local observations about the economic crisis and then upwards and onwards to something better.

As my regular readers may know I live amongst the wealthy of Notting Hill although I am pretty poor myself. One thing that has always puzzled me if why I never ever see my rich neighbours and acquaintances in the local supermarkets.

After years of puzzling over this question the simple answer is that generally speaking they wouldn’t be seen dead in a supermarket. Sometimes they send their housekeepers off to the supermarket with long lists of luxury foods or they just order everything from Waitrose who deliver.

So imagine my shock when on Saturday afternoon I saw not one but TWO of my rich neighbours in the local Tesco! I tried to make eye contact with either of them and smiled but found them unwilling to reciprocate ( I am poor scum after all and should not be living in a rich area ….maybe I am being paranoid but after 20 years of saying hello to these same rich neighbours and getting nowhere that is my paranoid conclusion).

One of them who owns a penthouse suite with roof garden etc… had ventured bravely into a supermarket to buy one thing only.

He left the store with a  small bag of  economy rice under his arm. I was shocked..I bought that same rice myself and it really is poor quality , I ended up throwing mine away and I never throw away food.

Also …. one of my very very very  rich acquaintances was not her happy self the other day and was complaining that her husband’s investments were all in the States and that he had told her “No more spending” these  people are normally a fountain of money, spending and investing in wild, expensive and often totally useless things.

So although 4 to 6 weeks ago the cracks were not showing amongst the very very very wealthy they are very acutely apparent now.

More cheerful  music needed urgently

Love is a Cylindrical Piano  – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band and Eric Idle again…

I guess we have to live from day to day rather than worry about the future but when I was at my poorest with my sensible female hippie friends we used to pool our resources. One friend of mine used to buy a huge sack of rice and one of red lentils from somewhere cheap and then we would give her money and petrol money and share the cost ( as well as the food of course). Ah petrol money! I used to go everywhere by petrol money, to festivals and camping and shopping trips. I was not a hitcher or a driver but someone willing to pay petrol money .

So many things are possible when people co-operate and collaborate and life can actually be a lot more fun and less lonely too  when resources are pooled together.

Being ridiculously wealthy tends to make people more selfish, although for some the guilt or the fear of ending up in hell or occasionally just kindness makes them incredibly generous .

I think we all need to pull together ( sounds like WWII ). I also think as a society in the UK people have lost their sense of being able to do anything for themselves long ago. There’s always a law or a rule to stop you from doing something creative and empowering so the general mentality in response to being terrified by the news of recession is to sit at home and listen to more and more and more bad news. Like monitoring impending doom as it happens from a cosy armchair and waiting for someone else to make some kind of miracle legislation to sort it all out.

As for me, I’d rather we started sorting things out ourselves without being told what to do or prompted by idiotic hypocritical politicians.

Why don’t we find out who our real friends are and start to buy big bags of rice and share our cars, share costs, swap childcare, swap services.

We need to empower ourselves and to take pride in the things we can do collectively instead of waiting for a miracle law or a miracle sack load of money to save us. ( now I sound like a Tory ARGH!!)

Anyway here is some more music.

Music is my chocolate, my wine , my spirit, my drug and my hug.

Zero the Hero:

Sorry I can’t embed it anymore go to:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjDo073HzlM

Music is addictive but it’s better than pulling out your eyebrows and sitting watching the news waiting for poverty to set in.

I’m looking forwards to people being collaborative again. If rules and laws are made to stop people from finding creative and empowering ways to survive the law-makers will be turning positive action into helplessness. Let’s hope change will be change for the better, but more than hope let’s make it better and start up our own economic collaborations.

We need lots of comfort music..Love and Peace

Born2rant

Gong ….The Isle of Everywhere

See Also…

Gong Live Now and Then

Disappearing Acts, Bad Trips and Hawkwind


Hello Good People who read this blog

Matthew Wright  ( fan of Hawkwind and Here & Now and plain-clothed hippie)
of Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff has been back on the TV since Monday . It’s nice to see he is still alive, raising contentious issues and alternating between making my blood boil to making me cheer at the tv in agreement ( this is a bit sad but I hardly watch any tv so I’m allowed).

Where did he go?  He apologised for saying “Nice One” all the time saying he’d been on holiday with someone saying ” Nice One” repeatedly. Hmmm …I have an image of a dodgy guy in a hat with a can of lager in one hand and a spliff in the other prancing about winking and nudging Matthew Wright saying “Nice One Mate”. I  hope Matthew comes and comments again on this blog to tell us. However since his reappearance on his show there has been a slight decline in numbers coming to visit this site as they were all coming here to find his whereabouts.

I have had a sudden drop in my energies the past few days partly due to an illness but also my body feels it’s getting dark early and it’s time to hibernate just when I have a load of new commitments.
The people around me seem to all be in gloomy and depressed moods and I want to go back to Solfest quick!

I am going away for a little bit to a place without computers and so I must say farewell for a week or more as I will be too busy.

Keep your comments coming.

I am trying to contact Carlyle Reedy ( see the Notting Hill Crypt interviews) on behalf of one of the contributors from Holland but I have just found out that she really is a recluse and does not have email or a computer. I will carry on trying to get a message to her by friend or pigeon. She only lives a minute’s walk away from me but I still have not met her. That’s London for you! You can just disappear..in smoke.

So I’ll leave you with a bit of Hawkwind and Robert Calvert’s brilliant and resilient lyrics.

( *a big OOPS! postscript : Robert Calvert did write great lyrics but I think Dave Brock wrote the lyrics to “Psychedelic Warlords“silly me! It’s been bothering me all weekend but I couldn’t get to a computer to change it. Well I try to be trustworthy in my info..and fail.”Urban Guerilla” is written by Robert Calvert.  That’s another of my favourites. All complaints should be put in writing to the comments section)

This is “Psychedelic Warlords” from the album ” Hall of the Mountain Grill” which until a couple of years ago was a cafe in the Portobello Road close to the tube train  bridge. Now they’ve made everything posh and glamourous they have removed it’s rougher edges inhabited by Hawkwind and many bikers, punks and other creative lunatics including the Hall of the Mountain Grill!

Please listen to the entire album in my absence .I won’t put all the tracks up here linked from youtube because you should buy it. But buy it on vinyl with the original picture of the front of the cafe and photos  of them on a climbing frame etc..on the inner sleeve.

These images of the inner sleeve are borrowed from http://ac1drock.blogspot.com/

because basically I can’t be bothered to scan my own copy and it’s late.

See little Tolkein-like riddle referring to Portobello Road and Notting Hill/Ladbroke Grove and the cafe.

The guy in the ace of spades t-shirt on the climbing frame is Lemmy sorry it’s a bit blurred.


Hall of the Mountain Grill ( 1974)
Psychedelic Warlords

It’s my favourite Hawkwind album even though it reminds of a terrible time I had once .I ate some dope cake probably 28 years ago, that was extremely strong ( opiated and mouldy black) and I had a bad trip that lasted on and off for a week ( don’t eat dope cake kids!) . The first night I was listening to” Psychedelic Warlords” and was convinced that the music had turned me into some kind of egomaniac vengeful all-knowing weird God.

But then who hasn’t ? ( Oh, so I’m the only one? No I think dictators and certain politicians, some academics, some  religious leaders and various ego-massaged famous people must feel like they are all-knowing egomaniac Gods  without Hawkwind or drugs).
Well I’m over that now and can listen to Psychedelic Warlords and enjoy it again. I now never eat dope cake unless it is in tiny quantities and with huge amounts of caution.

Back in a few days.

Love and peace
Born2rant ( occasional egomaniac)

Drug Dealers of Notting Hill ( and nearby) plus dope culture 1979-1981 (part deux)


Hello Good People who read this blog whether you got here on purpose or by accident you are all welcome!

My rambling blog is going to attempt at some form of confused continuity by continuing my stories of drug dealers . Please refer to my calendar on the right and click on June the 27th to read the first part of these tales.

Anyone out there firstly should know that names have been changed and some facts may be distorted by the following mathematical formula:

(time-compressed-in-my-brain) x (imagination + fantasies)  x % ^  (the fact I was very stoned at the time). However if only you knew the stuff I left out, that’s far wilder, so anything innacurate will not be an exageration, if indeed I get to tell that stuff in this post.

The Sports Shop

So if you read my entry (27/6/08)  you’ll know that via my friend who was looking for a party we found a house full of  drug dealers living above a sport’s shop in Harrow Road . At last we had found a regular place to score that did not involve dealing with brawls in pubs or hanging out in  All Saint’s Road.

I had concepts of dodgy drug dealers before I met these guys. This was in 1979 and all I can say is that from our point of view it was the happiest household I’d ever been to. The first people we got to know through my partying friend were two guys called Tony from Northern Ireland.

They were either from Ulster or Belfast I cannot remember, but I do remember that due to the amount of bombings going on,  the general stereotype was that anyone with a strong northern Irish accent was feared as a bomber. This was because each time there was a bomb , on the news they would always conclude by saying “and someone with a strong  Irish accent phoned up to claim the IRA were responsible”. The IRA also were involved in some kind of drug smuggling but there was no way these two young men with strong Northern Irish accents were at all interested in bombing anyone or in politics either , they were only interested in getting stoned, having a laugh and listening to good music.

One of the Tonys had a sweet young  face, always smiling he had a drum kit in his room and I had my first go on drums thanks to him. I was rubbish and realised drums were not for me. He played them pretty well though. His taller friend,  also a Tony, had long black hair with wrigglets and a moustache, he looked altogether wilder and people teased him by saying he looked like one of the Fabulous Furry Freak brothers ( the one with the glasses…what was his name? Phineas Freakears!). Both Tonys were friendly guys with a great sense of humour.

A little trip around the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and other drug culture characters …

In fact I seem to remember we christened a fair few of our friends at that time according to different characters from that comic it was so funny and tragic at the same time. The new obscenity laws that dear old Thatcher brought in meant the nice people at the headshop in Portobello Road were busted several times for selling “Fabulous Furry Freak Brother ” comics.  I bought a board game from that head shop back in 1980 ( the shop still exists, called “Alchemy” it changed address though).

It was a board game called “Dealer Mc Dope” ( this photo is from the Last Gasp website where you can still buy this game from!). It was like Monopoly except you have to go around the world buying and selling drugs . It takes several days to win and some of the rules are quite insane and humanly impossible. I seem to remember there were 2 sets of rules one was the “Perverto Insane rules” or something involving cannabalism and nuclear explosions or similar .

The cartoons on the banknotes are fantastic with Ronald Reagan and other American politicians. Anyway I bought that from that same headshop  in 1980 and they had to keep it under the counter for me in case they got busted for selling a drug dealing game.

My favourite was always Fat Freddy’s Cat and because we had a large number of cats at home , we frequently referred ( or should I say reefer-d..very bad pun!) to the philosophy and wisdom of Fat Freddy’s Cat. He used to poo in Fat Freddy’s cowboy boots to remind him that the catbox needed changing and ours used to poo everywhere too… aah! Happy Days!

Around then there were various cinemas that catered for hippies , late night tokers and those interested in counterculture films. It was through these that we encountered Fritz the Cat. A pornographic debauched cat I didn’t much like, still it certainly turned the stereotypes of cartoons like Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat upside down.

In Notting Hill the Electric Cinema had late night shows where I remember watching “La Vallée Obscured by Clouds“. Pink Floyd had provided the music but one of the characters (Monique) is also played by Miquette Giraudy of System 7. However in this clip she is a bit er… obscured by clouds but  that’s her in the red/brown cape or possibly blanket.

On the same bill was “More” also with some music from Pink Floyd. Both films were directed by Barbet Schroeder. I seem to remember that “More”  was  one of the most depressing junkie films I had ever seen. Mind you I don’t remember a lot about it except that I got bored . I much preferred “La Vallée” which had a more interesting story of hippies trying to reach a place and way of life before the trappings of modern culture and capitalism.

In this clip of “More” from youtube below they have censored some of the ingredients to their spaced out drug concoction……sorry !

I might have to write another entry just about films and alternative cinema because I can sense another 1500 words about to emerge.

I cannot forget the first time I saw ” Up in Smoke” in the late summer of 1979 . I was alone in Paris at the time, I had a place at The Sorbonne to study French but I was desperately lonely , broke, and had nowhere to live.  I ended up going to stay in a convent in the Latin Quarter. I went to the cinema every day to hear some spoken English as I was very homesick and I came across ” Up in Smoke ” by accident , I had never seen anything like it . Cheech and Chong playing  two bumbling American hippies in the most hilarious film I had ever seen, going through every young toker’s scenario . I  went back to the cinema to see it several times until I just had to leave Paris where I was desperately miserable and rejoin my hippie boyfriend and friends  back in London leaving my University course behind…. but I never regretted it and studied later on a course I was much more suited to.

(this clip of “Up in Smoke” has a couple of flash frames in it  added by the person who put it up on youtube but of nothing bad or brainwashing..not sure what it is a picture of)

Cheech and Chong were almost like cartoon characters, also there was Robert Crumb and the Stoned Agin posters.

The bedsits over the Sport’s shop in Harrow Road were full of young small time dealers, who actually were just like Cheech and Chong and had all the stereotype posters on their walls. The Stoned Agin one , then there was the multicoloured one of a woman smoking a great big cone spliff, plus of course Bob Marley , Jimi Hendrix and other bands.

The  two Tony’s were always very happy to see us. We used to get up to run our stall in Portobello Road at   6 a.m. on Saturday mornings and yet I think we used to go there to score and get stoned on a Friday night and I was working full-time. We were young and sleep was optional. (Also jobs were a much less demanding back then in every way  and I worked a 36 hour week which was considered as a typical 9-5 full-time job with a lunch hour and morning and afternoon tea breaks. )

We’d spend the evening there and have tea and munchies and lots of spliffs. There were sometimes other drugs there but we didn’t generally bother with those, I certainly was not interested in other drugs at all. There was quite a range of different types of cannabis available and the different varieties of dope available improved when eventually we got to know their dealers, and their dealer’s dealers! But for a year or so we hung out happily at the Sport’s shop and got to know the other inhabitants who all were smiley jolly people and seemed eager to be our friends and tell us of the latest attempts by the police to have them busted.

Dope was cheap, much cheaper than beer and made me happy, not aggressive or miserable like alcohol could. Plus it made me feel good about being creative and someone who liked to think about society as the entire drug culture was about using drugs to expand the mind and to create new music and other artistic and intellectual pursuits. I think I personally wanted the spiritual ecstatic experience that religion alluded to ( being filled with the Holy Ghost!) but just didn’t deliver. I wanted to feel at one with the planet, with all living things and that life was special and had a purpose. I think I found this through dope temporarily at least although I think the company and culture associated with drug-taking was equally important.

But I was also quite paranoid, we all were but none of us admitted it as well as very accident prone when stoned and well…it’s not a risk-free activity.  At the time we thought it was healthy to smoke it and that tobacco was dangerous so we often smoked neat bongs, pipes, and grass spliffs, and so did the health- conscious people we knew. It always makes me laugh, I’ve known so many hippies who have given up tobacco, eat only vegan and sometimes macrobiotic foods, won’t use any anti-biotics or painkillers or any type of “poisonous” conventional medicine yet they are quite happy to have huge quantities of dope and sometimes other “natural” non-pharmaceutical drugs like mushrooms and even opium etc…

Still I find most people are walking contradictions including myself. In those days we all thought that dope was not only healthy but good for you, cured asthma, arthritis, annorexia, depression, and that is why we supported  the “legalise cannabis campaign” and were willing to risk getting arrested at Smokey Bear’s Picnics in Hyde Park and other legalise cannabis events.

My thoughts and feelings about dope are totally different now and today’s skunk is a totally different drug.  Skunk has wrecked the mental health of at least one of my friends.  Also we now have the knowledge that smoking anything gives you cancer…is ignorance bliss? or just foolish? or were we just young and some of us finding life very stressful and alienating without dope and the good company of other smokers?

It was bliss back then to smoke dope and feel that it was revolutionary, wise, naughty and illegal as well as a healthy herb and it separated us from “straight” people who liked to drink lots. It was very “us” and “them”.

I’ll write more soon. At my leisure!

Please tell me in a comment  if you had any dope smoker’s posters on your wall or other paraphenelia  I may have forgotten about . How about unusual cigarette papers? Like there were dollar bill ones and pink leopard-skin skins.

and do you smile each time you watch the BBC London news read by  Rizzla Teeth? I do!

Yes..the dope-smoking culture and sense of humour doesn’t go away even if writing blogs has replaced the hours of giggling and listening to Gong while smoking bongs. Happy Days!

( cough ! cough! splutter! wheeze!)

Lots of things from the US in this entry and I’ll finish with a trailer from the film Psych-out ( 1968 ) see below this paragraph . It’s an absolutely brilliant little montage of this crazy colourful film. I first went to see this at The Scala in King’s Cross as part of an all-nighter with my ex and our mate Gid  who was 6 foot 4 and had his face painted as a mouse. They were both tripping from dope cake and totally freaked out from seeing this cautionary  film and I had to try and chill them out after the film by finding them munchies and talking to them about nice things. It was quite difficult not to smile , Gid looked very sweet as a 6 foot 4 inch terrified  long-haired hippie mouse with a little red nose and painted whiskers across his cheeks.

PSYCH-OUT” 1968 ( a  psychedelic movie with some horror sequences includes a young Jack Nicholson with long-hair, the Seeds, the Strawberry Alarm Clock and much more!)

Love and peace

Born2rant

Steve Hillage always looking to the future: Part one from Hyde Park to Solfest


Steve Hillage always looking to the future: Part one from Hyde Park to Solfest


Hello Good people who read this blog…

This week I thought I’d write a bit about Steve Hillage. It’s very difficult if not impossible to write about Steve Hillage without referring to my life and that of others in relation to him. This is an entirely subjective view of Steve Hillage . I have no detailed knowledge of his music after 1980 although I have seen System 7 several times.
So just like Douglas Adam’s description of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, due to hazy memories and subjective nonsense some of the contents may be “apocryphal” ( doubtful ). So to any fanatical fans of Steve Hillage, System 7, academics, musicologists , or the man himself if he reads this (and he might), or my ex for writing about him without him being there,then I apologise in advance for anything stupid, crass, innacurate or silly that I say.
I do not however apologise to any music journalists who might read this as they specialise in writing stupid, crass, innacurate and silly things about musicians but in an authoritative way.
No I assure you what I am about to write may be complete and utter bollocks, fiction in fact which bears only coincidental resemblance to any people living or dead, ever, anywhere.*(see footnote)

So here we go…

I first saw Steve Hillage as a teenager at the Queen concert in Hyde Park on 18th September 1976. It was the first “festival” type gig I’d been to. I’d seen the film of Woodstock and Hyde Park turned into a mini Woodstock without the mud for the day. I seem to remember that Brian May of Queen was a big fan of Steve Hillage and of Jimi Hendrix. Bung in Jimmy Page and you’d probably have my favourite 4 electric guitarists.

The gig was organised to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix on the 18th of September1970. Hendrix died in Notting Hill in circumstances which have never been fully explained. This could be the subject of a whole other blog and an area of perhaps morbid curiosity for me after reading Kathy Etchingham’s autobiography.

Anyway back to Steve Hillage….

I went to Hyde Park to go and see Queen but I was hanging around at the side of the stage where the most bizarre people I had ever seen were sitting on the grass. They were such over the top hippies that I was fascinated by them. One of them was wearing a duck on his head ( a decoy duck as a hat..it was hot). There were people going in and out of the backstage area to join the strange group on the grass no doubt smoking grass and I was wondering if it was Steve Hillage who also was wearing some kind of weird hat. I was so young I didn’t really know what grass was , in those days there wasn’t drug education in schools. I remember there were some people looking quite high swaying about or meditating cross-legged next to burning josticks planted in the ground and I didn’t know if that was some kind of drug too. My parents certainly would have thought it was. There were huge crowds and it was very exciting, very alternative, full of hippies and a bit scary as I wasn’t quite sure what was going on and was young. I got photographed at least 20 times by different people at that gig maybe because I had dressed up in a T-shirt I’d made saying “Prophet” in big letters on the front and was wearing a home-made black corduroy floppy hat and was hanging around the side of the stage/backstage area.

Later on I scrutinised the stage and realised it was Steve Hillage I’d seen hopping in and out of the backstage area and his music blew me away.

I remember his rendition of “It’s all too much” a George Harrison song which I was already fond of for having a celestial quality to it but Steve Hillage was taking it to another world. The music shone and glittered and took you through harmonic waves turnstiles into other audio dimensions ( God I sound like one of those terrible Music Journalists…I must apologise!) .Basically Steve Hillage was something I’d never heard before. He used pentatonic scales from the East that I’d only heard in snatches of Indian Classical music. World music was not really broadcast then. It was Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel, Womad etc ..which brought it to the attention of us young westerners and later Whirlygig etc.. .

I think for most of the Queen audience maybe the music was just too different for them to understand but I was completely smitten by it.

Well in the context of the variety of sounds in 2008 this won’t sound the same and apologies for poor quality but here is Steve Hillage at that Hyde Park Gig. The most interesting parts are the instrumental bits after he finishes singing the song. It looks like they were having quite a few technical problems. There is footage of faultless live gigs available but not here yet! ( more about that next time)

Later my problem was that none of my friends or anyone I knew had any interest in this kind of music. Most of them liked pop or straight classic rock like Thin Lizzy. I was well into punk as well and knew a few punks. Around the same time I got into Gong from finding a collection of Gong albums in my local library but had no idea that Steve Hillage had been in Gong until later.

Anyway to cut a long story short when I was at college doing my A-levels I met my ex partner Michael . One of the main things we had in common was an almost identical record collection and a total obsession with music and the hippie movement which was verging on the fanatical (now I’m older of course I’m not like that at all).

In particular we both knew and loved the music of Steve Hillage and Gong. Our subsequent relationship was very much based around these things.

We used to have a record player that could play a side of an album repeatedly without pausing and there were times when we listened to a side of Green or Rainbow Dome Musick , or Live Herald for 8 hours or more , once I think we heard side one of Live Herald for an entire weekend going to sleep and waking up with it in the morning. But it never seemed to do us any harm and I can still listen to these records now, you’d think I would have got bored with it!

As well as the music we were finding and exploring the alternative scene in Notting Hill, at free festivals, playing music in bands together and later running gigs .

At first we ran a few gigs together under the name “Dead Dog Promotions” , then at a later stage this became ” Club Dog” which later still once we had split up for some time became “Megadog” . You can guess who Michael wanted to book .

1. Anyone who sounded like Steve Hillage

2. Steve Hillage

Of course I’m joking and many other types of act were booked and the club enjoyed diversity. In fact other acts booked in particular for Club Dog were all about fusing different styles of music to create something totally new and original just as Gong and Hillage have done as well as representing an alternative community.

It ‘s not the first time I have been a fan of someone and then got to meet them through being involved in the music scene. But it’s hard to explain what huge fans we both were and how ironic it is that System 7 then became one of the acts associated with Megadog.

Hurdy Gurdy Man (song by Donovan)

This was filmed on March 20th 1977 at the Otto Hahn School in Bensberg Germany for the Rockpalast TV programme. (go to http://www.rockpalastarchiv.de/welcomee.html for more info on this music series)

Steve Hillage and band:

Miquette Giraudy (synthesiser and vocals) Colin Bass ( great name for a bass player!) , Clive Bunker (drums) Christian Boulé (guitar), Phil Hodges (keyboards), Basil Brooks (synthesiser)

I think this is correct and would have been the same line up on the previous video at Hyde Park

Ranting about music and connections between people and events…

I think it is fair to say that the impact of the music by Steve Hillage and Gong in an indirect way changed the course of my life and that of many others. When I studied music at University they kept telling us that “Music is all about relationships”. The relationship between notes, the relationship between beats , instruments, musicians in a band , the relationship between bands and their audience, the relationship between music and the media and opportunity for broadcast, the relationship between fans of a particular band , the relationship we create emotionally with the music we listen to and the thoughts and memories we associate with each piece of music. Steve Hillage has been weaving in and out of my life since 1976 and I am sure, the cosmos willing , that our paths will cross again.

If you read my entry on Solfest 2007 you will see that was the last time our paths briefly crossed and you will understand why I said to him that I thought that the crackles at the beginning of our vinyl copy of Rainbow Dome Musick were due to us playing it so much!

In fact it’s a fault with the pressing. That’s the autobiographical bit done, I hope I haven’t embarrassed Michael as he will read this at some point. I was trying to do this blog anonymously but then of course I started to tell people about it and so it’s only half anonymous now!

I am so tired that I cannot spell anymore but next time I want to write about Steve Hillage’s musical journey, and various thoughts about numbers and (vaguely) spiritual stuff!

Goodnight….

More Soon….Please go to

http://www.planetgong.co.uk/maze/blurbs/hillage.shtml

for more info on Steve Hillage!

*P.S. This isn’t really fiction I just got carried away in my apologies

(Episode Three) Notting Hill and the Arts 1967-1972: an interview with Dave Russell – Jazz, Psychedelic Rock Bands, Poetry, Frestonia, Release and Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments


Carlyle ReedyCarlyle Reedy

(Episode Three) Notting Hill and the Arts 1967-1972: an interview with Dave Russell – Jazz, Psychedelic Rock Bands, Poetry, Frestonia, Release and Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments.

Hello Good People who read and contribute to this blog!

Thanks for waiting, there have been technical problems galore which after complaining to TalkTalk and reformatting the computer are gradually clearing up.

I have finally uploaded the third installment of the Dave Russell interview about The Crypt in Notting Hill . He also tells us a bit about Frestonia and Release.

Episode Three of the Dave Russell interview about The Arts and Community Centre Notting Hill

At the start of this post I have put a photo of Carlyle Reedy who started up and ran the club from 1967 to 1972. She is fairly reclusive at present but I hope to meet her soon.

Dave talks about them charging half a crown which is 2/6 ( two and six) in predecimal money which is 12 and a half pence in today’s money . Here is a poster kindly sent to me by Iain Jacobs for the club which has the price and several other interesting points. If you point your cursor over the picture you can enlarge it and read the details. You will see several well known names in music.

Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments Poster

Pete Brown who is best known for co-writing most of the hits for the band Cream was a performance poet.

Here is a bit I nicked from Wikkipedia:Pete Brown (born December 25, 1940 in Ashtead, Surrey, England) is a British performance poet, lyricist and musical producer, best known for his collaborations with Jack Bruce. He worked also with The Battered Ornaments, and formed his own group Piblokto!. He was part of the poetry scene in Liverpool during the 1960s and in 1964 was the first poet to perform at Morden Tower in Newcastle. In 2004 he formed Brown Waters, an award-winning British film production company[1], with Mark AJ Waters and Miran Hawke….

Brown was originally brought into the Cream fold as a writing partner for drummer Ginger Baker, but the group quickly discovered that he worked better with bassist Jack Bruce. Of the situation, Bruce later remarked “Ginger and Pete were at my flat trying to work on a song but it wasn’t happening. My wife Janet then got with Ginger and they wrote ‘Sweet Wine’ while I started working with Pete.”

Together, Brown and Bruce wrote the majority of Cream’s numbers, including the hits “I Feel Free“, “White Room” and (with Clapton) “Sunshine of Your Love“.

After the breakup of Cream, Bruce and Brown continued to write songs together for Bruce’s solo career. Brown wrote the lyrics for Bruce’s albums Songs For a Tailor, Harmony Row and Into the Storm.”

Chris Spedding is another well-known name who has worked with many people in the music business. Here is a bit taken from his website. It’s a very brief description of his career.

Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter Chris Spedding has been a mainstay of the British session scene since the late 60s, playing with just about everyone from Nucleus, Jack Bruce, John Cale, Elton John, Mike Batt, to Paul McCartney & The Bay City Rollers (anonymously!).
In 1975 Spedding had a hit record called “Motorbikin'”. In the late 70s he moved to the States and worked with Robert Gordon, Jerry Harrison, Dick Rivers and Johnny Hallyday.
Recently, Spedding played with Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry, in the summer of 2005 he released a solo album “CLICK CLACK”. And plays The War Of The World tour!”

Chris’ website is http://www.chrisspedding.com/

It’s funny that I had The Wombles on my Christmas blog because I think Chris may have known them well.

I used to think The Wombles were a very lame excuse for people in the music business to make lots of money out of little children. I still think that but now seeing them on youtube makes me smile and they are almost cool…in fact I’d like be one on stage and do the dances etc…ok I’m being really uncool and must carry on.

getting back to the poster..in brief (as it’s late now and I need to lie down) …Jamie Muir was a free form percussionist and later played in King Crimson and is now a painter.

Charlie Hart has also done 10 billion zillion things here is a short extract from the biography on his website featuring a picture of Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments:

” As a student Charlie played organ in the psychedelic band 117. The group appeared frequently at the Middle Earth/UFO clubs and recorded at a legendary session with Mick Jagger and Andrew Oldham at Olympic Studios. By that point, Charlie was heavily into black music and the most sensible plan seemed to go to Africa, so he spent a year in Ghana. Highlife and traditional music became an obsession and the next year Charlie returned to sit in with highlife bands and study marimba.

After college he was asked to join Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments with Chris Spedding, Dick Hextall-Smith and George Khan and he was introduced to the delights of the M1 and the Blue Boar. At that time he also started playing double bass with the People BandTerry Day, Mel Davis, Lyn Dobson, Mike Figgis, Davey Payne and they toured with the People Show. With Davey Payne and Terry Day he formed OMMU and they toured Holland frequently.

OMMU then joined Ian Dury, the eccentric art-school lyricist and Kilburn and the Highroads were at the front of the early 70s Pub-rock boom, free jazz meets rock and roll. Wreckless Eric was in the same stable, and Charlie played keyboards on his first LP. “

His website is http://www.charliehart.com

George Khan was a tenor saxophonist and all of them I’m sure were great ..I just don’t know them and I have to go to bed now! This took longer than I thought.

Next time maybe a bit of ranting, maybe a bit of Frestonia maybe a bit about Steve Hillage maybe some more posters from the 60s and 70s and 80s that are not published anywhere else or nicked ! I will see ..for now

Thanks for reading and bedtime!

but music before bed

see also

Frestonia-Your essential entertainment & lifestyle guide