Music has always been part of my life. The early years were dominated by the choices of my parents , predominately my mother, and other family members. Tammy Wynette, Billy Jo Spears and Elvis Presley with a drop of Glen Campbell, Jim Reeves and other country stars would blast out of our Freeman’s Catalogued Hi-Fi (£2.75 for 52 weeks).
I can’t recall my father taking control of the turntable except the multiple times he wanted a divorce and Englebert’s Please Release Me would get a few spins.
Versey family parties were always the best. Mother would start things off with Elvis and country before Uncle Chris would play us his Beatles tapes. Us kids would want the latest kiddie craze or The Wombles whilst everyone would try and keep Uncle Paul away from the turntable and his Bob Dylan collection. You knew that
when it was his turn the fists would start flying and yet another scratch would be added to Highway 61 Revisited before an abrupt end was called to the festivities.
My own record buying didn’t start in earnest until I was 16 and earning my own money. Before then I had to rely on record tokens for Christmas and birthdays and the occasional treat when the old man had worked some overtime and not spent it all on booze.
One of those times was in the very early 70’s I was only four but I recall buying The Wombles’ Remember You’re a Womble. Well when I say I remember buying it I don’t actually. But it was definitely one of the first records I remember being mine.
The mid to late 70’s carried on just as my early years with mother hogging the stereo and the old man getting the odd listen of Neil Diamond and of course the obligatory Englebert.
At the turn of the decade us kids started to get record players and tape recorders. Tracie had this one record player where you could pre-load at least 20 singles. One would drop down onto the other and the player arm would rise up. Very hi-tech for the 1980’s.
Tracie would blare out her Adam and the Ants and I recall one of her boyfriends leaving an OMD LP behind and it stayed in the dining room cupboard for many a year.
Chas n Dave where huge around this time and their Jamboree Bag LP found it’s way into our collection. Songs about Beer, sideboards, rabbits, Margate, Spurs and loopy cuemen made their way into into my psyche and remain almost 40 years later.
As the early 80’s turned into the mid 80’s I suddenly started to earn a few bob. Working on the Sunday and Thursday markets with the odd paper round
thrown in. I still didn’t buy any records though. It was packs of tapes to record songs off the radio. Tommy Vance and Richard Skinner were the hosts and the trick was to record the songs without any spoken words from the DJ – This was often made trickier by my sisters making a racket or the parents shouting up the stairs telling us dinner was ready.
Mid 1986 and I’d left school and got a job. A job in a mini-market was short lived which was quickly followed by painting and decorating on the YTS. That didn’t last long either as I was used as a slave and rebelled by urinating in the kettle and serving them my boiled piss with their afternoon Tetley Tea. Stripped to my pants with my hairy balls dipped in gloss I was made to walk 2 miles home! Anyway I digress. A few quid rattling around in my pocket so time to purchase my first album.
I’d recently heard Happy Hour by The Housemartins at Portman Road and instantly liked it. Off I trotted to Boots to buy the LP. To my dismay I was told it hadn’t yet been released. Rather than save the money until release date I picked another album. Little did I realise that first musical purchases live with you forever and often define a person. So what was my first?
Touch Me by Sam Fox
That’s right. The east London page 3 girl had made the move from the tabloids to Top of the Pops – I adored Sam. Just under £5 of my first ever adult pay packet was spent on an album that in all honesty is remembered only for the free poster!
On hindsight I wish I had laminated the poster……….
I did finally get round to purchasing The Housemartins’ debut. Despite not being my first album it’s probably the most pivotal as it kick started a Paul Heaton love affair that is still going on today. They were “my” band. Not mothers, fathers or any of my uncles or siblings. ALL MINE. From the Housemartins through to The Beautiful South, a solo career and a more recent resurgence with Jacqui Abbott I have purchased everything Mr Heaton has commercially released. Even in this day and age of illegal downloads I still make sure I buy a physical copy of his albums.
1986 and 1987continued with a few more LP purchases, John Lennon (Double Fantasy), Ultravox (Greatest Hits), Madonna (True Blue), The Housemartins (People Who Grinned Themselves to Death), The Beatles (Red Album 1962 to 1965 & Blue Album 1966 to 1970).
In January 1988 I purchased my first ever CD player from the catalogue lady 3 streets down – I had this brand new CD player that plugged into my stereo but no CD’s. So off I went to Woolies to make a couple of purchases. A CD Single – The Theme from S’Express and a full album – the debut from Kylie.
My CD buying went crazy. I bought all kinds, Sex Pistols, ABBA, Led Zep, Queen, Bros, S/A/W, Elvis (yes I’d succumbed to mothers influence), The Jam, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and many many more.
When I converted to digital in around 2007 I had been buying CD’s for 19 years. Music Magpie took almost 600 CD ‘s from me which equates to about 32 CD’s a year. Not too shabby considering for a lot of that time I was on low wages 🙁
Anyway let’s jump back a bit. The 80’s turned into the 90’s and I’d added bands such as The Stone Roses, The Sex Pistols, The Proclaimers and The Jam into my list of “most played”. The next step from buying music was obviously going to see it live. I’d seen Chas n Dave at The Spa a couple of times (at the time of writing the current seen count is 10 times) but I hadn’t been to any other live show.
Simple Minds at Wembley Arena was the first. Never really liked them and can’t recall anything about the gig. Another disappointing “first” – Next up came The Beautiful South. I ended up seeing them 5 times. Thanks to the wonders of the internet I can actually tell you dates etc:-
November 9th 1989 – Kilburn National Ballroom supported by What Katy Did Next
November 20th 1990 – Hammersmith Odeon
December 13th 1994 – Brixton Academy
October 29th 1996 – Shepherd’s Bush Empire
December 4th 2004 – Hammersmith Appollo
Chuck in Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott
May 28 2014 – Shepherd’s Bush Empire
July 2nd 2016 – Thetford Forest
December 7th 2017 – Hammersmith Appollo
So by the end of this year it will be 8 times. Again not a great deal in 31 years of following. Once every 4 years.
Other concerts came and went. Oasis, REM, The Darkness, The Sex Pistols, The Stone Roses and The Proclaimers are just some of the many I’ve attended. Some of these more than once. Oh and of course there was Glastonbury back in 1997.
Some memorable highlights include:- Dancing with a Sex Pistol and a soap star, dancing to The Prodigy whilst off my tits on hay fever tablets and west country scrumpy and meeting a couple of well known a listers!
Dancing with the Stars
September 24th 2004 – The day I danced with Sex Pistols founding member Glen Matlock. He was playing with the band Dead Men Walking. The name came from the fact that all it’s members had played in a group where someone had died! The line up was:- Mike Peters – The Alarm, Kirk Barandon, Spear of Destiny, Bruce Watson – Big Country, Slim Jim Phantom – The Stray Cats and of course the Sex Pistols’ Glen. I went to the gig at The Spa in Felixstowe with Realo and Shevvy. The place wasn’t exactly full and the beers had been flowing when Shevvy suggested that I “run on to the stage”. I thought why not and made my way to the front of the auditorium and skipped past the two security guards who where engrossed in a game of cribbage stage side. Just as I made it onto the stage one of the guards caught my shirt and ripped all the buttons exposing my somewhat large belly. The crowd were shouting and cheering (not all of the shouting was supportive!). I ended up stood next to Glen who joined me in a little jig just before the aforementioned guard grabbed me again to throw me out. Luckily Glen persuaded him to let me return to my seat!
Fast forward to June 30th 2012 – The day I danced with a soap star. It was the much anticipated Stone Roses reunion gig at Heaton Park. During their 9 minute Fools’ Gold I noticed Sonia from Eastenders with a little entourage just near to where we were standing. She wasn’t really “with it” and has probably has no recollection of our 30 second dance – But I’m taking it!
Sunday June 23rs 1996 – Finsbury Park for the return of The Sex Pistols. I was far too young to be in to them first time round but in the interim years Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols has become a classic of mine. I had to attend the gig. And I did. With Clive Fisher.
As with most outdoor gigs the hike to the bar is pretty long. So when it was my turn to go I decided on doubling up. I stood in the queue awaiting my turn. There was a bit of a kerfuffle going on behind me. I was more interested in keeping my place in the line for 4 pints of warm over-priced Carling. When I finally got served the young lady behind the bar seemed to be very keen on the 2 people directly behind me. It was Kate Moss and Johnny Depp. I had stood next to them for 10 minutes oblivious to their fame. Then again I bet they didn’t know who I was either!
I could go on with stories aplenty but I think I’ll leave those for another time. As I mentioned earlier I digitised my collection around 10 years ago and it’s grown form 600 albums to just over 3,000. The last “new” band I got into was Glasvegas in 2005 – I’m not interested in anything newer. There’s far too much old music still to listen to and I haven’t got the time or energy to devote myself to a band/person like I have done for 31 years with Mr Heaton.
My music of choice today is fairly eclectic. I’ll listen to most stuff. Each era is different. I love 80’s cheese as much as I do the 60’s rock n roll and the 90’s “Britpop” – Even bands I despise like Radiohead and Coldplay have produced songs I like and I’ll listen to. Before I finish I’ll leave you with my top 5 albums of all time:-
Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols – The Sex Pistols
Different Class – Pulp
Glasvegas – Glasvegas
The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
Sunshine on Leith – The Proclaimers
Double Fantasy would have made this list if all the Yoko Ono shite was taken off and it was renamed Single Fantasy!