Meeting the King – Le Roi
So I’d been along to a host of Roy Harper concerts. I found myself following him around like a little groupie. In effect I was doing the same thing I’d done all those years back when I lifted the arm on the old Dansette. I was simply playing the stuff over and over until I’d assimilated it and wrung it dry. The trouble was with Roy that there was such a lot to take in and the banter was just as intriguing and always different. He approached a gig in the same way that you would when having a few friends round into your front room. It wasn’t so much a performance as a gathering.
At first, there were usually between fifty and sixty there and it wasn’t too much trouble to get on the front row – the only place to be.
The thing was that I was hooked. Roy had been touting around the first album on Strike and selling them at gigs but I’d missed out. He’d sold them all. After a bit I bought the ‘Come out fighting Ghenghis Smith’ album that had just been released on Columbia. It confirmed my suspicions that he was a major force. The thing was that I felt I had to meet him. You could only tell if someone was genuine by meeting them. The problem is that there is so much shit involved with meeting someone who is on a stage. You come over as a dork.
This was something I was grappling with for many weeks. I wanted to meet him, say hello and have a chat but I did not know how to do it. It sounded so lame to say how much you like his songs.
Anyway, I finally decided on a sequence of words that did not sound too awful and hung about at the end of a gig while he packed up. It didn’t take long. Back then all he had to do was put his guitar back in its case. He looked up and saw me.
I had the words sorted. I was not quite sure about the delivery.
Roy came over with a big grin, shook me by the hand and said he’d seen me at a lot of gigs and been meaning to come over and say hello. He was in a rush now but here was his number. He wrote it down on a piece of paper. I was to give him a ring and come round for a smoke. Then he was gone.
I hadn’t actually said a word. I was left standing there like a dummy clutching a scrap of paper with a phone number on it.
I took a couple of days and rung.
Roy answered and we spoke for ages.
Following that I rung up quite regularly and was always warmly received. I gabbled and gabbled. I’m not quite sure what he thought about it but I wanted his views on war, religion, sex, politics and life. I wanted to hear about what made him tick, the world tick and held the universe together. He always had time for me. He invited me round and I went round to his flat in Kilburn and met his wife Mocy and son Nick. Nick was about two years old. The first thing he did when I walked in was to rush over to me, throw his arms around me and plant a big kiss right on my lips. I’ve never let him forget that