The Clash – Opher’s World pays tribute to genius.

The Clash – Opher’s World pays tribute to genius.

If the Sex Pistols were the battering ram used to knock the doors down then the Clash were the style and substance. Where the Sex Pistols were brash the Clash were cool. Where the Sex Pistols were blatant the Clash were more subtle. They took the energy and vibe of Punk and used it to harness a philosophy of political and social change.

At the time they were described as the intelligentsia of Punk. I’m not sure about that. They didn’t always get it right. There was an element of lauding yobbish behaviour, bank robbery and crime as if it was all part of some planned rebellion against the establishment that would bring about social change. As far as I could see robbing banks was not a career path to encourage and it wasn’t a victimless crime. Putting that aside we do find the Clash taking a stance. Unlike some of the other Punk bands they sought to ally themselves to the Blacks who they identified with as a victimised minority. This put them right at the forefront of Rock against Racism.

This also fostered a liking for Reggae and to a lesser extent Soul which they saw as musical forms that expressed the same defiant lyrical content and rebellious attitude. It meant that they introduced reggae rhythms into their music which was unique among the new Punk bands. They even got Lee Scratch Perry to co-produce a number.

With numbers like ‘White Riot’ which incited young White kids to get out and protest the way the Blacks had done, ‘London’s Burning’, ‘Tommy Gun’, ‘Career Opportunities’, ‘Police and Thieves’ and ‘Garageland’ they set out both their Punk credentials and a desire for direct action. The track ‘I’m so bored with the USA’ was a protest about the dire American crap we were being bombarded with as culture. They might be inspired by the likes of the Ramones and New York Dolls but this was a British Band living in the austerity and class war of Thatcher’s Britain. They were giving a voice to all those disenfranchised kids in British cities and didn’t give a damn about what America thought.

It was the third album – ‘London Calling’ that really sealed them as a great Rock band. It rose above being a mere Punk album with its clear and more sophisticated production, range of styles and songs and yet kept the Punk ethos. They even adopted Rockabilly as an authentic Punk expression. ‘Guns of Brixton’ reaffirmed that identification with Black culture and ‘London Calling’ with its distinctive guitar sound was mainstream Rock. The cover, which was a pastiche of Elvis’s first album with shades of the Who’s smashing guitars, was a move away from the cut and paste of Punk. The Clash had a different look, style and range. The idea of a Punk double album was strange for the new wave. That was more the realm of  the despised progressive bands. However the move away from fast snappy songs to variety and complexity was a sign of development.

There was talk as to whether the Clash could still be thought of as a genuine Punk Band anymore. Yet the attitude was there one hundred percent. It was just that they’d moved up a league and matured. The fire was still there. Also, unlike the Pistols, they had broken into America.

If ‘London Calling’ was controversial for a Punk Band then the triple album Sandanista was even more so. There was an even greater range of styles. Yet once again even the title of the album affirmed the revolutionary nature of the band. Combat Rock with its two singles that proved very commercially viable.

The internal strains began to manifest between Strummer and Jones. Jones got kicked out and after a last effort the band broke up.

What a pity that such a great band should succumb to that ignominous end. They were not merely a top Punk band they were one of the top bands in the world.

John Cooper Clarke – Twat – an hilarious poem put to music.

John Cooper Clarke – Twat – an hilarious poem put to music.

John Cooper Clarke is hilarious. He’s more of a stand up comic than a poet – though his words are special.

This poem is probably the funniest thing I’ve ever heard put to music. His delivery is perfect.

Johnny started up at the same time as Punk and his sensibilities fitted straight in. His repartee is infamous – put down to a heckler – ‘Sorry mate, I can’t hear what you’re saying – Your mouth’s too full of shit.’

I can think of a few people I’d like to play this to.


    • Like a Night Club in the morning, you’re the bitter end.


    • Like a recently disinfected shit-house, you’re clean round the bend.


    • You give me the horrors


    • too bad to be true


    • All of my tomorrow’s


    • are lousy coz of you.

You put the Shat in Shatter
Put the Pain in Spain
Your germs are splattered about
Your face is just a stain

You’re certainly no raver, commonly known as a drag.
Do us all a favour, here… wear this polythene bag.

You’re like a dose of scabies,
I’ve got you under my skin.
You make life a fairy tale… Grimm!

People mention murder, the moment you arrive.
I’d consider killing you if I thought you were alive.
You’ve got this slippery quality,
it makes me think of phlegm,
and a dual personality
I hate both of them.

Your bad breath, vamps disease, destruction, and decay.
Please, please, please, please, take yourself away.
Like a death a birthday party,
you ruin all the fun.
Like a sucked and spat our smartie,
you’re no use to anyone.
Like the shadow of the guillotine
on a dead consumptive’s face.
Speaking as an outsider,
what do you think of the human race

You went to a progressive psychiatrist.
He recommended suicide…
before scratching your bad name off his list,
and pointing the way outside.

You hear laughter breaking through, it makes you want to fart.
You’re heading for a breakdown,
better pull yourself apart.

Your dirty name gets passed about when something goes amiss.
Your attitudes are platitudes,
just make me wanna piss.

What kind of creature bore you
Was is some kind of bat
They can’t find a good word for you,
but I can…

The Blues Muse – Belfast – Stiff Little Fingers – Rebellion

The Blues Muse – Belfast – Stiff Little Fingers – Rebellion

The Blues Muse works his way through Punk in Ireland with rebellion and the troubles.



If ever Punk had been invented for a reason then Ireland was surely it. The ‘Troubles’ had been rumbling on since the turn of the century, had their roots back with Cromwell and even before with William of Orange and then way back to 1609 with the imposition of Protestant Scots into Ireland. In the seventies it had reached the height with bombings, knee-cappings, killings and an insurmountable war waged between the IRA, who wanted a united Ireland under Irish rule, and the British government who wanted British rule for Ulster and the protestant North. As an outsider I looked at it with amazement. It seemed incredible to me that Ireland was suffering such sectarian violence when the people were always so nice and friendly. But then I wasn’t Irish.

I walked through Belfast and it was scary with its barbed wire, bricked off roads, brutal grey despair only brightened by political slogans and defiant gaudy murals celebrating victories, hunger strikes and militia. It looked and felt like a war-zone.

But this was the environment that the kids had grown up in. Segregated, threatened, strip-searched, frisked and with the constant threat of violence and death from all sides.

It was fertile soil for a Punk Band and Ireland had a rich musical history. The wonder is that only two bands really emerged. While the Undertones were good and produced that brilliant ‘Teenage Kicks’ which was one of John Peel’s favourites, they never really dealt with the politics. They left that up to the other of Peelies favourites – Stiff Little Fingers.

I could only imagine the bravery of those young lads as they bellowed their fury at both sides and hit out at the stupid violence, repression and threats that they were subjected to. They made no distinction. Nobody has put it better.

It took guts to stand up to the IRA and tell them they had a suspect device, to harangue the British Army for their disrespect and disdain and to ignore the very real threats and warnings. They literally took their life in their hands for their music and held out for a vision of a better future.

Where the Sex Pistols talked of ‘No Future’ they sang about an ‘Alternative Ulster’. Instead of joining in with the politics of separation and hatred they sang about ‘Barbed Wire Love’ and hit out at racism in ‘White Noise’. This was my kind of music. It hit the heart, head and glands. It had substance, balls and quality. Punk didn’t come much better.

I watched them play in Belfast. They had ignored threats from the IRA, talk of a bust by the Brits and carried on through a bomb threat. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. They were young kids but they played their hearts out and Jake’s voice was hoarse and in ribbons by the end, the young kids in the hall packed it out and threw themselves around with gusto. Stiff Little Fingers were putting all their frustrations and anger into words and power chords. Nobody did it better.

This was what Rock music had always been about – rebellion!

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If you would like to purchase The Blues Muse, or any of my other books please follow the links:

In the UK:

In the US:

For all other countries please check out your local Amazon outlet.

Tom Robinson Band – “Ain’t Gonna Take It”

I know that if I could play any kind of music I’d be in a Punk Band. It reflects the power and anger necessary in these times.

Tom Robinson came out of the Thatcher years of extreme Right-wing anti-gay and anti-abortion.  Right-wing intolerance and hatred is to the fore once more. There’s a lot to stand up against.

If you value freedom, tolerance and compassion then Tom Robinson’s your man. He took the intensity of Punk and made it into a political weapon. Words have power.

Right now our freedoms are under attack from the Right and religious extremists. They want minorities crushed. They want women supressed, contraception and abortion outlawed and sex education stopped. They want religion stuffed down our kids throats. They want an unfair system that takes from the poor and gives to the rich. They want conformity and violence towards supposed dangers.

As Mark E Smith asked – ‘Who makes the fascists?’

The answer is – the right-wing does.

We have fascists marching on the streets, homophobia, racism, violence, sexism, misogyny and hatred. It is being fuelled by Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism and exaggerated fear of terrorism.

We have Islamophobes like Tommy Robinson spreading propaganda. The antidote to Tommy Robinson is Tom Robinson!

We have right-wing sites pouring out misinformation.

But we ain’t gonna take it! Time to unite and fight back. We need to spread the truth.

“Ain’t Gonna Take It”

Prejudice poison
Polluting this land
I’m a middle-class kiddie
But I know where I stand
We got brothers in Brixton
Backs to the wall
Bigots on the backlash
Divided we fall

But we ain’t gonna take it
Ain’t gonna take it
They’re keeping us under
But we ain’t gonna take it no more

Women with children
Have to carry the can
Till they lose them in divorce courts
To some pig of a man
We got Benyon and Whitehouse
Trying to get us stitched
‘Cause abortion and a gay scene
Only meant for the rich

But we ain’t gonna take it
Ain’t gonna take it
They’re keeping us under
But we ain’t gonna take it no more

Sisters and brothers
What have we done
We’re fighting each other
Instead of the Front
Better get it together
Big trouble to come
And the odds are against us
About twenty to one

But we ain’t gonna take it
Ain’t gonna take it
They’re keeping us under
But we ain’t gonna take it no more

Oh Shit!! Pete Shelley’s Dead!!

A few years ago I was living in a hiatus of great bands. The Magic Band, Love, the Fall and the Buzzcocks were all touring. Then it fell apart – Rockette Morton with heart surgery, Arthur Lee died, Mark E Smith died and now Pete Shelley!

What a great loss.. Pete was a master of lyrics and produced a string of high energy Punk classics. He brought a different craft to Punk.

Live they were a high energy act who always delivered and got the crowd rockin’.

Pete was also a really nice friendly guy. There was no front. On a few occasions I was sitting around in his dressing room after a gig chatting. He was always open and welcoming.

I’ll sure miss him! There’s not many left!

Goodbye Pete and thanks!

Featured Book – Rock Music – In Search of Captain Beefheart – Chapter 1

On the starting line


Once I got out of Clive’s bedroom I began my quest in earnest. I looked everywhere I could but there were no signs of my heroes. This was probably due to two things: firstly I was an eleven year old kid living in the Delta region of the Deep South (Thames Delta that is – Walton on Thames) and there was very little in the way of record shops or live venues (Walton on Thames was not renowned for its boulevard cruisin’ in red Cadillac’s or its jiving’ Honky Tonks and Juke Joints) and secondly my heroes were still out of circulation. Woody was going down with the terrible Huntingdon’s Chorea which would stop him performing and writing anymore. Don Van Vliet was probably living out on his trailer in the desert with his mum Sue and hanging out at school with Frank Zappa. Roy was causing mayhem Blackpool way with Beat poetry, feigned madness, army desertion and pregnant girlfriends. Bob was doing his Little Richard impersonations and starting out on the road to putting together his auto-constructed mythology and was about to start singing to Woody in the sanatorium. Son House hadn’t been rediscovered and had yet to relearn the guitar, get back in the studio and be trundled out to white audiences.

I filled my time in by substituting in other heroes.

Hard on the heels of Buddy and Adam I soon discovered Elvis, Eddie, Cliff and then the revelation of Little Richard. He was explosive! ‘Here’s Little Richard’ was an immense album. I became obsessed with it. That voice belting out that basic thumping Gospel influenced yet wholly secular primitive Rock ‘n’ Roll along with his wild pounding piano. He was the true King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. There was no one to touch him. Elvis, who copied a lot of his songs, was a pale imitation in more ways than one. I remember sitting on the sofa with my 52 year old big fat jolly Nanny (Grandmother), who was shortly destined to have a stroke and die, and watching a Little Richard, come-back, hour long TV show in the early 60s. He put everything into it. The sweat was beaded on his face and dripping off him. He stood and hammered the keys, played it with his foot, backside and elbow and pulled off every trick in the book while my Nanny roared him on and bounced around causing the sofa to suffer earthquakes. My Nan was a rocker!

My school had a fete and I took my Dansette there with my record collection and performed as a Juke Box. I charged six pence a play and only played Little Richard all afternoon. I didn’t get to make much but I had a great time!

I finally got to meet my hero not so long ago when he played in Bradford. I took my younger son Henry with me as an essential part of his education (I also took him to see Chuck Berry, Rambling Jack Elliott, Love, The Magic Band, Lazy Lester & Jerry Lee Lewis and suggested he went to see Bo Diddley, the Fall, the Buzzcocks and John Cooper Clarke – which he did). Sadly my other three children were not so enamoured with my musical tastes. Liz thinks they were probably deafened on long car journeys or suffered a surfeit of Beefheart that permanently warped their brain waves.

The Little Richard Show was a strange affair. There seemed to be three elements to it. There was the Rock ‘n’ Roll – but lacking in the energy and athleticism – he was in his mid seventies – but there was also this cloying evangelical Christian crap and a very camp gayness all of which did not quite gel with raw Rock ‘n’ Roll. It left me feeling dissatisfied. I would have loved to have seen him in 1957 when he was revolutionary. Even more disturbing was going back after the show to see him. He was doing a poster signing. There was a long queue and two big black heavies on the door who were distinctly underworld. They collected your £30 quid off you with a very heavy warning: you went in shook hands, had your poster signed – if you tried to get anything else signed, like my original ‘Here’s Little Richard’ album from my childhood it would be taken off me and smashed. I had the feeling that there would likely be a few more things broken in the bargain.

I walked up to get my poster signed by the great Mr Penniman with the guy from the support act. He’d done a great version of ‘Casting my spell’ and I said that it sounded just like the Measles version that I used to love. He was particularly friendly and turned out to have been the lead singer with the Measles.

Following my discovery of Little Richard the next few years of the early sixties were quite fallow for me and lacking in real heroes. The charts, which we all drooled over, were full of sanitised Pop stuff – Fabian, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vee and Bobby Rydell. Some of it was OK and I quite liked Del Shannon, Roy Orbison and Dion & the Belmonts but I drew the line at Bobby Vee and Fabian and had headed off back into the 1950s for my fix. I devoured all the Buddy Holly, Little Richard and Eddie Cochran I could get my hands on and added some Shadows, Gene Vincent, Fats Domino, Huey ‘Piano’ Smith, and early Elvis before discovering the bombshells of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley.

I didn’t know what I was searching for. I thought I’d found it in good old Rock ‘n’ Roll. It hit you right in the belly and got you moving. I thought everyone should record fast rockers. Rock ‘n’ Roll was great but it wasn’t the whole caboodle. I would grow up a little.

I had a lot to learn.

The lean years ended in 1963.


If you have enjoyed my writing and would like to purchase one of my books I have put some links to my best Rock books below:


In The USA:


In Search Of Captain Beefheart



The Blues Muse


Rock Routes



In The UK:


In Search Of Captain Beefheart



The Blues Muse


Rock Routes


In other part of the world please check your local Amazon!


Thank you for looking and please leave a review if you enjoyed the book!!

Featured Book – Rock Music – In Search of Captain Beefheart – Some Reviews

These are a few of the reviews:


20 January 2015

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase 
The title is a little misleading; as it is not a book about Beefheart , but rather an account of growing up through the 60s and 70s in Britain. For people like myself 60+ year’s of age and like the author, a keen collector of records and tapes, this book will have a deep resonance. It was like living my early years of music all over again, as Mr. Goodwin kept mentioning the recording artists that I knew.
An enjoyable read, made for the coach, train, or ‘plane trip.

1 January 2016

Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
We move from the rock of a 2004 White Stripes gig to the deep blues of Son House performing in 1968 in the very first paragraph, which gives some idea of the huge range of personal and musical experience covered in this always lively and thoroughly engaging personal testimony. We are taken on a freewheeling and cheerfully anarchic journey across time and space from the earliest days of rock’n’roll through the vibrant 60s and its many musical offshoots and current influences, with every anecdote giving ample evidence for the author’s central idea – that music transforms and inspires like nothing else, forging an organic link with our own lives and even the politics and beliefs we live by. There are sharp, vivid, honest and cheerfully scatological portraits of his musical heroes with warm praise and candid criticism providing the salty ring of truth. The book has wry down-to-earth humour, a breakneck momentum, mostly good musical taste, fascinating gossip, strong opinions, passionate loves and equally passionate hates – and there’s not a dull moment in it. Written with a warm and generous spirit, in the end it amounts to a radical critique of much more than music. It captures the modern zeitgeist with zest and courage. Recommended.

2 September 2015

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
If you grew up listening to music in the 60s then like me you will love this book, there were so many similarities between my musical awakening and the author’s that it was uncanny, I was never as obsessive about collecting as he obviously was but I went to so many of the gigs that are listed in the book. The book took me back to the days of being a hippy when everything seemed possible and we thought we could change the world with music and love, sadly we were wrong but thankfully the music lives on and Opher captures the spirit of the age perfectly. I found myself longing to get my vinyl out and start playing my old Roy Harper and Incredible String band LPs. The book is well written and shows what a fascinating life Opher has led, for anyone who was there and has forgotten the details this book will delight you and for any serious students of how good music evolved then this book is a must.

2 June 2015

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
How very dare you captain sweetheart weird only to the tone deaf with t h no hearts. Pink Floyd are not just Roger Waters all their best music came from three good music players making up for their average bass player.other wise locally book.
Pete 2 Sheds

5 July 2015

Format: Kindle Edition
If you were there, the 60s that is, and you have forgotten much, and you will have, then this is an interesting memory jogger. It is Chris Goodwins account of the real ‘underground’ music scene of the time and not what is popularly touted to the interested young of today.
If you are genuinely interested in the genesis of modern music and its evolution especially through the 60s and 70s then this is an interesting guide and full of quirky anecdotes which may appeal to the young of all ages
Red Herring

3 June 2014

Format: Kindle Edition
Wow, Opher’s amazing rock n roll journey is a must. What a fabulous trip through a lifetime of music and more. Anyone who had a pet crow and 2000 pet mice has gotta be something other than ordinary. Hugely engaging and with buckets full of tales to tell, Opher’s passion shines through on every page. Five stars for sure, keep ’em coming! Rich & Lou

12 September 2014

Format: Paperback
Rock music lovers and anyone who has lived through the sixties and seventies will LOVE this book!
I’m glad people have enjoyed reading it!

If you have enjoyed my writing and would like to purchase one of my books I have put some links to my best Rock books below:


In The USA:


In Search Of Captain Beefheart



The Blues Muse


Rock Routes



In The UK:


In Search Of Captain Beefheart



The Blues Muse


Rock Routes


In other part of the world please check your local Amazon!


Thank you for looking and please leave a review if you enjoyed the book!!

Featured Book – Rock Music – In Search of Captain Beefheart – the Preface

This is the preface I wrote for the book:


Jack White launched into the searing riff that was the intro to ‘Death Letter Blues’. It shot me straight back to 1968 and the thrill of seeing and hearing Son House. Son’s national steel guitar was more ragged than Jack White’s crystal clear electric chords, and nowhere near as loud, but the chords rang true and the energy and passion were exactly the same.

Meg pounded the drums and the crowd surged forward.

It was Bridlington Spa in 2004. White Stripes were the hottest thing on the planet. The place was packed and the atmosphere electric. I was right near the front – the only place to be at any gig – the place where the intensity was magnified.

It was a huge crowd and they were crazy tonight. I could see the young kids piling into the mosh-pit and shoving – excited groups of kids surging like riot cops in a wedge, driving into the crowd and sending them reeling so that people tumbled and spilled. For the first time I started getting concerned. The tightly packed kids were roaring and bouncing up and down so that I found myself propelled first one way and then another as the forces echoed and magnified through the mass of people. At the front the crush was intense and everyone was careering about madly. My feet were off the ground as we were sent hurtling around. I had visions of someone getting crushed, someone falling and getting trampled. Worst of all – it could be me!

For the first time in forty odd years of gigs I bailed out. I ruefully headed for the balcony and a clear view of the performance. I didn’t want a clear view I wanted to be in the thick of the action. It got me wondering – was I getting to old for this lark? My old man had only been a couple of years older than me when he’d died. Perhaps Rock Music was for the young and I should be at home listening to opera or Brahms with an occasional dash of Wagner to add the spice. I had become an old git. Then I thought – FUCK IT!!! Jack White was fucking good! Fuck Brahms – This was Rock ‘n’ Roll. You’re never too old to Rock! And Rock was far from dead!

The search goes on!!

We haven’t got a clue what we’re looking for but we sure as hell know when we’ve found it.

Rock music has not just been the backdrop to my entire adult life; it’s been much more than that. It has permeated my life, informed it and directed its course.

From when I was a young boy I found myself enthralled. I was grabbed by that excitement. I wanted more. I was hunting for the best Rock jag in the world! – The hit that would send the heart into thunder and melt the mind into ecstasy.

I was hunting for Beefheart, Harper, House, Zimmerman and Guthrie plus a host of others even though I hadn’t heard of them yet.

I found them and I’m still discovering them. I’m sixty four and looking for more!

Forget your faith, hope and charity – give me Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll and the greatest of these is Rock ‘n’ Roll!

I was a kid in the Thames Delta, with pet crow called Joey, 2000 pet mice (unnamed), a couple of snakes, a mammoth tusk, a track bike with a fixed wheel, a friend called Mutt who liked blowing up things, a friend called Billy who kept a big flask of pee in the hopes of making ammonia, and a lot of scabs on my knees.

My search for the heart of Rock began in 1959 and I had no idea what I was looking for when I started on this quest. Indeed I did not know I had embarked on a search for anything. I was just excited by a new world that opened up to me; the world of Rock Music. My friend Clive Hansell also had no idea what he was initiating when he introduced me to the sounds he was listening to. Clive was a few years older than me. He liked girls and he liked Popular Music. Yet he seemed to have limited tastes. I can only ever remembering him playing me music by two artists – namely Adam Faith and Buddy Holly. In some ways it was a motley introduction to the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

I was ten years old which would have made Clive about twelve or thirteen, I suppose he could even have been fourteen. That is quite a lot of years at that age. We used to got off to his bedroom, sit on the bed and he’d play me the singles – 45s – on his Dansette player. He’d stack four or five singles on the deck, push the lever up to play and we’d lean forward and watch intently. The turntable would start rotating; the mechanism clunked as the arm raised, there were clicks and clunks as the arm drew back and the first single dropped, then the arm would come across and descend on to the outer rim of the disc. The speaker would hiss and crackle and then the music kicked in. We watched the process intently every time as if it depended on our full attention.

The Adam Faith singles were on Parlaphone and were red with silver writing. Buddy Holly was on Coral with a black label and silver writing. We reverentially watched the discs spinning and listened with great concentration to every aspect of the songs. It was a start.

Yet Rock ‘n’ Roll was by no means the only quest I’d started on. I was an early developer. I’d hit puberty at ten and can remember myself as the scruffy little, dirty-faced kid who climbed trees, waded through ditches, got covered in frogspawn and lichen and was suddenly sprouting pubic hair – very confusing.

Life was going to change for me. I was in a transition phase.

My friend Jeff has a photo of me from this age that seems to sum it up very nicely. I was briefly in the cubs before they chucked me out for being too unruly (they – ‘they’ being the establishment – also chucked me out of the scouts and army cadets!). I went to cubs with my mate Jeff. Jeff lived at the end of the road and I used to go and call for him. It was only about 400yds away. I set off in plenty of time, did my thing on the way and arrived at Jeff’s house. His mum obviously did a double take and went for the camera.

Oblivious to any underlying motive on Jeff mum’s part I innocently posed with Jeff. The resultant picture, which shows the two of us proudly standing to attention doing the two fingered cub salute (very appropriate I always think), showed Jeff immaculate with creases in his shorts, flashes showing on his long socks, cap, woggle and scarf all perfectly aligned, and me not quite so sartorially presented. To start with I am utterly begrimed with green lichen, having shinned up a number of trees; one sock is around my ankle and the other half way down my calf; my scarf and cap askew, and my jumper and shorts a crinkled, crumpled mess. It looked like a set-up but was probably par for the course.

Looking back I can see why Clive liked Buddy and Adam. Buddy Holly was a genius. In his short career of just three years he wrote tens of classics of Rock music with hardly a dud among them. He was highly prolific, innovative and talented. I think of him as the Jimi Hendrix of his day. He was far ahead of Elvis. His mind outstripped all the others. I think Buddy’s death, along with Jimi’s, John Lennon’s, Eddie’s and Jim Morrison’s were the great tragedies. Out of all the early Rockers he was the one with the musical ear, the melody and adaptability to have really progressed when the music scene opened up in the 1960s. The other Rockers all got caught in their own 1950s style or went Poppy. I would have loved to have seen Buddy interacting with the Beatles. My – what we missed out on!

In many ways Adam Faith was Britain’s answer to Buddy. The arrangements of the songs were cheesy covers of Buddy and Adam did his best Buddy warble. Britain hadn’t quite got it right with Rock music. The production and direction from management (Larry Parnes the old-fashioned British Impresario has a lot to answer for as he guided his Rockers into a more ballad driven, family safe, Pop sound that he figured would make him more money) was all a bit twee. Even so, back then, Adam Faith sounded good to me. In Britain in the 1950s we were starved of good Rock ‘n’ Roll. The good old Auntie Beeb, with its plumy DJs did its best to protect us from the dreadful degenerate racket created by the American Rockers.

I wonder where Clive is now; is he still alive? I wonder what happened to him through those heady days of the 1960s. I don’t suppose he even thinks about me much or imagines what he unleashed.

I am a collector. It is a strange addiction that started back then. Clive would sell me his Adam Faith and Buddy Holly singles when he’d got bored with them. I bought them cheap and I still have them all.

The age of ten was a bit of a milestone year for me. I not only discovered Rock ‘n’ Roll but also fell madly in love. Glenys was a dark Welsh temptress of eleven who utterly bewitched me (females are always portrayed as temptresses – but I was certainly tempted!). She too had reached puberty early and the two of us indulged in ‘real lovers kisses’ like they do in the films. For nine months it was heaven. We even talked about having kids and wrote each other love letters.

Glenys was a bit wild and, obviously, led me astray. We planned to get out for a night on the town. We could imagine the delights of Walton-on-Thames at night. For us it was the big city – all full of lights, crowds and excitement. We saved our money and arranged to go to bed fully dressed, slip out when our parents had gone to bed, meet by our tree (a big elderberry tree that we had a camp in) and head off to the bright lights – big city. Even at ten I had a craving for the Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle. We were wild, man! Unfortunately I must have drifted off to sleep and awoke the next morning fully dressed with light streaming through the window. Glenys assured me, huffily, that she’d waited for hours. Then, next night, I got there and she never showed up. Then on the third attempt my dad caught me wandering around and I had to make a lame excuse about needing a drink of water. Glenys and I never actually made it to those illicit bright lights. But that was probably a good thing. It remained a mythical place of bustle and excitement where in reality it was probably all shut up with just a couple of fish and chip shops and a load of drunks.

I was hopelessly in love. I’m not sure about Glenys – she did seem to be cultivating a stream of admirers. But the love affair was doomed. Her family moved and took her with them. I was bereft.

This was made worse by the doldrums that Rock had lapsed into in 1960. Life was crap.

I lapsed back into the solace of my huge collection of pets and wild animals. I taught my crow Joey to talk and fly. I sold my mice, guinea pigs and hamsters to the pet shop and ran a mini stud farm while I tried to allow my broken heart to mend. It was a kind of hibernation.

I emerged to find, at the age of thirteen, that there were loads of other girls all brilliantly enticing and willing to engage. There was also suddenly an explosion of Rock music. I resumed both my quests and the zoo took a distant third place.

I am writing this in my ‘den’. I spend a lot of my life here. I have my shelves of vinyl albums, my drawers of CDs, my cupboards of singles, my piles of magazines, my hundreds of Rock biographies all around me. I’m immersed in it. Yesterday I spent the day organising my CDs. It takes a bit of doing as I have over ten thousand. I use the Andy’s Record shop system; I catalogue them using the first letter of the first name – so Buddy Holly goes under B. I have tried grouping them under genres or eras but that’s fraught with problems. At some time I will endeavour to rearrange my albums. I don’t need to that but I do like holding them, looking at the covers and reading the blurb. It brings back memories and I can imagine the music and the feelings that went with it, the concerts, the friends and the times we lived through. There’s something very tactile about an old vinyl album. It’s a piece of art. When you hold it there’s warmth to it. You connect with the people who held it before you, the feel of the music, the musicians and the era it was made in. The cover tells you a story from the artwork, the photos and liner notes, to the label it was released on. Certain labels mean something special like Folkways, Electra, Stax, Dead Possum or Track. You knew what they stood for.

Collecting is an obsession. It is probably a type of madness, a symptom of autism that is mainly confined to males – but what the hell!

Back in the ‘old days’ there were hundreds of us collectors. We’d meet up clutching our recent purchases, pass them round, discuss them madly, play them, argue over them and roll our joints on the covers. We’d vie with each other to get hold of rarities, obscure bands or artists, bootlegs or rare pressings. We’d develop our loyalties and our allegiances for certain artists (the more unknown the better) and develop our collections. The first thing you did when you met someone new was to get a look at their collection. It told you everything you wanted to know.

Back then records were hard to get hold of. They meant something. You had to hunt them down. Every Saturday you’d be making the rounds of the second hand shop, rifling through the bins of vinyl albums hunting for the bargains and rarities, with the expectant baited excitement of discovering that gem. You’d meet up with your friends, show your purchases off with pride, and discuss your new discoveries and what gigs were coming up. It was a good way to socialise. Nowadays we are few and far between and viewed suspiciously as eccentric dinosaurs, children who have not grown up, or sad decaying hippies. Whatever. We still do it though.

In the age of decluttering, coupled with the wonders of digital (I also have a few terabytes of digital recording – mainly live concerts and bootlegs), where you can download a band’s or label’s entire recorded output onto your I pod in an hour or browse through all the cheap releases on Amazon or EBay and find exactly what you want in minutes – it takes most of the thrill out of it. I have now obtained albums and recordings, in pristine quality, that, in the early days, I would have died for but there is no longer the same thrill in the hunt or the excitement of uncovering a longed-for rarity in the second-hand rack. It’s the same with football – now you can have exactly what you want, when you want it, it does not mean as much.

In 1959 I started my collection of singles. Having become addicted I moved on to albums. My first purchase was the quite incredible ‘Cliff’. I know, Cliff Richard is naff, a sugary sweet, Christian Pop singer. But in 1959 Cliff was a genuine British Rock Singer and produced more great Rock ‘n’ Roll tracks than anybody else. There was more to Cliff than ‘Move it’. He, more than anybody else (apart from ‘The Sound of Fury’ and a little later Johnny Kidd plus a few assorted tracks by other mainly Larry Parnes kids) captured the sound, excitement and rebellion of Rock ‘n’ Roll. His first album, recorded in 1959 live in the studio before a small audience of screaming girls, was a storming, rockin’ affair. Back then Cliff was neither wet nor Pop. He, like Elvis, suffered from bad management, and was directed down the saccharin Pop road to success. What a travesty. He became wet, Pop and MOR. I still love that first album though.

Strangely, given that most collectors are blokes, it is apparently the girls who buy the most singles. They set the trend. And girls tended to like songs to be romantic. They veered away from the loud and raucous. They like the pretty boys. It paid Cliff, Billy and Johnny Burnette to become sweet faced pin-ups rather than wild rockers.

Soon I had a heap of albums including the wonderful Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. I made wooden brackets so that I could put them up on the wall in my tiny bedroom. When someone shut the door too violently they flew off the wall into a heap on the floor to my great dismay and chagrin. I was a junky. I had to get my regular fixes of Rock ‘n’ Roll. I sat in my room playing them over and over. When I got a new record I’d rush back and play it to death while reading all the liner notes until I’d absorbed every note and word and wrung everything I could out of it.

As a kid I loved the loud visceral excitement and rebellion of the music. As I grew older I wanted something that was more musically complex and intellectually stimulating. I still loved the excitement and energy of early Rock ‘n’ Roll and R&B but I craved something more.

I was looking for Captain Beefheart, Roy Harper, Son House, Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan but I didn’t know it. It was a search that took me through many absorbing and exciting revelations. There were, of course, the Beatles, Stones, Downliner’s Sect, Pink Floyd, Free, Hendrix, Syd and Cream. There were the Doors, Country Joe, Janis, Jefferson Airplane and Love, Zappa, Jackson C Frank, Leon Rosselson. There were Muddy, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Slim Harpo. There were the Who, Kinks and Prettythings. There was Bert Jansch, Donovan and John Renbourn, Otis Redding, Aretha and Booker T. There were the Sex Pistols, Clash, Stranglers, Stiff Little Fingers, Elvis Costello, and Ian Dury. There was Bob Marley, Michael Smith and Lee Scratch. And now there’s Nick Harper, Eels, White Stripes, Tinariwen and the North Mississippi Allstars. There were a thousand others. I saw most of them live. I met a number of them. I even got to the recording sessions.

It’s been quite a journey.

I am a collector. I have the records to prove it. I also have the collection of memories.

The life we live, the choices we make, the ideals we chose to live by, all make us the people we become.

I have always been an idealist. I wanted to solve all the world’s problems and have a great time doing it.

I also became a teacher.

My music has been the soundtrack to my thoughts, dreams and ideals. It has driven me, provoked my thinking, awoken my sensibilities, fuelled my anger, and filled me with love and pleasure.

I apologise to me wife and kids. It’s not easy living with an obsessive junky, an insane romantic on a mission. Someone will have to clear out my den. My head will take care of itself. Those thoughts, memories and dreams will be gone but hopefully they’ll leave behind a few ripples that will make the odd person think.

Right now I’m off in search of my heroes. There’s still much to discover.


If you have enjoyed my writing and would like to purchase one of my books I have put some links to my best Rock books below:


In The USA:


In Search Of Captain Beefheart



The Blues Muse


Rock Routes



In The UK:


In Search Of Captain Beefheart



The Blues Muse


Rock Routes


In other part of the world please check your local Amazon!


Thank you for looking and please leave a review if you enjoyed the book!!

Stiff Little Fingers – Wasted Life

So many people caught up in these violent uprisings. IRA, ISIS, Boko Haram, Protestant Paramilitaries, Taliban.

They all think they can change the world with a bullet and a bomb. All they create is misery!!

They waste peoples’ lives. They waste their own lives.


I could be a soldier
Go out there and fight to save this land
Be a people’s soldier
Paramilitary gun in hand
I won’t be a soldier
I won’t take no orders from no-one
Stuff their fucking armies
Killing isn’t my idea of fun

They wanna waste my life
They wanna waste my time
They wanna waste my life
And they’ve stolen it away

I could be a hero
Live and die for their ‘important’ cause
A united nation
Or an independent state with laws
And rules and regulations
That merely cause disturbances and wars
That is what I’ve got now
All thanks to the freedom-seeking hordes


I’m not gonna be taken in
They said if I don’t join I just can’t win
I’ve heard that story many times before
And every time I threw it out the door

Still they come up to me
With a different name but same old face
I can see the connection
With another time and a different place
They ain’t blonde-haired or blue-eyed
But they think that they’re the master race
They’re nothing but blind fascists
Brought up to hate and given lives to waste

(Chorus: repeat)

Stiff Little Fingers – Barbed Wire Love

Using all the language of the conflict they created a song about a love affair that crossed the boundaries.


Stiff Little Fingers – Barbed Wire Love Lyrics

I met you in No Man’s Land
Across the wire we were holding hands
Hearts a-bubble in the rubble
It was love at bomb site

All you give me is barbed wire love
All caught up in barbed wire love
Tangled up in barbed wire love
Throw my leg over barbed wire love
Barbed wire love snags my jeans
Barbed wire love

When I fell it was awful nice
Caught when not suspecting vice
The night was rife with wasteland life
You set my arm alight


Blasted by your booby traps
I felt the blow in both knee-caps
Your eyes did shine
Your lips were fine
And the device in you pants was out of sight