Rockin’ Malaria – The Opher and Mike Podcast – Episode 1 – Beginnings

This is Mike Green (roadie for the likes of Free, Robin Trower, Bad Company and minder for Koss) and me reminiscing about our lives in Rock Music.

We aim at doing a number of these podcasts. Welcome some feedback!

In Search of Captain Beefheart – a memoir of a life immersed in Rock Music.

50 years of gigs, buying albums and meeting musicians. A life well spent. These are the stories.

Foreword

Fight for what you believe with passion not violence.

Liz & Opher walking down Massachusetts Avenue
in Boston 1971 – featured on the front page of the Boston Evening Globe

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 deliberately surging like riot cops in a wedge driving into the crowd and sending them reeling so that they tumbled and spilled. For the first time I started getting concerned. The tightly packed kids in the mosh-pit were roaring and bouncing up and down and kept being 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, visions of 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 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 small 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. The 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 imagine 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.

Roy Harper: Every Album, Every Song (On Track) Paperback

Roy Harper: Every Album, Every Song (On Track) Paperback – 29 July 2021

by Opher Goodwin (Author)

4.7 out of 5 stars    46 ratings

Roy Harper: Every Album, Every Song (On Track): Amazon.co.uk: Opher Goodwin: 9781789521306: Books

Roy Harper must be one of Britain s most undervalued rock musicians and songwriters. For over fifty years he has produced a series of innovative albums of consistently outstanding quality. He puts poetry and social commentary to music in a way that extends the boundaries of rock music. His 22 studio albums 16 live albums, made up of 250 songs, have created a unique body of work. Roy is a musician s musician. He is lauded by the likes of Dave Gilmour, Ian Anderson, Jimmy Page, Pete Townsend, Joanna Newsom, Fleet Foxes and Kate Bush. Who else could boast that he has had Keith Moon, Jimmy Page, Dave Gilmour, John Paul Jones, Ronnie Lane, Chris Spedding, Bill Bruford and Steve Broughton in his backing band? Notable albums include Stormcock, HQ and Bullinamingvase. Opher Goodwin, Roy s friend and a fan, guides the reader through every album and song, providing insight into the recording of the songs as well the times in which they were recorded. As his loyal and often fanatical fans will attest, Roy has produced a series of epic songs and he remains a raging, uncompromising individual.

A celebration of Roy’s songs, music and poetry.

With thanks to Liz Goodwin and Mark Ruston for their help.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Sophisticated Beggar + Outtakes & Unreleased 1966
  3. Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith 1967
  4. Folkjokeopus 1969
  5. Flat Baroque And Berserk 1970
  6. Stormcock 1971
  7. Lifemask 1973
  8. Valentine 1974
  9. Flashes From The Archives Of Oblivion 1974
  10. HQ 1975
  11. Bullinamingvase 1977
  12. Commercial Breaks 1977
  13. Harper 1970-1975 1978
  14. Unknown Soldier 1980
  15. Born In Captivity 1984
  16. Work Of Heart 1982
  17. Whatever Happened To Jugula? 1985
  18. In Between Every Line 1986
  19. Descendants Of Smith 1988
  20. Loony On The Bus 1988
  21. Once 1990
  22. Burn The World 1990
  23. Live At The Red Lion 1,2 and 3 1984-5 1990
  24. The Death Of God 1992
  25. Born In Captivity 2 – Unhinged 1993
  26. An Introduction To 1994
  27. Live At Les Cousins 1996
  28. The BBC Tapes 1-6 1997
  29. Poems, Speeches, Thoughts And Doodles 1997
  30. Song Of The Ages 1997
  31. The Dream Society 1998
  32. The Green Man 2000
  33. Hats Off 2001
  34. East Of The Sun 2001
  35. The Royal Festival Hall 2001
  36. Today Is Yesterday 2002
  37. The Death Of God 2005
  38. Counterculture 2005
  39. Beyond The Door 2005
  40. From Occident To Orient 2007
  41. Songs Of Love And Loss 2011
  42. Live In The Metropolis Studios 2011
  43. Man And Myth 2013
  44. Miscellaneous Tracks, Guest Appearances And Rarities 1970-2000
  45. Afterword
  •  

Introduction

Roy Harper is a unique individual and innovative songwriter who took his first uncharacteristically tentative steps into the London folk scene during the mid-sixties.

   Roy was born on the 12th of June 1941 into the middle of World War 2 and sadly his mother died a few days later from mastitis – a common breast infection that is nowadays easily treatable. The loss of his mother has naturally had a lifelong impact on Roy’s personality.

   Roy’s father married again. His stepmother was a strict and religious woman and Roy’s life of rebellion began.

   Roy’s first memory is of being held in someone’s arms looking towards a red glow on the horizon and being told ‘Manchester’s really copping it tonight’.

   Roy was a wayward child and his younger years were marked by him constantly being in trouble at home and school. As a young boy he was found pedalling on his trike towards Liverpool, many miles from home. Roy’s dislike of the religion his stepmother imposed led to him performing pagan ceremonies and burying effigies in his back garden.

   The genteel town of Lytham St Annes where Roy lived, was once described by him as a cemetery with a bus stop. The tedium of life in the drowsy town portrayed a conservative ethos he fought against.

   As Roy moved into his teenage years, minor incidents progressed into more serious crimes. He and a small group of friends alternated between running free in the countryside and taking part in sprees of shoplifting and vandalism. These ranged from stealing chocolates in Woolworth to breaking into Lytham’s cricket pavilion. They drank the booze they found inside the pavilion and then burnt the building to the ground.

………………

Roy Harper: Every Album, Every Song (On Track): Amazon.co.uk: Opher Goodwin: 9781789521306: Books

Opher Goodwin – My books and writing

Opher Goodwin – My books and writing

My writing career began in 1971 with over 70 books produced so far.

Because I have largely been an indie writer I have not had any constraints and so my writing covers a lot of different genres. I write what I like and how I feel. I write for fun without regard to markets or marketing.

My favourite two genres are Rock Music and Science Fiction (I also write wacky fiction, biographical tomes, and books about the environment, antitheism and art as well as anecdotes and reams of what I loosely call poetry).

My books have been published with Oxford University Press and I currently have a publishing contract with Sonicbond publishing.

Presently I am editing my book on Captain Beefheart which is due to be published this summer.

My Science Fiction is under the name of Ron Forsythe. A blog of my Sci-fi books can be viewed here: Ron Forsythe – Science Fiction Author (wordpress.com)

Below is a brief introduction to a selection of my work:

TitleIntroductionLink
Roy Harper: Every Album, Every Song (On Track)Roy Harper must be one of Britain s most undervalued rock musicians and songwriters. For over fifty years he has produced a series of innovative albums of consistently outstanding quality. He puts poetry and social commentary to music in a way that extends the boundaries of rock music. His 22 studio albums 16 live albums, made up of 250 songs, have created a unique body of work. Roy is a musician s musician. He is lauded by the likes of Dave Gilmour, Ian Anderson, Jimmy Page, Pete Townsend, Joanna Newsom, Fleet Foxes and Kate Bush. Who else could boast that he has had Keith Moon, Jimmy Page, Dave Gilmour, John Paul Jones, Ronnie Lane, Chris Spedding, Bill Bruford and Steve Broughton in his backing band? Notable albums include Stormcock, HQ and Bullinamingvase. Opher Goodwin, Roy s friend and a fan, guides the reader through every album and song, providing insight into the recording of the songs as well the times in which they were recorded. As his loyal and often fanatical fans will attest, Roy has produced a series of epic songs and he remains a raging, uncompromising individual.Roy Harper: Every Album, Every Song (On Track): Amazon.co.uk: Opher Goodwin: 9781789521306: Books
Nick Harper – The Wilderness YearsI first met Nick when he was a young child and over the years he has become a close friend. This book illuminates the genius that I feel is Nick Harper and is designed to accompany ‘The Wilderness Years’, a trilogy of vinyl albums. Nick talks candidly about many aspects of his music and career. I include, with Nick’s permission, the lyrics of all the songs featured in the trilogy. There are also many photos dating from his childhood to the present day.Nick Harper: The Wilderness Years: Amazon.co.uk: Goodwin, Opher: 9781678850661: Books
In Search Of Captain BeefheartThe sixties raged. I was young, crazy, full of hormones and wanting to snatch life by the balls. There was a life out there for the grabbing and it had to be wrestled into submission. There was a society full of boring amoral crap and a life to be had in the face of the boring, comforting vision of slow death on offer. Rock music vented all that passion. This book is a memoir of a life spent immersed in Rock Music. I was born in 1949 and so lived through the whole gamut of Rock. Rock music formed the background to momentous world events – the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, Iraq war, Watergate, the miners’ strike and Thatcher years, CND, the Green Movement, Mao and the Cultural Revolution, Women’s Liberation and the Cold War. I see this as the Rock Era. I was immersed in Rock music. It was fused into my personality. It informed me, transformed me and inspired me. My heroes were musicians. I am who I am because of them. Without Rock Music I would not have the same sensibilities, optimism or ideals. They woke me up! This tells that story.In Search of Captain Beefheart: Amazon.co.uk: Goodwin, Opher: 9781502820457: Books
God’s BoltHelen Southcote is looking for a purpose to life through her Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence work on the United Nations Space Station when she watches the Earth destroyed by an asteroid. What can she do next?God’s Bolt: Amazon.co.uk: Forsythe, Ron: 9781092713597: Books
The Pornography WarsThe Pornography Wars takes political satire and social comment (with a liberal dash of humour) into a new dimension.
Sex is the essence of everything.
Is human history contrived by aliens?
Are we in a film set for an alien pornographic soap opera?
Is all human culture nothing more than an alien psych-master’s program?
What happens when the aliens argue over the future of pornography on their tridee sets?
What is going to happen to the future of human beings?
The Pornography Wars: Amazon.co.uk: Forsythe, Ron: 9798511727530: Books
ConexionIn the future it is still all about power. General Secretary Rheen holds the reins but does he hold the power? What about the shadowy Consortium who supply the money to get him elected? The separatists who are prepared to use violence? The Unification Movement who would bring the opposition together? Or the people who democratically vote? What of the stranded Starship? And what of the new drug Conexion that opens genetic memories to unlock an unexpected past? The new Gaia religion? Or the three massive spherical objects heading for earth? How will it all come to a conclusion 

Thanks for looking!!  Thank you for all your likes, purchases and especially those fabulous comments and reviews!

You give me energy!!

PS.

The books are available through your local amazon. If you contact me I can provide you with a signed copy!

If you want a great book on Roy Harper, Nick Harper or a memoir of a life spent in Rock Music then have a look at an Opher Goodwin book.

I’ve a number of books on Rock Music to chose from. Why not have a browse?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Search-Captain-Beefheart-Opher-Goodwin/dp/1502820455/ref=sr_1_14?crid=37D36REJWO05&keywords=opher+goodwin&qid=1643207455&s=books&sprefix=Opher%2Cstripbooks%2C77&sr=1-14
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Routes-Opher-Goodwin/dp/1514873095/ref=sr_1_2?crid=37D36REJWO05&keywords=opher+goodwin&qid=1643207455&s=books&sprefix=Opher%2Cstripbooks%2C77&sr=1-2

The Blues Muse – a novel about Rock Music

I wrote this about ten years ago.

Tutwiler Mississippi  (Chapter 1 out of 89)

It was a desultory day at the railway station at Tutwiler. The Mississippi August sun was unrelenting and the air thick with moisture. No matter how used I became to the sultry heat, it was draining. The sweat beaded on my skin and refused to evaporate. My overalls were already sodden and my shirt was clinging to my body. My red bandana, tied loosely around my neck, soaked up some of the moisture and stopped the sweat running down my back. It was still early morning and sure to get worse before noon. I was grateful not to be labouring in those fields. My guitar was my passport to an easier life. I wanted to be free of those plantations and that gruelling work but there were only two ways out that I knew and I had no desire to go into the church.

I sat down on the bench by the brick wall in the shade of a large tree festooned with Spanish moss. It afforded me some shade and a good view over the station. This was a good spot. When enough people were gathered I would start my show. I knew that I could have two shots at it because when the train finally arrived I would have a second ready-made audience.

My attention was drawn to the only other person at the station; a gentleman was sitting on another bench nearer the track. He looked to be around thirty years of age and was obviously quite affluent. He was shaded from the sun but I could see that he too was greatly troubled by the heat from the way that he kept mopping his brow. His over-heated condition was not at all assisted by his attire. He wore a starched shirt and tie with a three-piece suit. Although he had discarded his hat, which rested on the seat beside him, he had kept his long dark frock jacket on despite how uncomfortable that must have been. He was desperate to create an impression. He was here on business.

Although this man was black-skinned, like me, he was nonetheless a man of some importance and a musician to boot. I could see that from the trumpet case he had laid beside his valise. This was highly unusual for the year 1903. Most dark-skinned men and women were bought and sold. This person was, from all appearances, a free man. He might be a potential mark. It was worth a try. A man had to make a living.

I took up my guitar, my knife from my pocket, and began to practice my repertoire. I watched the man. The name on his suitcase was W C Handy. He looked like a young man of means. I plucked the guitar and as soon as my knife connected with the strings I could see from the way his body stilled that I had his attention.

I worked up slowly; setting the rhythm and making those strings give up their shrill urgency as I applied the blade of my knife, before coming in with the vocal. Some said that it was a voice that was deep and emotive beyond my years. I gave him everything I could, describing the pain of that heat, the despair of those long days of working under a blazing sun, the dust, the scant pleasures and the life in those shacks. But I also made sure that I captured the joy and spirit of life.

I could see I had his full concentration. He turned towards me and watched intently to see what I was doing, how I had constructed the song, the way I repeated the refrain. I could see he had a trained eye and was taking it all in.

This was my music, made from the memories of my heritage, the songs of my family and the white man’s music I’d heard coming from the mansion in the evening. The local master encouraged us to play western instruments. He would often take a group of us into the house to entertain his guests. We had learnt his melodies and merged them with our own.

I blended them into something of my own that sang of my world and experience.

A few more people drifted on to the station and stood around while I played. By the time the train arrived, I had some copper in my hat. The smart businessman was the last to board. He came over to me, dropped silver on top of the other coins, smiled and nodded his approval. He did not say a word but I could see that he had appreciated my performance.

I turned my attention to the people descending from the train. It was time to start over again.

In Search Of Captain Beefheart – A memoir of a life in Rock Music.

The sixties raged. I was young, crazy, full of hormones and wanting to snatch life by the balls. There was a life out there for the grabbing and it had to be wrestled into submission. There was a society full of boring amoral crap and a life to be had in the face of the boring, comforting vision of slow death on offer. Rock music vented all that passion. This book is a memoir of a life spent immersed in Rock Music. I was born in 1949 and so lived through the whole gamut of Rock. Rock music formed the background to momentous world events – the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, Iraq war, Watergate, the miners’ strike and Thatcher years, CND, the Green Movement, Mao and the Cultural Revolution, Women’s Liberation and the Cold War. I see this as the Rock Era. I was immersed in Rock music. It was fused into my personality. It informed me, transformed me and inspired me. My heroes were musicians. I am who I am because of them. Without Rock Music I would not have the same sensibilities, optimism or ideals. They woke me up! This tells that story.

IN SEARCH OF CAPTAIN BEEFHEART – a memoir

IN SEARCH OF CAPTAIN BEEFHEART

This book was written in 2014.

It is a memoir of a life spent in appreciation of Rock Music and one in which Rock Music has helped shape my thoughts, views and ethics. It marries significant events in my life with the music that was influencing me.

The book begins with my early experiences with Rock ‘n’ Roll, through the revelation of the Beatles, life in the 1960s, the discovery of Captain Beefheart, Roy Harper, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Son House, on through Punk and life as an idealistic teacher, and right up to the present time.

This is not the jottings of a fan but the serious attempt to review a life sculptured by the events I have lived through and the people I have had the privilege to know. It takes you on a journey of discovery through concerts, friendships and recording studios.

I have discovered a lot about life in the course of this journey.

To purchase follow this link:-https://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/card?preview=inline&linkCode=kpd&ref_=k4w_oembed_rwRe2DwMwHhmOS&asin=B00TQ1E9ZG&tag=kpembed-20

What follows is an extract from the book. I hope you enjoy it.

In Search of Captain Beefheart, Son House, Roy Harper, Woody Guthrie & Bob Dylan

By

Opher

Blurb

This book is a memoir of a life spent immersed in Rock Music. I was born in 1949 and so lived through the whole gamut of Rock.

Rock music formed the background to momentous world events – the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, Iraq war, Watergate, the miners’ strike and Thatcher years, CND, the Green Movement, Mao and the Cultural Revolution, Women’s Liberation and the Cold War.

I see this as the Rock Era.

I was immersed in Rock music. It was fused into my personality. It informed me, transformed me and inspired me. My heroes were musicians. I am who I am because of them.

Without Rock Music I would not have the same sensibilities, optimism or ideals. They woke me up!

This tells that story.

Fight for what you believe with passion not violence.

Be prepared to take some heavy blows!!

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 deliberately surging like riot cops in a wedge driving into the crowd and sending them reeling so that they tumbled and spilled. For the first time I started getting concerned. The tightly packed kids in the mosh-pit were roaring and bouncing up and down and kept being 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, visions of 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 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 small 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. The 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 imagine 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 and Jim Morrison’s, was the greatest tragedy. 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’ve 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. Ho hum. 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. That has its elements of truth now – Cliff is undoubtedly a wet twerp. 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 seemingly the girls who buy the most singles. They set the trend. And girls tend to like songs to be sweet and sickly. They veer 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 little 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 more. 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 Roy Harper, Captain Beefheart, 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 was, 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.

Today’s Music to keep me SSsSAAaaAnnnnnEee in Isolation – Beatles – Abbey Road

A bit of Beatles is always good. I haven’t listened to this one for a while.

In Search of Captain Beefheart Paperback

‘What a great read , what a journey , If you like music you’ll love this book . From the folk roots of London to the crossroads of Robert Johnson . From the delta of blues through to Greenwich village ! From the Height Ashbury hippy time to Hull.’

A memoir of my life in Rock Music! Now available in both paperback or kindle. Or you can obtain a signed copy by emailing opher@hotmail.co.uk