The Beat goes on – In Search of Captain Beefheart – cont. – A Rock Memoir

The Beat goes on

By 1964 we had all grown. Our hair, in particular had grown. I was fourteen and fifteen which was a good if difficult age to be. I was full of hormones, frustration and increasing angst which was beginning to bring me into conflict with authority. Rock Music was much more important than school. The commercial chirpiness of Merseybeat had been replaced by a harder, more individualistic and aggressive sound. Seemingly every week a new band burst upon the scene complete with a new sound, image and style.

Our TV programme ‘Ready Steady Go’ (A little bit of ‘Thank your lucky Stars’ and ‘Juke Box Jury’) featured them live. The Beeb was still too matronly to put on anything so we tuned in to Radio Luxembourg. Its sound kept phasing in and out but at least you could hear the stuff you wanted. Then it was the pirate radio stations with ‘Caroline’, ‘Atlantis’ and ‘London’.

Music was our life. We lived it.

The Stones burst upon the scene, closely followed by the Animals, Them, Yardbirds, Who, Smallfaces, Kinks, and Downliners Sect. Hardly a week went by without another one showing up. These were the days of the Mods and Rockers, scooters, Parkas and layered hair.

The toilets were always crowded with boys preening their hair and moulding it into shape. I went for a distinctive look. My hair was combed back at the sides and carefully arranged to cover my forehead with a long quiff. I tried to get it to create a unique wave. That was really difficult with only greasy brylcream and none of these modern day styling waxes. But I had the longest hair in school. It hung down to my shoulders. Hat was one of the coolest kids. He had a greasy rockers hairstyle with a quiff that he could pull down to his chin.

Hat and I were into motorbikes and that made us Rockers. We liked leather jackets, jeans and motorcycle boots. Hat wore really tight jeans and long winkle-picker boots.

  Opher & Liz on my first motorbike 1967

I idolised Phil May. He had the longest hair of any of the guys in the bands. My appearance caused some consternation among some staff. My Physics teacher affectionately called me ‘Squirrel’ but the Deputy Head took me on as a project. She was determined to get me to toe the line. I was even more determined to do the opposite. We had fun and games.

I also came into conflict with the prefects. They were worse than the teachers. They tried to intimidate and control you. I developed a nice line in smart repartee and sarcasm. It infuriated them even more which was the whole point. Bowyer was a particularly snooty prat who swanned around the school like some bantam pretending to be a peacock. He gave me a four sided essay to do because I refused to pick some milk bottles out of a puddle when ordered. He was a pretentious sod who thought he was at Eton complete with quilted waistcoat. The title of the essay he set me (bear in mind I was fourteen at the time) was ‘Should psychoanalysis be used as evidence in courts’. I wrote in big letters – ‘No! But those in positions of authority should be psychoanalysed before being put in that position!’ He was incensed and wanted to take me under the school and have me caned – prefects were allowed to give three lashes. I explained to him that he could try but either then or later I would beat him to a pulp. I was always a quiet, peaceful young lad. It was out of character – but he was a smarmy geek (reminds me of Cameron) who got right up my nose. He took me to the Head. I exceedingly calmly explained to our illustrious Headmaster that the next time Mr Bowyer asked me to pick up dirty milk bottles out of a muddy puddle would be the day he would be operated on to have them de-inserted. The Head was a wise man and figured out what was going on here. He put oil on the troubled water.

I wasn’t interested in school; I was only interested in girls and music.

One week there’d be the Kinks bursting on the scene with ‘You Really got me’ and then the next it’d be the Who with ‘I can’t Explain’ and Them with ‘Baby please don’t go’, the Prettythings with ‘Don’t bring me down’, the Yardbirds with ‘Good morning little school girl’ the Animals with ‘Baby let me take you down’ and the Small Faces with ‘What you gonna do about it’. It seemed inexhaustible.

Opher Goodwin’s many books on Rock Music.

Opher Goodwin’s many books on Rock Music.

I have many books on Rock Music:

  1. Captain Beefheart –Every Album, Every song

The book is available through Burning Shed (The publisher’s own distribution site) Captain Beefheart On Track (burningshed.com)

Or through Amazon:

Captain Beefheart On Track: Every Album, Every Song: Amazon.co.uk: Opher Goodwin: 9781789522358: Books

  • Roy Harper – Every Album, Every Song

The book is available through Burning Shed (The publisher’s own distribution site) Roy Harper On Track (burningshed.com)

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

  • Nick Harper – The Wilderness Years

Through Amazon: Nick Harper: The Wilderness Years: Amazon.co.uk: Goodwin, Opher: 9798815185630: Books

  • In Search of Captain Beefheart (A Rock memoir)

Through Amazon: In Search of Captain Beefheart: Amazon.co.uk: Goodwin, Opher: 9781502820457: Books

  • Rock Routes (the history of Rock Music)

Through Amazon: Rock Routes: Amazon.co.uk: Goodwin, Opher: 9781514873090: Books

  • 537 Essential Rock Albums – Pt. 1

Through Amazon: 537 Essential Rock Albums – Pt. 1 The first 270: Amazon.co.uk: Goodwin, Opher: 9781502787408: Books

  • Opher’s Tributes To Rock Geniuses

Through Amazon: Opher’s World Tributes to Rock Geniuses: Amazon.co.uk: Goodwin, Opher: 9781508631279: Books

I do have a batch of copies that are available signed (including post and packaging) for between £9 (UK – 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) and £23 (1 and 2) depending on which book: £17 – UK     £20 – Europe   £23 – USA

If you are interested please message or email me with your address. Payment through PayPal – opher.goodwin@gmail.com Or send me a message if you just want further info or just to chat!

PS – Please leave a review – we live and die by reviews!

An extract from Rock Routes – a book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin

An extract from Rock Routes – a book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin

Posted on  by Opher

Everything you ever wanted to know about Rock Music –

The Acid Rock Scene of 1966-1967

By 1966 the Hippie sub-culture of Haight-Ashbury had become more than a minor cult. It had begun to attract in huge numbers of followers and grown into a thriving community with idealistic aspirations and a peaceful message that was both simple and revolutionary and about to engulf the whole globe with its message of ‘Peace and Love’. Its bands were Country Joe & the Fish, Jefferson Airplane, It’s a Beautiful Day, Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Janis Joplin), Quicksilver Messenger Service, Blue Cheer and the Grateful Dead. A similar scene, with a slightly harder vibe, had grown up in Los Angeles involving Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa’s Mother’s of Invention, the Byrds, the Doors, Steppenwolf, and Love. While these scenes were largely autonomous there was a degree of interchange.

This came to be known as Acid Rock.

It was on the brink of exploding both on to the national charts and to rule the Underground Rock Scene.

The first thing you noticed about this style of music was the completely different sound created by the guitars. They soared, shrill with piercing energy. The second difference was in the lyrical content which was full of drug references, peace philosophy, politics and anti-war statements.

At the same time the British Underground was getting under way and the two scenes became intertwined, feeding off each other and vying to get further out. As the bands travelled, toured and intermingled they learnt from each other and despite their very different cultural and musical backgrounds began to get more and more closely aligned. They dug each other and were turned on by each other.

San Francisco

In San Francisco the top bands started getting recording contracts with the major record companies. The record companies had realised that there was a new scene to exploit and wanted in on the action. Unlike with earlier problems with groups like the Charlatans they began, mainly because nobody understood what to do with them, to be given a far greater freedom of expression in the studio. This enabled them to experiment and developed their sound even more. One of the first was Jefferson Airplane who featured Grace Slick on vocals. They played a Folksy Acid Rock on albums like Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, Surrealistic Pillow, After Bathing at Baxters, Crown of Creation, Bless its Little Pointed Head and Volunteers. Their double sided single ‘White Rabbit/Somebody to Love’ became massive. ‘White Rabbit’, with its Lewis Carrol allusions, was a classic LSD trip inspired song. The band reflected the current counter-culture philosophy and aligned itself fully with the culture it had emanated from. They performed at all major Haight-Ashbury events performing many free concerts in the Golden Gate Park. With their long hair, flowing multicoloured robes and ground-breaking light shows they set the scene.

Another big favourite was Country Joe and the Fish. They evolved out of the Instant Action Jug Band and were more overtly political right from the start with their ‘I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag’, ‘Tricky Dickie’, ‘Superbird’, ‘The bomb song’, ‘Who am I’ and ‘Untitled protest’. Their act was also infused with druggie songs such as ‘Grace’ (about Grace Slick), ‘Janis’ (Janis Joplin), ‘Bass Strings’, ‘Magoo’, ‘The Marijuana chant’ and ‘The Acid Commercial’. They released three groundbreaking albums – ‘Electric Music for the body and mind’, ‘I feel like I’m fixin’ to die’ and ‘Together’ before running out of steam.

Big Brother & the Holding Company were one of the earliest bands on the scene but were pushed into the background as Janis Joplin, the lead singer, was given more prominence. They made early recordings without her and later ones after she’d gone that showed that they were a lot more than a mere backing band. Yet it was the album ‘Cheap Thrills’ with its cartoon cover featuring Janis singing numbers like Big Mama Thornton’s ‘Ball and Chain’ and the incredible ‘Piece of my heart’ that was their apotheosis.  Janis went on to have a tragically short solo career recording ‘Dem ol’ Kosmic Blues Again Mama’ and hits with numbers like ‘Me and Bobby McGhee’.

The Grateful Dead were legends before their time. They actually blended R&B and Country in their early incarnations and started as Mother McCrees Uptown Jug Champions before morphing into the R&B Warlocks and meeting up with Kesey for the Acid Tests. They epitomised the San Francisco philosophy, living in a house on the Haight in what was a commune, consuming shit-loads of drugs and devising a stage act with the state of the art light show, long improvised numbers complete with Jerry Garcia’s oscillating feedback. They gathered a fanatical following but somehow failed to capture the complete magic of their stage act on record; their best being ‘The Grateful Dead’, ‘Live Dead’ and ‘Anthem of the Sun’.

Blue Cheer was a heavy unit named after a brand of LSD produced by Owsley. They were part of the heavy, psyched out power trio style that spawned Heavy Metal. Their extremely heavy version of Eddie Cochran’s ‘Summertime Blues’ was the highlight of their first album Vincebus Eruptum.

The Quicksilver Messenger Service produced long psychedelic improvised versions of R&B numbers like Bo Diddley’s ‘Mona’ and the wonderful ‘Who do you love’. Their apotheosis was the album ‘Happy Trails’. After that they suffered a number of drug busts and the band fell apart.

Moby Grape was created by Skip Spence who was the Jefferson Airplane’s original drummer and was launched on a major hype. They had a huge party complete with the handing out of gimmicks and decals to signal the release of their album and simultaneous release of all ten tracks as 5 singles. All five flopped and they suffered a loss of street cred from which they never recovered.

Los Angeles

The LA music scene was centred on the Sunset Strip with a number of small clubs like London Fog, Ciros and the Whiskey a Go Go. The alternative community would travel in from centres like Venice in order to sample the wares of these Acid Rock Bands.

One of the earliest bands on the scene were Captain Beefheart and His Magic and. The Captain – Don Van Vliet – had been to school with Frank Zappa. They’d formed a leather-jacketed R&B/Doo-Wop band in the late 1950s which had terrorised everyone and got nowhere.

He changed his name to Captain Beefheart (from a musical play he put together with Frank Zappa) put together the Magic Band and had a minor hit with Bo Diddley’s ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ in 1965. Their early style was very Blues based but was also extremely original and his stage act at that time can be heard on the Mirrorman album which was released in 1969. Beefheart’s voice was said to be the most powerful in Rock with its huge range. The first album featured Ry Cooder on guitar and was called Safe as Milk. They followed up with Strictly Personal with its much debated psychedelic phasing and released the incredible Trout Mask Replica produced by Frank Zappa – probably the most innovative album of all time. Beefheart claimed that the music came out of the dessert and that none of the musicians could play and that he’d taught them from scratch so that they could play this new type of music. He claimed that experienced musicians could not be trained to play this way. All of the band were given new names – Zoot Horn Rollo, Rockette Morton, Drumbo, Winged Eel Fingerling, Mascara Snake and Antennae Jimmy Semens. Trout Mask Replica was the result of the band being isolated in a big house and practicing endlessly for hour after hour. Don was not weird. He only called in a tree surgeon because he was concerned that the music might be having a detrimental effect on the trees around the house who might get frightened of the loud music. He also claimed to have written all the songs on the double album in one day. When sarcastically asked why it had taken him so long he replied that he wrote them on the piano and he’d never played a piano before. The band was one of the most brilliant, weird and exciting live acts. The standard of brilliance lasted right through to 1980, despite Don’s reputation as being impossible to work with and a changing set of musicians. Don then went off to have a second career as an artist.

The Mothers of Invention were another early band and the brain-child of Frank Zappa. One of his early incarnations was a band he formed in 1964 called Soul Giants. He was always messing about with sound in his home-made studio but following a run-in with the Vice Squad over the manufacture of a sex tape that earned him three years of probation and furnished him with the Suzy Creamcheese idea. The Mothers, as they were originally called before the record company added the ‘Of Invention’ in order to avoid any suggestion of offensiveness, were an outrageous group of individuals who used theatre, satire, and strong political overtones flouting all conventions in the process. Uniquely their roots were not so much in R&B but a strange mixture of 1950s Doo-Wop, avante-garde experimental classical and sleazy Jazz. Their first two albums were ‘Freak-Out’ and ‘Absolutely Free’ and featured a variety of tracks such as ‘Who are the Bain Police?’ and the satirical ‘Brown Shoes don’t make it’. Their outstanding masterpiece was ‘We’re only in it for the money’ which was a gatefold take-off of Srgt Peppers featuring the band in drag. It sent up the whole hippie phenomenon with ‘Hey Punk’ and had numerous other highly original tracks along with a unique cut up presentation.

The Byrds started out based at Ciros on the Strip and broke nationally with their FolkRock electrical presentations of Dylan numbers in 1965. By 1966 they were entrenched in the counter-culture with a series of psychedelic albums like Fifth Dimension, Younger than Yesterday and Notorious Byrd Brothers and druggie singles like ‘8 miles high’. They were an important precursor to the whole West Coast sound as well as stimulating Dylan to turn electric. They then went on to unfortunately add Gram Parson’s to their line-up to pave the way for Country Rock putting an end to their psychedelic brilliance. The Notorious Byrd Brothers was their apotheosis.

Love formed in LA in 1965 out of a Garage Punk Band called Grass Roots and were the first of the new Acid Rock Bands to get themselves signed up to a major company – the highly rated Elektra. They were a strange mixture of aggressive Punk sound and light almost folksy melodies. They released four brilliant albums – Love, Da Capo, Forever Changes and Four Sail and achieved moderate commercial success. The song writing of Bryan Maclean and Arthur Lee created a range of incredible songs that ranged from punchy hard hitting to mellow and beautiful. Their album ‘Forever Changes’ is consistently voted one of the best of all time. They were torn apart by heroin addiction and Arthur went on to serve a long jail sentence for fire-arm offences.

The Doors were formed after a chance meeting between Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek on Venice beach in 1965. Jim was studying film at UCLA and Ray already had a band called Rick and the ravens. Ray was greatly impressed with Jim’s poetry and philosophy and they put the band together. The name – the Doors – was taken from Aldous Huxley’s ‘Doors of Perception’ which in turn was borrowed from William Blake’s poem ‘The Marriage of Heaven & Hell’. Jim had this idea that you could break through this mirage of reality into a greater reality. He certainly tried his hardest to test the limits of his mind with acid, hash and alcohol.

Their music was a fusion of Jazz, Rock and Blues featuring Robbie Kreiger’s unique slide guitar sound while Manzarek not only did the swirly organ bits but also provided the intricate bass lines. Robbie Densmore was an extremely inventive drummer who provided a range of interesting rhythms, including Latin American. The result of marrying Jim’s poetry to this was an extremely varied style. They could produce driving Rock and heavy Blues as well as long extended psychedelic stuff all very listenable and commercially successful while containing an edge that kept them at the forefront of the counter-culture. They were extreme and dangerous if a little unpredictable.

They quickly gained a residency at the London Fog on the Sunset Strip and quickly moved on to take over the Whiskey A Go Go. They built up a strong following who were enthralled with their performances while driving the management bananas in fear of getting themselves closed down because of Jim’s use of expletives and extreme content and behaviour. Jim was often very stoned or drunk and tried to push things further ad further creating his Greek Adonis stage act to elongated freaked out Blues numbers and Jim’s poetic interpretations of his own epic stuff such as ‘The End’, ‘Break on through to the other side’ and ‘When the Music’s over’.

The lyrics Jim produced were extremely erotic and Jim’s stage act was often spellbinding. The band had a strong political sense that came through strongly on numbers like ‘Unknown Soldier’ and ‘Five to one’.

They became signed to the prestigious Elektra label and released a number of excellent albums and singles – ‘The Doors’, ‘Strange Days’, ‘Waiting for the sun’, ‘The Soft Parade’ and ‘Morrison Hotel’. Jim got himself charged with lewd behaviour and incitement to riot after seemingly exposing himself on stage. His subsequent death in Paris was shrouded in mystery. He is supposed to have died in the bath from alcohol or drugs or heart failure or even electrocution from an electric fire that was accidentally knocked into the water. We’ll never know because a doctor quickly filled out the death certificate without carrying out a post mortem and he was buried the next day before anyone actually saw the body. It sparked tales of Jim, having become disillusioned with the life of a Rock Star, engineering the whole thing and taking himself off to Africa in complete anonymity.

The Doors were probably the most successful of all the Acid Rock Bands.

Buffalo Springfield was also formed in Los Angeles in 1965 when Folk musicians Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Ritchie Furay met up and decided to form a band. Legend has it that Stills and Furay were stuck in a traffic jam on an LA Freeway and saw Neil’s hearse up ahead and jumped out of their ca to run over to him and get him to join. Neil had come down from Canada to Los Angeles to find them but had been unable to make contact and had decided to head back to Canada. They took their name from the manufacturer of a steamroller that was working in the road outside where they were staying. Buffalo Springfield were launched on to the LA Scene. They were immediately successful and got signed up to release 3 albums before friction between Stills and Young broke them up. Their most successful songs were ‘For what it’s worth’, ‘Broken arrow’, Expecting to fly’, ‘Bluebird’, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll woman’ and ‘Mr Soul’.

The death of Buffalo Springfield signalled the birth of Crosby, Stills and Nash. This happened when Stills got together with David Crosby from the Byrds and Graham Nash from the Hollies at John Sebastian’s house. They started jamming around and found that their harmonies really gelled. Graham had come across to the West Coast after getting fed up with the Hollies commercial trivia and leapt at the opportunity to get his teeth into something more substantial. This new ‘supergroup’ made its debut at the infamous Woodstock festival.

CSN had two sides; the first was acoustic and the second was electric. For the electric style they opted to bring Neil Young into the fold to form Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. They reflected the times with their ‘Wooden ships’ and version of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’. With Neil Young they came up with strong songs like ‘Ohio’ and ‘Chicago’.

ArtistStand out tracks
Captain Beefheart & his Magic BandAbba ZabbaGrow FinsYellow brick roadSafe as milkElectricityDrop out boogieZig Zag wandererAh feel like ahcidSafe as milkTrust usOn tomorrowGimme that harp boyMoonlight on VermontDachau BluesElla GuruThe blimpSteal softly through snowShe’s too much for my mirrorVeteran’s day poppyHobo chang baSmithsonian Institute Blues
Jefferson AirplaneSomebody to loveWhite rabbitLet’s get togetherPlastic fantastic loverShe has funny carsThe ballad of you and me and PooneilCrown of creationLatherTriadWe can be togetherVolunteersGood shepherdThe son of Jesus
Blue CheerSummertime BluesThe hunter
Mothers of InventionHelp I’m a rockWhat’s the ugliest part of your bodyWho are the brain policeBrown shoes don’t make itCall any vegetableConcentration moonWho are the brain policeYou’re probably wondering why I’m herePlastic peopleCall any vegetableThe idiot bastard sonLet’s make the water turn blackTake your clothes off when you danceHarry you’re a beastThe way I see it BarryMy guitar wants to kill your mamaWillie the pimpLonesome cowboy BurtI’m the slimeDinah-Moe HummDebra KedabraMuffin manSam with the showing flat topPoofter’s Froth Wyoming plans aheadTitties and beerCosmic debrisDon’t eat the yellow snow
Quicksilver Messenger ServiceMonaWho do you loveHappy trails
Buffalo SpringfieldFor What its worthMr SoulExpecting to flyBroken arrowRock ‘n’ Roll womanBluebirdFlying on the ground is wrongBurnedNowadays Clancy can’t even singHung upside downRock ‘n’ Roll WomanExpecting to flyI am a childBluebird
DoorsLove me two timesMoonlight driveThe crystal shipThe endGloriaBack door manBreak on through (to the other side)Soul kitchenStrange daysYou’re lost little girlPeople are strangeUnhappy girlWhen the music’s overMy eyes have seen youHello I love youLove streetThe unknown soldierNot to touch the earthFive to oneMy wild loveWild childWishful sinfulShaman BluesThe soft paradeMaggie McGillPeace FrogWaiting for the sunThe changelingLove her madlyCrawling kingsnake
Grateful DeadGoodmorning little school girlSitting on top of the worldBorn cross-eyedSt StephenCosmic CharlieDark starThe elevenUncle John’s bandCasey JonesSugar MagnoliaTruckin’Box of rainPlaying in the band
Big Brother & the Holding CompanyPiece of my heartBall and chainDown on meSummertimeI need a man to love
Country Joe & the FishJanisGraceI Feel like I’m fixing to die ragWho am I?MagooUntitled protestNot so sweet Martha LorrainePorpoise mouthSuperbirdBass stringsPat’s songColors for SusanSusanRock & Soul musicBright Suburban Mr & Mrs Clean Machine
Byrds8 miles highI wasn’t born to followDolphin smileSo you want to be a Rock ‘n’ Roll starChymes of freedomAll I really want to doMr Tambourine manTurn Turn TurnLay down your weary tuneHe was a friend of mine5D (fifth dimension)John RileyEverybody’s been burnedMy back pagesThe girl with no nameHave you seen her faceArtificial energyTriadTribal gatheringGoin’ backChange is nowDolphin’s smileSpace odysseyDraft morningNothing was deliveredThis wheel’s on fireDeporteeBallad of easy riderIt’s all over now baby blueLover of the bayouPositively Fourth Street
LoveAlone again orMy little red bookMushroom cloudsMy flash on youA message to prettySigned D.C.7 and 7 isStephanie knows whoOrange skiesShe comes in coloursAlone again orA house is not a motelAndmoreagainLive and let liveThe daily planetBummer in the summerYou set the sceneSinging cowboy
Crosby, Stills Nash & YoungWooden shipsOhioTeach your children wellSuite: Judy blue eyesChicagoWoodstockGuinevereHelplessly hopingLong time goneCarry onAlmost cut my hairHelplessOur houseJust a song before you goThe lee shore4 + 20Wasted on the wayFind the cost of freedom
Janis Joplin Kosmic Blues Band/Full Tilt Boogie BandKozmic bluesTry (just a little bit harder)To love somebodyMercedes BenzMe and Bobby McgheeCry baby

Everything you ever wanted to know about Rock Music!

If you would like to purchase this book in either digital or paperback it is available on Amazon.

In the UK:

In the USA :

Opher Goodwin

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.