Friday, April 6, 2012

Farewell 'Father of Loud'

Sad, if inevitable news given his age, of Jim Marshall's death today.

There will be lots of obituaries on other web sites, and in papers and magazines worldwide, so I'll not repeat it here. Suffice it to say that without Marshall amps the history of rock would have been quite different.

The wide publicity that Marshall's death will get, given his fundamental place in the pantheon of rock, might also stimulate 'the powers that be' (in this case the West London Borough of Ealing) to think about erecting a plaque on the original Marshall shop on Hanwell High Street. It would be a welcome addition to one plaque that this rock heritage rich borough does have, identifying the site of the Ealing Blues Club. The history of the two sites are inextricably linked. The club was formed basically as an alternative to the more folksy Roundhouse in Soho where amplification of guitars was not allowed. Many of the Ealing club's performers (like Clapton, Townsend, Jack Bruce, Cyril Davies)later become indelibly associated with Marshall's equipment.

Incidentally, April 7th marks the 50th anniversary of Mick Jagger's performance at the club (with band Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, and the meeting with Brian Jones that would lead three months later to the first performance of the Rolling Stones at the Marquee.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ziggy - 40 years on

The current publicity celebrating the 40th aniversary of the 'birth ' of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, and the placing of a plaque at London birth site, brings back a few memories.

I saw 'Ziggy' on tour; July 01st 1972 at Western Super Mare's Winter Gardens. The show confirmed my already very positive opinion of Bowie musically, having discovered there was more to him than 'Space Oddity' through the wonderful 'Hunk Dory' album.

Those of a vintage to remember concert going in the those early 70s will also remember it being a time of IRA activity, and 'bomb scares' plaguing venues and events. A malicious, or more likely drunken, phone call would be the cue for lights up and an instruction to 'clear the building quickly, please'. Our VIP visitors from Mars were not to be spared this worldly experience on that July night. Someway through the set, I can't remember at which exact point, the lights went up and the Winter Garden was cleared; concert goers quickly finding themselves standing outside in the warm night air while the building was searched for suspicious packages. And not only concert goers; the Spiders were also turfed out onto to pavement and my pal and I found ourselves standing right next to the bizarrely clad band.

Now I have to say that while the costumes under a 'beer light' added to the stage spectacle, they looked pretty bloody ridiculous outside under the cold light of a Weston street lamp. In fact, Bowie and fellow Spiders came in for a bit of good-humoured banter and abuse from certain sections of the beer-fueled, denim wearing crowd. Me included.

Inevitably, no bombs were found and the concert restarted. Alas, the magic that might have been was lost. Although the band recovered their poise and played on, it was hard to take the Ziggy persona too seriously (if we ever were supposed to). He had taken it all too far, but boy could he play guitar.