I listened to Eric Clapton doing impossible things with a guitar on Disraeli Gears and almost lost my mind trying to copy him. In fact, as soon as I had three chords almost down pat I more or less stopped trying to copy records and started writing my own songs.
Every now and then one or two of Dad's taxi driver friends would come over and he’d say, “Come on then. Get that guitar out and give us all a laugh.”
Being tone deaf, and not blessed with even a basic sense of rhythm meant nothing to me.
"One of these feckin' days," I muttered through clenched teeth, "one of these feckin' days I'll show yeh."
And one day I did. I sang Simon and Garfunkel's "He Was My Brother" more or less in time, more or less in tune and shut them right up.
"Not that good." the old man said and went back to his taxi war stories.
Throughout my sweaty sixteenth year I found that occasional, blank-eyed girls in mini-skirts were equally unimpressed with my troubadour efforts. But I was by now firmly convinced that the key to the twin mysteries of the contents of their bras and panties lay in my ability to woo them with sexy, flash guitar and a rebellious yowl. The fortune and fame would be the cream ... licked from their curvaceous bodies.
Such was my adoration of Jimi Hendrix that when Electric Ladyland (with it's pre-banned cover featuring nineteen - count them - naked women) came out in October 1968, I sold my guitar to John Hadley for five quid and bought the magical double album. Anyway, I had already decided I needed an electric guitar.
But what I got for Christmas was another finger-slicing folk guitar. I waited a respectful ten minutes or so and swapped it with a kid two doors down for a Woolworth's Top Twenty electric guitar. It was bright red, had only 5 strings, and I had no amp, but I loved that plank of a guitar. My first electric plank.
Then I discovered the Summer of Peace and Love (piss and lav more like, in Birmingham,). Flower Power and a guitar would surely be power enough to have me get my leg over.
At school Mel Bingle and I formed and were the sole members of the school Progressive Music Society. He even changed hos name to the far flashier stage name Mel Bodingle. I had my red Top Twenty Japanese electric guitar with an action like an egg slicer, he had a white bass guitar with rusty strings, a 50-watt Selmer amp with just two inputs, and a 2 x 12 speaker cab. We set this lot up in the school library on Fridays after school. As we had no microphone vocals were screamed and vanished into the racket we made. Coming upon us, during the first meeting of the school Progressive Music Society, one of the cleaning ladies paused over her bucket of disinfectant. She leaned on her mop and, all yellowed eyes and hair curlers, to listen to the end of our attempt at Hendrix's "Red House". As the cacophony died away, she sniffed and said,
“Sounded like a cow dying.”
I had my first, but not worst, review.
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