Creative people were a magnet to me. I’d realised this the first time I’d encountered Stuart and then John at Art College. When I was trying to arrange for her to be interviewed by Philip Norman, John’s Aunt Mimi readily agreed to it, telling me, “I’ll always remember you because you were the first person ever to call John a genius.” Ray Davies was another of those rare creative people I encountered on my journey across this life. Continue reading
I have an open mind about voyages into the unknown. I have had out-of-body experiences and lucid dreams, so I have lost the ability to have a closed mind about matters that other people find incredible and are sceptical of. The part work ‘Man, Myth & Magic’ featured a full page article about my lucid dreams and I even received a letter from Oxford University requesting I come to their dream laboratory, but I was so involved in promoting bands seven days a week I never had the time. Continue reading
Working at Record Mirror was a most enjoyable time for me and Norman Joplin’s new book ‘Shake It Up Baby’ brought it all back. I remember a band called the Bee Gees had just arrived in London and I was asked to interview them. The RM office in Shaftesbury Avenue was so small I interviewed them in the narrow hallway, with them sitting on boxes. I was writing so many features for the publication ranging from artists such as Bobby Darin to Paul Simon, that I began using pseudonyms such as Brenda Tarry and David Berglas. I was surprised to learn that Berglas, a name I made up, was actually the name of a noted practicing Magician!
Norman still retains bound issues of Record Mirror and promised to send me some of my articles when he tracks them down. The first one he’s sent is an interview I did with Scott Walker at his Chelsea flat. Part of his chat surrounded his forthcoming album ‘Scott 2,’ issued in March 1968.
Shake It up Baby!
When Virginia and I moved to London in 1966 it was ostensibly to manage the Four Pennies, although the group did break up for basically personal reasons. In the meantime I had already established an income from writing again. I had a full page column each week in Weekend magazine, columns in the teen publications Marilyn and Valentine and features in the German publication OK. Continue reading
I have been writing on-and-off for the long-running Beatlefan magazine for decades. Here is part of a recent article I wrote for Bill King’s excellent publication. It concerns one of the UK’s most well-known television actresses, although she is probably not known as well outside this country. She was born Susan Wright in Warrington on 7 December 1945 and was reared in Whiston, ten miles outside of Liverpool.
As Sue Johnson she is a well-established and esteemed British television actress, whose work has included soaps (‘Brookside’, ‘Coronation Street’), comedy (‘The Royale Family’) and drama (‘Waking The Dead,’ ‘Downton Abbey.’) Continue reading
This television music spectacular was conceived by Johnny Hamp of Granada Television, the producer and station which had given the Beatles their first TV airing. Hamp had been made Head of Light Entertainment for Granada and after deciding he wished to pay tribute to the song writing talents of John and Paul he had discussions with them which resulted in ‘The Music of Lennon & McCartney’, the biggest spectacular yet produced by Granada Television.
Johnny produced and Phil Casson directed. Continue reading
Virginia and I used to go to Streates in Mount Pleasant to listen to local poets such as Phil Tasker, Roger McGough and Brian Patten. We’d usually start off from the Jacaranda and as we walked along Slater Street would note John and Cynthia and Paul and Dot kissing in shop doorways.
Streates was a small club, basically a coffee bar for people interested in poetry. As we listened to the performances of our poet friends, who could predict that the Mersey poets would become the most influential performance poets in Britain and their book ‘The Mersey Sound’ become the biggest-selling poetry book of the decade.
This particular scene is captured in Phil Bowen’s book ‘A Gallery To Play To’, a biography of Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten, the three main poets to emerge from the Mersey cultural revolution.
In my blogs I intend to feature and interview authors and their books about the Beatles and the Mersey scene.
I read ‘A Gallery To Play To’ when it was republished by Liverpool University Press in 2007 and decided to interview Phil, who had previously compiled a book of poetry about the Beatles in 1995 called ‘Things We Said Today: Poems About the Beatles’ Continue reading
The first issue of Mersey Beat made its debut on 6 July 1961, produced from a tiny little office in the attic of 51a Renshaw Street, above David Land, the wine merchant.
The only full time worker was my girlfriend Virginia who had given up her job to help me launch the newspaper. Money was tight. I’d received a loan of £50 from Jim Anderson, a civil servant friend of Dave Matthews, another friend who helped us to bring our dream to reality. Virginia was on £2.10s a week and I didn’t take any wages, but lived on the income I received from winning a Senior City Art Scholarship at Liverpool College of Art.
I had amateur experience of running magazines. I’d become a science-fiction enthusiast due to the influence of my cousin Ken Smith and had even joined the Liverpool Science Fiction Society. In my early teens I had produced my own fanzine Biped and illustrated various other fan magazines including Mike Moorcock’s Burroughsania. While at the Junior Art School I launched a duplicated magazine called Premier and when I entered Liverpool College of Art I issued a duplicated magazine simply called Jazz. I was next asked to help edit the university charity magazine Pantosphinx and also a music magazine for the Frank Hessy music store called Frank Comments. Continue reading
I was completely shocked and it was a surprise that I’d sooner not have had to take in when I just discovered that Cynthia had passed away due to cancer. I first knew her as Cynthia Powell, noticing her in the school playground of the Junior School of Art in Gambier Terrace, with her friend Phyllis. She then left the school. I believe it was due to the death of her father and next entered the Liverpool College of Art, which led her on a monumental life she’d never anticipated. Continue reading
Sadly, I have reached a time when fate intervenes to prevent me detailing the histories of so many of the musicians I knew. For years I have puzzled as to how I could contact Mark Peters, who’d led groups such as the Silhouettes and the Cyclones. I’d been told he was abroad, at one time living in Malta, but no one could give me any details. Then, in recent years, I was told he died in France around an August period, although someone else said he’d passed away in the Newcastle area. I often wondered what kind of life he’d led after leaving the Mersey scene.
I was in direct contact with Brendan McCormack a brilliant Mersey guitarist who said he would provide me with his story, but before I did the interview, I received news that he’d passed away. It’s just unfortunate that time is against me. Continue reading