Was there a moment in your life when you knew you wanted to play music?
If there was one specific instance, it was probably in 1970 when I played 'You keep a-knockin' (but you can't come in)', a Little Richard song, with me on bass and singing, Dave Linnett on guitar and Dave's cousin, Merv, on snare drum (which he hit with a pair of spoons). We all played together, started together, changed chords together and played in time. It was (up until then) the greatest three minutes of my life! This was later rivaled by playing Booker T & The MG's' 'Time is Tight' for at least 45 minutes with my college band's drummer and friend, Geoff Conway, and two of his buddies, Pete Smith on piano and Ian Davidson on guitar. This was in Southampton in 1974. Time stood still. It was transcendental. I knew then that playing music was the greatest thing in the world.
How do you support your favourite artists?
Haha! Most of my favourite artists are dead or are financially independent and don't need my help. I don't have an enormous amount of clout in 'the business'. I do take an interest in local/’up and coming' musicians, and have attempted to pull some strings. A lot of this is to do with the local acts' determination: 'You can lead a horse to water but you can't get him a record deal'. There was a fantastic band in the 80's, 20 Days, which I went to see regularly but they ended up splitting. There was a really good rock outfit from Coventry called The Glass Guns who I attempted to champion a couple of years ago but they also ended up folding. I’m a fan, not a businessman. I've worked (played bass) on recordings with local singer/songwriter Danny Ansell and I’m helping out a very talented singer/songwriter called Steve Malik. There's a band called The Commonjets who are all still at school, but they're pretty damned good. It's a bit odd when I go to see these new bands; people think I'm one of the bands' grandfathers I’m sure. Of course, I championed The Sleaford Mods in the support slot for The Specials tour in 2015 and recently went to see Millie Manders (Camden girl with attitude who writes, sings and plays a ukulele) in Birmingham; one to watch out for.
How have you seen music change your world?
Difficult one this. Music has always been an integral part of 'my world' so I was unaware of its shifting influences - it was a flow I went with. There was a tremendous feeling of pride/satisfaction when The Specials inked their record deal. In the 'occupation' bit of my passport application form, I could write 'musician'. That felt good. When I was working as a teacher in the first decade of this century I was playing at weekends. I’ve always played. It has become an everyday part of who I am.
How have the changes in the music industry (especially since the dawn of the digital age) affected your career?
I feel very lucky as regards the change in the industry. In 1979, The Specials went on tour to promote an album. We signed for a pretty small advance (comparatively) and recouped early. We made money from selling records. When The Specials reformed in 2008 we made money from playing gigs (which we never did back in the day). So, I’ve benefitted from both record sales (back when you could make money by selling product) and the current live music climate. Advances in technology have drastically altered the industry but I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that. I know people still make some very interesting music, although it seems you have to be a lot more proactive to get to hear it. Just because a lot more music is being made doesn't mean it's all good quality. In the late 70's, in Coventry, there were about two dozen punk bands. Most of them were awful; luckily, there was no YouTube back then. Some of them were fantastic. Listen to the album 'Sent From Coventry' and listen to The Mix.
By Horace Panter, distributed under a Creative Commons CC-BY license.
Image by @horacepanterart, distributed under the CC-BY creative commons license.
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