|How I remember the Stones
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 12 2016
I’ve been around the block so often, it only cost me 7/6 (about 37p or 50c) to watch the original Rolling Stones play in the local cinema. I say watch because, except for Little Red Rooster, (it was 1964, I was but a boy), you couldn’t hear any songs because of all the screaming girls.
An enduring memory is of Brian Jones, blond bob shimmering in his spotlight, standing as if frozen in time through the entire show. Keith danced about, but Brian didn’t move an inch. Jones’ slide guitar playing, however, was immaculate, though, and I think I’m right in claiming he was the first guitarist in Britain to master the technique. Brian and Keith, therefore, were among the first blues guitarists of note I watched ‘live’, with The Stones’ version of Willie Dixon’s Little Red Rooster still the only pure blues to top the British charts. As for other blues guitarist: John Lee Hooker used to be a regular at the local town hall. I also remember Albert King puffing his pipe while producing his searing licks at Leicester; and about ten naked girls dancing on stage with Led Zeppelin at the Bath Festival at Shepton Mallet, in 1970. That was the first time I ever saw giant video screens and the girls were magnified, in all their hairy lady-garden glory – about thirtyfold. My own band supported a pre-Paranoid Black Sabbath with Tony Iommi pioneering metal riffs, see Brummie Blues in April 2013 archive.
Through my work in the record industry I watched Gerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead play four nights running at the London Lyceum and attended so many festivals and gigs I can hardly remember many of them. (You know what’s said about the 60s, which supposedly ended, musically, in 1973 – if you can remember them, you weren’t there). I picked Santana up at London airport and sat in at the second Uriah Heep recording session. Al Kooper and Jeff Beck regularly dropped into the office, as did Johnny Winter and Gary Moore, then lead guitarist in an unknown Irish hard rock trio called Skid Row.
I was paid 50p by the BBC to sit on a beanbag and watch guitarist-extraordinaire John McLaughlin, another office regular, perform on The Old
Grey Whistle Test; and saw David Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop join Mott the Hoople on stage at a southern English seaside gig to debut live, All The Young Dudes. (But I can’t remember where – and this was 1972, not the 60s.)
|How I remember John McLaughlin. He later played with Mile Davis
I watched Angus Young in a hardly-known AC/DC support Lou Reed in Melbourne in 1974, little knowing that another regular from my London days, Cliff Williams, would be joining AC/DC on bass. I saw Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley perform in Australia and Joe Walsh blow the roof off a Melbourne pub.
So I know my lead guitarists: blues, rock or otherwise. But you’ll never guess who played the purest, most emotional electric guitar blues I ever heard? It’s hard to believe, but it was the blind Porto Rican soft-rock singer-guitar virtuoso, Jose Feliciano. He was performing at a festival in Staffordshire in about 1969. He’d just played his version of The Doors’ Light My Fire, with which he had a massive worldwide hit. Maybe the crowd were getting restless because, unexpectedly, Jose launched into a set of electric guitar blues which left everybody spellbound. It was one of those magical moments you just can’t script.
The moral is you can’t judge a book by its cover. Talking about books, have I told you about …