Diary 1986

The Beach

Saturday, Jan 18 1986. "Deaf boy hug" (Nick Hug and his band) invited me to play with them at the Portsmouth polytechnic college. It went quite well. Later, our friends, who owned the caravan supplies store, had a party at a pub in Titchfield. They asked me if I could get the band together to play at their party, so, I asked Nick Hug if his band would like to do it. We did, but it was a very odd gig. Nothing was what we expected it to be. It was more like a parent's get-together. Never again! The two friends who had the party were Frank and Jan. They enjoyed it though, so later invited me and Sue to dinner at their house in Gosport. I'm not very good at things like that, so, I got drunk and ruined the whole evening for everybody.

Saturday, Jan 25 1986. I rehearsed with Pete Townshend at Dave Gilmore's house in reading, Berkshire (which is now 'outside studios'). George Harrison showed up to visit Dave. He was nice enough to every one there. Quite timid really. We all travelled to 'nice' on the 27th to rehearse for Pete's gig at the 'Midem' Festival. Pete's solo band was called 'deep end' and we had Dave Gilmore on guitar. The gig took place in Cannes, France, on the 29th Jan 1986. It was a bit boring, but overall a very nice experience. These kinds of things are generally for heavy 'posers' though, so most of the time the air was filled with an atmosphere of complete falseness. Fake, man! On the 30th, we flew back to London, and I went straight back to the beach hut, and all of its trappings.

Wednesday, Feb 5 1986. I rehearse with Dave Gilmore for his gig at the Albert Hall, and the charity for the Colombian volcano victims. Good cause! It was brilliant! The best thing I've ever done! Chucho Merchan, bassist with 'Deep End', and Annie Lennox, set the whole show up. It was mad! He organised everything. It was a big event. What a guy! Cheers, Chucho!

Saturday, March 29 1986. Me and Sue went to see James Taylor in concert at the Hammersmith Odeon. We drove down with Nick Hug and his girlfriend. The concert was amazing actually. I expected to be slightly bored, but the show was very professional and indeed, very good! Nice one. Sue used to know James Taylor in his early days. So we went back stage so she could have a chat with him. Very quiet man, very easy, polite, and on the ball. Sue used to know everybody, personally. Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, the Eagles blokes, Carly Simon. All that clan. How she met them I don't know, but I think it's through her friend, Peter Asher and his wife, who managed James Taylor. Sue's brilliant! She was married to Mike Vickers, from 'Manfred Mann', before she met me. She's a true 'rock n roll' babe! Knows all the ropes, tricks, and knows bullshit when she sees or hears it. Why she went for me, then, is another story!

Wednesday, April 23 1986. Me and Sue went down to Wales to visit and record for my old friend, Andy Fairweather-Lowe. (You know it's me playing on his old hit, 'Wide Eyed and Legless'.) This, though, was a project he was doing on his own steam. In other words, no record deal had been made for it yet. He would do the album, and then try to 'hawk' it around and try to get a record deal later on. As far as I know, nothing ever came of it, but it was very, very good. I still have the cassette copy he gave me and still listen to it now. He grooves in a salsa, Latin sort of feel, with loads of funky stuff thrown in. very original. Andy is my all time favourite friend, and such a nice guy to know. Very much fun to work with. Howdy Andy!

Saturday, May 3 1986. I went back to London (Richmond, staying on Pete Townshend's boat, which is moored behind the studio, on the river Thames.) He owns a Dutch barge, converted to a little studio with living accommodation. Me and Sue stayed there for the duration of these sessions. It was nice, but in the end it became a nightmare! What can you do on a non-moving barge for days on end? Pete did take the barge out once though, down the river on a nice day, with a bunch of his friends, and invited me and Sue along for the ride. I drank so much wine that I ended up insulting most of his friends, and his 'tape-op'. (The guy who runs all the tape recorders, makes tea, cleans the studio, general dog's-body type job). Pete later gave me a 'right ticking off'. I don't blame him, of course. In fact, I think he fired me, because he sent me a note, from the studio to the barge, the next day, which said, "don't bother turning up for work today!". I went to him and pleaded my case, and apologised heavily, so, he let me start work again. Sorry I'm such a pain in the ass, Pete! He allowed me to come back to work. He showed mercy, and took me back in! Nice one Pete.

Friday, June 13 1986. Johnny Nash. I went to London to shoot a video promo with Johnny Nash for his new single. We shot it at Ronnie Scotts club in Soho. I got so drunk that I think they had to exclude me from view. I noticed, when I saw a copy of the video, that you couldn't see me at all. Sorry John! It was too lightweight any way! Very false! But, I still should have behaved myself.

Sunday, July 13 1986. Andy Fairweather-Lowe return session, 11am start, Island Records (now Sarm West), Andy's record deal was with 'Stiff' records. I overdubbed Hammond organ on some of the stuff I had worked on earlier for Andy in Wales. Poor Andy, 'Stiff records' gave me a 'hot' check for my work, and when I told Andy, he almost cried! In the end, I had to demand that someone from 'stiff' brought me the money in cash, to cover for the hot check, otherwise, I wasn't touching another keyboard. I told 'stiff' to deliver the cash to me in person before I left the studio. It took ages, but I waited there until someone finally arrived with the cash. They tried to make me feel cheap and guilty, but I said to the guy, "fuck you, I'm not taking another hot check from you. I'll have the cash now, thank you!". Under normal circumstances, I would work for Andy for 'free', but he insisted on paying me, so I made sure I got it!

Thursday, Aug 7 1986. Around where I lived at the beach, I did a little session in a local studio. While I was there, I bought a 'Helpinstill' roadcased 'real' piano from the studio. I went there to do a small session for some friends, and when I walked in, there it was, in the corner. I said to the guy who owned the studio, "is that for sale?" he said it was, so I said, " I have to buy it", right there and then, on the spot! It's very neat and handy. Also, I know the guy who built it. (It's a genuine 'real' piano, built into a heavy duty 'flight case'.) His name is Peter Helpinstill, from Houston, Texas, where I'm also from. What it was doing in England, I have no idea! I'm glad I found it though! 'Helpinstill' was another young musician in my days back in Texas. We all competed with each other in various different bands, vying for gigs, sessions, and that sort of thing. Nothing malicious, but you know how it is. You do your best to get out of Texas, into the bigger scope of things. World-wide recognition, that sort of thing. He stayed, and I got out, but instead of playing pianos, he started building them! He's done really well with his business.

Saturday, Sept 20 1986. Tom Robinson tour. I really didn't want to do this 'Tom Robinson' tour of Britain, so I arranged for myself to get completely wasted, then I wouldn't be able to show up for the next rehearsal. I don't know why, but I just wasn't up for doing it, and didn't know how to back out of it. So, I used my usual method of getting out of doing what I don't really want to do in the first place: get fucked up so I can't work! Take the blame yourself, but spare the boss's feelings. So what if he thinks you are a jerk. At least you don't have to say to his face, "no thanks, you're not good enough, so I quit!". Let him fire you. It's easier, but I must admit, it only hurts your reputation in the long run. But, in the short run, it's a great relief, and, you don't have to do the fucking job you were too shy to say you didn't want to do in the first place! So, there. Fire me!

Monday, Sept 22 1986. I was 'fired' form the 'Tom Robinson' tour for being unreliable. Good! See, I told you so!

Saturday, Nov 1 1986. Me and Sue were looking for other places to live, so, we drove to Wales to look at a church that was for sale. We thought it would be nice to live in a church, and on the brochure, it looked quite good. Obviously, some repairs would need to be done. But, when we finally found it we were shocked and devastated! It didn't even have any glass in any of the windows, and it was completely derelict! Last, but not least, it was across the 'main' highway from an old coalfield and the factory. We laughed and immediately went back to the beach. On Nov 3, we drove down to Cornwall to look at places to live. We looked at a 'boat house', but it was as bad as the church in Wales, if not actually worse. We asked the man where the toilet was, and he took us to a tiny little metal room, and said, "you could put one in there". No thanks mate, we're off! Bye!

Wednesday, Dec 17 1986. We had to sell the 'beach hut' and move out! I had to pay my taxes, so we had to sell the beach hut to do it. We paid £7,000 for it, but managed to sell it for £14,000. I paid off my taxes, and what was left we took with us to Sue's mom's caravan, to stay a while, until we could get ourselves sorted out.

Tuesday, Dec 23 1986. We saw an ad for a caravan up in 'Grimsby'. So we drove up and had a look. We were so desperate that we asked the owners if we could take it there and then, because it was Xmas, and we had nowhere to stay. They mercifully said yes, so we moved straight in. It was on a mobile home site in Binbrook, near Grimsby. What a hell place that turned out to be all because I was an alcoholic and drunk constantly. I gave Sue such a hard time! When will I ever learn?!

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