And so. In my last blog I was banging on about the horrors of my school days which dwarf Tom Brown's School days for unpleasantness. I escaped into music, and of course what happened was I started to be treated with respect, by other musicians at least. I played on some successful records, including Robespierres Velvet Basement and the 2 other early Jacobites albums. That was me tinkling on the acoustic, the jangly bits, as well as playing bass, singing, some drumming and so on. I wonder if Jacobites fans can hear the same sounds on my new recordings, as I still play the same instruments, exactly the same guitar and bass. Jacobites fans may be interested to know that Nikki Sudden approached me a while before he died with a view to recording another Jacobites LP in Berlin. Alas fate intervened. So did my demands for money upfront, but lets not go there! I remember recording those early LPs really well, mostly at Bob Lamb's home of the hits, although we recorded with John Rivers in Leamington for the first one. That is me, singing the 3 part harmony at the start of Silver Street. Nikki was pleased to tell me something special had been done, I was very happy to hear they had taken a harmony section and put it on its own, accapella style. Unfortunately Mercury Rev did not record my part when they covered the song-. I remember going to meet Tyla from The Dog's D'Amour at the train station, Nikki had invited him (or was it Dave- he is Dave's mate apparently) to put down some vocals and slide acoustic. I think this was one of the days Nikki's mate Mike Scott was in the studio. They tried to get me to do some backing vocals, but that was my first time and I can remember Mike Scott laughing, I couldn't get the pitching but frankly considering the voice I was singing against, it was hardly any wonder but I shouldn't say that I know! I just remember Mike Scott had some things with him, and I had some and actually felt sped up to a point of paranoia by the time I left. However, Mike did point out the faults in my early bass playing, and it was he who really showed me how to play, so thanks Mike. He taught me to lock in with the bass drum, and he pulled back much of my improvising for the song Road Of Broken Dreams. I think that was my first ever proper recording. I haven't played that first LP for a good while, I must listen to it again. I was very young, we all were (mostly!).
Then later we did a mammoth session at Bob Lamb's, with Epic. Nikki had dozens of songs and Dave Kusworth had plenty. There were no rehearsals, but with simple material, it wasn't necessary. I clearly remember Epic. He seemed a quiet person, reserved, and removed from the whole Jacobites rock & roll vibe. But I think that was the whole point to be honest. Epic and myself were not really rockers. I was heavily into the Byrds at that point, and Epic had a pedigree which perhaps was influenced by Can, by Maureen Tucker, by folk. He liked the Barracudas and I remember him enthusing about their new record, Endeavour To Persevere. Epic had a different circle of friends, we weren't close but he seemed a likeable bloke. I still can't believe what happened to him. If something is upsetting you, express yourself I say. That's what I do here.Peace Be Epic. He was a talented drummer. He had many friends on the American avant-garde scene, really famous people like Thurston Moore who played on his solo records.
Of course I remember the whole Jacobites image, black velvet jackets all the time, scarves, cool shoes, good haircuts and really for the 80s, there was a lot of good taste going on there. A lot of smoking, drinking etc too. It was pretty obvious that Dave Kusworth had some special songs going at that point. songs like Son Of A French Nobleman, Heart Of Hearts, Into My Arms, Before I Die, and plenty of others were at that stage in my opinion in their best setting. Sure, there was rock & roll going on with the guitars, but there was another more folky/country sensibility at play. And that to me defines Jacobites more than that whole Keith Riichards thing, which, along with the New York Dolls and other hardcore rock & roll, eventually took over more.
I was surprised to hear Robespierres had hit no 1 in the German independent charts. I was as removed from the world as Maureen Tucker was latterly, not realising what was going on in terms of the escalating profile of Jacobites. I knew Dave very well, we are still friends. Nikki was not the world's easiest person, but I was shocked though not surprised when he passed away. I remember some of the scene there in Berlin but I wont talk about that. Nikki was, shall I say, a person who liked a party- and I believe he lived that philosophy to the full over about 30 years! I remember he was given a silver Victorian case, a small cigarette case by a close lady friend, which contained talcum powder. I couldn't understand why he had to keep putting it up his nose (only joking). Nikki always smoked rather esoteric cigarettes, which he always kept in a silver case. Later I toured with him in Germany, where he was very popular. He always had a bottle of champagne after the shows. It was the full rock & roll trip. Groupies- there was this one woman with fishnet tights I seem to remember,backstage at the rock & roll Babylon club. Then one time there was this pimp with a hooker, who was trying to palm her off onto Nikki. He started to camp it up, turning his attentions, however insincerely, on me. 'I've always liked you' and all this. This was a Nikki solo tour around '93. The drinks cabinets were ridiculous. Dozens of beers, and always several bottles of spirits. I was throwing up blood after a couple of days, only a few spots- but it shows, that lifestyle takes a high toll. On one occasion a young lad came up to me, complaining that Nikki was with his sister. Upstairs. I went and had a look and sure enough- I can see him now- he was cavorting with this girl on a mattress , I wasn't going to intervene however. I spoke with Max Decharne from Gallon Drunk recently who drummed on that tour- I was already a heavy drinker and with mates like that, it was hardly a recipe for restraint, lets say. Hi Max!
It was all quite an experience. It showed me another side of life, which was eye opening for a lad from the suburbs. It was fun, and intense. But then of course came the sad news that Nikki had passed away. I got to hear about it from close quarters, it wouldn't be appropriate to go into detail but it was such a shock. Nikkis reputation as a songwriter and personality was such that his death was covered by the New York Times, and by the Guardian in this country, and was also on the BBC news. He had been working with Mick Taylor, and Mac Mcclagan. He was a larger than life character. I think he would have liked England's Dreaming Spires. He was truly passionate about music, it was his life- and his taste sometimes surprised. He was not closed minded, naming Candi Staton and Barry White, and the Chi Lites among his favourite artists. RIP Nikki.
So, this weekend coming we're off to Le Beat Bespoke to see the Pretty Things , and Wildebeests, among others. Theres a northern soul all nighter, a big record fair, all sorts. Will be a thrill to get down there, maybe see you there.
We recorded Sitting In An English Cafe,