Well, what follows isn't exactly a "rant", but it's a very informative & insightful piece by Paul Killington (of "Maria Daines", at MIXPOSURE)... we want to thank him for taking the time to share his "Pivotal Moments" with us, & hope you'll visit this prolific artist:
PAUL KILLINGTON’S PIVOTAL MOMENTS
It’s about 1973, it’s Wembley Arena, and Robert Plant is screaming. The heavyweights of rock are at full throttle, this must be the loudest rock concert ever, but no one complains, we love it. Opening for Zep was 'Stone The Crows'. After a few bars of their opening number, on struts Maggie Bell, their vocalist. She’s in a white cowgirl outfit, she grabs a mic stand at a rakish angle and starts stomping her foot and belting out a blues rocker. We’ve never heard of this band, and my mate turns to me and shouts – ‘It’s a f***ing chick man!’ Janis Joplin was the first to do this sort of thing in a male dominated genre. Maggie Bell was the English Janis and it was a pivotal moment for us, just one of many for me in the late 60’s and early 70’s. My life seems to have been littered with these moments, and when it came to music, it was an eruption of creativity the like of which I don’t think will be seen again. Apart from influencing me as a musician, these things affected me as a person, and gave me a take on life that has endured throughout the years.
Four years earlier I attended my first outdoor rock concert. As the facilities were basic compared to today’s extravaganzas, we decided we had to get out to find some food. Looking down the day’s programme we saw that the next band up were Led Zeppelin. Having never heard of them, we saw this as an ideal opportunity to leave the arena. A week later, I was getting my mind blown by Led Zep one, with ‘Communication Breakdown’ causing my father to run in from the garden demanding to know what the hell this noise was blasting out of our mono radiogram.
Where I lived you could always go and see a live band, something that seems sadly lacking today. At a live music pub three miles from me, every Wednesday night you could see the likes of Deep Purple, Yes, Family, Black Sabbath and Rory Gallagher, etc., etc.,. One night Deep Purple announced ‘This is the last time we’ll be playing like this’ they weren’t that well known to us and were slightly poppy, the next time I heard them was when I bought their album ‘In Rock’, this change of style was obviously a good move as the new direction catapulted them into rock stardom, so again this was a pivotal moment witnessed by yours truly.
Friday nights were spent at my local youth club, of course watching the bands. They all brought something new with them and there seemed to be no end to their originality, among them the likes of 'Supertramp' and 'Hawkwind'. Many of them never progressed on to greatness but all deserved to. One tremendous band were called ‘Good Habit’ and dressed in monks outfits. Their guitarist offered to sell me his 1959 Les Paul for £150. I was about 17 or 18 and I didn’t quite have the cash but I wasn’t that bothered because you could buy Gibsons anywhere. A 1959 Les Paul now? Name your price. Roundabout this time a progressive outfit called ‘Yes’ played at a dance at my school but they didn’t go down too well with a rather straight audience.
I’d always been a big fan of ‘The Who’ as a schoolboy and later one night in about 1968; I saw them in a local club. I was thrilled to hear them playing their big hits, but was then somewhat disturbed as I watched them smashing up their equipment towards the end of the night. I left the place on some kind of high, thinking that there was more to this rock n’ roll stuff than I thought. The next time I saw them was at the Oval cricket ground in London about five years later, and Keith Moon was playing the drums with a cricket bat. During this period there were so many great gigs and memorable moments that to me any one of my age whose life didn’t get affected in some way must have been brain dead.
Much of my weekends were spent in London. A regular excursion on Fridays after the youth club was the Lyceum in the Strand. It was an all-nighter with a series of great bands. I remember ‘Ten Years After’ and ‘Uriah Heep’ among others. It was just another major happening, and being a fully-fledged hippy, I really did feel part of a movement and this music was the catalyst.
Saturday afternoons were spent wandering the hip areas of London – Portobello road, Kings Road and Kensington Market buying clothes and records and other things. The aroma of josticks and various herbs seemed to emanate from everywhere, and people in colourful clothing and long hair drifted around in this peaceful, magical atmosphere. This was my world and it was a world we sincerely, naively believed would one day become the norm, and the planet would become a wonderful place. It was fun to dream and of course we were horribly wrong, but it was a way of living, an attitude that stayed with me and millions of my generation throughout the world. The hippy motto of love and peace was so innocently basic but so right, and I’ll think that way until the day I die.
Saturday nights usually meant a trip to another local venue called the Roundhouse at Dagenham in Essex. This was a sweaty club, which was always packed and had a great atmosphere. Once again the list of legendary bands appearing there was endless including Led Zeppelin. The intensity of the performances there was incredible. One pivotal moment for me was staring at Paul Kossoff, Free’s guitarist, from about three feet away, and being transfixed not just by his playing but also by the depth of feeling, which he seemed to exude. One of our favourites was the African band ‘Osibisa’ whose good time rhythm’s coupled with rock rubbed off on everyone. A couple of years later my friends and I drove a truck across Africa, and in Lagos, Nigeria, we saw Osibisa at the sports arena there. We actually met them backstage, and when we mentioned the Roundhouse they erupted into gales of laughter at the craziness of it all.
After rising about mid-day Sunday morning, breakfast was bypassed and it was straight to the pub for me. In the summer we’d go out into the country with guitars, harmonicas, flutes, plastic water containers as drums and anything to make a noise. An essential item was a portable record player, which was the pinnacle of high tech at this time. Carrying that and a bunch of vinyl albums under your arm was a small price to pay to be able to listen to the wonderful music which seemed to drift across the sky and was borne on the wind.
Sunday afternoons was the heyday of another Roundhouse, the one at Chalk Farm in London. This was THE place for the ‘heads’ (as we used to call them) to gather. True to its name it was round and all along the perimeter walls, psychedelic multi-coloured patterns of moving, changing bubbles and liquid iridescence were projected. This was done amazingly by my erstwhile band mate Bob Swinn who I didn’t know at the time and wasn’t to meet until years later. We sat on the floor and grooved to some of our favourite bands, among those that appeared there were Jethro Tull, Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, Jeff Beck, I could go on a lot longer of course. When Monday morning came around, it would be back to whatever job I had at the time to get the money to go to some festival or other.
One such outdoor concert was at a place called Shepton Mallet near Bath in Somerset. The list of bands appearing that weekend reads like a who’s who of rock history – Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, Frank Zappa, Jefferson Airplane, Steppenwolf, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Led Zeppelin, and on and on. Call me old fashioned, but in thirty years time I doubt if seeing a list of today’s bands could conjure such wonderful images and the immediate recall of how it felt to be there.
I guess longevity maybe dying out in today’s fickle society. Keith Richards said he saw the Stones as guinea pigs to see if older people could still do it. Well as long as he’s still doing it then I’m still young. As a musician, I feel as if I’m keeping something alive, something that never died in me and never will. I’m thankful that I lived through what I did and that I’m part of a unique generation. I hope some of what I do may give some inspiration perhaps in a subtle and insidious way and pass on how I feel.
Till next time...,
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