Life After No Exit

Since Graham and Martyn gave me my first taster of the music industry, I have climbed many hills, slipped down many a slippery slope and reached many crossroads (Aigburth Road/Mersey Road being one) but, luckily enough, I have stayed in the music industry whether it be as a drummer, percussionist, drum roadie (or drum technicians as they like to be called), lighting designer, tour manager or merchandiser (textile technician). As Dick Emery & Richard Burton would have said: “25 years in show business, darling.” Throughout my journey I have come across some of the greatest people you would ever wish to meet, with a liberal sprinkling of arseholes thrown in for good measure. I have been involved with 3 bands who had record deals and, bizarrely, all 3 bands peaked at number 87. So I have been at number 87 in the charts not once, not twice but thrice - fucking weird. I have heard some great stories, like Hank Marvin turning up at a venue on the first day of a Shadows tour and saying “I’m me, where’s catering?” I have also sat in a catering room in a venue in Helsinki when on tour with Eric Clapton. The great man came in and started to make a speech and finished off with “Tonight will be my last ever gig.” Eric Clapton just retired in front of me. I thought “For fuck’s sake, Eric. Get a move on. My steak’s getting cold.” Anyway, I shall try to fill in the blanks between No Exit and Take That…..It’ll only take a minute.

My dates might be all over the place. My memory is not as good as it should be, but I can get Leon to check times and dates - he has a far better memory than me. As Graham said, I drifted away in 83. There wasn’t any animosity between us. I just had to try new things. I had recently left home and got my first place, which was chaos as you would imagine. I was going to The State Ballrooms on a Thursday and downstairs in Jody’s on Stanley Street where it didn’t matter which toilet you used, men’s or women’s, make up on stage - the whole 80’s hit, where you weren’t anybody unless you had an industrial sized can of hairspray in your pocket.

In 83 I joined up with ex Visual Aids singer Peter Carroll and his new band Danse Macabre as a percussionist. We had Paul on guitar, Graham Gallant on drums, Pete Chegwin (Keith’s cousin) on keyboards and Karl (Anthony) Green on bass, and we were managed by a record shop in Bootle. Bricks and mortar don’t make good managers - everyone knows that, so we eventually got the shop owners involved (Billy & another good guy –not sure of his name). They couldn’t have been that good at managing because they failed to tell us that we had spelt ‘dance’ wrong. Peter was a bit of a poor man’s Pete Burns and liked to make out he was far more important than he really was, and was prone to telling a few porkies, but he was a bloody good singer. Graham got very paranoid, thinking I had been brought in to replace him on drums. We assured him not. His job was safe. He mentioned it again so we sacked him for being paranoid, and I was moved to drums. Sometime later outside Planet X in Concert Street, disgruntled ex drummer Graham came at me with a knife, intending no good. It was a lucky day for me because as he approached me, knife in hand, a car screeched to a halt, and 4 of the biggest bouncers you have ever seen got out. I knew one of them, and they had witnessed the whole thing. Graham scurried off - never to be seen again and I realised what a lucky bastard I was. We released a self financed single to make us feel important with our relatives and small fan base, played lots of gigs at The Warehouse (Wood Street), The System (Temple Street) and even one in Middlesboro, which we travelled up to locked in the back of a Luton van. We played the hopping game, where you had to hop up and down but couldn’t touch each other or the sides of the van or the equipment on the floor. With 10 of us it was a bizarre sight.

We eventually sacked our management because we needed a scapegoat. We got new management based in Penny Lane called Ettinger and Ettinger who, funnily enough, were brothers. God knows where they came from. They didn’t have too much musical knowledge but seemed to be able to talk the talk. Their only other client was Worzel Gummidge - a TV scarecrow played by Jon Pertwee who was enjoying a prolonged summer season popping up at the Liverpool garden festival asking for aunt fucking Sally. So, picture the scene: these two managers at the head of a conference table, five weird 80’s looking guys in full make up, and a life-sized statue of Worzel at the other end of the table. The time had come to move on…….

I joined up with No Exit enemies Dark Continent, later DDA Seeks (can’t remember the spelling but he was a French footballer). They were all great musicians and I felt privileged to be on the same stage. Gordon Longworth, formerly in a band I used to see at the old Star and Garter (a place we once played with No Exit and we had to do 3 sets instead of 2 because of my dodgy stomach/arse combination) whose name escapes me, played guitar. He then, after a trip to Germany, changed his stage name to Gordon Morgan, which I thought was great. He just needed to meet a girl called Alice Klarn and it would have been a match made in Hebron, wherever that is. Paul Polturak played bass and was fucking brilliant - didn’t say much, didn’t need to. John Geddes sang and, I think, was involved with Extremes boutique in the basement off Button Street. I can’t remember why I stopped playing for them. Maybe they split? I don’t know. Their almost claim to fame was that The Smiths were due to support them at The Warehouse in Wood Street, but broke down on the way over from Manchester - their fucking loss.

In 85 ish I remember being involved with Joey Musker and the drum marathon - a 36 hour gig at the Royal Court where the drumbeat couldn’t stop for 36 hours. All the top Liverpool bands played - Bunnymen, Pale Fountains, Icicle Works. It was a drugs awareness gig, although you needed to be aware of drugs to get you through 36 hours of drumming. I played with a host of bands as a second drummer which meant you had to keep a hi-hat beat between the bands’ songs; hence the 36 hours non-stop drumming. I did play a proper set at the show for La La Bam Bam with Jeff Skellon and Mark Kemp, who later I was to join up with on the People Get Ready project a few years later. I still keep in touch with Jeff who’s a fellow merchandiser with the same company. Later that year, through a friend, Phil Coxan (later with OMD), I played with This Island Earth at Liverpool’s version of Live Aid at the Empire. This Island Earth had just gone top 40 with a single called ‘See that Glow’ which was more famous for being Gary Davies’ jingle on Radio 1 …..Alas this was the last time I played drums; the flag on the town hall went to half mast - a bit like Bay City Rollers trousers but without the tartan...