It's highly likely that I could sing before I could talk, certainly my earliest memories revolve around my Mother's Robert's Radio and just listening to the wonderful sounds that came out of it. The first song I can remember hearing? Obladi Oblada, The Marmalade version which Google tells me was released in 1968, 3 years after my birth.
The next tune to have a major influence on me was The Sweet's Blockbuster a couple of year's later and then began a weekly appointment with Top Of The Pops. My childhood was the Glam years which may go some way to explain my love of dressing up. As soon as I could, I begged my parents for my own radio so I didn't have to listen to Radio 2 anymore. My parents weren't big music lovers, my father is tone deaf and my mother's favourite artist is Bing Crosby, I have no siblings so I had no-one to gently point me in the right direction, I had to find it all myself.
When I was 7, it was decided at my primary school that I had a musical bent so I was signed up for violin lessons which I kept at for the next 5 years ultimately achieving Grade 5. I was very lucky in that my local authority had a good musical heritage and funded several borough orchestras and a Saturday music school which I attended. I also had one of those once-in-a-lifetime primary school teachers who also was hugely interested in music. He ran the school orchestra, built himself a pipe organ and made his own Renaissance musical instruments - the crumhorn anybody? (that old Gryphon favourite - Jem)- which he taught a select group to play and we formed an Early Music subset of the borough organisation.
While still at Primary school I was able to take part in a magnificent project. Commissioned by my local authority, Explorers had its premiere in St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. Consisting of orchestral and choral sections, Explorers charted the lives and difficulties of various explorers through the ages. My Early Music group was chosen to man a separate-from-the-main-orchestra percussion section and I remember banging the glockenspiel and various loud things with great gusto. Other highlights of this era included a turn up and play version of the 1812 Overture staged in the middle of Uxbridge precinct one Saturday afternoon with real cannons! What must the Saturday shoppers have thought?
Puberty hits us all in different ways and with me it was boys (of course) and a taste for the dramatic. I knocked the violin on its head, joined a local theatre, The Compass Theater, Ickenham and soon graduated from workshop performances of drama and movement - all Kate Bush swirly arms and teen angst - to bona fide theatrical productions. Again, I was hugely lucky in having on my doorstep a council funded establishment that allowed us a lot of freedom. We made our own programme, wrote, directed and performed in our own cabarets and floor shows, staged plays, musicals and pantomimes. I tended towards the more musical productions and played parts in, amongst others, Grease, Pal Joey, Godspell, Oh What A Lovely War and twelve, count 'em, twelve pantomimes where I eventually specialised in animal roles playing the cat in Dick Whittington and the panda in Aladdin twice!
The local council eventually took more of a management role in the theater and our resident group was ousted leaving me with a bit of a void in my life which I quickly filled with gigging. I'd always squeezed in the odd gig when time allowed, my first being Gary Numan on his first tour at the Hammersmith Odeon when I was 14. I was completely familiar with the old Wardour Street Marquee long before I could legally drink in it but somehow managed to miss the heyday of neo-prog there, having more of a straight ahead rock and metal taste in those days. I do recall well the NWOBHM and saw many of the smaller bands, Angelwitch and Tytan spring to mind, in scuzzy local dives and clubs.
The pivotal prog awakening moment came though when a friend in whose bedroom we ritually gathered to listen to the Radio 1 Rock Shows on a Friday and Saturday night, said to me after I'd missed a previous show, 'I've taped something I think you'll like.' That song was IQ's War Heroes and that moment set me on a path I've never tired of treading.
It took me a good few years after that to fully come out as a prog fan. One day I just realised that all the music I seemed to prefer fell under that banner so I stopped fighting the inevitable and started exploring the prog world as best I could. Then (the early 90s) there was no internet to speak of and albums were hard to track down so my inroads were partial at best. I also had a bit of an alter ego as a goth/indie chick and frequented several London indie clubs. Schizophrenically seeing bands like The Wonderstuff and Pop Will Eat Itself one night and then doing prog gigs like Galahad the next.
Having my son in 1994 put the lid on going out for a good 8 years and my musical wanderings were limited during this period excepting for the annual IQ gig somewhere and the odd must-see event such as Pink Floyd at Earls Court. I lost touch with many of my musical touchstones in this era. The breakup of my relationship with my son's father afforded me the possibility of starting it all again and I jumped right back in with both feet flying, much to my friends' amusement.
During the intervening years the internet had come of age and I had started to network with fellow prog fans discovering new bands almost weekly. It was a hundred times easier to find gigs to go to and I soon became a fixture at most London prog concerts.
Earlier this year, a fellow IQ fan and I bit the bullet after talking about it for a number of years and began a musical collaboration entitled The Coffee Fairies (named after a work running gag). At this stage my part is mainly singing for it, my fellow Fairy, David having more than enough songs in his back pocket to keep us going for a while. Ultimately we will write together and hope to get out performing before the end of the year.
I'd always enjoyed writing pieces and reviews about music and often did so purely for my own enjoyment. When the opportunity came last year to document the North American IQ tour for HHH, I grabbed it and thus here I am. Full of opinions and with a feminine perspective, I hope to be able to offer a differing slant to the usually masculine world of Prog.
My Indispensable Albums
Alan Parsons Project - Tales Of Mystery and Imagination
Ark - Spiritual Physics
Ben Folds Five - Whatever and Ever Amen
The Buggles - Living In The Plastic Age
Bugsy Malone - Original Cast Recording
Coheed & Cambria - In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth:3
Cutting Crew - Broadcast
Michael Moorcock & The Deep Fix - At The New World's Fair
Diamondhead - Am I Evil
Dream Theatre - Images & Words
Enuff Z'Nuff - Strength
Faith No More - The Real Thing
Front 242 - Tyranny For You
Genesis - Foxtrot
Genesis - Nursery Cryme
Hipsway - Scratch The Surface
IQ - All with the possible exception of the song Shooting Angels
It Bites - The Big Lad In The Windmill
Led Zeppelin - IV
Led Zeppelin - Houses Of The Holy
The Lens - A Word In Your Eye
Love/Hate - Wasted In America
Mansun - Six
Mother Love Bone - Apple
Muse - Absolution
Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine
OSI - OSI
The Oysterband - Alive & Shouting
Pallas - The Sentinel
Pink Floyd - Animals
Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon
Placebo - Black Market Music
Pop Will Eat Itself - Box Frenzy
Queensryche - Promised Land
Roger Hodgson - In The Eye Of The Storm
Rush - Grace Under Pressure
Secret Machines - Now Here Is Nowhere
Spock's Beard - V
Steve Earle - Jerusalem
Supertramp - Crime Of The Century
Transatlantic - Bridge Across Forever
Twelfth Night - Fact & Fiction
If you think that's a long list, you should have seen the ones I took out!
ŠThe Hairless Heart Herald 2001-2009. Reproduction in any means or form of material published on this site is strictly forbidden without the express permission of the editor.