Tag Archives: my band

January 2nd 1975

“Nig came round in the afternoon”

What? You were maybe expecting more?

Yes, this 1975 diary is getting off to a lacklustre start isn’t it?

Maybe I should use this lull in the proceedings to do a brief “cast of characters” primer for the years ahead?…

Nig could probably be described as my best mate at this time. He lived just around the corner, and we spent loads of time in and out of each other’s houses.

Via Nig I also got to know other Fair Oak lads like Malc (later my best man) and the four Martins (P,P, T, & R)

Tim was someone I worked with at Lancaster & Crook supermarket. He was the other main member of my (now,sadly defunct) “band”

Nobby was my very good mate from Nursling. He will be mentioned  a lot through 1975 and beyond. He attended many of the same classes and courses as I did at Barton Peveril.

Other people from Nursling and Rownhams who I palled around with included Norm, RickieDASmutters, and Judy Gina (the Butler sisters)

In my Art classes at college I was good friends with Nobby, Niles, Derek, Sarah & Paul D. Our Art tutors were Tessa D’arcy Orders – an adorable “hippie” lady – and Roy Godfrey – a somewhat haphazard and eccentric tweed-wearer who was always pulling his socks up. (In a weird twist of fate in the early 80’s, I would not only end up employing Mr Godfrey’s son for a company I was running at the time, but I would also date his rather delightful daughter for a few months)

During my Technical Drawing classes I mucked about with (again) Nobby plus Tony, Bob, Mick & Nigel (not to be confused with Nig). Our tutors were Mr Brown (who always smelled of cigarettes) and a firm, but fair, belligerent Scotsman by the name of Bill Pollock. Many of us also did a “Technical Studies” class – the basis of which I can’t remember (metalwork? woodwork?) – where we were taught by Mr Whitfield.

It’s hardly worth mentioning my English Lit classes. Except to say I was tutored by a stiff-collared very strange man called Archie Benham whose face went BRIGHT red and who would visibly shudder with barely contained rage anytime a student pissed him off.  I was one one of those students.

In order to remember one of those tutor names I had to refer to my old school reports which reminded me – and you may find this as funny as me – that I also took typewriting classes! Something else I wasted my time with at college obviously?

All these people and more will appear from time to time as this diary unveils its dirty little secrets.



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July 29th 1974

“Bought Amp – Took it back – Broken”

Hahahahaha… I knew this entry was a few days after the purchase of the guitar.

Meaning the guitar was used for a couple of days WITHOUT any amplification. Christ my band was eclectic wasn’t it?

I can surprisingly expand on this entry, my memory somewhat secure by what happened next.

No, I did not turn the amp “up to eleven” and blow it up. It was faulty when I brought the damn thing home from Whitwams.

When I say “amp” please do not conjure up a huge Marshall stack or anything will you? This amp was no bigger than a box of cereal and used batteries as a back-up power source! It SCREAMED “Made in China”.

I think there was a point where I decided I was being told something about this whole ‘guitar purchase’. That something appeared to be “it was a waste of time & money

So, I can remember that when I took the amp back – a return journey requiring a bus ride to Shawford and then a train from there into Winchester station – I also packaged up and persuaded Whitwams that I’d like to return the guitar too, which, to my utter delight at the time, they agreed to.

The band doubtless split up on the back of this decision, but somewhere in Surrey Eric Clapton doubtless let out a big sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that his ‘guitar god’ crown was no longer in danger of being stolen from him.

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July 27th 1974

“Got Electric Guitar from Whitwams £8”

For eight quid you just KNOW I got a top quality electric guitar don’t you?

This entry would seem to suggest that “the band” was still together and that rather than me being unable to play the piano, I had decided that I wanted to progress to being unable to play the guitar instead.

Regular readers will doubtless be aware of my virtuoso prior ‘experience’ with a guitar and have obviously been wondering when I was going to use those mad skillz to ‘go electric’.

Just as the boos rang out at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival when Bob Dylan first plugged in, I am sure similar responses were heard throughout Fair Oak in 1974.

Whitwams was a store in Winchester that I frequented quite a bit in the seventies. It first opened in 1909 as a purveyor of pianos and sheet music and by the time I started frequenting it, it had progressed to selling all kinds of musical instruments on the ground floor (including ‘top quality’ guitars) and records and tapes on the first floor. I seem to remember enquiring about a job there once… maybe my diary will fill me in on that later?

Astonishingly Whitwams is still going. Not, I hasten to add, in its original format or location. It now specialises in audio/video sales & installations and presentation equipment. I’m sure it continues to thrive because it has always maintained an excellent reputation. Kudos to a company that is now over 100 years old!

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June 22nd 1974

“Back to work. Music session – load of rubbish” / “£5.00 paid, £7.00 to pay”

Uh-oh, looks like the cracks are beginning to show, and my band might be splitting up?

Probably the result of uncreative differences.

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June 20th 1974

“Went into Eastleigh. PM Music session”

So, I went into Eastleigh during the day and must have decided it was time to get the band back together again.

A collective sharp intake of breath followed by a sigh of expectant hope was doubtless expressed by the music industry.

In Jamaica, Island Records boss Chris Blackwell receives a call…

“Hello Chris, this is your A&R director here. We want to advise you against this U2 band from Dublin – instead we’re recommending a power poop trio from Hampshire consisting of a piano player who can’t play a note, a talentless acoustic guitarist and a 14-year-old bongo player. We’re thinking a 12-album deal and guaranteed 47½% residuals. They could be the next Rush”

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June 15th 1974 (Part 2)

OK, as promised/threatened here are the saved manuscripts from 1974…

First off, the ‘minimalistic’ “Woodcutter”…

I know what you’re thinking… how on earth have Tim and I remained undiscovered for so long, right?

Just a month later I would come up with this one all by myself….

We should have called our band “Twaddle”

If only the PlayStation had been invented back in 1974… a lot of this ugly art could have been avoided.


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June 15th 1974 (Part 1)

“Went up Tims in evening for a music session – did a take of Jelly Baby”

OK, confession time. 

When I advised people to Google the hit single “Biffo the Bear” a few days ago, I did so tongue very much planted in the side of my cheek. 

I’d actually forgotten – as much of this diary project appears to prove – about ‘my band’ 

It was a trio actually. Consisting of me, Tim B and his younger brother, whose name I can’t recall. 

We composed and rehearsed “potential number ones” in the dining room of his parent’s country house in Fair Oak. 

Most songs turned out to actually be “number twos” 

The only way our album would’ve shifted off the shelves at Asda’s is if the store was hit by a massive tornado. 

I ‘played’ piano. I use the word ‘play’ in the loosest possible sense. As Eric Morecambe once said “I hit all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order”. I had NO idea how to play a piano, just as Tim had NO idea how to play an acoustic guitar or his brother a tiny drum kit or their Dad’s bongo. Yes, our trio sported a bongo. 

I like to think of us as ‘avant garde’ musicians, long before it became trendy to be utterly inept at playing instruments. (Think Talking Heads’ Tina Weymouth) 

My handcrafted Matinée Idol logo, saved from 1976. Hardly Barney Bubbles is it?

Did our band have a name? No it didn’t. See, now that’s what is weird… give me a few years beyond 1974 and the superficial necessity for exactly the right name would have been my absolute primary concern. Glam and Punk rock taught me a lot about ‘style over substance’ 

(I did have a name for a band I pretended to be in – and based an art project around – a few years later. A name which I thought was GREAT and quite Roxy Music-esque… Matinée Idol… which, sadly, now sounds like a Simon Cowell TV show about discovering a new soap opera performer!) 

Do thought-lost recordings (a la Dylan’s “Basement Tapes”) of our power-poop trio exist? Sadly, no. Although I did take my little tape recorder along to our ‘sessions’ and small elements were recorded, it was actually used to create noise effects from the piano. I call it my Brian Eno phase. 

However, in the process of full EFA70sTRO disclosure I’ll embarrassingly admit that I have held onto a couple of the band’s erm…. ‘unique’… lyrics composed back in 1974. One is handwritten and one has been diligently typed. I don’t suppose anyone would want to see them, would they? 

Really? OK, they’re in the next post.

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June 1st 1974

“Went up Tims for a music session, recorded Biffo the Bear”

Yes, OK, it’s finally time for me to admit I was in a band.

I had hoped to keep my true identity secret, but it would seem that my 1974 diary has now undermined my anonymity.

So, fans, if you’ve stumbled across this website (and now, this post) your wish has suddenly come true. You have successfully tracked down your seventies pop idol and it appears I can no longer continue to live in the quiet obscurity I have enjoyed for the last 35 years.

If I can cope with the very notion I will write more about my recordings – and subsequent stardom – in future diary entries, but ask you in the meantime to please keep this news to yourself so that I am not mobbed by people when I next walk across to the supermarket to buy a pint of milk.

In the event you haven’t worked out who I am, may I suggest you google the phrase “Biffo the Bear Hit Single” where you will find out everything you will need to know about my past brush with the Top 30 singles and album chart.

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