More on a love of music

My parents were not musical. Other than belting out hymns in church with more enthusiasm than technique I can't remember either doing anything remotely musical, and so I don't know where my interest in music comes from.

When I was about 5 I was offered an harmonica by some Polish friends, but I was afraid of these fierce men who spoke strangely and foolishly declined the offer. About 10 years later we acquired a mini piano and I started lessons, getting extra tuition from my music teacher, although I didn't make huge progress. My ambition was to be able to play like Jerry Lee Lewis, or at least in the style of, and I guess that not being able to get remotely near that sound led to frustration.

I did come up with some riffs that pleased me, and transcribed Classical Gas from guitar to piano well enough to play the chordal stuff and have people recognise the tune, but a school concert put me off piano. A pal who was talented enough to play clarinet in the Surrey Youth Orchestra and I wrote  piece, Norman putting a melody over a C-D-G riff of mine and we, not so much recruited as allowed, a female classmate to gatecrash and vamp on the top end of the piano. We thought that we sounded good, but were bounced at the audition. At 16 you tend to over-react to these things.

At 21 my younger sister and her boyfriend bought me a classical guitar and I began the journey that so many have taken in trying to get fingers to work the fretboard. Too many of my pals could play a bit and I lost interest in that too as they would snatch my guitar away saying "no, like this!" and ripping off a tune seemingly with no effort. Keeping the guitar in tune was also, for me, a mystery, but I did manage, a few times, to experience that magical moment when you strum through a couple of chord changes than come off.

The guitar had got me involved with a few local bands as hanger on, beer fetcher and pseudo roadie though, and those links were further forged when I began to DJ in a few pubs. Through circumstances best not revealed here my van became the repository for one band's drum kit and, for about 6 weeks, I became a pub band drummer. Not a good one. Probably not even a competent one; certainly the were many times I would come out of a fill with the beat reversed which would flummox the base player who would just about get back into the new groove in time for me to put in back where we started. The front line were too into themselves and crumpet to notice though, so I survived long enough to realise that having fun was no substitute for making money and I resumed my dual evening jobs behind either bar or turntables depending on which night it was.

Twenty odd years were to pass before my next musical efforts. I was having to spend time horizontal and my son had found my old guitar in the loft. I got him to fetch it down and then to buy me some new strings. Lying flat on my back all day for about three weeks I added bleeding finger tips to my list of medical issues, but I was getting the hang of it. Regular practice led to haunting music shops on Saturdays or if I was travelling on business and came across one. It was on such a visit to Southampton that I saw a music shop having a closing down sale. They had a pair of acoustic guitars left and the assistant handed me one to try. Overcoming the stage fright of having to perform in front of him I sat down and tried it. For a moment I wondered who was playing, but it was me! It was just so much easier with an instrument that fitted the style of playing. "Yours for £20" he said, and it was.

Playing that Hohner "Country" guitar did so much for my confidence. It is long gone now, as have various electric guitars that followed, but I still enjoy having a play when I can get my hands on one.
Maybe I'll take it up seriously when I retire as a hobby. Given my birth year, our shared age and my love of the sound a re-issue '52 Telecaster would be my ideal, but, for now, I'm content just to listen.


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Filed under about me, fun stuff

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