ACCESS ALL AREAS in conversation with Stage and Production Manager, Colin Rowell

Motorhead came to the City Hall with their Bomber lighting rig. They strapped me to the cockpit and flew me round for hours ha ha. I remember drinking Tequila with them on the hotel balcony after a gig in Berlin…but don’t ask me about Brian Robertson’s hawaiin shirt ha ha. A few people told me ‘You gotta get Col’ he’ll tell ya loadsa stories’. A few weeks back I interviewed Chris Phipps who worked with Col’ on The Tube and he recommended I get in touch. He passed on his contact and we agreed to meet up.

 

This is the bit where I mention their background, what they’ve done or how they made their name. But where do I start for Col ? What about Stage Manager at Wembley Stadium for David Bowie, Production Manager for Genesis at Knebworth, Reading Festival stage manager. Tour manager for Hawkwind, Motorhead, Buzzcocks, Big Country. And more. TV stage manager at The Tube, Razzamatazz, TX 45. Music shows across the BBC, ITV, CH4, USA TV. The list goes on. What do you do to relax Colin ? Listen to music Gary, what do ya think ha ha. With his infectious laugh and good humour Colin recalls his time of nearly 50 years in the music business. Yep 50. Let that sink in. So buckle up and strap in… You know I’m just a lad from Hebburn who got to work with some of the biggest bands in the world. It was right time, right place.

How did you spend your teenage years ? My passion for music came in the ‘60s when me and a friend from Clegwell School were singing in North East Working men’s clubs. I was around 13 year old, still at school and earning more money than the teachers (laughs).

How did you get to be stage manager at Newcastle City Hall ? At college in the early ‘70s I ended up running a coffee stall in the Haymarket, booking bands and promoting concerts. At the Mayfair I had Fleetwood Mac on when ‘Albatross’ was in the charts. At the City Hall I had Sweet on with their hit ‘Blockbuster’. Another time was two days at the City Hall with Chickenshack, Savoy Brown and Tyrannosaurus Rex. The compere was John Peel. I also done some follow spot lights and other jobs around the hall. I knew the place well and got on with all the visiting promoters who said I done a good job.

I knew Bob Brown the City Hall manager so when the opportunity came up to take over the stage management he said ‘Col you know your way around will you look after the place ?’ So yeah I started hiring crew, getting equipment in, making sure sound checks were on time and just generally ran the venue. I was there for several years so the bands I saw and the stories I could tell you, we’ll be here forever. So I’ll keep them for my book (laughs).

 

Can you pick a few out, maybe a nightmare job ? There’s a few but maybe one that was a nightmare for others. It involves Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. They were on a UK tour and stopped for their gig at Newcastle City Hall. The singer Graham Bonnet came up to me and said ‘You don’t know any good hairdressers around here do you Colin?’  I said ‘Funnily enough my sister in law has a shop just down the road 5 mins away from the hall’. She said ‘Send him down and we’ll get him in. He went, got the cut, and everything was hunky dory…until after the show.

At 4am in the dressing room you’ve got Paul Loasby from Harvey Goldsmiths office, me, Ritchie Blackmore and the drummer Cozy Powell going mad cancelling the world tour because Graham Bonnet had his hair cut (laughs).

Another Blackmore story was we used to have to take the doors off the City Hall to get the rainbow in from their stage set, it was so big. The rumour was that on their way to America they threw it in the ocean. I was curious about this so Ritchie called me up and said ‘There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the rainbow still exists and I’m giving it to you as a gift. The bad news is, it’s in America under your name and costing you storage (laughs)’. Which yeah I thought was great, my story is littered with stuff like that. And I look back on those times Gary and think, can’t be bad can it.

Have you any gigs that stand out as really good memories? There has been loads of great times but one night we had Golden Earring on. You know they only had that one hit ‘Radar Love’. And the guest band were Lynyrd Skynyrd who were blowing them off everywhere on that tour. When they came to Newcastle City Hall the management of Golden Earring told them they couldn’t have any lighting and only 8 channels on the sound desk. Now as it happens I’d bought some lights off Lindisfarne and stored them in the hall. So I set the lights up and knew the sound engineer so we bumped them up to 16 channels. Well Lynyrd Skynyrd were over the moon and they blew them off. Again.

 

Next time they came to the City Hall on tour they were headlining and the guys came backstage to one of the rooms which was used for guitar tune up. 4pm in the afternoon they came to me and said Colin we’ve got a huge problem. ’There seems to be water coming in the room where we’ve got the guitars. Do ya’ wanna go an’ have a look ?’ I opened the door and found there was nothing in there. Then door get’s shut behind me, a water hose get’s pointed through the window and I get drenched from head to toe. It’s Lynyrd Skynyrd ‘innit. So I’m dragged out, put on the shoulders of the band and ran around the hall (laughs).

At the end of the night they gave me t-shirt’s, a tour jacket and left me two cases of Jack Daniels.

That’s a great gesture from the band… Yeah I was the only one on that tour that made the extra effort for them. The Skynyrd would have paid a fortune to be on that tour and part of that deal is sound and lighting. I thought it was so unprofessional of the other band, if they were getting blown off they should of played a bit harder.

How did you get involved with TV and in particular The Tube ? There was Geoff Brown, Chris Phipps and me sharing an office in Newcastle. What happened was they, as producers, had applied for this music television show and asked me if I was interested in joining the team as stage manager. You see from years at City Hall I knew the acts, the crews, the managers and they were all glad when they knew a familiar face and voice was going to be there running the stages in the studio. I had left the City Hall by the ‘80s and went and done a bit tour managing. Funny thing was I left on the Friday and by the next Thursday I was Rick Wakemans tour manager. And the gig was at you guessed it… the city hall.

What was your time like at The Tube ? Just five years of sheer magic. First off started with two stages, ended up with four and I did the deal with ENTEC who were a big sound company. They ran Reading Festival and owned The Marquee. It was a smooth operation with them providing all the sound and crew. It was flown in (hung from ceiling) off the stage making it easier for cameramen to have floor space and no big speakers in their way. Also a lot of the bands had done Reading festival so they could easily organise equipment with ENTEC.

Earlier on the blog an interview with Chris Phipps talks about bands that broke on The Tube. Can you remember any ? Yeah me and Geoff Brown were sent to London to check out Grandmaster Flash. It was the first time The Tube were going to have on stage a set-up of a band playing all the scratchy stuff. We get to the venue and there was a support band on so we went to a Steak house but it was dreadful, we didn’t eat it and went back to the venue. The support act were still on and it was Paul Young and the Royal Family. We listened in this time. This was good stuff.

We got back to Newcastle and in a meeting with one of the head guy’s at The Tube, Malcolm Gerrie, I banged the table and said ‘let’s get him on’. And we did. But Malcolm and I felt Paul didn’t get a good crack of the whip so we invited him back on again and the rest is history. So not only got him on twice and broke his career but in 1991/92 I was his tour manager…it all follows on.

Did you work with any North East bands while on The Tube ? Yeah Prefab Sprout. We used to do the Mid-Summer Specials on The Tube and unfortunately one show was cancelled on us. There was a boat parked on the river Tyne near the bridge called Tuxedo Princess. I had the boat all set up for them but it didn’t happen. There was an electricians strike.

I went on and done loads of music television shows, one of them was Big World Café in the Brixton Academy and Prefab were on that. I just saw Paddy last week with his long white beard. Lovely to see him.

 

You seemed to be constantly in work in what can be a fragile career working in the media ? Here in the North East in the early ‘80s I put on Rock on the Tyne festivals at Gateshead Stadium. We had three big generator trucks parked at the back of the stage and somebody had put a big sign on it saying ‘Do not switch off. Colin’s hairdryer in use’ (laughs). The crew had a laugh with me. You’ve got to get on with people.

I got invited down to Knebworth where I’ve stage managed 15 shows, last one was Genesis. I’ve been so many times there is a rumour that on the stained glass window of Knebworth Castle there is a painting with planes on and Queen in there, plus me in the corner and a glass of red wine (laughs).

But you have to be an affable person and getting people to work for you. You get a reputation. I’ve stage managed the Brits, MTV Awards countless other shows on reputation alone.

Have you worked abroad ? Yes many times, once I ended up having dinner with Boris Yeltsin in the Kremiln. There was a big cultural show in Russia, orchestra’s were on, ballet, all sorts. We got the TV trucks parked and set up in the heart of Moscow Red Square when some heavy looking Russian men approached. We all had walkie talkies and they asked us for them ‘Because they need to be configured’. Three hours later they brought them back. We asked what was wrong with them. Apparently they were interfering with their big red button below ground in the their military bunkers. Right under our trucks. Cudda’ went boom !

What you up to now ? Apart from writing my book and meeting my publisher soon, I still dabble in event production. We formed The Showblokes and worked with Sun FM, Century Radio, Newcastle Opera House, Stockton Council a load over the years. It’s my passion to still be involved. I’ve been in more hotels than living in my house so I don’t do any tour management but have for the last 9 years managed the Carlisle Blues and Rock Festival. Yeah still keeping my hand in.

Interview by Gary Alikivi 2019

NAILS

Following on from talking with some of the team who worked on ‘80s live music show The Tube, I contacted someone who appeared on the programme. But Wavis O’Shave wasn’t available. Mrs O’Shave telt me he was on holiday so this otha bloke stood in for him. Are ye hard enuff to intaview me he sed. He’ll put me windas in if I daint post this. I telt him to wind his neck in but he wudnt listen. Here’s the world exclusive interview with The Hard.

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Mee Thu Hard hear. Ah woz hard befour ah woz hard, mee lyk. Ah woz bourne wihth ah hundrud and sicks tatooz and bye thu tym ah woz fower ah hahd thaht mennie ah hadd tuh ware thum onn mee maytz bak.

Ah woz ah sizaireeun berth anhd thu hahd tuh saw uz oot ov mee hard muthaz syde. Ah slepht inn ah Pytt boote. Mee fatha wud putt broon ail inn mee hoht watta bottel. Mee kot woz ah kayj fytaz riynng. Noo ah sleap onn ah watta bed wihth naylz innit. Onn mee forst borthdae ah hahd dinamight onn mee borthdae kake innsted ov kandlz.

Mee pairentz thort ah woz hard ov heering til thu foond oot mee hard granda hah filld mee lugz upp wihth Pollyfilla sows ah cuddnt heer mee dadd snoahrin coz hee wud putt kracs inn thu seeling. Ah hahd mee forst harecutt onn ah frensh polisha.

Wen ah woz ah hard bairn ah yoused tuh plahy marblz yousing cannunballz and ah lornt tuh sphell yousing payvmeant slahbs tuh rite onn four Scrabl.

busking

Heerz mee hard granpappie givvn sum coppaz ah lyft

Ah used tuh plahy hopp skotch onn lhanddmynes befor ah stahrud jumpyn onn peepl frohm Skotlynd. Mee pairentz wud tek uz tuh thu beech and ahd gan roond nuttin everiewon. Thu naymd ah chuwing gum afta uz – Beach Nutt.

Ahd gan and dek everywon hoo wehr sittn doon, sow theer chairz gott carled dek chairz. Ahd mek sanned kaslz oot ov sement anddh wen ah dyd ah hard farrt thud bee ah sanhd storem.

Onn mee forst hollydae ah warked tuh thu noarth poal wihth mee sleevz roalled upp. Ah forst stahrtd swarin wen me dahd purriz inn anne armie tanc. Ah cudnt stohp swareyn. Ah thinc ahv gohht turretz sindrum. Sum say iht happund wen ah meetyouryte hirruz onn mee heed. Ah felt nowt. Ahm thaht hard ah kan fynd thu ehnd ov Sellataype eaven wen ahv noced meesell oot.

Ahd geht hoyed oot ov thu synmma four havin thu hardest sylhoett inn thear and ah gott nyked four thu forst tyme four shohplifftinn. Naybodie hahd eva scene ah sicks yor owld lyft ah shop owa itz heed befor.

grandadin acion

Hearz mee hard granpappie with hiz remedeez four indeejestshun

Wen ah gott olda ah ghot bahrrd frohm ahl thu pubs. Thu wud hirruz ower me heed wihth ah barr. Felt Nowt. Noo ah hav aboot nyntee pients befor ah gan oot tuh thu pub ahnd hava lok inn. Kidz sed ah woz reet hard. Orr aht leest thu carled uz a reethard.

Wen a woz ah hard bearyn ah ofton hahd ah saw throte sow ah stoppd slahsyn meesel wihth ah saw. Ah youst tuh plahy drafts. Ahd doon aboot nighntee pynts ov draft beehr.

Ah startudd deeing wayts. Ahd wayt four mee Jiro tuh cum four oors. Ah bort ah dumm behl tuh dee mee wayts and wen yu rhang itt yud heer nowt.

Ah starrtud tu doo traynin – ah gan four ah wark allongg thu trayn trak wen ah intasity tayn iz cumin heed onn.

granpappi

Hearz mee granpappie with too moar remedeez four ah saw throte.

Ah lyk tuh realacks having ah dyp in ah volkanoz lrva in mee shortz and ah lyk ah gud kurrie iff itz dun reet – boyled inn thu mikrowayve four fyftean oors in thu dezzat wihth mustad onn itt andh ah hot watta bottle onn mee heed.

Ah belleev inn thyng thaht gan headbutt inn the neet. Mee mam woz ah meedyum bhutt mee dahd tuk ah larj. Aktshooly shee woz ah sydkik meedyum and wud kik aniebodie woo stud allongsyd herr. Shee wud tekkuz tuh thu spyritchooliszt choorch anhd wud bryng threw peepl fromm thu hard Beyond.

Shud gan intwo ah trans anhd ah arhm restl thu hard buggaz hoo kame thru. Thu wons sed ah woz ah hardvaak in ah prevyuss hard lyf. (See YouTube; ‘Dead Hard – The Hard’s animated adventures in Muvizu’)

granpaps

Hearz mee granpappie with too moar remedeez four ah saw throte.

Mee dahd styl givz uz thu bhelt iff ahm norty – ahn atey nyn thousand vholts shokk. Sumwear inn Switzalahnd ascd uzz iff ah wudd trie oot thear woshin mashyn four them. Summitz carled Sern attom krusha. It woz a bit smahrl inn thear burra felt nowt.

Ah wons tried mee heed at bean ah sayf kraka nuttin sayfz burra moovd onn tuh bean ah lone sharc. Ahd lone mee pett sharc oot uv me swimmyn pool. Ah trydah runnyn ah protekshun rakit oot ohn tennys playaz. Iff thu dydnt giz ah kwid ahd busst thear rakit.

hardsgran

Hearz me hard granmah havvin hor peeanna lessonz

Ahv fehl oot wihth mee peht hard dog coz heez started tarkin inn hyz sleap anhd hee sez ahm knot rely hard. Welll, yuh naar wot thay sahy – yuv gora let sleepyn dog lye. Ahm gannyn ower tuh Eyeland noo. Summitz tuh dee wihth wontyn ah hard borda. Ahl tek mee dogg – heez ah hard borda colly.

Ann iff yuh edditt thys intavyoo ahl giv yee ah hed ah hit an punsh yuh innyuh besst frendz mustash anarl.

Nuff sed for now. He’s back in his box.

Gary Alikivi August 2019.

WORD UP with Michael Metcalf, director on music TV’s Top Dog’s THE TUBE

Today’s post comes with the sad news that Chris Phipps has passed away. Amongst a host of credits on TV, Chris was part of the team that brought us The Tube. When I interviewed him I found him very generous with his time and encouragement ‘Yeah there is a load of stories out there, keep diggin’. (Posted Aug.12th 2019).

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Last post ‘Get It On’ was an interview with former Tube presenter Gary James, Gary put me in touch with Michael Metcalf, another team member from the music programme. This is his story…..

What is your background and how did you begin working in TV?  I had a rather strange journey into television. I left school at 15 with no qualifications. I had been offered a place in Catering and Hotel Management at Newcastle Polytechnic. In the meantime, my brother suggested that I work with him as an apprentice baker and confectioner. I worked with him for over a year (not taking the place at College) but decided it was not the job for me.

Lacking qualifications and opportunities, I did what many people in the North East did in the ‘70s and sat an exam to work at the ‘Ministry’ at Longbenton. I was assigned to Family Allowances long before it became Child Benefit.

After several years, I realised that I was not cut out to be a civil servant and managed to get an interview at Tyne Tees Television as a Driver/Handyman. People who know me have hysterics hearing this story, as to this day I am stuck if I have to change a plug. I was interviewed by a lady called Lydia Wilkinson and whilst we had a lovely afternoon chatting, she said that I was not the type of person they normally got for that job and felt I would be better suited to ‘Admin’. I left thinking that it was a kind way to end the interview and thought that was that.

A few weeks later, I got word they had a vacancy they thought I would be better suited for and had an interview as a ‘Schedules Officer’. I was successful, so left the Civil Service after 8 years and began life at Tyne Tees TV. God Bless Lydia Wilkinson, who was completely responsible for my career in Television.

My first week on the job I was asked if I wanted to see a programme being broadcast, so I ended up in the Control Room watching ’Northern Life’. It was the most exciting thing I had seen. The next day I bored my work colleagues, telling them that is what I wanted to do. I explained some of the jobs seemed quite technical, but there is a lady in the control room who seemed to shout and count backwards and I thought I could do that. The job was Production Assistant (PA).

I applied when a vacancy came up and became the only male PA on the ITV network (TTTV had employed another man but he had moved on to become a Floor Manager). It was the start of my life in Production. I loved being a PA and worked on lots of different programmes, including doing continuity on several drama’s. I also worked with a lot of freelance directors, one of which was Geoff Wonfor who was the husband of Andrea Wonfor the Executive Producer on the Tube.

The Tube Crew

Colin Rowell, Chris Phipps and Michael Metcalf.

How did you get the job with The Tube and when did you work on the programme ?  As I was already working with Geoff as his PA, when the Tube began, I continued working with him and did most of the filming for the first few years. It is important to remember that at that time we were a bunch of Geordie guys who were suddenly flying off to work with some amazing people and having the time of our lives. I remember one trip to New York we hired a helicopter to fly around the Statue of Liberty.

I sat with my back to the front of the helicopter, alongside the pilot, Geoff was in the row behind with the camera assistant and the cameraman was strapped in but hanging out of the side of the helicopter, the door had been taken off.

I had the headset to communicate with the pilot, going down the Hudson, he asked if we wanted to go under or over the bridges, I asked if we could do both, which we ended up doing. It is hard to imagine getting away with that now but we had the time of our life. Eventually, I went back to working on Drama’s so it was Series 1-2 of The Tube that I worked on as PA. During the time of working on Drama, I applied for a vacancy to become a Director and got the job, so ended up going back on the Tube as the Studio Director for most of Series 4.

Tube Shot Lesley Ash _ Paul McCartney

The Tube team with Lesley Ash (presenter) and Paul McCartney.

How did you get on and work with the rest of the team ? As I mentioned earlier, the great thing about working on the Tube was that we were a bunch of Geordie Guys, having the time of our lives. Every day the job was an adventure. The Tube welcomed new bands and one in particular had sent a VHS and we thought they were interesting so decided to go and film them. We got to the location, The State Ballroom in Liverpool which had been used as a location for a movie ‘A Letter to Brezhnev’.

We got there and began to set up, the band were there so eventually we did a run through with them, it was ok but there wasn’t the energy or excitement that we had seen on the VHS. Eventually being the PA, I organised some lunch, the lead singer asked me if I thought the band getting into their stage gear might help, which I said I am sure it would.

The band and the two girls they had with them went off together, when they returned, they were wearing leather bondage gear and the girls were wearing leather bikini’s and carrying leather whips. The band was ‘Frankie Goes To Hollywood’ and the rest they say, is history!

Was there a show you look back on and think ‘that was a nightmare’ ? When I came back on the Tube as Studio Director, it was a particular turbulent time in television and there were a number of union disputes. So working under those conditions were difficult.

I remember one occasion the only band that arrived for the show was ‘Go West’. Instead of the usual 20 minutes, they ended up preforming for the whole show, so it was effectively a concert for them, which was amazing. Working on a live show, there are always moments that are a nightmare but that is the fun of working live and getting out of any tricky situations.

 

And a show which went really well ? I have such great memories of all shows I worked on. Although I have a great deal of affection for the show that featured Cameo. They were a great bunch of guys and Larry Blackmon was fantastic. We had such a great time and they were buzzing after the show. It turned out they were one of the few bands who did not have to rush off, so asked me if there was a bar or club that I could suggest they go to. Knowing the guys at Walkers club and bar, I rang up and asked if I might bring the guys along, you can imagine the response. So after the show we all had an amazing night at Walkers.

Did any bands/artists/ performances stand out ? The range of artists who performed on The Tube is endless and so many of those performances stand out. Obviously Tina Turner was amazing, I was lucky enough to direct the show that INXS did (which is the first time Paula met Michael Hutchence). Divine performing on stage at The Tube, so many magical performances.

What did you do after the Tube ? After the Tube, Tyne Tees got a commission for ITV Chart Show The Roxy and I directed that for about 18 months. Eventually I decided I should move on and actually met Andrea Wonfor travelling back from London. She had left Tyne Tees by this time and had started Zenith North, so I asked if she had any jobs for me. Her response was ‘Michael, you have said that in the past but I am not sure you mean it’, I confirmed I did so she said leave it with me.

A few weeks later she contacted me and said she had a new Channel 4 series called ‘Big World Cafe’ which would be playing World Music and was going to be based in the Brixton Academy. Would I be interested ? The job was mine as Series Director. But that meant leaving Tyne Tees and moving to London.

Which is how I came to move to London, thinking that if things did not work out, I could come back to the North East after six months. That six months turned into 25 years! I did go freelance and worked for many companies, directed a lot of music shows and then found myself in breakfast television, working on the Big Breakfast and then finally GMTV.

Michaels broadcast and video credit’s included concerts by Ricky Martin, Julio Iglesias, Inspiral Carpets, Roxette, Wet Wet Wet and Bros plus loads of sport, political and current affairs programmes for Zenith, ITV and Channel 4.

What are you doing now ? In 2008, I took voluntary redundancy from GMTV. Whilst I thought I might stay in London and work freelance, I’d been at GMTV so long and had let my freelance work stop, which is difficult to revive. So in the end I returned to the North East and concentrated on charity work.

 

Last thoughts…..Was the Tube important in my life ? You bet your life it was. Working on such a successful programme which everyone in the industry knew of, it becomes your calling card for the future. The majority of people who worked on the production of the show went on to have very successful careers.

Interview by Gary Alikivi August 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GET IT ON – with Gary James former presenter of Music TV’s Top Dogs, THE TUBE

None of us on the presenter side, perhaps with the exception of Jools and Paula who breezed through it all without a care in the world, could have had any idea that the show would be as seminal as it was. We certainly knew we were part of the ‘new wave’ and that we didn’t want to be all BBC and Top of the Pops-ish.  

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Gary interviewing John Peel on the Marc Bolan special in 1983.

When were you at The Tube and how did you get the job ? I was one of the original co-presenters on The Tube from Series 1, which started on Friday November 5th 1982. To give it a bit of extra thrill the programme makers had wanted to put some unknown faces alongside the two main presenters Jools Holland and Paula Yates. They certainly achieved that as few of us really knew what we were doing. It was all live, pre-watershed national networked TV and no second chances.

I applied along with about 5,000 other herbert’s who all thought they were cool, hip and groovy enough to be TV presenters. Along with Muriel Gray, Nick Laird-Clowes, Michelle Cremona and Mike Everitt I got the job. I was quite pretty and twinky back then, which might have helped. Unlike the hideous old bag I turned out to be.

Up until I arrived to do my first show, which was programme two, I had just breezed along thinking I could be wacky with impunity. But the reality set in when I arrived at Tyne Tees TV and was faced with having to do what TV presenters do. As a consequence of that, I looked and sounded like a rather camp yobby twat until I gained confidence. Where did that come from? I somehow managed to make that last until I left two years later after the second Midsummer Night’s Tube special in late 1984.

My only regret is not being able to have worked more with Muriel. She was my soul mate and I adored her. We fired off each other perfectly and would have made a great team. Sadly there was only room for one M/F team and that was Jools and Paula. Any suggestion otherwise and someone would have called the police. Probably.

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Tube production meeting with Muriel Gray, Gary James, Mick Sawyer and Chris Phipps

Did you realise how important and influential the show would become ? The chaos on it was quite genuine and the edginess a result of the fact that for most of the time we were left to get on with what we were doing without any strict direction or guidance to be pros. Because it was live I only ever saw the programmes that I didn’t work on, all from the shitty council flat I was living at in North West London. No video and no internet or social media. If I didn’t catch it when it went out I didn’t see it. As a consequence of that I was only able to watch the shows I was in when my parents told me they had recorded the shows on VHS tape and did I want them? I was just about to say no, throw them away (!) when I thought the better of it, took them in a box and stuck them in my attic.

And there they stayed for years until I came to write my book. I digitised and watched them from behind the sofa for the first time. The performances blew me away. I can now finally see what everyone was going on about – but until then I genuinely had no idea.
Who did you interview and who was your favourite booking on the show ? My first ever interview was actually with Olympic athlete and local boy to Newcastle Steve Cram. During the production meeting that afternoon I said to Paula that as I had no interest in sport whatsoever I had no idea what to ask him. I mean, what do you ask runners for christ’s sake? How did you start running? How do you run? What’s it like running? Everything sounded ludicrous. We started laughing and then in desperation I said to Paula ‘I suppose I could ask him how big his knob is!’‘Even better, ask him to show you!’ she trilled. I loved her then, she could be so much fun.

Next interview was with Andy Summers of The Police. That was my first interview proper really. He wasn’t responsive as I think he had no idea that The Tube wasn’t Radio 4 or The Old Grey Whistle Test. In the interview you can see him looking at me like ‘who’s this gobby little know nothing shitehawk ?’ Not one I recall with pleasure.

I had a much better time interviewing Ringo Starr, The Weather Girls, Eartha Kitt, Tony Visconti, Malcolm Mclaren, Mickey Finn of T.Rex, John Peel, Kajagoogoo and loads more interesting people who were not big music names but who had a part to play in the industry. Best of all I thought was video producer Tosh Ryan, who had made some wonderful stuff with one of my heroes Graham Fellowes (aka Jilted John). Great stuff!

How did you get started working in the media ? I trained as an actor in the mid to late 1970s. Believe it or not I am not a natural presenter (as archive footage of The Tube proves!). After spending some years touring with theatre companies on some pretty controversial plays I decided to try my luck at television and the rest is history. I can’t believe I just used that cliché. I went on in later years to work quite extensively in radio, which I loved. I was a huge fan of Kenny Everett and he was my broadcasting inspiration. Kenny was a genius. I miss him terribly.

I did a lot of work pioneering the first radio programmes made by and for gay people on a pirate radio station in London in the early ‘80s. That was called Gaywaves, and it was broadcast through an arial cunningly hidden in the washing line of my friend Phil Cox’s 13th floor flat in the City of London. The archive of that unique broadcast is now in the sound archive of the British Library. I’m very proud of having done that you know.

I also worked legit too though, even co-presenting Midweek on Radio 4 for a couple of programmes (until it became obvious that my talents such as they were lay elsewhere). For a long time I was also one of the contributors to ‘Malcolm Laycock’s Track Record’ programme on Friday nights at BBC Radio London. That was a hoot. I used to creep into the studios earlier in the day and record sketches for broadcast in the show that night. It was all very spontaneous and lots of fun with my friends Gary Rae, Stopwatch Roy Alexander, Alexis Colby Carrington, Clive Bull and whoever else happened to be wandering by at the time.

The show itself was often a bit of a bacchanalian booze up and almost as chaotic as the Tube. We even had to throw out Jah Wobble, who turned up three sheets to the wind and who we had to physically get rid of before he let rip with any naughty words. Happy days.

How did you get on with the other members of the production team and what did you do after The Tube ? To be honest, as I was brought up in the theatre I was closer to the production crew than most of the other presenters were. I didn’t click naturally with musicians in the same way that Jools and Paula obviously did. Actors and musicians are not natural bedfellows oddly enough. We come at it from different angles. I didn’t fancy a trombone up my jacksie so I tended to keep away from the sharp end of the choon department and preferred to hang around with the production team. Michael Metcalf, Chris Phipps, Colin Rowell and many of the rest of the Tube team are all dear friends of mine even now. How they put up with my mincing about though I don’t know.

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With Muriel and Malcolm McLaren in 1984.

The Tube is known for being taken off the air in 1987 after 5 years when Jools said the words ‘Groovy Fuckers’ and the world was so aghast that decent people everywhere had to be treated for shock. What isn’t so widely known is that I nearly beat him to it in series 1 ! Paula and I had been sent down to Steve Strange’s Camden Palace to do an outside broadcast. As Paula was heavily pregnant with her first child Fifi I did all the energetic stuff and at one point was put on the upstairs balcony to read out a load of local gig information.

During rehearsals it became apparent to me that being up there looking down with hundreds of clubbers around me I would be unable to see the floor manager or the cameras easily. So I remonstrated with the crew and director pleading health and safety. Being a nobody of course I was ignored. When the cameras cut to me on the live broadcast I was surrounded by drunken punters and trying to deliver a long list of stuff to camera while they were jostling me and making wanker hand signs in front of my face. Normally I’d probably have joined in – but you cant do that on live TV can you?

I just managed to get through it before the urge to turn round and tell them to fuck off overcame me. But I don’t think the director knew just how close they were to an irritated ‘fuck’ being delivered live on air – 4 years before Jools did it for real. Perhaps if I had done I would be more famous? Bugger. Another missed opportunity. Oh well.

What are you doing now ? After I finished doing The Tube I went back into theatre where my heart and talent was best displayed. Since then I have continued acting wherever jobs are available and am a proud founder member of a group in London called Actors Writers London (AWL). This is a group established through Equity back in the late ‘70s to showcase the work of new writers and where they can hear their works performed by professional actors for the first time.

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I now live down in East Sussex as I prefer to be a country boy. It’s here that I continue with my writing. I have just published my autobiography which I charmingly called ‘Spangles Glam Gaywaves and Tubes’ – it tells the story of my childhood and of growing up as a young gay man in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Despite that disgraceful stuff it is also for everyone else that lived through those times or who might have an interest in it. My goodness me it makes a great holiday read and at a paltry £12.99 it is a must buy frankly. You can get it from all good online booksellers or from my publishers here: https://www.bookguild.co.uk/bookshop-collection/non-fiction/art/spangles-glam-gaywaves-tubes/  . Please buy it. It’s not the principle, it’s the money.

Interview by Gary Alikivi August 2019.

NAMEDROPPER – in conversation with freelance author/TV producer Chris Phipps

Being on the dole during the ‘80s had it’s advantages. We queued up outside Tyne Tees TV Studio every Wednesday to get free audience ticket’s for the following Friday’s edition of live music show The Tube. If I was working I wouldn’t have got the chance to be part of what became a ground breaking TV programme and something that changed my life. Looking back it took a couple of years to seep through, but it was one of the magical moments I experienced that massively helped me in my work today.

In one of the programmes I was standing on the gantry looking across the studio with the stage and drummer below, another stage was to my left, there was a bar at the back, pink and blue lighting all around, Pat Benatar at the front of the stage – a little lady with a big voice. And cameras on the studio floor catching the buzz. Something clicked. It was the first time I thought ‘I would love to be involved in something like this’. I knew I was onto something.  

So a chance to interview a man who was part of that show was a great opportunity and one that I wasn’t going to miss. Take it away Chris…..

It’s interesting you mentioned Pat Benatar because I booked her, the drummer was fantastic and she was incredible.

I was at the Tube from the start in ’82 till it’s full run to ’87. But I started as a journalist in ’74 with three big stories happening on my patch, the Birmingham bombings, the hunt for the Black Panther and the Carl Bridgewater murder – a baptism of fire. After that I was producer at Pebble Mill at One and did a lot of regional TV and radio then.

I was doing rock shows, reggae shows and of course in the ‘70s the Midlands was Dexys Midnight Runners, UB40, Specials, Selector coming out of Coventry. It was like a nuclear reactor in terms of the music coming out of there. And of course you had the whole New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and I was involved with a band called Diamond Head who came out of Stourbridge. They were touted as the next Led Zeppelin which was a big mistake. They were phenomenal but for certain reasons they just went on to implode.

How were you involved with Diamond Head ? I did two TV shows with them, both of which are very rare now. One was on ‘Look Hear’ an arts programme on BBC Midlands with Toyah Wilcox. I also had them at West Bromich Further Education college, they done a student recording that was found in a loft a couple of years ago. That whole NWOBHM was fascinating because a lot of those bands were back in their day jobs after a couple of years, apart from Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. Finally, Diamond Head were vindicated because Metallica covered some of their numbers that contributed to their financial coffers.

What are your memories of those first days at The Tube ? I joined in ’82 as a booker and I became Assistant Producer from ’85-’87. My brief was to find bands that we could agree on to put in the show. A band on the first show that I booked didn’t happen, The Who didn’t do it because their pa system got stuck in Mexico or somewhere. So the producer Malcolm Gerrie knew Paul Weller’s father and got The Jam to do it. In a way I’m glad that he did because The Jam playing their last TV gig ever, really said this is what The Tube is all about – that was then, this is now and off we go.

On one show I booked a combination of Green Gartside and his band Scritti Politti, and Robert Palmer which I thought was a good mixture. Then Gartside wouldn’t do it, didn’t want to perform live or something I can’t remember now. But he pulled, you know my job was to convince really big names to come, particularly in the first six months of the programme because it was based in Newcastle. A lot of record companies would say ‘We’re not sending anybody up there’.

There was a show in December ’82 with Iggy Pop, Tygers of Pan Tang and Twisted Sister, who famously signed a record deal after their performance..…Now there is a story that I discovered Twisted Sister in a bar in New York when really the truth of it was I had seen them at Reading Festival. I was just knocked out by them because I love theatrical rock. They were on a label called Metal Blade then, which was run by a friend of Toyah Wilcox. I was interviewing Def Leppard backstage, then spoke to Twisted Sister’s manager and told him I had a gig on a TV music channel in the UK called The Tube. He said if you can gaurantee us a booking we will finance our own trip over.

So yeah they turned up in a van outside The Tube studio direct from New York, played the show, and in the audience was Mick Jones from Foreigner, his manager and UK supremo from Atlantic records Phil Carson. Phil signed them the next day.

Actually I don’t think I was too popular with the Tygers because I had to cut one of their numbers. At the time they had a great album out The Cage, but they were another band that imploded. Incidentally, first time I saw the Tygers was at JB’s club in Dudley. They were supporting Robert Plant and his rock n roll band The Honeydrippers.

Why did you ask the Tygers to cut a song from their set ? Lemmy wanted to jam with Twisted Sister at the end. In fact the guy who directed that show and all of The Tube, Gavin Taylor, who sadly died a few year ago, said his two favourite moments he directed were U2 at Red Rocks and Twisted Sister jamming with Motorhead. And this from the guy who directed Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis.

So after that everytime I saw the presenter Paula Yates she used to impersonate my Birmingham accent and go ‘Chris Phipps Twisted Sister’ (laughs). God love her. They sent me a platinum disc as a thanks which I still have, and a manhole cover with the Twisted Sister logo on it.

Also on that programme was Iggy Pop what are your memories from then ? Yeah he was a wild one. No one could find him just prior to his performance, he completely disappeared. I got a call from reception and they said there was something in the reception area spinning round and looking like a mummy. He was bandaged from head to foot (laughs).

Did the show help the careers of other bands ? Fine Young Cannibals got signed, although they already had a publishing deal. The Proclaimers got signed and there was a time when a researcher called Mick Sawyer and some of the Tube crew went to Liverpool to film Dead or Alive. But they weren’t around, then someone in a pub told them to go round the corner to another pub where there is a band rehearsing ‘You might be interested in them’. It was Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

The Tube filmed the original version of ‘Relax’, that was shown and Trevor Horn saw it. He did the deal and re-recorded and produced the single.

Frankie epitomised The Tube and the ‘80s, they got what it was all about. You can never bring The Tube back. It’s of it’s time. Chris Evans on TFI Friday in the ‘90s near enough had it. The set was just like The Tube, so yeah it’s had an incredible influence.

Last year I was on the Antiques Roadshow with memorabilia from The Tube and I thanked the BBC for banning ‘Relax’ because, it not only done Frankie a load of good but The Tube as well (laughs).

Here’s the link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06b19jf

Around the time of going to The Tube I went to a few shows called TX45 filmed in the same studios….Yes TX45 ran parallel to The Tube it was a regional series it didn’t go on the network. Actually a series by Tyne Tees Television called Alright Now got them a commission for The Tube. When I was producing in Birmingham a lot of bands would say ’We’re off to Newcastle to do Alright Now or Razzmatazz or interviewed by Alan Robson’. He had a formidable reputation. Newcastle had a reputation for cutting edge shows really, that’s why it got the commission from Channel Four. Back to TX 45 that was co-presented by Chris Cowey who went on to produce Top of the Pops.

What happened after The Tube ? All the talent from The Tube just dispersed in different directions. Tyne Tees didn’t continue to do any big entertainment. They did attempt to rival Top of the Pops with a show called The Roxy but that fizzled out. Malcolm Gerrie, the main guy went on to form Initial TV in London and made things like The Pepsi Chart Show. Now he’s got a company called Whizzkid producing big award ceremonies things like that. Geoff Wonfor who made the films for The Tube, not the studio stuff, he went on and made The Beatles Anthology. (An interview with Bob Smeaton who worked on the Anthology is on the blog ‘The Boy from Benwell’ Nov.5th 2018)

I went into documentary, feature film making and my bread and butter work for 14 years was working on a series called The Dales Diary, which covered the Yorkshire Dales for Tyne Tees and Yorkshire. What was interesting was that I was dealing with people who had never been in front of the camera before so I went from 5 years of people who couldn’t wait to get in front of the bloody camera to 14 years of people who sometimes weren’t happy to do it. Yeah I had some fantastic times working in Yorkshire.

Have you any stories that stand out from interviewing people ? From 1973-82 I’d done a lot of entertainment stuff at Pebble Mill but I also interviewed a lot of people with some priceless historical value. Like the 100 year old woman who made a living from making nails from the back of her cottage near Worcester. There was a man who helped build a storm anchor for the Titanic. I’ve kept all them interviews and in fact the storm anchor one went for research to the director James Cameron when he was making the film Titanic. So I was no stranger to going to people who just wanted to get on, particularly the farming community who didn’t want people buzzing around with cameras.

Did you work on any other music programmes ? I’m the sort of person who will come across something and say that will make a fantastic programme. I worked on a series for Dutch TV, it was like your Classic Albums series but for singles. Incredible programme to work on, it was called Single Luck. It took me all over America tracking down songwriters, producers, and for one song the backing singers were Ashford and Simpson.

Another programme was for the song ‘Blue Moon’ it profiled The Marceles, who came out of Pittsburg. The song sold I don’t know how many millions and some of them are living on the breadline you know. They got nothing, old story isn’t it.

Well I thought how do I find these people who are living in Pittsburg ? One of the singers was called Cornelius Harp. There might not be too many Harps in the phone book I’ll try that. The one I called said ‘No I’m not Cornelius Harp, but he’s my cousin, here’s his number’. The guy who was managing them had a restaurant called Blue Moon. The producer was in California and came over to Pittsburg to re-produce the song. So yeah found all of them and suddenly you have a 30 minute programme.

What have you been working on lately ? After releasing the book ‘Forget Carter’ in 2016 which was the first comprehensive guide to North East TV and film on screen, I’ve just released another book ‘Namedropper’ full of anecdotes and stories of my time in the entertainment world. I’ve hosted quite a few talks including the evenings with Roger Daltrey and Tony Iommi at the Whitley Bay Film Festival. Currently I’m still working as freelance producer/director based in North East specialising in entertainment and music for network and regional.

Chris is appearing at Newcastle’s Waterstones to sign his latest book ‘Namedropper’ on Saturday August 17th at 12 noon.

 Interview by Gary Alikivi August 2019.

THE TOON SHOW – interview with Simon Donald, co-founder of VIZ

Was any subject off limits or was it all out there for ridicule ? ‘For VIZ, if it worked we used it. It was all about gut instinct’.

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Simon set up the magazine with his brother Chris in 1979 at their home in Newcastle, North East UK.  

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But what was the inspiration behind VIZ ? Had you seen or heard something that made you say ‘I want to do that’ ? ‘I loved comics from an early age. I started wanting to be a comic artist when I was about eight or nine and by the age of eleven I started writing to Marvel to ask how I should go about it. My entire family were comedy lovers, we spent hours as kids listening to Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Stan Freberg, then me and my brothers started to watch Monty Python. The whole family loved Laurel and Hardy and Morecombe and Wise. When we were teenagers my brother Chris and I were introduced to comics for adults by a school friend called Jim Brownlow, he also introduced us to Derek and Clive by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, all of these things came together with Chris’ yearning to make a magazine. A comic for grown-ups with surreal and outrageous humour and swearing. We also threw into the mix, without really thinking about it, a good dose of British working class reality’.

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What type of music did you listen to when you were young ? ‘As a small child I listened to the radio and the Dansette with my Mam and heard all her favourites like Nat King Cole, Paul Robeson, The Seekers, and Frank Sinatra. It was The Seekers that struck a chord with me and I got The Seekers Live at the Talk of the Town for Christmas 1970. Shortly afterwards I was given a neighbour’s entire Beatles singles collection and that was me hooked. It was the Beatles all the way for the next few years. The first band I ever saw was the Junco Partners at the Peoples Theatre in 1976, followed shortly afterwards by Woody Woodmansey’s U-Boat at the City Hall, they were support to Uriah Heap, but the less said about that the better’.

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‘As punk rock landed I was thirteen so of course it was ‘mine’, The Clash, The Jam, The Sex Pistols and in particular The Ramones were my big things at that time, along with Alice Cooper and The Who. As the New Wave faded I rejected New Romance for the tosh that it was and got into The Faces and then The Small Faces and a whole load of mod stuff from there. I’ve always had an eclectic collection, there’s everything from disco to heavy rock in there’.

Simon-Donald

Is working on projects different today than when you were young, do idea’s come quickly or is it a longer process? ‘I think ideas come thicker and faster when you’re younger but for me they don’t stop coming, they just get less sporadic and more focussed. I always thought it would be difficult to write a new comedy show every year but I actually really enjoy it and having produced so much work so regularly for Viz, it’s not the impossible challenge it could be. That said sometimes ideas can take years to come to fruition, there’s an idea there but I don’t know how to use it, then one day, out of the blue, I’ll put two and two together and that night I’ll be trying it on stage’.

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When did you realise that VIZ was becoming popular, had you seen a copy somewhere unusual ? ‘There was a time when it was unusual to see the comic anywhere outside of Newcastle. Seeing it in the window of Rough Trade Records in West London in the spring of 1981 always stays with me. It was still rarity in London five years later and I remember at a street market I took a photo of my brother Steve finding it on a comics stall. Two years after that the newspaper seller at Kings Cross Station had devoted his entire stall to the latest issue going on sale. It was unbelievable stuff’.

Did you realise the impact that VIZ would have on the North East and when was the distribution widened from pubs in Newcastle to nationwide newsagents ? ‘We distributed the comic ourselves via pubs, local independent shops of all types, national independent record stores and student union bookshops from 1979 until 1985, at that time we signed a publishing deal with Virgin Vision and they began national distribution, it started quite slowly but within three years we’d pretty much taken over the world of British magazines. The contract was later moved to John Brown Publishing, he had been in charge at Virgin and set up his own company on the back of our success. Quite stunning looking back’.

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Are there any comedians/artists/entertainers that you like to watch or listen to today ? ‘There are some tremendous entertainers in the north east right now, a couple of my favourites who are always worth watching are Gavin Webster and Seymour Mace (pic. below). They never fail to make me cry laughing. Two of my personal favourites nationally are Stewart Lee and Daniel Kitson, they are the sort of acts that never fail to impress me with the brilliant structure and thoughtfulness of their material, yet never fail to produce joyfully funny moments throughout their work. It’s clever but it’s all about getting laughs’.

Bringing your story up to date what are you up to now. I see you are working with Tyne Idols how is that going ? ‘I’m currently touring two shows, a stand-up show called Satiscraptory and a character show called Barry Twyford Isn’t Meant. I also do the Tyne Idols bus tour gigs, which are an absolute hoot. There are two types, one is a story of Viz sort of thing in which with Alex Collier, another of the ex Viz editors, we take you around all the places important in the story of Viz, telling all the funniest anecdotes from our time on the comic. We stop at Viz-related pubs and you can take your own refreshments on the bus, its fantastic fun’.

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‘The other is my character tour, in which I appear as a drunken historian called John Gruntle, plus a couple of other outrageous Geordie characters; Barry Twyford and Bingo from Benton’.

For more info contact http://www.simondonald.com for VIZ contact their official website at viz.co.uk

Interview by Gary Alikivi June 2017.

 

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME ? Send your answers to 80’s cult skiffle punk’s Terry & Gerry

After nearly 30 years Terry & Gerry, the Birmingham based cult skiffle punk band reformed in honour of their biggest fan, the late John Peel. The BBC Radio DJ  received a demo tape from Terry & Gerry, the name of the best friends of Peel’s wife.  He thought the coincidence was too great to ignore so he played the tape and immediately bacame a big fan. He asked the band to travel down to the BBC and record a few songs for his show. It was a case of right time, right place, right name.  
Gerry: ‘Sadly, we never met him, although he did give us a fond mention in his autobiography. We met his friend and producer John Walters who was a skiffle fan and totally top bloke. In 2014 I was invited to play a John Peel commemoration concert and got in touch with Terry, Su and Mick. We were all amazed that we were all still alive!! The old wounds had scabbed over and we decided to give it a go’

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Where did it all begin for Terry & Gerry ?
Terry: ‘Just buy a guitar, learn three chords, write a song about something you are passionate about and off you go! We were both in bands in Birmingham so knew of each other. Gerry bought a double bass from a bloke he met on a train and I went round to check it out. We found we wrote well together. We tried to come up with a cool name but our names rhymed so it was just a happy coincidence.’
Gerry: ‘Our sound needed some percussion and our mate Su Richardson, had a ridged dinner plate which provided the backbeat…it was a natural progression for her to get a washboard!! The inclusion of a second guitar, originally Andy Downer and then Mick Howson created a really exciting, fun sound’.
Su Richardson: ‘Our line-up and sound was created by accident. We all loved Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers and punk and we wanted to write songs that reflected that, but with lyrics about 1980’s Britain with the Political and social problems that people faced’.
Terry: ‘The indie scene in the 1980’s was like a family, everyone helped each other. We were lucky enough to go on tour with The Nightingales, The Pogues and Billy Bragg and had a blast with everyone. We were so different and eclectic that we fitted in with any band. There was a very real feeling of being part of a movement that was fun, exciting and saying something about issues of the day. You have to write what comes out and what angers or inspires you, otherwise it’s no fun to play. I’d like to add that we always had an independent spirit, Terry and Gerry never had a manager we were always, and continue to be self managed’.

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Did the band make any appearance’s on TV ?
Sue: ‘Televison was good to us and we appeared on The Tube, Whistle Test, loads of Kids TV. On one show Noddy Holder from Slade sang backing vocals’.
Terry: ‘My recollection is that we got the gig at The Tube through the recommendation of Mike Davies who was a DJ at Beacon Radio. He suggested us to Chris Phipps and that we auditioned for the show in Su’s front room. I remember Chris Phipps commenting that he wished he had filmed the audition – clearly bands did not usually audition in a front room.
Our original appearance was cancelled due to the broadcast of the funeral of Indira Ghandi at the beginning of November 1984 and put back to February 1985. Also on the show were Killing Joke’.

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‘I remember that we hired a Birmingham P.A. company to provide holdback as the production company at Tyne Tees were charging us to use theirs. I understand that the Musician’s Union subsequently negotiated an additional payment for us as a result of this practice. I think that although the broadcast sound was reasonable no sound was sent into the studio with the live audience. My guess is that the record company for Killing Joke paid the in house PA companies fees.
I’m not sure how we got the Whistle Test Gig. Personally I remember that it was the day I had an allergic reaction to sea food and that we went on a search for a pharmacy because I was feeling dodgy as a result. The things you remember eh !
We went down to London to play live at the Mean Fiddler, where it was being filmed. It was great to be broadcast from there as Vince Power gave us our first ever gig in London. It’s also the one television appearance that goes some way towards capturing what our live shows were really like at that time. When I watch it now I remember many of the faces of the people in the audience that used to come and see us play whenever we appeared in London. Yes, a great time!’

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In the mid-eighties the four piece band released six singles and one album. The band toured extensively in the UK, Europe and America gathering fans from Joe Strummer to Shane MacGowan and one of the singles was reviewed by Morrissey for Radio One ‘I love it!! Don’t know why!!’ At this point things were really looking up for the band but could they keep the pace up ?
Gerry:Morrissey was very complimentary about our EP ‘Clothes Shop Closed’ and Shane McGowan and the guys made us feel so welcome on their tours. Joe Strummer even came to a gig in New York!! Looking back we still can’t believe it’.
Terry: ‘At the end of the 80’s we were all pretty burned out and wanted to do something different but we all stayed in music. Terry and Gerry fell out and rarely spoke. Doing something together again had never been on the cards’.

What got the band talking again ?
Gerry: ‘In 2014 I was invited to play a John Peel commemoration concert, got in touch with Terry, Su and Mick and we decided to give it a go’
Mick Howson: ‘Our first rehearsal in 27 years was absolutely amazing. It all came flooding back and the songs were as relevant today as they had been in the 1980’s. Now we don’t wanna stop!’

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In 2015 you were invited by Status Quo to be special guests on their U.K. tour. What was that like ?
Terry: ‘The Mighty Quo and their fans have been brilliant. They sang along, waved their hands in the air and gave us a wonderful reception. We even got a standing ovation at The Royal Albert Hall!! They are a brilliant band to tour with and we are so grateful for the opportunity’.
Gerry: ‘We have concerts coming up all year as well as festivals, we plan to keep going for as long as we are enjoying it, there is a host of skiff-punk bands out there which shows indie music still lives on.’

Check the official website for the latest tour dates and information at http://www.terryandgerry.com.

Interview by Gary Alikivi April 2017.