The party’s over – remembering Mark Hollis, Talk Talk & Genesis

Mark-Hollis

I was sad to learn of the passing of singer/songwriter Mark Hollis during February 2019, only aged 64. Nothing has been released publicly about the cause of death at the time of writing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was another victim of cancer, reading between the lines from a (reported) quote by his former manger, saying he died after:

A short illness from which he never recovered.

Lauded as a ‘genius’ songwriter in various obituaries, I was quite unaware he was the driving force behind the music of Talk Talk. Choosing to remove himself from music and public life at the end of the 90s, I could only assume he invested his song-writing royalties wisely in order to disappear so successfully. I doubt very much the artists of today will be able to leave the Hamster-wheel so easily, being forced to endure a lifetime ‘on tour’ to sustain an income, now that music is ‘free’.  I equally doubt the remnants of what we knew as the music industry is equipped to find, fund and nurture another Mark Hollis. So whilst we mourn the passing of Mark, we should also throw in a memorial service for the passing of an era which regularly gave birth and sustenance to creative offspring like him. [...] 

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Roger Taylor’s Drums – and me!

How I got closer to the Queen drummer’s gear

The internet’s a funny old thing, a double-edged sword at the best of times. One minute you can be finding all sorts of information about stuff you didn’t know existed, the next arguing with somebody on the other side of the world you have never met. The latter is something I steer clear of these days, aided by my shunning of all things Social Media, but the former can produce the most unexpected and fulfilling experiences and truly enrich your life in the on-line world.

It was sometime in 2015 when I received an email via the contact page on this site, from an Italian calling himself Dario ‘Blues’ Di Nario. It turned out he had stumbled across my page on Roger Taylor where I describe his influence on me during my early teenage years. Dario was keen to communicate with me about all things Taylor because he had a very special project he needed to complete, one of a most highly classified nature. It turned out, he was in the middle of producing a book (the first and only book of its kind) detailing every drum set ever used by Taylor, from the pre-Queen days right up to the present day. With so little information in the public domain about Taylor’s gear, I knew this was going to be a tall order, but I was more than happy to assist in whatever way I could. It just so happened, the timing of Dario’s contact coincided with me commencing night school to learn Italian, so this was definitely a good omen in the alignment of the stars. [...] 

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I was never a WHAM! fan, but…

Wham! 'Bad-Boys' single cover

George Michael was truly, a gifted artist

I can categorically state, I was never a WHAM! fan; it really is that simple. But, respect should be given where respect is due, especially after an unprecedented year of deaths from within the creative arts fraternity.

George Michael was a naturally gifted songwriter of my generation and although not within my normal listening range, an artist who stood out from many of his peers, managing to escape the pop star bubble to forge a career outside of the genre and more importantly, gain the respect of the living legends he respected. More than any other death this extraordinary year, his sudden passing has strangely moved me, especially as I write more as observer than fan. Maybe his death is a harsh reminder of the mortality of my generation who dreamed our youthful optimism of the 1980s would live forever.

Elsewhere in this BLOG, I speak of a sometimes difficult period in my life as a teenager, read more

First Gig

Gareth 'Gaz' Hill, rehearsing, 1981

How it all began…

Thursday 29th October 1981, it is early evening and I stand huddled in a small attic bathroom, together with six of my mid-teenage compadres. We are jocularly nervous as we prepare ourselves for the next 70 minutes in front of an already jeering, but friendly, invited audience. There is a drum solo at the end of the first song but unlike today, I have little or no fear about displaying my crude, raw talent. In fact, before the night is over, I will have shamelessly performed no less than three solo indulgences without a hint of reticence, or the restrictive self-awareness that will later come to plague me throughout adulthood. Later on that evening, I return home quietly ecstatic, telling my mum read more