Let the fun begin
April 1981, it seemed that all my birthdays and Christmas’ had come at once when finally, my Mum agreed to buy my a drum set, now convinced that my obsession was more than a passing phase. In fact, it was on the condition that I didn’t ask for anything for my next birthday and Christmas that the drum set would be purchased. At that point, I would have agreed to forfeiting the next five years worth of present-receiving events if it meant obtaining the object of my desire. We took a bus ride to a little run-down town near the river Mersey called Seacombe, where of all the unlikely shops to exist there, was an ‘FB Percussion’ which sold nothing but drums. To me, this was the proverbial ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of shops, but budget was going to be a problem. For the sum of £225.00, I picked a Maxwin (by Pearl!) ‘Funky’ drum kit straight out of Taiwan. An ugly concert-tom affair, with no bottom heads or a front skin on the Bass drum, its cheap plastic silver wrap appealed to me, as did the price to my Mum’s semi-reluctant purse. It should have been £250.00, but seeing as I didn’t need the Hi-Hat stand, £25.00 was knocked off. As for cymbals, I’d managed to accumulate a few more battered KRUT efforts, but what the heck, I was on my way to my dream of becoming a Rock star…
Similarly, my guitar playing friend Rob, had also badgered his parents into buying him something a bit more Rock’n’Roll, seeing as he’d stuck out the Segovia lessons. £100 got him a used ‘Kay’ Strat copy and an early 60’s Marshall combo (with tremolo switch!) and a nasty ‘Little Big Muff’. The guitar would never stay in tune and as for the ‘Little Big Muff’, this struck the fear of God into my ears whenever a foot went near the silver switch that was sure to deliver a payload of tinnitus-inducing feedback. Never the less, we were tooled up for action and we meant serious business.
Rob and myself went to different schools. Hilbre Secondary Modern School was a depository for those who’d failed to pass the entrance exam for the Grammar school, whereas Rob had managed to exceed the demarcation line and enter the local posh seat of learning. My school had boys who talked about being in bands, but never really had anything to show for it. On the other hand, the Calday Grange Grammar school oiks not only talked about it, but they actually did it. I was to discover that within Rob’s school, there was a burgeoning band scene flourishing, complete with inter-band rivalry, back-stabbing, youth club gigs and best of all, talk of groupies from the local girls Grammar school. As luck would have it, they also had a shortage of decent drummers, so it wasn’t long before my services were called for.
At best, you could describe the schoolboy band scene at the time as a mixture of 70’s Rock and Prog-Rock wannabes with a repertoire of self-penned sixth-form offerings, though the bands did at least choose to write rather than cover songs. By October 1981 I’d done my first gig and decided I actually liked the fear of performing in front of an audience, something I’ve never lost to this day. The next two years were turbulent ones for our little middle-class patch of the youth band scene. People fell out with other, ‘musical differences’ were rife among the ranks, plots were hatched, people were fired, splinter-group bands were formed in secret, but despite the dark-hat tactics, we all still had fun and no one really got hurt. Sure, a few youthful egos took a bruising, but if you’re going to put your hands near the fire, then burnt fingers won’t be far away. By October 1983 pretty much everyone involved in the school band scene had departed for University places far away, leaving a decimated headcount of musicians. Luckily, my friend Rob and a few others had survived the cull and were to be stationed locally for at least the next three years. With enough of us around to carry on where everyone else had left off, it was time to step things up a gear. This time, we were going all the way to the top.