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to Part I
In the 1980's, I made specific mistakes. Mistakes that were close to my heart and I made many of them. But first, I made the move to London so I could be near classic British Rock roots.
On the flight from New York I sat next to a 'Manager' who told me, 'you'd look great on Top of the Pops, give me a call tomorrow,' and passed me his card. He had an antique shop off Marylebone Road. I went to see him there and within a week found myself at the heart of a 'scene' and singing a demo in the same studio where the Beatles recorded their White album. This seemed a great start. I was introduced to yet another producer who put me in the studio to record songs written by one of his writers and, so far, I liked the music. It was quirky and had a touch of wild about it. I wasn't so keen on the image. He had just finished attempting his first pass, which I good-naturedly rebuffed (only learning later.. you really have to fuck EVERYONE to get ahead). He then intimated I was so talented I wouldn't even have to sleep with anybody to make it! (he lied) He followed this news up with, 'you know how it's going to sound, but I want to show you how it's going to look.' He pulled out photographs of two girls on an ESSO station rooftop in LA. One wore a tight neon pink and the other a tight neon orange pvc micro-mini dress and classic hooker stilletos in the same bright colours. Their features were obscured by whacky Disney bird of paradise hair and make-up. I don't know if he meant to find another whacky chick to threesome for this venture, but I felt the blood drain from my capillaries and exit my soul. It wasn't quite me. I gently argued with him. I'd hope we could put a band together. I wanted musical integrity. I wanted reality! I wanted a band! He said, "you don't want a band. Band's are a waste of money. This is what you want. This IS reality."
By the next week I'd put an ad in Melody Maker 'Vocalist seeks Rock Band' and by the week after that had joined a popular somewhat Pomp(as in POMPOUS!)/Prog Rockish instrumental outfit from Reading - 'Twelfth Night', who had accumulated a tremendous fan base across the south of England and were looking for a vocalist to up their profile. A month into our union, we put out a single, 'The Cunning Man', and toured for what seemed an eternity, but in actuality was only 30 days. This was just the beginning of a few years based in London and moving from band to band discovering my own parameters, potentials and human limits. A period remembered for my nightly visits to the Princess Alexandra pub on Portobello Road (now the Portobello Gold) and access to my pre-adolescent dream: the consumption of conspicuously copious amounts of drugs, sex n' rock n' roll.
Not sleeping and/or eating for extended periods of time (months and years) cut into your ability or, simply, your desire to keep up with schedules, appointments - other people's agendas in general, and I found myself enjoying more and more the 'rock star' life without actually needing to be one. Very luckily, from the monetary point of view, I had found a partner in lifestyle and love to share in my good fortune. No, not Lemme! Although I spent a lotta nights in that guy's company on my sleeplesssssss sojourn. From the Princess Alexandra to the Jester's Club on Old Oak across from Wormwood Scrubs (des-res or what) we seemed to bump into each other seven-twenty-four-three-sixty-five, favouring the same hot-spots and watering holes. I even hitched a ride on their tour-bus from Aberdeen to Dundee one cold and wet night, very much by accident. These things happen.
Back to the partner in life and all else: on a rather splendidly un-musical visit to Scotland early in my UK life, I met a man whose heart was as wild as my own, and who, refreshingly, had nothing to do with the music business but had a nifty sideline in various substances. We lived together throughout the London period and married towards the end of that time. We later moved to Amsterdam for a year to recover from the excesses of the life I'd eagerly adopted in London.
In Amsterdam, I sat in our flat across from the Judesmuseum in Niewmarkt and, although it was early days, started writing my memoirs. My head during that period was soaked in a deep unmoving fog. A sense of perpetual 3pm midwinter grey; a weighty exhaustion while recovering from years of 'No Sleep Til Hammersmith'. I wondered if Icarus felt this way.
The all too sobering year long hangover aside, it was a very quiet life spent walking my dog Max on long jaunts to Vondel Park, side-stepping junkies, visiting the library (I read every novel they had in English) and a fabulous communal health club called, 'The Garden' - where, in genuinely cosmopolitan European spirit, men and women shared all facilities (sauna, jacuzzi, sitz tubs, showers) and changing rooms au natural. I loved that place. I also loved watching the rippling thigh muscles of an aerobics instructor; a guy called Anders, who when not on duty at 'The Garden', was a member of the Dutch Royal Ballet. Amsterdam was growing on me. I was getting fat and, although not necessarily more energetic, I was indeed getting better.
Along with the health advantages, seeing my new husband, who had reformed himself from part-time dr*g smuggler to assistant driller on an oil rig (what a transformation!) once every two weeks and not knowing a single other soul there kept me out of trouble. But, trouble, or maybe just restlessness comes calling when you have a passion. I had a passion for making music that could not be channeled or otherwise re-directed. Once my energies began to revitalise, I had to GO! Back to it.
Packed up my dog (6-months quarantine) and my precious memoirs and headed back for the grim rainy grey of the UK while my husband kept the flat in Amsterdam for the rest of that year. In London, I first stayed in a squat in Bethnal Green with my dear friend, Will Lorimer, who had just returned to the UK after exchanging his life as house husband to his aristocratic Scottish wife (the 'laird's daughter' in all his books - a fabulous talented woman who was and still is a very dear friend of mine), for a year in a tin-mining town high in the Mexican Sierra Madre. Will had a plan. He was writing a book about another run-away trip he'd had 2-3 years before in Australia. We set to work writing late into every night.
During the day I would spend all my time at the Pineapple Dance Centre in Covent Garden and looking for serious musical connections everywhere. Not bands and day-dreaming 'maybe this time' situations, but singing jobs that paid money. Real cash money. I was ready to sell my integrity, what little of it I still possessed. (And did I.. one particularly trying episode; working for a film and television producer. He made pilots for the BBC... adverts... you name it.. I would go to his studio in Shepherd's Bush and synch rushes all day long for like NO MONEY! and loads of chauvinistic abuse. That gig lasted until the day he turned to me and said, 'the only reason I keep you around here, Honey!, is for your tits and your ass.' I replied, 'That's funny, that's just how I feel about you. You're a tit AND an ass!' I was fired on the spot. (Too bad you can't 'book' alien abductions?)
Photo of Twelfth Night on tour courtesy of Giles Mulholland
Photo of Twelfth Night on tour courtesy of Giles Mulholland
Photo from back cover of 'Cunning Man' Single possibly taken by Brian Devoil
Photo of me on stage somewhere courtesy of Giles Mulholland
Photo of me and my love courtesy of Giles Mulholland
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