1947 Brian Parrish was born `Brian Morris´ to Victor and Joyce Morris in Ilford, Essex, England on July 12th 1947. He was one of twins, having a sister, Julie know as Boogie. Bryan: „I don’t know why, but I started to call her Boogie and it stuck“
1958 His parents bought him first guitar in 1958 as areward for passing a school examination which would earn him his place in High School and further education. Ironically Brian cared less about education from the moment his hands touched the guitar.
1959 was pivotal and musically provided the equivalent of St. Pauls`road to Damascus experience. During this year Brian heard little Richard records which he found thrilling – „like something from another planet“. During this year his father took him to see a low budget rock`n roll film featuring the American stars of the day – Little Richard (wonderful, of course), The Platters and significantly Gene Vincent. A great tracking shot across a street and into a rehearsal hall window was accompished by the opening bars of „Be Bop Alula“. The tape echo was astonishing for the time, and when the camera focussed on Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps playing the song inside the effect was electrifying. Brian was 11,5 years old and he knew what he wanted to do with his life.
„The Girl Can`t Help It“ was the rock`n` roll film. The `girl`in question who was played by Jayne Mansfield (memorable fort wo entirely differnt reasons) was less than a seminal figure in rock`n roll history.
1960 Brian made early stage appearanced with his father, who was a singer, as his own father has been. Brian was listening to Lonnie Donegan – a popular British singer of the time. Lonnie pigned Brians interest in American roots music, which he only knew as `skiffle`, knowing nothing of Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and the musics other originators at this time. Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis all made his heart race. Buddy Holly also, who was writing his own songs. The world was changing!
Like so many English boys at this time Brian was fascinated with the guitar sounds of the Shadows – who played back up for the very popular Cliff Richard. Brian maintains that Cliff made the best rock`n roll record ever produced in England – „Move it“. Brian says „Cliff really let us down, and broke his promise after that, producing nothing of value or interest (musically) ever again. Sir Cliff`s bank manager and legions of fare would not agree with me, of course – so what do I know? But `Move It` gets me everytime!“
1962 Brian formed his first group with two other boys – Chris Marsh and Ricky Carlowe. They were „The Titans“ and played in pubs where Brian was still too young to legally be inside (minimum age 18 years). He began to write his first „truly awful“ songs. „I like to think that I am a little better at it these days, but others will be the judge of that…“ says Brian.
1963 Brian met Paul Curtis – as he then was known (real name Paul Gurvitz). The two had a similar passion. Paul`s father, Sam was tour manager with the famous „Shadows“ – an invaluable connection. Paul and Brian formed a band with Mick Palmer (bass) and Stan (?) on drums. They were called `The Londoners. Sam Curtis found them their first work in France and Germany, playing U.S. army bases. Brian recalls „the black guys liked us best. We had no idea why they in particular took us to heart – but it could be because we were playing their music – rythm`n`blues – probably quite badly, but with great enthusiasm! Brian says „we saw nothing incongnous about four white English boys playing `Parchman farm`, a song about a Lousiana jail famous for its harsh treatment of black prisoners. We knew nothing!“
Upon their return to England the Londoners were hired as the backing bands for (-of all people!) Gene Vincent.
This contact came via Sam Curtis, now managing the grove. Vincent was by now resident in England. Brian says he learned 2 lessons. 1) Heroes are human beeings 2) Playing rock music is the best job in the world. The Londoners toured England on rock`n`roll package tours, meeting other greats such as Carl Pertains and Jerry Lee Lewis. Some years later Brian would also record with Jerry Lee, but this was way ahead in the future. Brian signed his first music publishing contract at this time, and began to get his songs recorded by other artists.
1964 The Londoners were offered work in Germany. The first stay was in Bremen at the Star Club. This was a `spin off`from the Hamburg club of that name. The Bremen club was opened for a brief period only. The Londoners proved very popular. In Bremen Brian met two people who would later come to play important parts in his life – Jochen Laschinsky and the young and beautiful Angela Panneck. Angela was learning photography and had gone to the club to take pictures. She quickly befriended the band, and began to help when English/German translation was neceessary. She invited the Londoners to her parent`s house, and they all were ties – not wishing her to percieved as rock`n`roll bad boys! Of Jochen more later…
After one month the Londoners played for the first time in the Star Club Hamburg, together with many British bands. This made the club something like the `Holy Grail`of rock music in Europe. There were fantastic energy between the young British bands.
The Londoners`constantly developing stage act was very popular with the people, and they appeared frequently over the next 2 years at the Star Club, returning to play England and Scandinavia in between. At one time they appeared continuously for 7/8 months.
This was not only due to their undoubted popularity, but because the Star Club boss, Manfred Weisslieder had tax problems which prevented him from paying the band other than „per dium“ subsistance money. This had the benefit of extending their popularity and stagecraft (due to the long hours – 3 o 4 hours every night, 7 nights a week) but also delivered a nice payday when Manfred could finally afford to honour hos obligation as his cashflow improved.
Angela Panneck regularly travelled to Hamburg to see `her boys`during this time.
The many bands who played the club with The Londoners are too numerous to mention but three are worthy of note.
The first of these deserve credit for their unmavering loyality to rock`n`roll (they are still playing!) and for their lasting friendship. Stand Up King Size (Ted) Taylor and the Dominoes.
The second was The Remo 4, who were just great, featuring Colin Manley – a lonely guitar player, Tony Ashton – also a lifelong friend who sadly passed away not so long ago, and Roy Dyke – a superb drummer who later played in the band `Badger`with Brian. The third band are the Cherokees, of whom more later…
1965 French singer Johnny Hallyday – a big star somewhat in the `Elvis`…… at the time recorded Brians song `Just my amagination`(`C`est mon imagination`). This was an early success for Brian, the songwriter. The Londoners recorded a series of `singles`in England, and released these under the name `The Knack`. Bass player Mick Palmer was now replaced by Geary Kenworthy. The first single was a Ray Davis/ Kintes song called `Who`ll be the next in line`
This was semi successful – that is, it received radio plays, some sold, but nothing spectacular. The succeeding singles did less well. There was, however, plenty of work and the band toured continuously.
When the band returned to Germany – notably to play the `Beat Festival`at the Stadthalle in Bremen with the Kinks, it was as `The Londoners` – the name by which they were best known in Germany. Jochen Laschinsky provided back line ……… from his own fledging band (Mushroams), and of course Angela was present.
The Knack returned to England to play and continued to develop their friendship with the Cherokees. At this time drummer Topper Clay left the Knack to join the Cherokees and the Knack recruited Lovie Farrell as his replacement. The Knack (once again billed as the Londoners) returned to play the Hamburg Star Club, and during their second month of duty were joined by the Cherokees. Friendships were strong, the Lodoners ever popular, and Topper …… very happy in his new `family`.
Christmas 1966 found Brian not wanting to play a gig „no matter how much money is on offer“ as the band had played throughout the previous 3 Christmases. As if on cue, a lot of money was indeed offered for a Christmas day gig. The band accepted the offer, Brian said „no“ and subsequently left.
He remained friendly with the Cherokees now calling themthelves `New York Public Library`and recording with bos pop producer Mickie Most (Animals, Lulo, Jeff Beck, the dreadful Hermans Hermits et cetera). When their singer John left, Brian was invited to join. He accepted.
NYPL toured extensively, and during one of their gigs Brians short-scale Rickenbacher guitar was stolen. Having to replace it quickly he was unable to find the same model, and insteat acquired a Rickenbacher 12 string guitar. The 12 string `jangle`sound became something of a NYPL trademark for a while. The band recorded singles – some of Brians songs, but also versions of Doors songs, Lovin`….. and others. Angela Panneck visited Brian in the UK. In this year also at this time Brian played many recording sessions, and was getting his songs covered by pop artists and groups from this era. Notable were Dave Dee, Dozy Beaky, Mick and Mick. Worth a mention just for the silly name. Very `poppy`and very successful in Europe.
Of the many guitar sessions played by Brian at the time, he was particulary pleased to be recording with Amory Kane. Amory was an American west coast songwriter.
The following morning I again met Tamara and Leandro and together we visited Peter Petzold, who had a DVD from Paul Gurvitz. Paul had recorded a welcome message to me, and a further message to our Hamburg friends from his home in Los Angeles. This was also very emotional – looking at Paul, who I had not seen for several years, whilst sitting with his daughter in Hamburg, where so much of this had began. Then I was aboard a `plane flying back to London, Heathrow.
Once in England I sent Angela an e-mail thanking her for coming to see me, and began to tell her much of what had happened in the past thirty something years. This was to be the first of many mails both ways as we each told our story.
There was one breathless `phone call on the Monday – because I simply had to hear her voice. I did not ask why or analyse this, it was non negotiable. The call had to be made. She sounded as excited as me. We were jabbering. Finally she said “I think we should each take tranquilizers before we talk again”. I was frightened to think to deeply about what was going on. The thought that kept trying to break in to my mind was more than highly inconvenient . It was pure madness. It did not seem to fit in with my life as I perceived it to be. I was aware of being excited to be in contact with my old friend. Indeed I loved her dearly and with more than half a lifetime between this meeting and our last, the excitement was quite understandable. Any other ideas were, simply, ludicrous. It`s called denial.
2004 – “HOME ALONE” // “WITH BAND”.
Jochen Laschinsky, now also in contact following the Hamburg show, began to e-mail me and ´out of the blue` made up two compilation CDs he called` Brian Parrish and Friends`, consisting of songs from the Londoners, the Knack, my first solo single, Badger stuff, NYPL and even a song from a rehearsal tape made in Hamburg in `64. I had totally forgotten much of this and with my recent Hamburg experience still fresh in my mind (and heart) I began to wonder what other songs and recordings I might have forgotten. I knew that when I had moved from London to Bletchingley in Surrey I had brought many tapes with me. Boxes and still more boxes, all stored in the basement. I would have to investigate. ……
When I started to rummage I found both more and less than I expected. The sheer volume of tapes, multi-tracks, rough mixes and so on was surprising. So much material going back to the 1970 s was unearthed, but there were severe damp problems in the basement and much of it proved unplayable.
Over a period of months I selected songs with a view to transferring them to some kind of digital storage medium for safe-keeping. Songs had been recorded on various formats over the years. Some were studio demos with my band, others were multi-tracked home recordings with me playing all instruments, backing vocals and so on.
After a time I decided to produce two CDs from this. There were songs enough to produce more than this, but many recordings were not salvageable. For those that were OK, or just about listenable to my ears, I would need help.
I called Peter Morrison, who had a lot of digital recording equipment in his studio and he said he would be happy to lend a hand. Peter is a useful songwriter himself and plays with the still performing New York Public Library. So it was that we met in his home studio and he was most generous with his time. He is “dab hand” in the studio too.
Eventually we settled on a selection of around 25 songs that represented a ´snapshot` of the different periods of my writing career.
Although not sure how to categorise them at first, it was suddenly clear. I would have one CD with my self played home recordings – demos dating back to 1978 and up to 2004 and title this compilation “Home Alone”. The second CD was full of studio demos made with my band between 1978 and 1989. This would be called “Songwriter Plus Band”.
My good friend Jochen Laschinsky offered to master them for me and help with the packaging. Duly supplied with photographs, logos, text and information he set about producing CDs as a ´limited edition´ for me. He did such a great job too. His kindness to me was, and is, extraordinary.
This was a cathartic experience for me, as it took me back over my life musically – a process which we have tried to complete here as a biography for the benefit of anyone interested.
I gave the CDs to friends and decided that I must now get on to recording the new songs that I had been writing.
Angela and I had been e-mailing quite regularly and speaking once in a while. She was in my heart, no question. I so did not want to lose contact with her anymore and we had begun to discover so many parallels and similarities in the events of our lives. Most of all we knew that we were kindred spirits, effortlessly close. She sent me pictures from her past and I began to build a picture of her life. It is difficult to describe or even understand myself what was happening to me as I went about my life in England. Angela was simply ´there´ and I began to look forward to her e-mails, and as she later told me, she also eagerly opened her lap top each day to see if I had written. Then it happened. On June 29th I got an e-mail from Angela to tell me that she was having tests for something in her left breast. She had not wanted to tell me, but would I pray for her? My head was spinning, I telephoned, but there was nothing to do but wait for the results of the tests. Nothing,that is, except pray. And pray, I most definitely did. For the next few days nothing else was on my mind. “Oh please, don`t let anything happen to her” was how the praying started, but over the days I became more aggressive as I became determined to “take Heaven by storm”. On July 4th the dreaded e-mail came. Malignant. Both sides. Now I was angry. Of major concern was how my dear, dear Angela was feeling. Was she frightened? More `phone calls, more e-mails, more prayer.
I told her to pray to Jesus. I told her He would never leave her side. The Father so loved His children that He sent His only begotten Son for our salvation. I had no fear of death or ill health for myself. I had been there and He had taken it from me. But this? How could I ease her pain? She was about to go it alone, as each of us must if we are seriously ill. All the well wishers in the world are powerless. But if she would only reach out for His hand, He would be there. Absolutely. In His Word He says “If two or more are gathered in My Name, I will be among them “. That`s unambiguous. I would ask Angela if I could pray with her over the telephone. She said “Yes”, and we did.
Then came the operation, on the day after my birthday and before long came chemo- therapy. She had bad days, without question, but she was resilient, stoic, unfussy, occasionally vulnerable and,over the next few months, wonderfully courageous. Something happened in me and I told her that I would get to see her as soon as possible. I told her that I loved her and that she could count on this, call upon my love for the rest of my life. I did not analyse whether this was a `spirit `love or a `soul` love – a man / woman thing. I only knew that this was the single most important thing to me in this time. She had to be OK! Her beautiful life had to go on – and flawed though I be, I would try not to let her down. The e-mails continued back and forth.
I had found some Parrish & Gurvitz tapes and copies of my solo `Love on my Mind `album, together with its original (subsequently rejected) sleeve design. I left these with Pete to digitise and the results also were sent to Jochen. As the year drew to a close I had copied of a lot of my work on CD and Angela was having the last of her ray treatment, following chemo- therapy. Her beautiful red curls were gone and I knew she was deeply affected by this. She did not feel feminine. When she told me I said “Oh good! I love bald women!” It`s just what you do at a time like this. Resort to bad jokes.
Christmas came. I was also with people I love – but this brave little woman in Germany was all that was on my mind.
As January came I was `keeping tabs` on Angela and writing songs and wondering about live gigs. Hamburg had taught me that it could be difficult sound-wise, but definitely possible. The fact is if I can not hear myself, I may well play or sing out of tune – a nightmare for someone who loves to play live. I had started to think about an “in ear” monitoring system – little scarcely visible ear pieces with a signal generated from a wireless (radio) transmitter. This could be the answer….
The telephone rang. It was Roy Dyke `s daughter, Aysha. Roy was to be 60 years old in February and there was a plan to stage a “Star-Club All Stars” night on Saturday 12th in Hamburg. Would I come and play? I said “Yes of course, for Roy, always.” Then I thought of Angela. I telephoned her. Would she be well enough to come? If not, I would make sure of seeing her somehow whilst in Germany. We would see….
Over the weeks we got information on the other guys turning out for Roy. Kingsize Taylor and the Dominos were confirmed. Carl Terry too – wonderful lunatic that he is and Ecki Hoffmann – a very tasty sax player. The list was growing and it looked like being a great evening.
More e-mails: Tamara was coming, Jochen also and Angela planned to stay in Hamburg for the weekend . She begged me not to feel in any way obliged to spend much time with her, as the show was `more important`, however she was with car and would `taxi`for me, if I wanted. Was she kidding??
On February 11th I flew into Hamburg and later that evening I went to the Downtown Blues Club – the venue for the concert on the following day. There I met the owner, Uwe Mamminga, who was warm and welcoming. The man loves music and the guys who play it. Some of the other Brit musos had arrived and the usual hugs and talk of old times ensued. The venue felt great , the atmosphere was warm and all boded well for a good show tomorrow. By the time I returned to my hotel I had a bad headache – which happens occasionally since the neurosurgery, but my mood was ´up ´.
The next day Angela was to come to breakfast. I was up early. She was late – very unlike her, as she first went to the wrong hotel. This seemed to build the tension. I was sitting in the restaurant and suddenly she was there. So beautiful! Had this woman really been so ill? She had lustrous shiny red hair! Too long to be her own, I knew, but looking good. I remember nothing of what we spoke about, only the pure excitement of seeing her. We went up to my room, where I would collect my things to go to the Downtown Blues Club. While I busied myself with this she went in to the bathroom. She emerged some minutes later and said “Look at me”. I looked – the shiny red hair was gone and in its place some fuzz around one centimetre long – like duck down. The door of my heart blew off, never to be seen again. She was beautiful, still so beautiful and in that moment as her courage and her vulnerability were revealed to me, I was in love. But she must never know. We held each other. How was it that time stopped when this happened? When time finally did break in, it was time to go.
The club was buzzing with tuning up noises and microphones being tested. Uwe was running around everybody. “Do you want a coffee? Something stronger?” Different `bands`
were to play throughout the evening and of these Ted and the Dominos were first to sound-check. Each one had maybe fifteen minutes, tops.
The main band for this evening was obviously the Roy Dyke `All Star `band including myself. As the great man took his place behind his kit, we discussed what we would do. Different `solo `spots would be featured, including one from me, consisting of four or five songs. We ran a few bars of everyone´s featured songs and all too soon we were done and vacating the stage for the next outfit, whilst still discussing endings”. I will cue you for the key change, ok?”
That evening the backstage area had been extended to include a restaurant where dinner and the party would take place. The food was good. Uwe, still running around frenetically, was the best host imaginable and the area began to fill up with many faces that I knew from way back. Indeed there were so many that I was sure this would be a special night that I would always remember. Angela sat beside me during dinner, occasionally squeezing my hand. Roy was laughing. Aysha, who had organized everything, looked resplendent as did her mother Stacia, who had also come from her home in Ireland to join the celebration. I began to miss Tony Ashton, but I could almost feel his spirit in the room. This was great! The club outside was packed to the rafters and the feeling of anticipation was high. Suddenly, from the stage came booming bass and drums and the riff from “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”. Ted and the Dominos with their patented method of removing ear wax. The evening had started…….
Later we went through our paces. The sound was a little strange to me (it´s always a concern since the loss of one ear), but the people were loving it. Roy was superb – on great form. My songs went very well. Then a certifiable lunatic took the stage, jumping around like one possessed. Rubber legs, bulging wild eyes, big crepe sole shoes. He was enjoying himself too much! He is wild. He is funny. He is Carl Terry. Great guy. Then there were some speeches. I read something out in bad German. A last song and we were off. As the next group of musicians took the stage I towelled off and rejoined the party.
Everything was crazy – Roy cutting a big birthday cake, people doing press interviews, more old friends. “Do you remember me?” Uschi Nerke (Beat Club) running around, Tamara laughing, Jochen Laschinsky looking tall and regal. Carl Terry smiling, mild mannered. Could this really be the same berserker who`s jumping around had threatened to punch holes in the stage? This was a happy, happy night. Eventually the curtain came down on the proceedings, and I was climbing in to a car with Tamara and Angela. They dropped me off at my hotel and I extracted a promise from Angela to come to see me in the morning before I would fly back to England. In the morning she came . We held each other. Same feeling as before! We talked about last night and when I might come back, all the time exchanging the odd glance, as if each of us was frightened of full-on eye contact. When our eyes did finally lock together the feeling was tangible, unmistakable. We knew. We said nothing. She had her life. I had mine.
We would go to Tamara for coffee and they would take me to the airport. We said our “goodbyes” to the many musicians who had also stayed in the same hotel and set off. Later that day Angela was seeing me off at the airport. “I love you” … “I know,I love you too”- and suddenly my feet were walking in the opposite direction to my heart.
Back in England, it was not long before I began to get mail from my increasing German `family`. Willie Becker had a band – The Shamrocks- (together with Adrian Askew, who had played the Indra Club with me the previous year) – and asked if I would care to guest with them later in the year when they were play in Kiel. Of course I would.
Meanwhile I was working on burying my “heart” feelings under a ton of logic, rationalisation, responsibilities and a lot of very grown up stuff which I labelled `reality`, when it was, in fact, the opposite. I was writing more songs. Paul Gurvitz was interested to hear the missing Parrish & Gurvitz recordings I had discovered. I would send a CD.
LONG DISTANCE MAN
I decided to put together a compilation of eight songs to be drawn from the two CDS of demos, together with a couple of newer tunes. Jochen helped with this once again. The idea was that I could use this as a `sampler` for professional use, as opposed to a `walk down memory lane` for friends as the previous compilations had been. This was produced under the title “Long Distance Man” and contained also the newly written “Most of All”.
Summer came: Kiel. Willie met me at the airport in Lübeck and drove us to his studio to meet the other Shamrocks. Angela had said she would come of “of course” and later that day we saw each other. Once again I was having the feelings I had told myself I did not have. How long could I keep this up? It was a sunny day and we played in the open air. This was `Kieler Woche`(Kiel week), a cultural event encompassing various kinds of music, dance troupes, food from many different countries and much more besides. The Shamrocks were a good time rock `n `roll band and a `good time `was what we had. I met Willie`s son, Brian- named after me, he says. Very flattering! I have another friend in Germany, Thomas Mösing, who also has a son named after me. I had not realized quite how much we (I?) meant to people when The Londoners played in Hamburg. The echoes are still reverberating from the Star-Club time, not only for me, but for all the bands who played and the people who were there. It certainly shaped my (musical) life. Angela was wonderful in Kiel. She was looking stronger, feeling better all the time. She is a fighter and between her excellent medical care and our loving Heavenly Father, she was going to be well. This was all I cared about. All too soon my feet were once again walking away from my heart.
Once home in England the e-mails to and from Angela reached saturation level. I had no immediate plans to return to Germany, but I was now in contact with so many friends there, that I knew it would not be long. Willie was mailing again, asking I fancied doing a gig with his band in Stuttgart in a club called Zapata. I really like Willie, the Shamrock stuff is fun, and Angela was never out of my mind or heart. So bring on Stuttgart, I would be there! 20th October found me in the Zapata in Stuttgart. It was a surprisingly big club, holding 1.500 people or more. The band played and I tested my new ear monitoring system. It was OK, but still far from perfect. It would take some getting used to, but it did help somewhat. The thing between Angela and me was on fire now, we talked. We had both been close enough to death to know that each minute of our lives is too precious to waste. I knew I wanted her happiness more than my own, if such a sacrifice was necessary. Finally we concluded however difficult the logistics might be – if mountains had to be moved, we must be together. We were in love with each other and would ever be. But I had to fly back again. And plans must be made for our new life. Somebody was going to have to move countries. No problem, I would go to live on the moon with this person, if she asked me. There were many people to get behind my music if I came to Germany. It would take time, perhaps some months to conclude everything in England, but this was the way to go. I loved playing to German audiences and it felt like unfinished business. I would come back to fulfil the (musical) promise made in Hamburg in the sixties. The dept would be repaid.
So began the process of breaking down my recording equipment in England. Meanwhile Angela was looking for a new home for us. E-mails were flying back and forth. What furniture would I bring? What must we buy? I like Italian furniture. Angela went to look. She took photographs of many pieces she liked and e-mailed them to me. Gradually it came together at such a distance. Were we crazy? She found a place, more pictures… Did I like it? This was in the countryside. A definite “yes” on that score. There would be no more cities for me unless she had other ideas. She agreed. Our taste is very similar in just about everything (except tomatoes, I hate them, she loves them). Little by little everything came together, and by Christmas Angela was installed in our new home. There was still much to do and I could not move completely until later in the New Year. However I would come for Christmas. When I arrived for a first look I was taken aback with how much this small woman had done alone. She almost set the place on fire with candles she had placed around our home to make it romantic, but she had created such a warm environment without need of additional heat. We had a wonderful Christmas. Tamara and Leandro came. We saw Jochen and his lovely wife, Ingrid. I began to visualize a music room. How would the garden look in the summer? There was a lake …… it was close to perfect. New Years Eve (Sylvester) was spent in a charming restaurant. I was “suited and booted” and she looked wonderful. The next day was Angela`s birthday and we spent it together. Then back to the UK for me.
I was now working towards a goal and looking for (music) opportunities in my new country. And there was much prayer. I could hardly believe what had come to pass in my life. How could I have guessed what had been or might yet be in store? The Lord is ever faithful. His love is unconditional, but our decisions are freely your own and we are responsible for our choices. Without elaborating here, the decision that Angela and I took to be together would effect many people and would hurt some of them. People we both love. There is not one shred of doubt between us that this is our destiny, but a life changing decision such as this cannot be taken lightly. It wasn`t. I began to commute from around February onwards, so that I was flying into Bremen almost every weekend. Also I was bringing guitars and other equipment which could be carried by hand.
“Let the Good Times Roll”
The first such visit was to include a trip to Hamburg to see old friend Horst Fascher. Horst had written a book called “Let the Good Times Roll”, recalling his Star Club experiences. He was holding a press launch at Neue Flora to co-incide with his 70th birthday on 5th February. We showed up and the press were out in force, television, too. Before long I had microphones up my nose asking me about the `old days`, any “Horst stories” and “why was Hamburg and the Star Club so important?” Horst was very pleased to see us and we explained that we could not stay as long as we would like, as I had to get to the airport in Bremen to fly home that evening. There were bands playing. Someone put a guitar in my hand and asked me to please sing something. I said “It must be quick, as I have to catch a flight”. So I was announced – “Brian has time for one song only, as he has to dash to the airport to fly back to England”. I played one song -“Bo Diddley” I think. The people went bananas, and we rushed out of the building, as it really was “ touch and go” with time, should we encounter traffic problems. We finally got to Bremen in good time, only to learn that all flights to the UK were grounded that evening due to problems in the UK. I could not fly until the next day, so the frantic car journey had been for nothing. But it was a most effective exit from the stage in Hamburg! I could not have choreographed it better. Life is occasionally hilarious.
This is Your Life, Mr. Laschinsky
On May 24th Jochen Laschinsky would be 60. He planned to celebrate with family and old friends, with live music and good food. Angela and I were invited of course and Jochen was hosting the celebration in customary and typical style at the Waldbühne in the Bürgerpark in Bremen. His children Inga and Freya had put together a slide show of photographs taken throughout the years of Jochen`s life and this was constantly playing, projected on to one of the walls. It was funny and moving by turns. Jochen was in great form – witty and intelligent. Angela was behind the lens of a camera again, taking super pictures of everyone. The band played. Jochen sang. He had also began by singing skiffle in Germany at around both again. We dropped in on the weekly accoustic session and I sang a bit, with Pete throwing in a nice harmony here and there.
The next night was the gig .Topper was clearly happy to see so many Hamburg faces – not only musicians, but some among the crowd. The place was packed (later on in the evening I wished it was not)! Uschi was the compere (in Deutsch they call it moderator, which to my English ears sound a bit like referee. Just what we needed as it turned out). The opening band played ` Beatles `pop at breakneck speed and VERY loud. They played and played. More than once I was told “you are on now”, and still the band played…. My ear system had been switched on, ready, throughout. When the band had played every Beatle song they knew (not the `clever ´ stuff – Day in the Life, Eleanor Rigby and so on) I was finally announced. When I took the gig I was told “we will get you a backing band”. It is usual in such circumstances to meet the band on the day, and so long as the musicians are competent this is not the “white knuckle” ride it could be. On this occasion I had drawn the short straw. My band for the evening was these `mock` Beatles. As I walked out on stage, the first thing I was aware of was the glaring faces of the band. They did not want to do this anymore than I wanted them to do it. I counted the first song in. It was deafening. As I approached the microphone I became aware of a second, bigger problem. My `in-ear`hearing system was out and I could not hear myself. What followed was the flailing of a band who would not know the blues, if they tripped over it. looking blankly at each other every time I played a chord that is not in `Twist and Shout ` and al this with the `feel ` of a herd of stampeding wildebeest. As for myself – I was struggling and mostly out of tune. I was quite sure, but the professional thing is always to keep going. It was like being slowly spit- roasted.
I left the stage to fantastic applause which I could not understand. We certainly had not earned it. As for the band , recriminations would have been pointless, and I did learn that through a mix up (not H. D`s fault) they had not known that they would be required to back anyone. Niether do I say that they were actually a bad band, merely a bad band for me. Many friends were in – Jochen, Steve and others. Despite my discomfort and embarrassment they were all very warm to me. The audience had clearly loved it, and the subsequent review which appeared in the press, said the most complimentary things about me. Somebody up there likes me. It was undeserved ….. But on the night as Kingsize Taylor turned in his usual rocking set, I noticed that Topper, now in his cups, was grinning like a Cheshire cat. There were smiling faces all around and the only down turned mouth in the building was mine. I resolved to put it behind me and to try to learn something from the experience, keep smiling, as they say. The next day we were taking our English guests around Bremen and later to the airport for their return.
On 30th October I was invited to play at the Kukuc (literally `culture café `) in Ottersberg. This was a strange night with many kinds of acts – poets, singers and for one night, Brian Parrish. I took my friend Markus Willer with me to play slide on resonator guitar. I played accoustic . I could hear everything! The evening was a great success and Markus, as ever, played some lovely stuff. The Worpswede thing was forgotten, and my confidence was back!
In November I was asked by Ted Taylor to join him and the band for another rock `n `roll night at the Downtown Blues Club in Hamburg. Howie was on board.. “No” was not really an option unless I was pre – booked else where. I was not. We did the gig, I sang some stuff, this time with the able support of the Dominoes. I did have some hearing problems – but nothing that anyone else would notice – it just inhibits my playing. I am still coming to terms with what I can do in a “live” situation with electric instruments. Meanwhile the people always love what I do – and I am very grateful for that – and the warmth and friendship of Ted and the boys is great. Another good night.
In December I played the Accoustic session together with Mr. Westaway and company in the Music Hall itself where a Christmas market was taking place. Great fun. Big hit with the people.
My digital studio is now set up and with the kind help of my good friend Heiko Grein , I have been learning to use it. I am very exited by the new songs. One of them, “Moving on” has proved very popular with audiences at the `Accoustic Lounge ` sessions in Worpswede. Another song – the recording of which was completed in January in my home studio, is “Help me Darling”. This song was the song given to me virtually intact as I lay in hospital in 2000 recovering from neurosurgery. I have no explanation for this. It seems an unlikely time to get a musical idea – but there it is. I wrote a bridge for it and some additional lyrics in our home in Adolphsdorf. The song could have been written in its entirety just yesterday, so fresh does it sound. Heiko Grein is my remix engineer, I am delighted to say. I trust his ears, his technical ability and his integrity as a `music man `. This is one more reason why I have agreed to do some promo work with his Dandyland label.
Now that I am installed in Germany I am filled with energy and optimism for the future. The songs are flowing and the project in hand is to get these recorded for a CD to be issued later this year. The tentative Title is “Moving On” – but that could well change.
Kukuc 17th February.
There next gig was at the Kukuc in Ottersberg on 17th February. This was a great success, I am pleased to say. There is are reviews on this site, if you care to look and can read Deutsch! Some radio and TV slots have been promised too – so do check on this side for more announcements.
After I played in Hamburg early in 2004, following such a long absence, I was moved to write an open letter to the ` Star Club ` fans. I have just re-read it.I made the point that ours was the first generation to join hands in friendship following the war. To many of our parents this would have been unimaginable. We all loved rock `n` roll and R & B music. Musically I have come back to Germany to keep a promise that was implicit in what we shared. If you like what I do – first of all I thank you for visiting this site and second, I promise you that the best is yet to come.
I have not been this excited since I first stepped on stage at the Star Club all those years ago!
Maybe you are someone who was part of all that energy in the sixties. Or perhaps you are looking at this site out of curiosity. Do you feel that `modern` music has left you behind? Maybe it is now a `nostalgia ` thing for you. To you I say, come back to your family! I never stopped doing this stuff, or believing in the dream. Truly, what we are trying to do now is what you might call rock `n `roll for grown ups`- that is songs for `now` with the intensity of `then´. I will try to touch your heart and mind – and make your hips move too!
I am having the time of my life, and I will continue to play, sing and write music for as long as I can walk. Maybe longer!
I invite you to listen.
All the best to you