Wednesday, 26 November 2008

My Tone Deaf Mate Won TWO Ivor Novella Awards

My good friend Stephen (or Quick Sketch) from the 'How To Be an Inspiration' blog got me into writing these things, and so I thought I would return the favour by pulling down humilation upon him.

Actually, I would like to blow his trumpet for him and share with you an article I had previously written setting the record straight on a modern day tale of rock & roll success dreamt of by all of us would be rock stars....well sort of.

Oh be fair...and to set the record straight, Steve is NOT tone deaf. It was artistic licence and made for a more interesting headline...sorry buddy!

You all know what it’s like; you are 14 years old and you are going to become the greatest rock star this world has EVER seen.

There were four of us with that hard and fast belief. First off there was Gary. All the girls loved him, so he had to be the in the band even though he couldn’t play a note on any musical instrument of any kind. We might just attract girls by default if he were around.

Darren (Bassbin), as hopeless with the girls as I was, lanky with unmanageable hair but fancied himself as a bit of a drummer.

Me, face full of spots and mocked by all for being the ‘the preachers kid’ and yet I owned an acoustic guitar and I was known to be able to hold a note in tune and so I was going to be the singer.

And then there was Steve, or Dylan as we all knew him (yes, just like the rabbit from the Magic Roundabout). He actually owned a ¾ length bass guitar and an amp and speaker to plug it into so he had to be in. From this unholy rabble ‘Phaze One’ was born upon an unsuspecting world.

It wasn’t that we were crap; it was just that we didn’t have a clue.

I was the only one that could play a single chord at that point. Well, when I say single, I mean about four and it would take me the best part of a week to get from one to the other.

We didn’t have a drum kit, so we used Steve’s mum’s sofa, no PA (that’s probably where my ability to scream my head off came from). Gary used Darren’s black Les Paul copy without any kind of amplification and not even an inkling as to what to do with the thing.

Steve was able to make the most noise because he was amplified. The more power, the more volume, a concept I grew to lust after over the years. However, he barely knew which way round to hold his bass guitar, and in that his favourite bass player of the time was Paul McCartney from Wings (and he plays a left handed bass) confusion rang.

The only thing that we could bang out (and I use the word ‘bang’ advisedly) was the opening riff of ‘Satisfaction’ by the ‘Rolling Stones’. And I belted out the only lyrics we knew “I can’t get no….Satisfaction” over the top of that riff. We didn’t know any more than that and as not one of us owned the record in any shape or form we couldn’t even consider what might come next.

To say that we were truly awful would have been an understatement. Even the early Punks would have turned their heads in disgust as we polluted Darren’s mother’s garage with a row that could wake the dead.

It didn’t last long, mainly because one of Darren’s neighbours called the police. As Steve had the only amplification, it had to have been down to him; even I couldn’t make that much noise without a PA.

I don’t think that the officers that arrived were particularly narked by any of this, more wildly amused by the sight of these lanky, scruffy and acne riddled teenagers making more noise than a cat being stuffed through a garden shredder…slowly……!

By now we had been booted out of all our practice spaces for crimes against domestic peace and quiet by our parents and had even tried the school music rooms. Trouble is at that point the head of the music department was heavily into Swing (the music not the sexual activity) and our particular brand of unpolished rock & roll was an anathema to him and so we were duly and unceremoniously kicked out.

By this point I think it became transparently clear that we were going no-where fast.

Gary was going out with way too many girls to be able to spend the time and commitment to take our band stratospheric and we discovered that although he was becoming a mighty fine writer, our suspicions were being confirmed that Steve was probably tone deaf. Apart from that he had aspirations of becoming a literary giant as opposed to anything as crass as a rock star (writers command a more refined and educated groupie…….I didn’t care at 14 years old, all they needed was a pulse and be into scruffy, skinny, spot addled preachers kids……and before you say it, no none of them were).

So musically we went our separate ways. Gary did one last musical leap and played the lead role of ‘Tony’ in the schools production of ‘West Side Story’ (damn his good looks). Darren and I went on to be those rock gods we dreamed of…….hang on a mo, I mean we continued to DREAM of being those rocks gods…and still do.

However, our tone deaf pal went on to much greater things, if only by accident.

Steve went to London (being the only one of our group that could actually string a sentence together he went to University) and he became of all things a playwright. And a damn fine one too I might add.

He was involved in writing the script for a production that contained several songs, and in order to fulfil a particular point within the production Steve took and old classic pub song, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and put the biblical words of the ‘Lords’ Prayer’ to it’ (you have a sense of where I am going with this haven’t you).

Well the production was a great success and nothing more was thought about it. Until that is, Steve got a call to say that one ‘Sir Clifford of Richard’ wanted to take this song from the production and make it his BIG single of the decade, his Christmas No1 that would ensure him a hit in Lord knows how many decades.

And that was it. Cliff Richard released the ‘Millennium Prayer’ at the end of 1999 and as you know the outcry was massive. Cliff parted company with EMI over it. Radio stations refused to play it and George Michael described it as ‘Vile’ (coming from somebody who was caught in the gents in the same year, a bit harsh really).

There was litigation over rights, the lot (I think that by the end Steve had begun to wish he had stayed with trying to play the bass guitar).

Steve (Dylan) Deal, Cliff and Paul Field.

However, good Christian people everywhere went out and bought it by the truck load (I did, but only because my mate had written it). Anyway, once the dust had settled, there were enough writers’ royalties left for Steve to buy a shed for his son to keep his push bike in…..what a rock and roll life style.

Once the dust had settled even further it was discovered that ‘Millennium Prayer’ had become the biggest selling single for 1999 and Steve won two….yes ..TWO Ivor Novella awards and flippin heavy beggars they are as well. I have often sat in his living room cradling the statuettes, day dreaming of what might have been.

Steve doesn’t write so much these days as he is not in the best of health, he suffers with a condition called Muscular Dystrophy, which has left him in a wheel chair and very dependant on the care of his wife and carers.

I certainly do not mention this in order to get Steve the sympathy vote, blimey no! Steve doesn’t do sympathy and he is as determined (and bloody minded) as ever he was. The mark of a good writer.

The reason that I mention it is that Steve is helping to raise the understanding and often plight of the disabled community in this country by writing a blog about his day to day life of living in a wheel chair often at the mercy of bureaucracy and quite often morons.

If you want an informative, but often hilarious read then go to.

Not bad for a kid from Whitchurch who couldn’t hold a note if his life depended on it.

Paul Field singing the original Millenium prayer in the original production

Moi in the one of the lead roles in West Side Story.....and not the one in the dress either......she werre luverly, but wouldn't look at me twice!!

1 comment:

BassBin said...

Have I read this somewhere before, or is it just Deja Vu...again!

PS I think you'll find it is Ivor Novello... numb nuts.

See you at the big gig.