January – March
4 January – A memorial service is held for the 270 people who died in the Lockerbie air disaster two weeks ago
As soon as we got back from America, in December 1988, I started back at Our Price Records as Christmas cover. I had written to my old manager (and bass player in The Rain), Tony Duckworth from the States to get this organised. I was in Our Price Woking, and it felt very odd to be so out of touch. Six months previously I had been on top of everything, chart positions, new releases even catalogue numbers. When somebody asked me for the Gipsy Kings album, which was huge, (and I hadn’t heard of) I looked under Gy for ‘Gypsy’ and couldn’t find it.
Danny and I knew we were only back in Surrey temporarily though, while we got ourselves organised to make the move to London. I searched the jobs section in ‘Music Week’ every Monday.
I couldn’t wait to get The Buzz Club going again and had been given a selection of dates by Jem at the West End Centre in Aldershot. While I was still I was mulling over who to try and get for the first gig, I got a phone call from an agent called Pete Target. He said, ‘You might not have heard of them, but I’ve just taken on a brilliant band from Manchester called The Stone Roses. I’m looking to get them a few dates in March, what do you think?’
They were actually my favourite band. I’d seen them play a couple of times in London in 1987 and ’88 – (the second time they were supporting The La’s) and had ‘Sally Cinnamon‘ and ‘Elephant Stone‘ on 12″. I didn’t care if no one came to see them, I said ‘You bet!’
‘Wild Thing’ by Tone Loc was played all the time on KROQ when we were in California and I had bought it, again on 12″, while we over there. We saw his label, Delicious Vinyl , was hosting a night, at the Fridge in Brixton on January 25th so got tickets.
It was brilliant – incredible line up – Def Jeff / Tone Loc / Young MC / Body ’n’ Soul / G Love E. We met up with our friend from Surrey, John Andrews, who had recently moved to London.
As we were leaving I heard the dj playing a record I didn’t know but which sounded awesome. I caught the lyric, something like, ‘Jennifer oh Jenny…..’.
Danny started work at his new job in late February. Mayking Records was a vinyl, cassette and cd manufacturing company, based in Battersea. He handled the accounts for, among others, Factory and Creation Records. He was driving up from Surrey every day.
19 January – Unemployment fell by 66,000 in December, to a nine-year low of just over 2 million. It was last at this level in 1980.
We were going to gigs in London fairly frequently. We saw Love & Money at the Town and Country Club on February 2nd. I had been a big fan of the Scottish band Friends Again and also loved (but not quite as much) their guitarist, James Grant‘s new, rockier, band, Love and Money. It was always a joy to watch him play guitar, swinging his semi acoustic round to his hip for those gorgeous solos.
5 February – Sky Television begins broadcasting as the first satellite TV service in Britain
Martin Stephenson played a solo show at the Bracknell Arts Centre on the 6th – a great local gig. Then, back up to the T&C for The Throwing Muses on February 26th . It was actually more for the support band I wanted to go to this though. The Sundays. I’d read about them in the N.M.E.s my Mum had posted to me in the U.S.. Their debut live gig at The Falcon in Camden was reviewed and sounded incredible and they signed to Rough Trade, after a bidding war, not long after.
Singer, Harriet, had previously done some vocals with local band and Buzz Club regulars, Jim Jiminee who also included Nick, who is Patch, The Sundays drummer’s brother. Patch had sent me a copy of The Sundays demo to get them a gig at The Buzz Club, but it was while I was away in America so it never happened. In January 1989 they released their debut single, a song I still have right up there in my all time top singles lists. In fact, when Patch brings the snare in at 2:33 and Harriet’s vocals lift that bit, I think it’s pure magic. We were late arriving and I could hear them start ‘Can’t Be Sure’ as we were showing our tickets, I rushed through as fast as I could and made it just in time for that bit – phew!
I got sent the press kit and photos for The Stone Roses, so started to promote the gig.
We would drive around the area, a bucket of wall paper paste, a kitchen broom and the posters in my parents’ car and put them all up. Stopping at bus shelters and other sites that were already covered in gig posters, hoping the police wouldn’t drive by!
Going through the new releases at work in early March, an album sleeve looked so fabulous I had to put it on straight away. It was wonderful and hey, there’s that song I heard at the Fridge!
At last I saw an advert in ‘Music Week’ that jumped out at me – The Rock Garden in Covent Garden was looking for a band booker. I applied, was interviewed by Sean McDonnell a week later and was offered the job a few days after that. Madly exciting, this now meant we could start looking for a flat. So, each day during my last week at Our Price, I would buy a copy of the Evening Standard and hop on the train to Waterloo after work. Danny and I would meet in a pub and check out the flats to rent, making appointments for the ones we liked the look of. One Sunday morning, we drove up to check out a ground floor flat on New North Road in Islington – we thought it was perfect. By the time we got home, my Mum told us the landlord had phoned and offered it to us. A happy, sad moment as she passed on the message, this obviously meant I was now officially leaving home.
It’s the two downstairs windows in this picture –
The week of The Stone Roses gig arrived, tickets were doing ok, but not brilliantly. Then with perfect timing, the week they were due to play The Buzz Club, ‘Made of Stone’ was Single of the Week in ‘Melody Maker’, they had an amazing half page live review in the ’N.M.E.’ and best of all, they were featured on SNUB TV. (You can read a more detailed version of their Buzz Club gig plus my other Stone Roses stories here).
We sold 178 tickets. That’ll do. Covered our costs, enough for a great atmosphere. After they sound checked the band came into the bar for a minute. Ian Brown said to me ‘I like your hair, where d’ya get it cut?’ I was a little lost for words as the answer was actually a shop run by a couple of our friends, Kenny and Steve, in Aldershot called ‘Blow Jobs’!
We chatted to the band’s tour manager, Steve. He was kind of managing them too. He told us about the way that people would break open lamp posts to run the power for illegal raves in Manchester.
When they played I was straight down the front, this wasn’t a Buzz Club headliner I was going to miss -as I often did – sorting out the finances. Of course they were incredible, but this wasn’t just loving every minute of a Stone Roses gig this was also thinking ‘I did this!’. That was a great feeling.
I recently got sent this – their set list from that night, pretty much the first album.
On the 15th March, The Stone Roses played the Powerhaus in London and I went with my friend Marie Lou to see them. A wide grin on my face all night, not just knowing the words and loving the music, but knowing I’d put them on a few days previously.
We moved up to London late in March and I started work at the Rock Garden in Covent Garden. Extremely exciting to be living and working in London. I would catch the bus to the Holloway Road and get the tube from there to Covent Garden.
The first gig we went to as London residents was James, with the Inspiral Carpets supporting, at the Dominion on 22 March. I was on the guest list too, the first time I’d not bought a ticket for a gig!
26 March – Nigel Mansell wins the Brazilian Grand Prix.