A tribute to Geoff Goddard by BSP

Maybe it’s a perverse thing to be into – but I really enjoy tributes and obituaries. With the optimum mix of reverence, detail and direction, an epitaph can become a valuable snapshot of a person. It’s not an activity to be taken lightly.

While he was alive, Geoff Goddard penned two excellent tribute songs. One was to Buddy Holly and the other was to Eddie Cochran – this latter one was named ‘Just Like Eddie’ and it was a hit for Heinz.

In the early 1960s, Geoff was a talented foil to the equally talented Joe Meek. The sweeping melody on ‘Telstar’ by the Tornados is all his own work. In fact, most of the piano on most of Meek’s output is Geoff Goddard’s exclusive work.

By all accounts, he was a right old character. Interested in the occult, UFOs and the like, his behaviour was frequently strange. But in his later life, working as a ‘clearer-upper’ at Reading University’s refectory, he was just another affable bloke quietly earning a small crust by day. By night, though, he would sit alone for hours in his flat, playing his Casio piano.

Inquiring minds of our time Yan and Noble of British Sea Power worked alongside Geoff in the kitchens at this time. The effect on these two younger musicians was profound. Yan told www.creativetimes.co.uk :

“I heard him play piano once, and it was the best music I ever heard. He did a Christmas thing for the old ladies ”“ he did Christmas carols and singalongs.

“I was in the canteen working, washing pots. He used to get the pots out and start drumming on them. Then we got talking, and he started chatting about Casio keyboards.”

He died in 2000, after which the man who had so carefully commemorated the lives of Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran in song was himself remembered… by Yan. The song, ‘The Lonely’, is one of British Sea Power’s very finest.

Fast forward to Wednesday, September 8. Fate has stripped British Sea Power down to an acoustic three-piece for the launch party of Roy Wilkinson’s book, ‘Do It For Your Mum’. An emergency set is quickly rehearsed. Nobody knows what will happen – it could be a shambles. But it’s anything but. And the second song is an astonishingly powerful rendition of ‘The Lonely’, complete with peculiar piano riffs from Phil and a staggeringly fine vocal from Yan. It’s ghostly and hymn-like, and moving. Modern life and gadgets are wonderful: somebody filmed it:

So, yes, I enjoy tributes and obituaries – and I think they are important. And this particular one, performed live at The Lexington, less than two miles from Geoff Goddard’s old RGM Studios stomping ground in Holloway Road, London, has – I hope you might agree – something special. Even when reduced down to mere YouTube pixels, there’s real magic here.

Andy Barding

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