They say you are meant to remember the first time but I don’t properly.
The first gig of my own choosing. When I was little my gay “uncle” had taken me to the Beatles and the Stones in the Ipswich Gaumont. He wasn’t my actual uncle. His name was Peter and he was a hairdresser in the place where my Mum was the receptionist . Anyway my Mum used to go to Majorca on holiday with him and always come back brown and happy. They broke the bed in one hotel laughing so much she used to say.
She drew the line at him “interfering with young boys. You can go to Morocco for that” but Peter never treated me as child. Of course I must see these bands. He would arrange it. Which was pretty fabulous really. I do remember those gigs as I was mostly frightened by the screaming. I was maybe about 6.
In those days they just use to hit the girls off stage with brooms. I kept changing in my head which Beatle I wanted to be though the bigger kids would ask it constantly in the play ground. But I do recall writing a very long letter when Ringo had his tonsils out asking if I could have them.
Anyhow as a teenager I did go and see bands that I had never heard of or knew boys who played in bands no one would ever hear of. But my friend Julie was way more sophisticated . She said we must go to London to see Black Sabbath . This was in 73 . I had just turned 15. I recently found out that Julie has died of cancer. Julie Newman became huge in the rave scene with bands like Signs of Chaos and many others.
But then for us Black Sabbath well – they were just it . And thank you Julie for taking me there. Thumping , howling , sweary ,possibly involving ritualistic magic. And sex. We weren’t sure actually. But they were all we wanted from music. Your Mum would tell you to turn it down. “Warpig.” I would yell that right back at her as you do.
We would hitch up to London to somewhere called Ally Pally. Julie knew about these things in a way I didn’t though I was to become all too familiar with the Gants Hill Roundabout. I guess I should talk about music? Give you a set list? But that’s was not what it was about for me then. It was a lot about what was I going to wear and Christ now when I think about it what I wore,it was really fucking horrible. Some kind of green and yellow kaftan type thing with huge silver platforms. .At least my hair was big. We got there and lost of other bands were playing. Stray, The Groudhogs? People were sitting on the floor. I objected to this. Smoking dope was boring I thought. Sitting on the floor was surely not the point of music.
Music was for dancing . At that time I was also listening to lots of reggae and funk. Boys were always trying to educate to me into the sort of music you had to sit around to . But I loved Sly Stone . And I guess I loved Sabbath for the bass . The sheer funk of them.
So yes Ozzy was on stage in fringes and how did this gormless guy howl like that? I don’t know now and I didn’t then but I liked it. Though I spent most of the time snogging the guy who just happened to be standing next to me. Did they play Paranoid? Possibly? This may be why I am not a music journalist?
Cos gigs aren’t just about music are they? Only the boring ones. How we got home in the middle of the night I have no idea. We just freezing cold but agreed it was the best thing we had ever seen. Because really it was the only thing we had ever seen.
My Mum who I had lied to about where I was going opened the front door. “Oh my god! You look like you’ve been eaten alive “ she screamed . I was apparently covered in huge lovebites. As I had never had a love bite before or looked in the mirror I had no idea what they were really. Why didn’t Julie tell me?
“What the hell have you been doing?”
“Black Sabbath” I replied nonchalantly and I headed up to the bathroom to inspect the damage.
But then for us Black Sabbath well” they were just it . And thank you Julie for taking me there.