It is 4 am in Europe Town… I am tired, but can’t sleep… I only have one viewer or machine or Bot watching right now, so this is especially for you.
I penned the piece in 2011, I know that because it is still on a server somewhere…
This web site is important to me…as its aim is to be used to lobby 70 German Meps regarding the plight of the millions of people who like myself have no idea what is like likely to happen regarding #Brexit… even though anything we do before exit time could easily be trumped…by the rantings and actions of some overblown despot..anywhere on this planet… or above.
At the time of posting this text is still in its raw state, a bit rough, and not finely tuned like say a Tweet.
…..In the back of The Tanny* with Freddie Mercury with Chris Dummett ( Now Chesney ) is where I fist met Freddie Mercury.
Cherubim Seraphim recyc. from the Classical times. He stood like Donatello’s David! Every thing about him was class. He was sixteen, so was I, so was virtually everyone else in the College.
It had a fancier title but everyone knew the Alma mater as the Cowley Road Tech, everyone who was anyone, Peter Hitchens, O Ya, he was there, looking exactly like he does today, marginally slimmer….and wearing a scarf….always a scarf.
It was, like all Politics, yeah, Turning on, tuning in, dropping down the Rat hole, the inn pub to be.
Yep we were all there, Sarah Fiske ( Wodger Fiske’s beautiful daughter’ he wrote ‘Jackanory’, and lived off if repeat fees, just like posh folks do ). Sarah’s Sister Alison Fiske ‘Helen’ a woman of today. You knew everybody was going to be famous, it just felt that way.
Famous in a Warhol-ian 15 minutes type of way? No real this ‘anti’ X factor’ proper sort of way? We were the kids, Godwin Matatu, Joe Skinner, Ronnie Birks, Google ’em up they’re all in there. Rightin’ rights and startin’ fights. It was ra, it was exiting, we had long hair. What more did you want as a 16 year old in ’66?
Mind you Oxford aways had the edge, Town and Gown, not just gown, but grit ‘n dirt supplied by Lord Nuffield’s baby, The British motor Company.
If you were a Don you learn ed people, at then any of the 122 Colleges, If you were a Pete, you probably welded sills onto the Mini.
The dreaming spires were a glorious fusion of Bath stone, the Turf Tavern where every where smell of real ale emanated from, even the parks. It was lush, real Oxonian, very very Oxford.
Queen’s Lane, Broad Street, the Randolf, The Gandalf, St. Giles fair,…and there was Blackbird Leys. This was where the factory workers lived, near Gate 22 or 17 so handy to popping into work on your Honda 50, to throw the rust heaps together.
Blackbird Leys was ok then the sprawling matching Town planned urban jungle. In later year it was sh*t junction street drag city for stolen Hot hatch hand brake turners,
Seat of learning, home of Tolkien ( I lived next door) Alice in in Wonderland, Joyce, Jimmy Dingle, steeped in History, Oxford….
Chris’s mother wielded the control of OCRI The Oxford Community for racial integration, when it was a charity. They lived a Georgian Muse house, littered with books and orphans and saxophones. The walls had graffiti, not “Pakis go home” or “Nobby wuz here” but a ne classical style. Chris’s Dad was Professor Sir Michael Dumett a Professor of Logic at the University, and co-founder of OCRI, I say was, Sir Michael has recently passed away. Rest in peace, and my thoughts are with your family.
I was most impressed the this Rich family had debts of £1000, wow I could never have imagined £1000, I was most impressed. It was a meeting of the classes, council house fodder like me thrust suddenly into a Dragon school of POSH kids…..
The Oxford College of Further Education, opened my eyes… The classes met.
Surprisingly we did communicate, there was no class divide, not till much later.
We could in fact communicate, me and the Port Out Starboard Homers. There were blacks too, second generation Afro-Caribbean, who you could call black, and a spade, the Afro Caribbean club was the place to be on a Saturday night, if it wasn’t Bret’s listening to Procol Harem’s Pastiche of air on a ‘G’ string, or the New theatre rocking to the Pretty Things…or Pete Warman and Dave Jeffs busking! music was everywhere.
My bessie Black Mate Billy even caught me one day,
“Ronal'” he said “You gotta com t’ ma disco”
” Sure man what sort of misc? “
“evertin mon, Ska, Reggae, Rock Steady, Blue Beat…..”
“Right,” I said, thinking that’s all different words for the same thing, as I walked off.
Sarah, Chris, Angel Stratton etc were all in the ART class,
A level art and art history, We were all Surrealists, some still stuck in Dada but yes
Surrealism was the genre, as we emulated Dali, in gouache.
Savoy Brown cranked up on the Dansette, mono/ Blues, was the thing Robert Johnson, Leadbelly the black guys who needed the Stones to make them rich, if they wanted rich,
Champion Jack Du Pray, still lives in the UK…
Chris, his had a skill of making every sketch look like a Michael Angelo, or a Da Vinci….
He strummed a bit too.
Like of the these geniuses you see, no learning curve, gimme da box! here it is. Kertwannnnggg!
He would pick up my junk shop 5 quider, and it would sound as if Jimmy was in the room.
If you want the complete band-o-graphy it’s all here.
The first time I saw Chris ( now Chris Chesney) with Freddie was at the famed gig at The Randolf in Beaumont Street Oxford.
We all went cos Chris was a mate, and they had beer. God, it was music it, it was live, it was real.
Chris wielded like an axe man, a tiny Freddie strutted and vocalised like he did. Rubber and the rest of the band were amazing.
And at the Randolf!, how posh can you get? a room for the night was a fiver, I mean a fiver!
So I looked at Freddie and thought “one day that man will be the most famous rock star in the world…well, no I didn’t, you don’t do you, you think what skinny legs, and he’s so tiny… for such a Bellowing voice.
We went on our separate ways, I went to WSCD, to be an LSIAD landing an Art Director’s job @ JWT in ’71. Kept in touch with Chris on and off, Long acre,?
I went to college, got a bit famous started a company with Ken Ansell see Woodbine Pack
My letter head see pic was me superimposed on the Royal Mail Halfpenny stamp,
Ansell Birks and Sadgrove had a composite portfolio full of genius,
It took Ade to EMI to work for Paul McCartney, Bowie etc, I went to Thompsons to work for Guinness, Ken worked Kilroys, a sort of on the peripheries of the music biz, servicing Island, Stack Bronze, EMI, CBSs…..
Kilroys must have folded, as Ken and Ade traded on as Ansell Birks and Sadgrove, in the meantime was getting cancerous and nervously braking down. ABS picked up the Virgin account.
In the meantime,
I follow Sour Milk Sea, Tomato City, noticing that in rehearsals Freddie changed costumes 6 times.
WE rattled round in the back of the Tranny, I remember Fred said ,”what do you do Ron” ” err Graphics” ” hey that’s what I did!!!” he seemed genuinely pleased to have a design buddy on board. As we piled into Barns, ( this is where posh London folk live, and the streets don’t smell of dog urine ). because one of the lads lived there.
Oh wow! the place had been burgled!
NOW I’ve seen some trashing in time, but this was a neat Raffles burglary, nothing out-of-place but the alarm had been set off.
BACK AT EMI
Ade, by the way, had sailed in to EMI who had picked up my letterhead
( me as the Queen on a stamp! ) and said “hey we could use this, we’ve just signed a band called Queen? Ade got the job, and went on to be Senior Designer handling artists such as Queen, Sir Paul, Bowie etc
The day that Jimmy died….
Fred and Roger had a stall in Kenny market, Chris dragged me over to meet up, the approached us both wearing Afghan coats, and each being dragged by Two Afghan hounds! They had probably both been smoking Afghan Black! ( we had )
“Hey Man Jimmy’ s dead,”
we along with the whole world were gutted.
Some time later Queen’s Press launch was at some venue,
I was sent my invites, from Ade, or whom so ever
Great gig, free champagne and Salmon etc. I left early, and give my tickets to some girl.
Queen went of to become the Biggest Rock band in the world.
Chris Chesney, is cutting a new album, he still gigs with the likes of Eddie Floyd check it out!
The genius of Freddie, lives on, but he was unique, and is sadly missed.
I was pleased to have been in the back of the gig bus with him, an honour indeed.
If you are up there Freddie, see you soon!