Video Saturday – They never told us about this stuff…

Its 1965 and in the northern provincial city of Leeds the nine year old Jerrychicken is busy about his business climbing trees, damning streams and riding his heavy no-gears cast iron bike around the streets of the new build suburb in which he lives, the sun always shines in these memories, everyone laughs without a care in the world, the two channel TV set is full of interesting and informative programs and in general life is so much better than it is today.

The UK music chart is full of songs that the nine year old Jerrychicken knows by heart, The Beatles are hitting their most productive cycle as are The Rolling Stones, The Moody Blues, The Kinks, The Fortunes, The Animals, why even Ken Dodd had the best selling single of that year and the house in which the nine year old Jerrychicken lives has the radiogram switched on constantly through the day for his father is a music fan and erstwhile crooner waiting for his big break.

And all the while and unbeknown to us, in that there London, this sort of thing is going on…

Long John Baldry was a huge influence in the British Blues scene of the 1960s, and yet few outside of the singers who appeared with him on that stage in 1965 (all of whom had been members of his Hoochie Coochie Band and/or Steam Packet) had heard of him until in 1967 he recorded the one song that he is most known for, a song that my dad liked and so of course it became instantly uncool…

Ooooh look, its got a sub judice Dave Lee Travis on it, don’t mention anything anyone, we might get away with it…

This was followed a year later with a recording of the theme for the 1968 Mexico Olympics, a song called, well, “Mexico” and was used for the BBC’s opening titles to their early morning Olympic coverage which the 12 year old Jerrychicken would watch each day before going off to school in a very decadent style, watching TV at 7am, why that was unheard of for watching TV at 7am at any other period of the 1960s meant watching the test card, the BBC being extremely experimental with a special Olympic breakfast program presented by Frank Bough who absolutely, even so early in a morning, never dropped even one hint of his deviant lifestyle which was surely going on in the background even as he spoke to us of the Fosbury Flop, Bob Beamon and his amazing spring-heel long jump, David Hemery’s hurdles, and the Black Power salute, in fact, the 1968 Olympics deserves a post all of its own…

…and George Foreman, don’t forget George Foreman, 1968 was a fine year.

But back to Long John Baldry…

Sometime around 1972-ish I was reading some random article in the New Musical Express – the young mans newspaper of choice of course, not that it had any news of any description that didn’t involve music but still, when you’re 16 years old what else is there to life – when I read that the newly emerging Rod Stewart of The Faces popular beat combo was a devotee and former employee of a certain Long John Baldry.

“Hang on” thought I, “thats the bloke who sang “Let the Heartaches begin” and that Frank Bough song “Mexico” isn’t it, how come Rod Stewart is a devotee and former employee of THAT bloke ?”

This is the way my mind worked in those times and in those times of not having an internet-thing to do your research for you, you had to do your own research by buying magazines and things and actually reading stuff, and so I did, and so I discovered that the man in the suit and smart hair cut who had impressed our dad with “Let the heartaches begin” and who had sung “Mexico” at us every morning on Frank Boughs “Mexico” program, and had then gone on to re-record the same song but call it “Texaco” and had sold it to Texaco to use in one of their TV adverts (how fortuitous that Texaco became a brand, bet he couldn’t believe his luck, “hang on” he must have thought, “I’ve got JUST the song for them…”), this bloke who was quite square if your dad liked him, this bloke was one of the biggest influences in British Blues and British Rock that had ever lived.

I was astounded, how could the bloke who sang “Let the heartaches begin” have influenced and employed in various disguises Mick Jagger, Jack Bruce, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Nicky Hopkins, Rod Stewart, Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger, Maggie Bell, Reg Dwight AND shagged Dave Davis out of The Kinks when being gay was still a criminal offence ? This was a man who deserved further investigation for sure.

And so I turned to the back pages of the New Musical Express that week and in one of those adverts that took up a whole page a mail order record company were advertising an album called “It Ain’t Easy” by the afore mentioned Long John Baldry and being a bit flush with money that week (had probably sold a lot of programs at the rugby) I took a punt, sent off my £5 in postal orders and waited for the arrival of my long playing record that I hoped would be good but which I hadn’t actually heard any of the tracks from and indeed had never heard the artist at all other than when he sang a song that my dad liked, and a petrol advert.

And when that album arrived unbroken in the post (always a substantial risk) it turned out to be, well, quite good really, different to what I’d been listening to of course, but never the less quite good although it did sound a lot like yesterdays music which to a 16 year old is not a good thing, to a 57 year old though its a very good thing.

I still have that album, somewhere…



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