7—old Mr Love played me 78s: BB Broonzy, Bessie Smith, Big Mamma
Thornton, Robert Johnson. I was a Bluesman from that moment. It’s a
story—as-yet-unpublished—called ‘an odd boy’.
By the time I was
16 the British Blues Boom was in full swing and I was the vocalist of
Savage Cabbage – a Blues band made up of Ron Larkin (lead-guitar), Steve
Bruce (lead-bass), and Jack Hackman (percussion). I...
also played harp and rhythm-bass. Savage Cabbage lasted two years
(1968—1970) and died with the demise of the British Blues Boom and the
deaths of Ron and Steve. Ron Larkin was a genius and I consider myself
lucky to have met him and even luckier to have shared a stage with him. I
will not compare him—because no one can hear him now—and anything
grandiose I might say would not be intended to reflect on me. Steve
Bruce was a brilliant bass player whose virtuosity of 6 String Hagstrom
was breathtaking – especially when he played slide. Jack Hackman was a
wild man on drums and a good fellow all round. He died some years later
in a hang gliding accident – so I am all the remains of the Blues band
that boomed at the end of the British Blues Boom.
was my name—as a lyricist and solo performer—between ’68 and ’72. I
chose that name because my maternal grandmother was the niece of Franz
Schubert. I enjoyed the musical association – even though my lyrics drew
precious little from that fine composer. I was always fond of whimsy.
It was whimsical to play a gig on a Sunday night – as people were not
likely to attend. The hire of the hall however, was negligible – and the
lads were eager to play. Fortunately—when the time came to insert
jack-plugs and turn on the amplifiers—the hall was packed to capacity.
We had a welcoming audience. People had begun to follow us as we played
different venues. These were people who were still keen to hear Blues.
The genius lead player, two bass line-up, and insane baritone vocalist
had begun to get people’s attention. These people knew just how
exceptional Ron and Steve were – and, who forgave Jack for not being
Ginger Baker. We launched in with ‘Crossroads’ – and played it pretty
much as Robert Johnson would have played it – if he’d lived to buy a
Fender Telecaster. It was as different from Eric Clapton’s Cream
rendition as we could make it: searingly slow, half an octave lower, and
shot through with Ron’s gigantically poignant arpeggios. We finished
with ‘Spoonful’ as a long encore; after which I closed as I always did:
Ron Larkin, the—main—man, on lead guitar! Hey megalithic meteoric
glissando. Thunderstorm Steve Bruce on lead-bass! Hey subterranean slide
– seismic megaphone troll hammer! Little Jack Hackman on percussion!
Hey – superman of the cymbals and hero of the high-hat! Hey mutant
hailstorm cataract! And me on larynx, pharynx, œsophagus,
harp—and—rhythm-bass. Big thank you everyone . . . ”
And now I
play with a changing line-up of friends called Savage Cabbage when they
play along with me. We’re working on putting some CDs together of my
old songs. There are about 30 of them and most were never put to melody.
It may take a few years – but we’re committed to the task. In the
meantime we’ll be playing here and there in ad hoc combinations – as it