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Ian Dury, Charlie Gillett & a Motley Crew of Crazies

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I am in the middle of reading the biography of one of my favorite rock musicians of all time: Ian Dury (who passed away ten years and three days ago). In “Sex & Drugs & Rock’n’Roll: The Life of Ian Dury”, I just ran across one of the funniest accounts of a rock concert ever.

Author Richard Balls is quoting none other than Charlie Gillett who left us 13 days ago (at age 68) and who saw an early show by Dury’s first band Kilburn & the High Roads.

I’m re-quoting the best parts:

“There was this motley collection of people on stage with this gruff-voiced bloke who was kind of lurching about the stage a bit, and it wasn’t immediately apparent that he was disabled. And there was nothing about the band that suggested that they were a band. (…) These people looked like they just met at a bus stop and decided to walk into a pub and start playing together.”

“The saxophone player looked demented and the guitarist looked like he was still in school. (…) The songs they were doing were a completely bewildering mixture (…).”

“They did ‘Tallahassee Lassie’ by Freddie Cannon, ‘The Walk’ by Jimmy McCracklin and ‘Twenty Tiny Fingers’ by Alma Cogan, which was one of those songs which would make you turn the radio off. The idea that someone was reviving this horrible thing was incredible. In the middle of it, the saxophone player would be playing free jazz, the piano player didn’t seem to be doing anything, so it was bewildering and exciting because you didn’t know what was going to happen next”

Sounds like my kind of rock’n’roll show … and reminds me of the usual organized chaos at the average P.Funk concert.

Another fine observation by Charlie Gillett: “I went to see them again and came back saying, ‘There is no band in town remotely like these people, in looks, sound, attitude, or anything.’ Every reason for liking pop music or jazz and blues or New Orleans music was altogether there.”

That’s one of the most flattering compliments possible, isn’t it?

Charlie then went on to co-manage Kilburn & the High Roads with Gordon Nelki.

If you want to see the entire rave review by Charlie Gillett: It currently is available at Google Books.

(Moving on to German: Meine persönliche Lobhudelei in Sachen Ian Dury steht im Blog-Beitrag „Meine 15 Lieblingsalben (1/3 – 1973-1977)“.)

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