Thursday, 30 April 2009

My First Fanzine

.....wasn't really very good and, given the stated remit of the blog, I only bring it up as it started a friendship that lasted more than 25 years until an untimely death in 2006. Late in 1980, Nikki Sudden was visiting his parents who then lived in the village of Harbury, a couple of miles from Leamington Spa. Earlier that year, his band Swell Maps had split – not, to be honest, that I was aware of this, the Maps being a band I'd only vague John Peel associated memories of, and I then owned none of their records. Setting out on a solo career, he was chilling out for a while, far from the buzz of London, in leafy Warwickshire where he knew no-one, and had sallied forth into Leamington itself to check out the local record shops. Of which there was one, Rentons Records, who I'd persuaded to stock my fanzine One Off.

Pompously subtitled “The Leamington Fanzine”, I guess he bought it to get an insight into what was going on in the Spa Town. As Davy Jones (almost) sang, disappointment haunted all his dreams, as this very personal fanzine fell some way short of being anything near where it was at. Still, he decided to track me down, 'phoned me out of the blue one evening, and introduced himself as a local musician up for an interview with a local fanzine.

As a glance through the hand written photocopied One Off now confirms there was neither hint nor prospect of actually speaking to or interviewing anyone. Instead, it was full of reviews of local gigs by the likes of The Dangerous Girls, The Selecter, Stiff Little Fingers, The Piranhas (!) and U2, the latter playing at the General Wolfe on 6th September 1980 (excerpt from the review: “....much of the vocals were inaudible but the lead singers antics and obvious enjoyment did a lot towards nullifying that complaint. They were on for an hour and did two encores....” Yup, I didn't even know the singers name – plenty more on encounters with this band in future posts.)

Add to that stuff on local record releases and local fanzines, a moderately embarrassing rant on “The State Of Radio” and to finish (and I'm quite happy never to show this to another living soul) a treatise on what's wrong with the Leamington scene and how I would put it right. I sold a few copies locally (memory says fewer than 50) and was so taken with seeing my own work in print, that it wasn't long before I came up with a second fanzine, called (imaginatively) Two Off – more content (still no interviews though) but too much na├»ve ranting, and hardly a step forward. Roll on Stringent Measures.....

But, as I say, without One Off I would never have met Nikki, his parents Trevor and Lois, and a year or so later, his brother (the also very much missed) Epic Soundtracks. My life would be very much the poorer not to have known the Godfrey family and though my two best friends are no longer with us, there's memories aplenty of the two people mostly responsible for my adventures in music. Of which more anon.

Coming Soon – Nikki Sudden: The Sex Pistols “Spunk” Cassette

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