For as long as I can remember I wanted to be involved with music in some way – not playing it – I was already forced to have clarinet lessons, played a drum (and sometimes filled in for the odd majorette) in a marching band and was in the orchestra at school playing said clarinet (bleugh).
I decided that although I enjoyed playing an instrument, I much preferred listening to music, buying records, reading NME and listening to my family’s strange music collection. Then I had my lightbulb moment and realised I would become an amazing music reporter – keeping my friends and family up-to-date with all the latest music news.
To help with my career aspirations to be a music reporter, mum and dad bought me a top of the range portable cassette recorder for my 12th birthday (1975).
Groovy Cassette Recorder
I could record interviews, music and personal thoughts on it. It had a microphone, stylish (eek) carry case and a strap for mobile reporting. I’d also bought a extra pack of blank cassette tapes from Woolworths in case I had loads of interviews ;).
I ‘d probably get invited onto Top Of The Pops, maybe even The Old Grey Whistle Test to demonstrate my reporting skills and be their new young and groovy roving reporter.
I ‘d already honed my recording skills using the Top 40 on Radio 1 on a Sunday for the music. I’d interviewed a number of members of my family, trying to get them to pretend to be music stars. Interviewing my dad turned out to be a challenge, particularly when he was sitting in ‘his’ chair watching Match of the Day, Grandstand or Pot Black. To get rid of me he’d light a Players (non-tipped of course) and the smog would envelop me, at which point I’d make a quick exit. I hated cigarette smoke then. It was a short time later that I became an avid smoker, preferring the more classy and rather sexy Consulate Menthol as a young teen living in happening Essex.
I soon had the simultaneous pressing of the play-record button down to a fine art. I was getting the hang of the pause button and when to switch on the ‘mike’ as us music reporters referred to it. I was ready for my first real music interview.
Now all I needed was to interview someone in the music industry. Who did I know? Were there any music stars living in Elm Park? Did we have any famous pop stars in our family? Well … in a nutshell .. no.
Monday morning and back at school I told pals of my adventures with my new cassette recorder and it’s portability! I could tell they were impressed. Jane Hall, a girl in my class who seemed to believe she was better than the rest of us, informed us she had actual pop stars in her house – right now.
‘Yeah, who’s that then?’ I smirked
‘Oh’ she said, pretending to casually study her names ‘you probably don’t know them, they are called The Bay City Rollers’.
O …. M …. G (of course no-one said in 1975 but I can’t remember what we did say). Didn’t know them! I had just that weekend bought Bye Bye Baby. Holy Tartan Trousers Batman!
Bay City Rollers
Jane told us that Les McKeown was her cousin and he and Derek Longmuir were staying with her mum and dad. Furthermore she could arrange for us to meet them in Harrow Lodge Park on Saturday. My tiny mind did not wonder at the time why they would come to Elm Park and what’s more why they would go the local park.
We were beside ourselves with excitement. That night after school I made sure my tartan wrist scarves and trousers were clean and did a test OB (outside broadcast) in the garden with my friend Karen. We were ready.
The weekend could not come quick enough. A fairly uneventful week ensued apart from a rather harrowing incident in double cookery involving some roll mops, but that’s for another time.
My BCR (Bay City Rollers of course) kit was freshly washed and pressed thanks to mum. I had decided on my white trousers with the tartan sides, rather than my denim ones. I had my tartan socks on, my black doc martens and tartan scarves at the wrists. I decided to wear my cheesecloth shirt and my brand new leather bomber jacket. I looked AWESOME (another word that didn’t exist then).
Saturday morning and we all bundled off to Harrow Lodge Park to meet Les and Derek (and Jane unfortunately) at the allotted time by the swings, conveniently located near the sewage pipe (yes really). We waited … and waited … and waited …..
Harrow Lodge Park
Did they turn up? Did they bollocks! Rotten moo made the whole thing up and I fell for it hook, line and sinker.
Oh well, back to recording myself singing along to Top of the Pops and the Top 40 until my big break.
Note: Some names have been changed, but not mine or the locations or the Bay City Rollers. Ok, so in fact only two names have been changed.
Oh and just in case you’ve never heard of The Bay City Rollers: