John Peel & the London Punk Scene
I was always a fair distance from the mundane and mediocre: I grew up with John Peel so learned a great deal about new sounds and ‘real’ music. I remember listening to the first Peel session by The Damned, sitting cross-legged and bemused on the floor of my London flat. That changed everything; out went Caravan, Genesis and Yes. My hair turned red and I got involved in the London ‘punk’ scene. As a member of the LSE Ents Committee I got to see a lot of bands and ended up on a lot of guest lists. During my student days I saw some great live acts, including The Jam, The Clash, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Stiff Little Fingers, The Specials, Brand X and literally hundreds more. I deeply regret never making the effort to see Joy Division.
Post Punk & Our Price
When I left Uni I worked for Our Price Records in the West End and learned a great deal about the music industry, working with talent scouts and getting on to even more guest lists. I was responsible for buying from indie dealers at a time when the music scene was fracturing in the post-punk era – it was sometimes difficult to predict what people would want to buy. I specialised in rarities like Joy Division 12” singles and bought from labels like 4AD, Stiff, Greensleeves, Rough Trade… and (strangely) started the first reggae chart in a mainstream West End store; I wish I’d kept some of those hand-written carefully crafted Top 20 posters!