Friday 29 September 2017

Marc Bolan - 70 Years On.

Marc Bolan
It takes some believing that on Saturday 30th September 2017, Glam Rock legend Marc Bolan would have been celebrating his 70th birthday.

Early Life

Born Mark Feld in the East London suburb of Stoke Newington, on 30th September 1947, he received his first guitar at the age of 9 and soon set up a skiffle group. Whilst still at school, he became the guitarist with a band called “Susie and the Hula Hoops” alongside none other than a 12-year-old (at the time) Helen Shapiro, later to become a solo chart star in her own right.
Helen Shapiro

Known at the time for playing guitar sets for his friends' enjoyment during lunch breaks, he was eventually expelled from school at the age of 15 for bad behaviour.
After moving to Wimbledon in south-west London, he became entranced with rock and roll, especially the music of Eddie Cochrane, Gene Vincent and Chuck Berry. However, his own music career seemed to take its time to really take off.

T Rex

T Rex
Helped along the way by his friend David Bowie and with a couple of failed band projects behind him, in the late 60s Bolan’s folk/rock duo set up with Steven Took, Tyrannosaurus Rex began to get noticed, helped along by radio support and promotion from legendary British radio DJ John Peel.
A year later Took was replaced by Micky Finn and the band name was shortened to T Rex. Ride a White Swan, dominated by Bolan’s amazing electric guitar work, was released, peaking at No.2 on the UK chart. Fuelled with mythological references, Bolan claimed it was written after he was tripping on acid at a Rolling Stone magazine launch.
Mark Bolan became an instant star and very soon Hot Love was released, going one better than its predecessor, spending 6 weeks at the peak of the charts. Glam Rock was well and truly born.
T Rex - Get It On (Bang a Gong)


With other UK chart toppers such as Get It On, Telegram Sam and Metal Guru, Mark Bolan then left the UK, both for tax reasons and to ‘try and crack America’. But whilst away from the UK, the big hits at home started to slow down.
However, he never really made it big ‘across the pond’. From a country which never particularly shared the love of either glitter or Glam Rock, Bolan returned to these shores. 
After a large, blockbusting national tour, he fronted a 6-part TV show for Granada TV entitled Marc, where he introduced music from both new and established artists, along with performing some of his own material.
He died instantly in a car accident at Barnes, south-west London, 2 weeks short of his 30th birthday in September 1977. 
T Rex - Children of the Revolution


Like John Lennon, Marvin Gaye and others who left us before their time, any thoughts of whatever would have become of Mark Bolan, the music he may have subsequently produced and the way his career could have progressed are obviously all total conjecture.
The fact is that throughout the early and mid-1970s, in the UK and beyond, Marc Bolan became the ‘biggest’ pop/rock star of them all, and with his long trademark flowing locks, the most recognisable. He boasted a universal following made up of fans of all ages.
To many music fans, even 40 years after his death, he is still sorely missed.

Happy 70th birthday Marc, wherever you may be!

Monday 25 September 2017

'Love Thy Neighbour' Down Under

I was rifling through a few old UK sitcom videos on YouTube today and came across Love Thy Neighbour from the 1970s.

Thames TV Production

Love Thy Neighbour was a Thames TV production screened on the ITV network that would certainly never see the light of day in these more liberated times.

Starring Jack Smethurst and Rudolph Walker (now featuring as Patrick in BBC’s flagship soap ‘EastEnders’ - see right), it was the story of two couples living next door to each other. One couple were black while the other were white and it brought to the fore the animosity held between the two male characters, meanwhile their character wives were great friends.

Racist Overtones

The racist overtones expressed quite freely throughout the programme were, in my opinion, even totally unacceptable back then and the reason the show has not seen a more recent airing on the numerous satellite channels we now have, bears witness that this holds true, if not more so, to this day.

Sequel Down Under

But I was unaware that the show, like other 70s sitcoms actually received a sequel ‘Down Under’ as it was produced in Australia after its run in the UK came to a close. 

Again it featured Jack Smethurst, this time playing the same Eddie Booth character who had supposedly emigrated to the other side of the world and was awaiting his family to join him.

The difference however, was that his neighbours were white and consequently it was just based on two sets of home dwellers not getting on and nothing to do with colour as in its UK version.

Other 70s Sitcoms in Australia

Other UK shows that have made it to the other side of the world for Australian series in addition to their UK predecessor include such greats as ‘Doctor in the House’ (as ‘Doctor Down Under’), ‘Father Dear Father’ and ‘Are You Being Served’.

‘Love Thy Neighbour in Australia’ is available to watch on YouTube should you so desire, though somehow I don’t think I will bother tuning in.

Monday 18 September 2017

The Wipers Times

One of the benefits of being hard of hearing and having to wear hearing aids is the fact that I qualify for a concessionary library ticket.

This gives the opportunity to request and reserve books for half the standard cost, but more importantly (for me anyway), allows the hire of pretty well any AV item, such as DVDs and CDs (including talking books), for free. Not bad when DVDs are invariably £2.50 a week and CDs at £1.10

A DVD we recently borrowed was ‘The Wipers Times’ a BBC dramatisation of the true story of a trench magazine published by British soldiers fighting in the Ypres area during the 1st World War.

In early 1916, the 12th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters were stationed on the front line at Ypres, Belgium and discovered an old printing press. 

A Tommy, previously a printer in Civvy Street before the war, managed to salvage it and printed a test page. Soon ‘The Wipers Times’ (named after slang for Ypres, which many Tommy’s found difficult to pronounce) was in production.

The paper was made up of a collection of jokes, poems, reflections and ironic, satirical slants at the war and, of course, the enemy as well.

The BBC dramatisation, produced in 2013, was written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman. In September 2016 a stage production, adapted from the TV version, opened in Newbury, Berkshire and is currently mid-way through a national UK tour.

Friday 8 September 2017

Marc Bolan - 70 years on...

It takes some believing that during this month of September 2017, Glam Rock legend Marc Bolan would have been celebrating his 70th birthday.

I have written a short tribute to the iconic 70s pop idol and guitarist extraordinaire, recently published at

For a link to read this tribute, please click HERE.

Wednesday 30 August 2017

Tatty History - 30th August

80 years ago today (1937) - Birth of Bruce McLaren, New Zealand racing driver, car designer, and manufacturer. Founder of the McLaren Formula One team (died 1970).

25 years ago (1992) - Astronomers David Jewitt and Jane Luu discovered the first Kuiper belt object after 5 years of searching. (The Kuiper belt is a region of the solar
system beyond the orbit of Neptune and includes the dwarf planet, Pluto.
More than 100,000 Kuiper belt objects with a diameter larger than 62 miles (100 km) are believed to exist. Over 1,000 have been discovered so far.)

25 years ago (1992) More motor racing with German racing driver Michael Schumacher winning the first of his record 91 Formula One wins (Belgian Grand Prix).

Tatty Birthdays include

Jean-Claude Killy 74 – Former French triple Olympic champion alpine ski racer (right)

Cameron Diaz 45 – Americal actress and model (left)

                        Andy Roddick 35 – US Tennis player (below)

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Tatty History - 29th August

75 years ago today (1942) - Birth of Sterling Morrison, American rock guitarist from The Velvet Underground (died 1995).

70 years ago (1947) - Death of legendary Spanish bullfighter, ManoleteHe died of injuries incurred after being gored by a bull the previous day.

30 years ago (1987) - Death of Lee Marvin, American film actor, known for his tough-guy roles (The Big Heat, The Wild One, The Dirty Dozen, Bad Day at Black Rock, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Cat Ballou and more).

20 years ago (1997) - Netflix began operating as an online DVD rental service. It switched to a subscription-based service in 1999 and later added unlimited video streaming and original programming.

Tatty Birthdays today include:

Sir Lenny Henry 59 – Comedian, actor and (like Uncle Tatty), a supporter of West Bromwich Albion FC.

Eddi Reader 58 – Scottish singer/songwriter, remembered as the lead singer of folk combo Fairground Attraction. Has one of the most stunning live singing voices I have ever heard.

Rebecca de Mornay 58 – American actress, often remembered for chiller “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle”

Monday 28 August 2017

Tatty History - 28th August

150 years ago today (1867) 
The USA took possession of Midway Atoll (also known as Midway Island). It lies in the Pacific Ocean to the north-west of Hawaii.

100 years ago (1917) - Birth of Jack Kirby, influential American comic book artist, and writer who co-created characters including Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the Silver Surfer, the X-Men and many more.

80 years ago (1937) - The Toyota Motor Corporation was founded as an independent company in Japan (it began in 1933 as part of the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works.)

30 years ago (1987) - Death of John Huston, American film director (The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen, Moby Dick, Key Largo and many more).

Tatty Birthdays today include:
David Soul 74 – Starsky’s mate Hutch! (left)

Hugh Cornwell 68 – The Stranglers vocalist and guitarist (right)

LeAnn Rimes 35 – Country music superstar (below)

Sunday 27 August 2017

Tatty History - 27th August

125 years ago (1892) – After only standing for 9 years, The original Metropolitan Opera House (also known as ‘the old Met’), located on New York City’s 39th Street, was severely gutted by fire. It was rebuilt along its original lines, but the 1892–93 season had to be cancelled during the reconstruction (it was demolished in 1967).

80 years ago (1937) - Birth of Alice Coltrane American jazz pianist, organist, harpist, composer and bandleader (as Alice McLeod). She was the wife of the jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane. She died from respiratory failure in 2007, aged 69.

50 years ago (1967) - Brian Epstein, British music entrepreneur, died from the accidental overdose of sleeping pills. Best known as the manager of the Beatles, he discovered the group at a lunchtime concert given at the Cavern Club, Liverpool in November 1961.

20 years ago (1997) - Death of Brandon Tartikoff, American television executive, noted for propelling NBC from last place to first place in the major network rankings through his selection of hit shows.

Birthdays today include:

Daryl Dragon 75 – American musician and songwriter, best known as the Captain (The Captain and Tennille)

John Lloyd 63 – British tennis player and now commentator. Ex-husband of Chris Evert

Mark Curry 57 – TV host and former children's TV "Blue Peter" presenter.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Radio Memories

As I am sure I have posted here previously, I have always been and will remain to be, an avid radio listener.

Capital Radio 194

My passion started off back in the day listening to London's Capital Radio (firstly on 539 metres, then to 194MW and later to evolve into 95.8FM, but I always listened on my old tranny using good old crackly medium wave). 

Capital, as the name suggests, is London's music independent station, it was preceded as an independent station (ie not controlled by the BBC) only by LBC if I remember rightly that is. 

Roger Scott

My favourite deejay was the late Roger Scott whose "3 O'clock Thrill" show was required listening for me and all my friends when getting home from school. 

He had what I would class as the perfect radio voice - click on the YouTube video below to listen to possibly the greatest UK deejay of all at work (it also features the HeeBeeGeeBees with the brilliant "Meaningless Songs in Very High Voices").

I remember that Roger was a great fan of Dolly Parton and that must have gone a long way towards bringing about my love of Country music (not exclusively, however). 

Sadly Roger passed away from cancer in October 1989 at the young age of 46.

Nicky Horne's Rock Show

I also used to enjoy listening to Nicky Horne's rock show in the evenings entitled "Your Mother Wouldn't Like It" This gave me a love of music that was somewhat noisier than other daytime shows would offer, shall we say. 

Nicky often used to title music he really enjoyed as "a Mother" I don't think he could do that nowadays somehow!

Radio Luxembourg 208

I also liked listening to Radio Luxembourg on 208 on medium wave. 

The reception was diabolical compared to what we have grown to expect on DAB radio these days, with the signal constantly breaking up. But it wasn't the quality of reception we wanted, it was the sheer class of the broadcast. 

Modern Day Radio

This all brings me on to the radio of today which has progressed beyond all bounds with the opportunity to listen to and instantly interact with programmes via email, Twitter, Facebook et al. 

The BBC radio i-player now allows the opportunity to download podcasts and even full radio programmes, so there is never any excuse to ever miss any of "Auntie's" broadcasts should you so desire.

Johnnie Walker

Another of my favourite presenters over the decades is the iconic Johnnie Walker. 

Working at the Beeb for many years after an early career on the pirate radio ships, he left for a spell waxing his vocal chords over the pond in the US of A. After returning he presented the Drivetime show on BBC Radio 2 for many years.

Now into his 70s, he still presents  "Sounds of the Seventies" show on BBC Radio 2 every Sunday afternoon at 3 pm, and for an old git like me, it really is required listening.

I rarely get to hear the show live these days, opting for the I-Player download option, but the music brings back so many memories along with news stories and interviews with famous people recounting events from the period. All in all, it takes me back to being a spotty teenager all over again.

On this weeks programme for example, I heard such greats as Peter Frampton's "Show Me the Way", fellow WBA supporter Eric Clapton (bet you didn't know that) with "I Shot the Sheriff", Hawkwind's "Silver Machine" and the song with one of my favourite introductions of all time, "Tumbling Dice" by the Rolling Stones. 

Just click on the YouTube link below to hear "Tumbling Dice" (from the equally superb "Exile on Main Street" double album). Definitely Mick and the Boys at their best.

If you are a fan of 70s classics, I strongly suggest you try and catch Johnnie's weekly show.

Sunday 4 June 2017

The Stockport Air Disaster – 50 Years On.

50 years ago today a plane returning from Majorca suddenly lost power and hurtled to the ground killing 72. 

It remains to this day one of Britain’s worst, if not lesser remembered air disasters.

Filled with holidaymakers returning home to Manchester airport, the British Midland Canadair Argonaut C-4 aircraft hurtled across rooftops and crashed onto a patch of land just outside of Stockport, Greater Manchester, bursting into a ball of fire.

There were 72 fatalities with the remaining 12, including the captain and a stewardess, seriously injured.

Many locals arrived at the scene to help in any way possible but were held back due to the thick black smoke that engulfed the area.

A subsequent air investigation revealed the cause to be “fuel starvation” due to a fault in the fuel lines.

Still considered to be one of the worst air disasters in UK aviation history, the number of deaths were only surpassed by the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 (killing 270 including 12 on the ground) and the Staines air crash in 1972 (118 fatalities).

Thursday 27 April 2017

Ali Refuses US Army Draft – 50 Years On

With Anthony Joshua preparing to defend his IBF Heavyweight title against Wladimir Klitschko this weekend, I thought a boxing related anniversary was in order (the fight is also for the vacant WBA and IBO belts).

Fifty years ago tomorrow (28th April 1967), American world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army after being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War.

Ali in 1967
Ali, a devout Muslim, cited religious reasons for his refusal saying “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” 

Consequently, he was arrested, had his boxing license suspended, and was
stripped of his title.

On trial, held on 20th June, he was found guilty of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000 and banned from boxing for three years. However, he stayed out of prison whilst on appeal.

In Later Years
Whilst being unable to box, he spent time giving inspirational speeches at schools and colleges.

The Supreme Court overturned the decision in June 1971, but by then he had lost 4 years’ boxing time when he would have been in the prime of his career.

He regained his world heavyweight titles again both in 1974 and 1978, becoming the only fighter to be heavyweight champion of the World on three occasions.

Sunday 19 March 2017

Anniversaries 20th to 26th March 2017

Monday 20th March
35 years ago: Retired cricketer and former West Indian captain Richie Richardson made his 1st class debut for the Leeward Islands against Barbados. Very much a flamboyant batsman, renowned for his playing of fast bowling, he is remembered for often wearing a wide-brimmed maroon hat as opposed to a helmet, when facing express bowlers.

20 years ago: the US tobacco company Liggett Group became the first to admit that smoking is hazardous to health and addictive.

Tuesday 21st March
20 years ago: The Rev WV Awdry, British clergyman and acclaimed writer of the Thomas the Tank Engine series of books, died at the age of 85.

15 years ago: British schoolgirl Amanda (Milly) Dowler aged 13, vanished when walking home from school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England. Her body was eventually found in September 2002 and Levi Belfield was convicted of her murder 9 years later.

Wednesday 22nd March
20 years ago: 14-year-old Tara Lipinski became the youngest ever winner of the World Figure Skating Championships.

5 years ago: Australia’s most wanted man Malcolm Naden was captured in Gloucester, New South Wales, after 7 years on the run. He was wanted for indecent assault and murder charges, resulting in him pleading guilty to all 32 counts and being sentenced to life imprisonment plus 40 years without parole.

Thursday 23rd March
30 years ago: an IRA car bomb exploded at a British army base at Rheindahlen, West Germany injuring 31 people.

10 years ago: Sony released the Playstation 3 console in Europe and Australia (released in both the US and Japan 4 months earlier).

Friday 24th March
40 years ago: Joseph Ratzinger was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising in Germany. He was later to become Pope Benedict XV1.

25 years ago: Dirk Fremout became the first Belgian to travel in space.

Saturday 25th March
150 years ago: Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini was born in Parma, Italy. In 1937 he became the first music director of the NBC Symphony Orchestra leading to great popularity in the United States and beyond. He died in January 1957 in New York and his body was returned to his homeland for burial.

80 years ago: The Washington Daily News became the first newspaper to feature a perfumed advertisement.

Sunday 26th March
100 years ago: the Seattle Metropolitans became the first US winners of the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup after beating the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in the final series.

80 years ago: A statue of spinach-guzzling, cartoon character Popeye was erected in Crystal City, Texas. Known as the spinach capital of the world, growing the aromatic vegetable is the city’s main industry.