It was 40 years ago, almost to the day, that I first saw and heard Cockney Rebel on TV. The year was 1974, I was sixteen years old, and in the 5th Form at boarding school. We had a very laid back housemaster in those days, who let us take a half hour "break" in the middle of our "prep" (homework) on a Thursday night, so we could watch "Top Of The Pops". Trust me, this was a huge concession at our school in those days! (Mr Davey, you were a dude!)
One such night, I'm sure it was in May, my life changed, and has never been the same since. On that night, I saw Cockney Rebel perform "Judy Teen" on TOTP. Straight after lunch that Saturday (we had to go to school Saturday morning! Yes, really!) I almost ran the three miles or so to town to purchase "The Human Menagerie". When I returned, a few of us went to the 5th Form room,and gathered around the mono, lift lid record player and placed the needle on the record. I have never since forgotten hearing that intro to "Hideaway" for the first time, that guitar, that violin, that VOICE!
I think it was half way through the second track that I browsed the track list. There must be some mistake? I read it again, and again. What? No Judy Teen!!! How is that possible!!! It had not occured to me to check the track listing in the record shop. They only have one album, so it must be on there, right? Wrong! I then had to wait another week before I could go to town and buy the single of "Judy Teen". As it happened, I fell so in love with that album, that it made no difference in the end. So began a love affair with Cockney Rebel that has lasted 40 years, so far.
The following year, after I left school, I saw Cockney Rebel live for the first time, at the Hammersmith Odeon, at the end of the 1975 "Best Years Of Our Lives" Tour. Since then I have seen Steve Harley And Cockney Rebel many times live (I lost count after about 23, but i think it is about 30 odd times now!) I even met the great man himself once after a gig in Folkestone (but that's another story!)
So here we are now, 40 years on, and I have tickets for the Royal Albert Hall gig in London next month. I am taking my daughter Alice, who has never seen Steve and the boys, but who has had to listen to the CDs and my acoustic renditions of Steve's songs for the past 26 years. Now she is to see the great man himself, at that famous Royal venue, Steve and the band, plus choir and orchestra, playing the "Human Menagerie" and "Psychomodo" albums, complete, and live. That's fifty six people on stage, playing to a packed house of 5,000 fans. Now, that's what I call an event. I can't wait!
Steve thanks for "The Best Years Of Our lives"...and here's to the next 40!
Similar story here Ken. I took my 22 year old daughter for her first concert in southend just before christmas and then again to Manchester with orchestra and choir last month. We're talking Rhianna fan here, but she was absolutely blown away by both concerts. I have been given my orders now, "Dad, dont you ever buy tickets for Steve Harley without getting me one too!".
Alice won't be disappointed :}
Cockney Rebel had already appeared on various TV shows in Holland and Belgium etc and the Old Grey Whistle Test in the UK but it was on the evening of 23rd May 1974 that many of our lives changed forever. Maybe one day that whole performance will be found and I will no longer hate the fact that I have no memory of it whatsoever!
TOTP's Judy Teen was also my introduction to Steve.
A month later I bought Psychomodo one of my all time favourite LP's.
I can remember buying Human Menagerie after Psychomodo. A local record store had it marked up at £2.35. I saved my pocket money for a couple of weeks, went to the store to but it and it had gone up to £2.75!
I still took it upto the counter and said how much is this (even though it was marked on the sleeve) and the lady said £2.75.
I replied, oh, I've only got £2.35 and turned and left the store.
The next thing was she came running out of the store and caught up with me and said you can have it for £2.35!
I forgot to mention that as it turned out, I was glad I bought the "Human Menagerie" Album, and the single of "Judy Teen", because had I not bought the single, I would never have discovered "Spaced Out" the amazing B side! That track is one of my all time favourites, and that never found its way onto either of the original Cockney Rebel albums, either. That is a track that only the hardcore Rebel fans are familiar with, because of its obscurity. I did however recently buy the "Anthology" Boxset in order to get a CD version. "Violin!" Magic!
Judy was my CR introduction, all those years ago, quickly leading to Psychomodo and Menagerie. Remember the papers trying to pigeonhole the music, as in a poor man's bowie/roxy etc., but this is because they were clueless. He wasn't any man's anything other than himself. Although if Timeless Flight had been the first they might have spotted a bit of Bob.