Local Boy In The Photograph
This month’s blog is different from my previous ‘spotlight’ blogs on new bands.
Some of you may know that I was engaged to Stereophonics’ original drummer/founder Stuart Cable for several years. Well during those years I went everywhere with him and whatever band he was with at the time. These being his first ever band Zephyr, which was fronted by a 14 year old Kelly Jones, then Paschendale who metamorphosed into King Katwalk, followed by Nailbombz (as their vocalist … yes, that is what I said, their vocalist!). I still have my King Katwalk demo tape and also mp3s of several Nailbombz’ tracks, and whilst the quality of the mp3s is not too good, it is good enough to hear and recognise Stuart’s voice. At some point during 1988, Zephyr were booked to record a demo at a mobile studio in Glynneath. As I said, I went everywhere with the boys in the band and this day was no exception. A mini bus was hired to take us to Glynneath and the mobile studio, which was situated in the owner’s back garden. During his time as a recording engineer, the owner of the studio had worked with (amongst others) Queen, Paul McCartney and, much to Stuart’s delight as they were his favourite band, Rush on ‘A Farewell To Kings’.
I have so many great memories and, as it is approaching June 7th, the anniversary of the day we lost Stuart, I thought I’d tell you a gig story from his time with Zephyr, and a lesson in what not to do when you are an unknown band.
One gig Zephyr played was as support to another Valleys band, Paschendale - I don’t know if it was deliberately misspelt like that, as the place, which of course is widely known for the First World War battle of the same name, is spelt Passchendaele. I would think though that the misspelling was purely through not knowing the correct way. The gig was at the (since demolished) Grand Theatre in Aberaman, which is on the outskirts of Aberdare town. At the aforementioned gig, one part of Zephyr's repertoire was mimicking a little play-acting which Van Halen used to sometimes do on stage. The act consisted of the guitarist starting a riff to a song but then being interrupted by another band member with something like "Hey, what are you doing? That's not the right song". The guitarist would then start to play a different riff when another band member would interject with something else. A slight verbal altercation would then ensue on what song they should actually be playing before the band then launched into the very heavy version of Pretty Woman à la Van Halen. Now this act worked well when Van Halen did it because they were a hugely famous band and everybody in their audience knew they were fooling around. However … when you are a small, unknown, Valley’s band ... well it doesn't have quite the same effect. It merely looks as if you don't in fact know what you are doing. I was sitting in the audience and felt embarrassed for the boys because I could see people’s reactions. I specifically remember two rock fans who were sitting directly in front of me in the auditorium turning to each other with puzzled expressions on their faces, raising their eyebrows and then sniggering. After the gig we (i.e. the boys and me) discussed the Van Halen spoof. I told them what it had looked like from an audience's point of view and, needless to say, the play-acting got cut from the set. So that’s one little story from Kelly’s and Stuart’s dim and distant past and the moral of the story is quite simple … just be yourselves. I thought I’d end this particular blog piece with a photo I took of Stuart when he was in between bands. We were surrounded by glam bands at the time, with the likes of Cinderella, Poison, Hanoi Rocks and Enuff Z’Nuff, and so we decided to do a glam shoot so that he’d have photos to send off with his audition tapes. I took the photos in front of the fireplace in my bedroom after making him up with some of my lipstick and eye makeup. I also adorned him with one of my earrings (I still have those earrings!) and one of my elaborate belts around his waist (still have the belt too!). Around his neck he had his ‘dog tags’ and a silver necklace with a little pair of silver drumsticks, which I’d bought for him. He also had sunglasses hanging around his neck. The patchy look of his jeans had been achieved with a bottle of Domestos and his mother’s bathtub. I cannot remember whose bright spark idea it was for him to be shirtless. The photo went on to be used in Stuart’s book, ‘Demons and Cocktails’, and one of the girls working at the book’s publishers told me it was one of her favourites from the book, while Anthony Bunko (who wrote the book) told me in an email: “that is the best photo in book. I insisted on it but at first Stu didn’t want it but loved it when book came out because everyone loved it.” [sic]. So a rather good outcome from that photo session, albeit a few years later than anticipated.
Keep on rocking and keep on dreaming.