Those Were The Jamie Days

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My special guest on this week’s My 80s radio show, choosing his Favourite Five 80’s tracks is Jamie Days. As a young boy in the Eighties, Jamie started to keep a diary, and has already published his daily musings from 1984. He has contributed excerpts from his diaries to The 80s Annual, vol.II, due out this November. I asked Jamie a few questions about his diaries and growing up in my favourite decade. 1984 Summer

What made you start to keep a diary at the tender age of eleven?

My nana bought me a tiny Grange Hill diary for Christmas in 1983. I’d had a little Paddington one before, in 1982 or 1983 I think, but I never stuck to it. But something in 1984 made me keep going.

How many years did you write your diaries for and how difficult was it to keep them going for that long?

I kept a diary from 1984 to 1986 and then for a couple months in 1987, then started again towards the end of 1989 up until the end of 1994. It was hard to keep them going and I didn’t always write every day, sometimes I’d write a few days at a time or catch up on the week at the weekend.

How did you feel when you first began to read the diaries in adulthood?

I’d always re-read them on and off, particularly those from ’84-‘86. For example in 1992, for some reason, I started to type them out, but it was only recently I re-visited the late ‘80s early ‘90s ones. It’s these later ones that really make me cringe. The detail I went into and how I went on and on about what friends said and did and how I felt about everything…*groan!* In terms of the ones from the 80’s they really make me laugh. It’s almost like they’re not by me; just this innocent boy entering into, but at odds with, this adult world. They’re also quite a good reminder of what is important to teenagers, and where their heads are, which can help bring some perspective when dealing with my own kids.

Why did you decide to publish your diaries?

A number of reasons really. Mainly, it is that I had a friend who kept diaries in the 80s and she planned to publish hers. I was helping her work out how she might go about this and started to share my diaries with her. I’d always thought they wouldn’t be interesting to anyone else, but she loved them. Sadly, she died before she got chance to realise her ambition. However, as we were working through it, we discovered other people who were blogging or tweeting their old diaries and I just loved them! They were hilarious and moving and I wished I could have the whole lot to read. So after I’d typed out all of 1984, I thought why not? I’ve always had ambitions to be a writer but never seem to get round to finishing anything. But I have written diaries, which are a form of book, so why not?!

How did it feel when you first let someone else read your diaries? Was it scary making the entries public?

I guess it felt quite daring, to assume anyone else would be interested. Diaries are by their very nature self-indulgent and individualistic, so why would they appeal to anyone else? In terms of revealing myself, it was all so long ago it doesn’t bother me. That said, letting the people I was at school with, who are in the diaries, read them has been weird – and I haven’t let my Mum and Dad read them all!! Whilst I’ve fessed up to quite a lot of what I got up to, that they had no idea about at the time, they’re not ready (or I’m not ready) for the whole truth!!

You’ve had some fantastic feedback from people who have read the diaries. How does that make you feel?

It’s brilliant and really touching in many ways. I recognise they won’t be for everyone. A lot of people get more pleasure from the now and the future, rather than looking back, but for those who tell me they’ve had them laughing ‘til they had tears in their eyes, that’s just amazing.

Some of your entries are hilariously candid. Do you think a lot of readers, especially the guys, can relate to the situations you found yourself in?

Potentially yes. I’ve talked to a couple of guys who’ve read them and, particularly in reference to those more candid elements, they’ve said things to me like you think at the time it’s just happening to you, but reading my experiences makes you realise it’s the same for everyone. Also, that a lot of what I wrote about is normal, yet it doesn’t get talked about, so it’s refreshing to have it out there. But more broadly, I think we all have teachers we don’t like, friends we fall out with, music we fall in love with and struggles with our changing bodies and environments!

Are you still mad about Madonna? Did you keep any memorabilia?

Not really. I still have huge affection for her because she was a massive part of my growing up, and her songs bring back great memories. She also broadened my horizons into art and cultures I don’t think I would have found without her (I’m still convinced that I managed to scrape a B in my General Studies A Level due to my essay on censorship and freedom of speech, which centred heavily on the banning of the Like A Prayer video and the content of a Channel 4 season called Banned!). However the musical genres she explores on her records these days aren’t ones that appeal to me as much. I still buy the albums but find there are only a handful of great songs on them. I had masses of memorabilia, but as her career progressed there was too much to collect, so I narrowed my collection to UK only releases and magazines with her on the cover. I had over 2000 at one point but eventually sold virtually everything on eBay. I managed to pay for a loft conversion out of it though! I still have some bits, the more sentimental items, but nothing like I used to.

You mention Smash Hits magazine throughout your diaries. Have you kept any copies from the Eighties?

Well, as you’ll get to find out in the diaries, I ended up cutting up all the original copies I bought for my Madonna scrapbooks. Then I would buy them again from charity shops, jumble sales and off friends, cut them up for swaps etc. But now, thanks to the internet, I’ve acquired every issue from the very first one, up to the early 2000s. They’re great to look back on. It was truly an iconic publication!

Judy Blume and Sue Townsend were your favourite authors as a boy. Whose books do you enjoy reading now?

Without a doubt my favourite writer is David Sedaris. He’s recently published extracts from his diaries, and I love them. I also really love Andrew Kaufman, JD Salinger and Alan Bennett. I spend two hours a day on a train commuting so I read a lot. I love books about life and people, so I am fond of memoir, autobiography and fiction that is character driven.

You’ve published your 1984 diary, with 1985 coming out in October. Are there any more diaries to follow?

Yes, I’m definitely going to publish 1986, hopefully next year. It’s probably my favourite, and I may well publish the others from 1989-1993. However I was 16 – 20, so the content is very different!!

What is your favourite year of the Eighties and why?

1985, without a doubt. It was a real coming of age year for me. I started to get into music properly and the music was great. Arguably, the music in 1984 is better, but from a nostalgia perspective I remember a lot more of the music in ’85. I started getting Smash Hits, started writing down the charts, started listening to Radio One properly and religiously. And, of course, there was Madonna! How amazing was she that year?!

End pic 1If you could return to 1984 and give your 11-year-old self any advice, what would it be?

I’d tell him not to worry about stuff because it all works out brilliantly in the end. I’d also tell him to buy multiple copies of every magazine with Madonna on the cover, all her limited editions and special releases and to keep them in immaculate condition as they’ll be worth a fortune!!

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Jamie Days 1984 Diary is available on Amazon.

Follow Jamie on Twitter: @1980sDiaries

 

 

 

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I’d Rather Jack Up The 80s

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Some summers remain firmly fixed in our memories, as vivid as the days we experienced them. For me, my first teenage summer in 1984 was long, hot days spent soaking up the sun, set against a backdrop of some of the best music of the decade: Prince, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and my favourite track of the Eighties, The Kane Gang’s ‘Closest Thing To Heaven’. Ten years later, the music had taken a backseat and cooling shade had become my best friend, as I enjoyed my first summer with my baby daughter. Fast forward to 2016, when both my adult children had flown the nest, and I found myself travelling back three decades, listening to the music of my youth in glorious sunshine.

The reason for this fabulous blast from the past was the Jack Up The 80s festival on the Isle of Wight. Now in its fourth year, the event was held on 13th and 14th August. Set in beautiful countryside on the outskirts of Newchurch, it was blessed with fantastic weather as well as some outstanding performances.

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Fun in the sun at Jack Up The 80s

Strolling across the festival field when I arrived on Saturday, I was greeted by the sounds of local band High School Never Ends. The duo, who were also the opening act the next day, brought us some great rock classics from the likes of Billy Idol and Twisted Sister. Although I’m not too sure about their inclusion of Partners In Kryme’s ‘Turtle Power’!

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Ska’d For Life’s Charissa Bartram (Sax), Ben Bartram (trombone) & Russ Osman (trumpet)

From Rock to Ska, both days saw local band Ska’d For Life take to the stage next. Delivering all the favourites from the likes of The Specials and Madness, the band went down a storm with the crowd who, by the end of the set, were more than ready for what the rest of the day had to offer.

Saturday saw Light of The World kick off things for the 80’s acts. Dressed in sharp silver suits, reminiscent of my clubbing days, Nat Augustin and Gee Bello looked as good and smooth as they sounded.

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L-R: Nat Augustin, Gee Bello, Myles Kane, Jimmy Chambers & Jimmy Helms

The same can undoubtedly be said for Londonbeat, who were next in the running order. Dressed in brilliant white, the trio, led by the ever-youthful Jimmy Helms, delighted us with a pitch perfect acapella rendition of ‘9 A.M. (The Comfort Zone)’ ahead of a soulful and upbeat set, which included their 1990 No. 2 hit ‘I’ve Been Thinking About You’.

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Clark spies me behind the camera

A short break as instruments were set up on stage, and then we saw Johnny Hates Jazz make an appearance. A well-balanced mix of old and new, we heard 1987 hits ‘Turn Back The Clock’ and  ‘I Don’t Want To Be A Hero’ alongside contemporary tracks like the 2013 release ‘Magnetized’. I had interviewed lead singer Clark Datchler earlier in the day, but was nonetheless surprised when he spotted me taking photos at the front of the stage, during the band’s performance of  ‘Shattered Dreams’.

As the set drew to a close, I made my way over to Phil and Bruce, a couple of twenty-somethings I had interviewed earlier for The 80’s Annual, who were working on the Pizzeria van.

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Bruce (L), Phil (centre) and the Pizza boys

Returning with my takeaway food to the backstage tent, skillfully designed by Jo Monck in a Royal Wedding theme, I found it to be empty except for one other person. And that is how I came to be eating pizza on a sunny August afternoon, as Paul Young snoozed on the sofa behind me. I did toy with the idea of waking him, to inform him of the interesting fact that his birthday is the day after mine, but knowing what I am like when I’m tired thought it best to let sleeping singers lie!

The arrival of From The Jam and Leo Sayer on site soon saw the backstage buzz return, and it wasn’t long before we were presented with the opportunity to photograph three musical greats together.

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Bruce Foxton, Paul Young and Leo Sayer

To say that meeting Leo Sayer was a pleasure is an understatement. P1000179 (800x787)After this photo was taken, we spent some time discussing the writing talents of Billy Nicholls, who wrote the singer’s 1978 No. 6 hit single ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ and whom I had met the previous month, when he performed with old friends Slim Chance. Saturday’s headliner treated us to tracks from across four decades, including ‘One Man Band’, ‘More Than I Can Say’ and ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing’, and more than deserved his top billing. However, for me, it was the preceding two acts who ranked highest.

Rounding off the afternoon’s performances in style was Paul Young, who was joined by fellow Los Pacaminos member, guitarist Jamie Moses. Anyone who has witnessed them playing in the side project they founded in 1992, will be familiar with the camaraderie between the pair. As the singer launched into some of the hits from his solo career, including ‘Love of The Common People’, ‘Every Time You Go Away’ and ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat’ that friendship was never more evident. Perhaps more used to having underwear thrown at him during the Eighties, Paul looked somewhat bemused when a woolly hat landed at his feet. He placed the winter attire on the head of guitarist Dale Davis who, unable to remove the knitwear whilst playing, continued to wear it for a number of tracks, much to the amigos’ amusement.

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Dale Davis wears the woolly hat that put a smile on the faces of Paul Young and Jamie Moses

The hilarity reached even greater heights after a wardrobe malfunctionP1000308.JPG occurred during the performance of ‘I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down’. Sitting on the edge of the stage to deliver the second half of the song, the singer leaned back to put even more power behind the vocal. I think he must haveP1000313.JPG felt something snap at this point, because when Paul stood up, those of us close to the stage could see his belt had broken.

Anyone who was not aware of the situation was soon put fully in the picture, thanks to Jamie’s on stage antics, as shown in the video below. Ever the professional, Mr. Young left to make a swift costume change, returning sporting a new, shiny belt.

Clothing capers and band chemistry aside (although the latter is undeniably an integral feature that only serves to enhance the overall performance) this was an amazing set of classic Paul Young tracks, which all his fans in the audience (including me) will treasure. It was only surpassed, by the very tiniest of margins, by that of From The Jam.

Featuring a current line-up of Bruce Foxton, Russell Hastings, Mike Randon (drums) and Andy Fairclough (Hammond organ) the band went straighP1000557 (800x607)t in for the kill, opening with their 1982 chart topper ‘A Town Called Malice’. Hit after hit followed, including ‘David Watts’, ‘Going Underground’, ‘Beat Surrender’, ‘That’s Entertainment’, ‘Eton Rifles’ and an encore of ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’. Totally mesmerised by the band playing just feet away from me, I remained in my photographic vantage point at the front of the stage throughout the whole performance.

Whilst there, I noticed a change in the chants emanating from behind me. Cries of “We love you, Paul” had beenP1000580 (738x800) replaced by gruff, one-word shouts of “Bruce” and “Russell”. Glancing over my shoulder, I took in the now predominantly male contingent stood at the barriers. This is what they had been waiting for all day long, and who could blame them?
Russell Hastings fronts the band in a way we would have thought inconceivable during the Eighties, spitting out lyrics with a force and passion of which Weller himself would be proud. Bruce Foxton retains his iconic status in my eyes, a genius bass player who twice performed his famous mid-air jumps during the set.

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One of the most animated drummers I have ever seen live, Mike Randon plays with a fervour better associated with musicians whose instruments afford them mobility around the stage, as was the case with Andy Fairclough. Watching him furiously strike the keys, it felt almost as if he was imprisoned by his keyboards, his frenetic playing his only chance of escape.

The whole effect was an explosive, exciting and capivating display of some of the best songs to come out of the Eighties. How would Sunday compare?

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Mike Randon, Andy Fairclough, Russell Hastings & Bruce Foxton after From The Jam’s set

The second day of the festival saw the 80’s artists begin with Nathan Moore who, inP1000744.JPG addition to singing the Brother Beyond tracks ‘The Harder I Try’ and ‘He Ain’t No Competition’ brought us The Gap Band’s ‘Oops Upside Your Head’. In no time, huge rows of festival-goers were sat on the ground,  floor-dancing to the Rowing Boat Song. A crowd pleaser if ever I saw one.

Next on stage was a man whose No. 3 single ‘My Favourite Waste of Time’ becameP1000861.JPG synonymous with the Summer of ’86. It is hard to believe that 30 years have passed since then, but as Owen sang the catchy track and the sun shone down, I was once again 15 years old.  The Glaswegian singer, who also performs alongside his brother, ex-Simple Minds drummer Brian McGee, in the band XSM included in his set ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ and ‘The Living Years’, a song he perfected during his time spent with Mike and The Mechanics. He handed over a well warmed up audience to Phil Fearon.

The Galaxy frontman, who featured dance floor acrobatics in his 80’s appearances, may have put his backflips on hold but little else has changed in the past three decades.P1010009.JPG Looking considerably younger than his 60 years, Phil sported that 80’s favourite fashion combo of t-shirt and suit, as he delivered a feel good set of disco tracks such as ‘Everbody’s Laughing’, ‘I Can Prove It’ and ‘Dancing Tight’. He set the scene perfectly for Bizarre Inc. vocalist Angie Brown.

Accompanied by sons Cuba (11) and Charlie (8P1010047 (573x800)), the singing sensation showed she had lost none of her extensive vocal range over the years, as she powered out ‘I’m Gonna Get You’, watched proudly by her boys from behind the stage curtains. They gave no clue when I photographed them that minutes later they would be joining their mother for a rendition of Sister Sledge’s ‘We Are Family’. Performing obviously runs in their genes, and as the mini entertainers returned backstage, I remarked that it looked like they had enjoyed themselves, to which Cuba replied “Yes, that’s why I do it for no charge.” A star in the making, surely. A little while later, Charlie, who has to be the most eloquent 8-year-old I have ever encountered, engaged me in conversation. Flitting between topics such as his ambition to be an Olympic gymnast or a dancer, and favourite annual events (he argued a very convincing case for Hallowe’en), I was only reminded of his young age when he burst into a fit of giggles, upon hearing Denise Pearson working through her vocal exercises at the far end of the tent.

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Stars in the making: Angie Brown’s sons Cuba (left) and Charlie

Five Star were due on stage after tribute band Abba Chique. While the faux Swedish singers performed, I chatted with more of the colourful crowd. From families to groups of friends, forty-somethings and older to my kids’ generation and younger, everyone was brimming with praise for the festival. Whether it was the provision of children’s lunch boxes, reasonably priced catering or simply “bloody good music”, the general consensus was a big thumbs up for Jack Up The 80s. I have to say, I agree.

As with any retro festival, the weekend also presented us with more than a smattering of neon and a plethora of fancy dress. I spoke to Mr. T. a.k.a. Michael Bending from Northampton. The 46-year-old has appeared at Jack Up The 80s dressed as The A-Team’s B. A. Baracus for the past four years. At least he never had to get on no plane for the 300 mile round trip!

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Some of the outfits worn by Jack Up The 80s festival-goers

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Buster Bloodvessel with his copy of ‘Your Eighties’

Returning to the backstage area, I discovered that Bad Manners had recently arrived. Having greeted the band, I gave Buster Bloodvessel a copy of my book ‘Your Eighties’, for which I had interviewed him almost two years ago. Much to the group’s amusement, I then made the mistake of asking “Can I have a photo of you holding it?” Naming no names, but a certain saxophonist has a particularly smutty mind!

Leaving the boys to enjoy their backstage banter, I returned to the front of the stage to await Five Star, who were minus Doris that day. In her place was Kerry, who sang and danced with the same highly polished quality we have come to associate with the Pearson siblings.

Opening with their 1986 Top 10 single ‘Can’t Wait Another Minute’ and finishing with their biggest hit ‘Rain or Shine’, the quartet also featured a number of superb cover versions in their set, such as Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, The Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’ and Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk’.

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Feeling the love at Jack Up The 80s: Five Star’s Stedman, Delroy and Denise Pearson

Looking every bit as good as they sounded, and executing each dance routine in complete synchronicity, it was apparent that their dedication to achieving entertainment perfection was equal to their dedication to each other.

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Bad Manners drummer Mark Hamilton

Minutes after Five Star left the stage, drummer Mark Hamilton was warming up backstage ahead of his performance with Bad Manners. Ripples of anticipation spread amongst the crowd as Ska fans made their way forwards, eagerly awaiting Sunday’s headliners.

Before you could say “Lip Up Fatty”, the band bounded on stage and the party started. Buster saluted the audience with his pint of lager before transporting them back to the early Eighties with tracks like ‘Special Brew’, ‘Walking In The Sunshine’ and ‘Fatty Fatty’, alongside later material such as the 1992 release ‘Feel Like Jumping’. And jump they did.Bad Manners.jpg

Like a bunch of tequila-fuelled schoolboys, the band bounced, ran and laughed their way through the final show of the weekend, and we loved them for it. Watching the crowd, arms aloft, singing and dancing along, with the biggest of grins on their faces, I could think of no better choice of act to finish this nostalgia-fest. More than the skilled musicianship, which these guys have in heaps, this was about fun with a capital ‘F’.Bad Manners 2.jpg

That evening, I left the festival field feeling years younger, having gained some very special memories, not to mention some special friends. What better motivation for you all to descend on Isle of Wight next August, for Jack Up The 80s Volume 5? I’ll see you there.

 

 

On My Radio

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Writing my latest column for the Canterbury Times, I was reminded of just how great radio was in the Eighties. I would always take a transistor radio out with me on family trips, lest my world be bereft of music. I can remember travelling home from my grandparents’ home in Eastbourne, on a grey and rainy Sunday afternoon in 1983. Our Hillman Imp didn’t have a car radio (unsurprising when I tell you that whoever sat behind the driver had to hold onto the driver’s door whenever we turned left, to stop the door flinging wide open!), so I spent the journey waving my little yellow radio around, in an attempt to catch snippets of the Top 40, in between blasts of loud, crackling interference.

Later on in the decade, in the summer of ’85, I was listening to Laser 558 whilst my parents, brother and I lay sunbathing on the beach at Camber Sands. Our trips to the Sussex coast would always be almost military-like in their preparation. The picnic would be made the night beforehand, so that when we got up early the next morning “to make the most of the day”, everything could be whisked away into a giant coolbox, and packed into the car with the rest of the day’s paraphernalia, including windbreaks, beach mats and the obligatory frisbee, as quickly as possible. It is that swift departure which I blame for a ‘slight oversight’ one sunny, June day. You see, it was only as we were basking in the sunshine, listening to the pirate radio station, that the day’s significance became apparent. Yes, it took a DJ wishing all the dads a Happy Father’s Day, for Mum, my brother and I to realise we had forgotten something! We hadn’t forgotten completely – the cards and presents were at home – but the lazy haze of summer had got the better of us. Dad’s reaction to our shocked faces, and hastily muttered apologies, had simply been “I wondered when one of you would realise”.

So, to say “Sorry” again, but also as a “Thank You” for introducing me to their ‘High Tide And Green Grass’ album before I had even reached double figures, here are The Rolling Stones with ‘Paint It Black’. Enjoy, Dad…

Great Scott, We’re At The Future!

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On what has become known as Back To The Future Day, my social media has been awash with images of hoverboards, flux capacitators and Delorean cars, as people pay homage to today’s date, the film’s “future”. Watching the film as a teenager, that date seemed an incomprehensible lifetime away. Strange then that 21st October 1985 now seems like only yesterday.

I never need much persuasion to pop back to my favourite decade (unfortunately not physically, like Marty McFly), and, having seen others’ posts about what they were doing 30 years ago today, I felt compelled to follow suit. Out came my 1985 diary again.

Me in 1985

Me in 1985

Now, regular readers of my blog may recall my disappointment when I read my entry for 13th July 1985, and discovered the “day that rocked the world” had barely made a tremor in my scribblings. So, I had braced myself for the dullness of the lines I had written three decades ago today:

“Fairly boring day at school today. Have just seen the last in the series of “Adrian Mole”. Should be in bed by 10.00.”

I know I was only 14 at the time, but my memory of that year is of a much more exciting time than boring school days and TV programmes. My entry for the next day restored my faith in my powers of recollection:

“Didn’t go to school today. Went shopping with Mum. I bought some more Christmas presents. We saw Jools Holland drive past us when we were standing outside the Post Office.”

In case you are wondering, it was not unusual to see the former member of Squeeze on a visit to his fellow presenter of The Tube, Paula Yates, who happened to live in the same town as me ( and yes, I do still start buying Christmas presents this early!)

That was more like the 1985 I remember. What was your 1985 like?

The Live Aid Legacy

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As a teenager in the mid-Eighties, I kept a diary from 1984 to 1986, recording in great detail the minutiae of daily life. Having recently stumbled across these journals, I have taken great delight in reliving the past of my youth. From watching “Morons From Outer Space” at the cinema on a Good Friday, to the changing shape of my favourite magazine: “Got my copy of Smash Hits, which was smaller than usual”; from drinking Martini and lemonade on a school trip to Germany, to the weather: “It’s very, very hot today, and I’m absolutely sweating buckets!”, every aspect of my teenage life had been documented in scrawly blue ink.

A self-confessed obsessive of Eighties’ culture, particularly the music of the decade, I was intrigued to see what I had scribbled as my entry for Saturday 13th July, 1985, when the “show that rocked the world” took place. Thirty years on, I can still remember the excitement I felt when I woke up the morning of Live Aid. This was going to be a show unlike any other, and I happily gave up the opportunity to top up my tan (unheard of for my teenage self), to sit in front of the TV in a darkened room. Excitedly turning the diary pages, in expectation of the lists of artists and their performances I had undoubtedly noted, along with long-forgotten titbits such as what colour over-sized bow Paula Yates had worn in her hair, I arrived at the relevant page. This is what I had written:

“I’ve been watching Live Aid all day. It’s 9.07 at the moment and I’ve seen all of it apart from 1½ hours which I taped [using our Betamax top-loading video recorder] and it’s all been really good. I aim to stay up until 4 o’clock tomorrow morning to watch the end of it.”

I cannot convey the disappointment I felt at my lacklustre description of a day that has held such a special place in my heart for the past three decades. Why hadn’t I written about the incongruity of seeing Charles and Diana’s stilted participation, as Status Quo opened the concert? Where was my rave review of Freddie Mercury’s fantastic performance with Queen, and reminiscences of how he had played up to the cameraman? What about the bit when Bob Geldof swore and told us to “give me your money!”? Surely I had noted that somewhere. Then, I realised that I had. The memories may not have made it to paper but, in my head, they were as fresh as the day they were made. Unlike those who make the mistake today of viewing a gig through their mobile ‘phones, and fail to enjoy the moment because they are too busy recording the event for posterity, I had mentally absorbed every last note and nuance of that day. This became even more apparent to me a few weeks ago.

I had interviewed 80’s TV presenter Steve Blacknell for my next book, “Your Eighties”. Some of you will remember Steve for his interview of Phil Collins during their transatlantic trip on Concorde, which enabled the Genesis frontman to make music history, by becoming the only musician to play at both Live Aid venues (Wembley Stadium in London, then JFK Stadium in Philadelphia). Whilst transcribing my interview with Steve, I tried in vain to find video footage of his ground-breaking Live Aid interview. I couldn’t understand why all I was able to find was the audio recording, set to video footage of Concorde flying through the clouds. After all, the image of Steve wearing one of his trademark gaudy shirts, whilst chatting away to Mr. Collins, was so vivid in my mind. Then, it suddenly hit me. My mind was the only place I would find that image. The technology for live, televised broadcasts from Concorde did not exist in 1985. The little video tape I was replaying was solely in my mind’s eye.

So, whilst it may be that celebrations of Live Aid’s 30th anniversary are somewhat more subdued than I believe such an event deserves, it lives on in the hearts and minds of a generation. Alongside the preceding Band Aid single in November 1984, Live Aid created a worldwide consciousness and responsibility for matters further afield than your own doorstep. It brought awareness to the masses, and made people believe that they could make a difference. Live Aid’s legacy lives on in ongoing charity fundraisers such as Comic Relief and Sports Aid, which have become a familiar and instantly recognisable means of raising money. So much so, that those too young to remember Live Aid may wonder just what all the fuss is about. Today, charity and entertainment form a reciprocal partnership, in which many are keen and happy to participate. A partnership that has its foundations in Live Aid, and the incredible performances it produced.

There was the battle of the big voices in Paul Young and Alison Moyet’s duet of the Marvin Gaye classic “That’s The Way Love Is”, not to mention the strut-off between Mick Jagger and Tina Turner, during their performance of “State of Shock”. Then we had Hollywood legends like Jack Nicholson, taking on cameo roles to introduce rock royalty, The Who. Not forgetting the all-star line up on stage at the Wembley finale, with David Bowie, George Michael, Sting and Paul Weller just a few of the Eighties’ finest singers joining Midge Ure and Bob Geldof to perform “Feed The World”. Just thinking about the day has made me want to see those performances again. Now, there’s an idea for a fundraising compilation DVD…

Snooker Loopy For The Whirlwind!

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Tomorrow sees the start of the World Snooker Championships at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, and Mark Selby’s defence of his title. With the likes of Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan taking part in the tournament, we will undoubtedly witness some top class play. Can it ever match that of snooker’s golden age though?

Thirty years ago, the tournament’s final saw 18.5 million viewers tune in to watch Dennis Taylor beat defending champion Steve Davis in the “black ball final”. Jobs and school were pushed to the back of our minds, as the nation sat glued to their TV sets, awaiting the result of a match that eventually finished in the early hours of Monday 28th April, 1985.

My favourite snooker player of the decade was, and still is, fellow left-hander, Jimmy “The Whirlwind” White. I first remember watching him play on TV when I was 9 years old. My Nan (who was also left-handed) loved to see him play, and we would spend hours together, watching his expert performances and celebrating his championing of “cack-handedness”!

Alongside other 80’s snooker greats like Stephen Hendry, Joe Johnson, Willie Thorne and Cliff Thorburn, Jimmy was one of the competitors to play in the World Seniors Snooker Championship a couple of years ago. He was also one of the players I got to meet afterwards. Now, I have met a few well-known faces, but I have never been as starstruck as when I met Jimmy White. After the above photo was taken, I took a photo of my son with The Whirlwind. As I struggled to keep the camera steady, I realised my hands were actually shaking, and I felt a little bit giddy!

Unfortunately, Jimmy doesn’t appearOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA in the Matchroom Mob’s video below. However, as the song has been my ear-worm for the last 24 hours, I thought  I would share it with you (I’m good like that!). You will see too that Willie Thorne doesn’t look any different now than he did back then. Besides, you can’t beat a bit of Chas ‘n’ Dave!

Back To Blacknell

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Some memories remain as clear as the day they were made. One such recollection I have dates back to 13th July, 1985. A blistering hot, sunny day, one which I would have normally spent topping up my tan, was spent sat in front  of the television, watching the musical extravaganza that was Live Aid. You can imagine my excitement last week, when I got to interview someone who had been an integral part of that historical occasion.

Steve Blacknell, TV presenter of the BBC’s “Riverside” and  “Breakfast Time” during the Eighties, was the man who got to interview Phil Collins during his transatlantic flight on Concorde. The flight enabled CollinsMusicBoxSteveBlacknell to perform on both Live Aid stages, Wembley Stadium in London, and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. Although the live radio broadcast of the interview was barely audible in parts, as a 14 year old girl, obsessed with the music industry, I was mesmerised by the apparent glamour of the event. Steve recalls the reality of his trip across the pond as being in stark contrast to my imaginings. You will have to wait until the full interview is published in my next book, “Your Eighties”, for the details. However, with a view on everything from Mike Score’s haircut (Steve was responsible for signing A Flock of Seagulls to Jive Records in 1981) to Bruce Springsteen: “a pub singer”, I can assure you that Steve’s candour in all his responses, means the wait will be well worth it.

Steve is currently working on his autobiography which, from the snippets I gleaned during our interview, promises to be a revelation in more ways than one. Having enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle in the Eighties, alongside some of the biggest names in entertainment, the expectation will be for some celebrity gossip. What most may not expect is the vulnerability of the man who, despite being surrounded by excess, won his battle with bulimia, and now uses his own experiences to help fellow sufferers. If the book offers only a fraction of Steve’s roller coaster life, I want a ticket to ride!

In the meantime, I will leave you with this little gem I found of Steve and Phil, as the pair are about to board the plane. Click Here to watch.