Hello and welcome back to Sentinel Daily David! Can you tell me about your earliest memories of heavy metal – was it love at first sight/hearing? “Well, in terms of what was considered metal at the time, as opposed to rock or glam it was Judas Priest. Before that AC/DC and Kiss if that counts? It was considered metal at the time. I remember as a twelve year old that (UK Weekly rock paper) Sounds ran a Heavy Metal Chart. I had no idea what that meant but I remember thinking, wow! whatever Heavy Metal is, I seem to like all the bands that are in it! This was at a time when we were suffering Ska and a Mod revival also!”
Dark days indeed… but of course Kiss are acceptable! I remember the days when Kerrang considered Journey to be metal! What was the first metal album you bought with your own cash money? “Stained Class by Priest. However there was a mishap. I bought it in a shop called Venus Records in High Wycombe on a Friday night after school. If you ran the mile from the school to the bus station ( I lived a 30 minute bus ride from High Wycombe ) you could just make Venus before the bus left. I got home to find that the doughnut in the shop had put Tammy Wynette’s Greatest Hits in the sleeve! No way of getting back to the shop until Monday after school. Torture!”
That happened to me a couple of times in Venus. I wonder if they just did it deliberately to annoy young meltalheads? Are there any bands you loved as a youngster that cause you to wince now and ask ‘what was I thinking’ ? “Not that exactly, but it is funny how hard you once thought some bands were and now they look so… erm… not hard! I heard Breaking the Law last week and it sounded so pop!”
But still better than the sort of pop we’re lumbered with now, obviously. Who were the first band you saw live? “AC/DC on the Highway to Hell tour in 1979. Indescribably loud but incredible! Def Leppard as a bunch of fifteen and sixteen year olds supported so technically it was them, not that they’re metal. The next gig was Judas Priest supported by Iron Maiden who had just played Running Free on Top of the Pops!”
Heady days indeed! How hard was it growing up to get info on the bands you loved- was there much mainstream media coverage where you lived? ” There was little media coverage, but getting into the bands was easy. At school loads of my friends including a couple of guitarists that were a year or two older than me were into the rock/metal scene, through them I was lent albums all the time”.
Do you think the internet has taken away the mystique of being in a big band for young people today ? Do we know too much about our heroes in 2016? “Undoubtedly! I hate that you know the bloody set list before you go to a gig! On the other hand the access is good. It was frustrating struggling to hear bands back then and when you saw them live it was the first time you had probably seen them move! We probably appreciated it more though due to the natural rationing”.
Definitely! And I agree with the setlist thing too… I love not knowing what a band is going to play! Were you a big festival goer as a junior headbanger? “No, but festivals were not that common. I went to Donington in 1981 to see AC/DC and Whitesnake, which was kind of cool as (‘Snakes bassist) Neil Murray played that day and ended up playing on the Space Elevator album. I went on a laid on bus on my own, I was last on and didn’t get a bloody seat all the way there. I had to leave after Hells Bells because the bus was leaving! I went again in 1984 to see AC/DC again with Van Halen, (who played almost no songs by the way but were funny!). I also saw the last Thin Lizzy gig at Reading in 1983″.
How hard/easy was it for you to get to big gigs growing up? Would you have hitched hundreds of miles to see your favourite bands if necessary? “It was pretty easy. I grew up after initially moving down from Glasgow to a town not far from London. If a certain band played in the UK they were bound to play in London”.
Now, could you have a think and tell us five albums that have stayed with you since your formative metal years? “ Unleashed in the East by Judas Priest, Rainbow‘s Long Live Rock and Roll, Powerage – AC/DC, Alive II by Kiss and All the World’s a Stage by Rush“.
Did you have a metal crush? “No, I can’t recall any women on the scene when I was growing up other than Girlschool who I didn’t like. Pat Benatar was the only female rock singer that seemed to be around, I did like her before she went very pop”.
Anything else you’d like to reveal about your metal upbringing? “Only that Saxon came to High Wycombe on the Wheels of Steel tour when nobody played in High Wycombe. The NWoBHM was kicking off and they were supported by Chevy. I am still awaiting the return of my hearing!”
Haha – aren’t we all? Thanks again for taking part!