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Monday 26 December 2016

Listen To LASTWIND LIVE supporting Hawkwind in Derby

In my last post I finished the story of my band LASTWIND on tour supporting HAWKWIND in 2006. I mentioned that we were recorded at that gig and that LASTWIND LIVE is available as a download for a small price (five pounds or equivalent).
Quite a few of my readers showed interest so I have chosen three ways in which the album can be downloaded. It contains 6 tracks, Strung Out, Yahtze, Autoroute, Paris-Marseille, Slots and Monster Truck and is about 35 minutes of good rock music with spacey, psychedelic undertones.

1) You can follow the link below - Lastwind Live and download the album for the sum of five pounds.

2). I can send you the album via email and on reception you can either pay me via paypal (my address is
3). If you don't have a PayPal account you can send a cheque for five pound to Sam Hayles (I'll email you the details) if you live in the UK.

So, give yourself (or someone else) a late Xmas present. I guarantee its good music for body and soul!!

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Supporting Hawkwind on Tour 2006, Final Part....It All Ends in Derby.

Then, there we were, beatling up the M5 for the last time, heading for Derby Assembly Rooms and with an extra body on board. Rick was the owner of Feel The Quality Records, a small Bristol label that had put out two recordings of mine: the Lastwind Demo and This, That, The Other, 3 songs of mine with two versions of each, my mix and his. The original recording of Paris-Marseille was on this EP, sung by Laurence de Loes, Belgian father and mother from the Cote d'Ivoire, a lovely young lady with a smooth voice who played in a future version of Lastwind, providing backing vocals and percussion. Anyhow, Rick really wanted to come, to be part of the crack, to help sell some CDs and to try and get a decent live recording of our set. He's quite a quiet guy who lives on the ninth floor of a mainly Somali inhabited tower block between Stokes Croft and the Royal Bristol Infirmary, a fairly wild neighbourhood.
The drive passed without incident and we headed first for the hotel we had booked for the night: I had to drop Olivier off at Luton Airport the next day on the way back to Bristol. It was a fairly typical 2 star place with Rick's room a long way from ours but we were pleased to find out it had a bar which stayed open quite late. Then we had the usual problem of trying to find a way round the one-way system to the theatre and then a way from there round the back to the stage door. We got our gear in back stage and then moved into a dressing room with our name on the door only to be moved out by Chris who had discovered that Dave and her's room was smaller than ours. We called in at the rest of Hawkwind's dressing room and were wished good luck by Jason and Alan and got a smile from Richard.
Rick did a good job of getting to know the sound engineer and had arranged to get his recorder wired up to the desk so we should get a good recording of the live sound and the engineer promised to give us a good sound. And our sound check sounded the best yet!! Rick also got a table stand set up in the entrance hall to sell our slightly poor range of merchandise. We dashed out for some food round the square where the theatre was placed; the name was crap but the place was actually rather smart inside. There was a Nando's just along the square and we went in there but it was rammed and we were obviously going to have to wait some time so we moved on to a pub which was pretty empty and had fish and chips and mushy peas which was all rather copious and good. We got in our regulation GnT and had time for a quick spliff out the back before being called by the road crew to get on stage.
There was a big crowd waiting for us and we went down well right from the first number. I was well on top of my vocals by now and was lose enough to improvise some of the lyrics and Olivier was on top form, driving out some powerful solos. In fact, at the end of Paris-Marseille, a big rocker stood up precariously on his chair in the front row of the balcony and shouted out that the crowd ought to give more noise for the extraordinary guitarist, the best they were likely to see that year. That got a loud response of cheers and then another voice from the back of the hall shouted out that the keyboard player deserved a big cheer too. We looked at each other with big beaming smiles and really gave everything to the last two numbers, Slots and Monster Trucks which both got tremendous cheers and applause. There were some big biker girls down the front who were giving me the eye which led to me improvising the lyrics, "Don't look at me like that, You're scaring me to death," with a smile and a wink. We had done slightly longer versions of those two numbers and had therefore over-run our time or I am sure we could have done an encore, the crowd were definitely up for it and it was good to see Hawkwind and the crew joining in the applause.
But that was that. We grabbed our gear off the stage and headed out back for another smoke and then made our way out front to watch Hawkwind but were assailed by lots of people congratulating us, wanting to know where we were playing next, where they could buy our album and so on. Rick did manage to sell quite a few CDs and I was just fed up they weren't more representative of what we could do. But we had to be happy with what we had done; for a band that didn't even exist a few weeks beforehand, we had certainly pulled it off. After the gig, we went round to the Hawkwind dressing room and were treated to a glass of champagne, Dave said it was a shame we couldn't do the other gigs and even Chris congratulated us. I always got the feeling she was a bit wary of me knowing I had been friendly with Dave's first wife, Sylvie, but I might be mistaken. One thing was sure: of everyone around, I was the one who had known Dave the longest.
Jason was the person I had got on with the best and, despite having arranged to stop by his place in Honiton when I was next in the area, he died before I ever saw him again, a very sad event. Alan Davey was also very friendly and I saw him next when he had joined Hawklords. Richard, who is a very quiet and reserved person I next saw at a Hawklords gig in Frome, his neck of the woods. And Dave and Chris I saw backstage at their gig in Bristol in 2008 when Dave looked knackered and confided that he didn't think he could go on like this much longer. I lived just up the road from where the gig was and they were going to come round after the show but he was so tired they jumped in their VW camper and shot off back down to Devon.
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We went back to our hotel and ended up getting drunk with some Welsh rugby fans although what they were doing in Derby remained a mystery. We got up in time for a late breakfast and headed down to Luton to put Olivier on his plane with a fairly emotional farewell. Rick slept most of the way back, I dropped him off and got home, had a quick bite to eat and crashed for 12 hours solid.
There was an interesting end to this whole story. I was over in France for Xmas at my son's Sam's at the end of that year and went down to Avignon to record some extra vocals for the live tape of the Derby gig at Olivier's home studio. When we had finished, his wife drove us all up to Sam's for a pre-Xmas was the 22nd of December. Sam's wife, Murielle was heavily pregnant with their second child. Us lads got well drunk and stoned and continued partying after the ladies went to bed until Murielle appeared at the top of the stairs saying her waters had broken. While Olivier's wife phoned the hospital to say they'd be arriving, I made some strong coffee and Olivier walked Sam round and round the garden. Then they set off to drive over an icy col to Valreas Hospital, a good 25 kms away. Little Elijah was born in the back of their Renault Kangoo half way to the hospital. Well done Murielle who managed that all by herself!! And it's Elijah's 10th birthday this coming Friday!!!

So that's the end of that tale. The recording we made at Derby is available for a small charge. Email me at if you would like to own a copy.

Happy Christmas all and let's hope 2017 is full of more hope than 2016.
Elijah this year, 10 years old on Friday.

Saturday 17 December 2016

5 Years Ago - My First Group Trip, Around Morocco. Part One.

It was somebody else's photo on FB that reminded me that it was 5 years ago that I went on my first group trip to Morocco. It was not my first trip, I had first been there in 1973 when most the tourists were like us, hippies. That was with my first wife and I had been back again with my second partner and here children. But this was going to be different because it was with a group and also because it was going to lots of places I hadn't visited before.
Now I had already given up work and moved to Seaton to keep an eye on my dear old mum: in fact I was living across the road from the hall that is now named after Dave Brock, leader of Hawkwind. And I had paid for the holiday by giving up cigarette smoking in May and thus saving the thousand pounds I needed for this two week trip. Unfortunately, in Morocco cigarettes were dirt cheap so I was back on them immediately. The group were guided by two jovial Berber guides who really enhanced the whole expedition and the group was dominated by people from the Southern Hemisphere, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. I had thought I might be the oldest but there was a lady of my age and a Canadian couple who were much older. But, a bit to my surprise, I was probably the hippest of the group.
Anyhow, I haven't the time to go into a lot of detail but I thought it would be worth sharing some of my photos with you. So, I hope you like them and the comments I will make about them.
I landed in Marrakech and met up with our group in a Riad Hotel. I was attached to the two other single men in our group, Patrick, a big South African about to go work in the mines in NW Australia, and Shane, a fairly young Aussie who was interested in the alternative music scene and smoked. We drove to Casablanca and waited around by the Grand Mosque for our bus to go to the airport and pick up the Canadian couple who had landed there. It was wet and quite cold but the mosque was impressive for its size (huge) and design. It could hold as many people as a stadium!!
Back in the day, I had problems walking, particularly uphill. So when any such walking was involved, I'd find myself a spot to sit, often being joined by passing people or, in this case, a rather large black cat.

Our next stop was Rabat, the political capital, so of course, we had to visit the royal palace. I must admit, I don't like big cities and I was waiting for the trek over the mountains to the south where there were no big places. But still, there were some interesting things, like these two guards at the palace who looked as interested in us as we were of them.

The group getting stuck into a meal with the younger ones plus me down this end.
Here we have our two guides, Ibrahim and Salah, with Natalie, an English tour guide but on holiday with her beau, Dean; more of them later.
View of the old city.

Can't remember what this was, but another really beautiful building.

I was just freaked to see oranges still on the trees in December, but after Sevilla last year, I know it's normal.

The old city walls close up.

A view of the port: Rabat is on the Atlantic coast.

The bar in our hotel had a small band playing a sort of Arabian House music and had hookahs for rent, so some of us got stuck in.

 All the above were in an old royal palace. I just love the way they decorate their walls with geometric patterns.

In the next post, we will move on to the Lower Atlas, the home of Kif!!

And also in the coming days, the final part of Lastwind's tour of England with Hawkwind.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Supporting Hawkwind on tour, 2006. Part Five. Up to the Black Country.

So, on the 29th October 2006, there we were again, rolling up the M5 towards the Midlands. We turned off towards Wolverhampton, a town I had never visited before and, with some difficulty due to pedestrian areas and the one way system, eventually found our way to the stage doors for loading into the Wulfrum Hall. Having offloaded our gear and parked up, we had the usual wait for our sound check and then got that done quite quickly. Again, our sound was great and the road crew were very helpful and chatty. Having gone through a few things during our couple of days off, we were very positive about doing our set and keen to get started. But, of course, there was an hour or more to wait so we went off to walk round the pedestrian area and found our way into a heaving pub for a couple of beers. What was strange was that there seemed to be two clienteles in the bar: the typical Hawkwind followers which could be spotted because they were older, had Hawkwind t-shirts on and looked primarily like ageing rockers. Then, there was a slightly larger (in numbers not individual size) crowd, slightly younger and quite Goth-looking with a few New Romantics and then some Madchester-looking types, all flares and loose shirts. This gave us the impression that perhaps Wolverhampton was in some sort of time-warp, back to the eighties and nineties.
New Order.
But we found out the reason when we returned to the stage door and a window-darkened Range Rover turned up and out jumped New Order. Apparently, there were 2 halls side by side here and New Order were headlining the other one. Now I had been a fan of Joy Division back in the day and followed the progress of New Order over the years. The diminutive Bernard Sumner was accompanied by bodyguards and whisked into the building but the larger than life Peter Hook, who was still with the band in 2006, hung around outside smoking and I managed a quick word with him. He gave the impression that he would rather watch Hawkwind play than play with New Order hence I was not surprised when he left the band the following year.
I also got collared by an old boy, a true OAP, complete with long waterproof coat, creased trousers and sensible shoes. He had spotted me and wanted to chat about Sonic Assassins and why the group hadn't continued. It turned out he came from Bristol too and wanted to know if there was any chance of a lift to the Derby gig. I had to say no because we already had a full car for that one but I did sign the Sonic Assassins album he had with him, the last member to sign.
Captain Dave Brock
When we went on stage for our set, the hall was only half full although we could see that the bar, off to one side in another room but visible in part, was quite rammed. But more and more people came through to the hall as our set progressed and by the time we got to our last number, pretty much everyone was in the audience. We played a good set and got a splendid reception which was very encouraging and some of the road crew made very positive comments as we gathered up our gear and left the stage. We went out the back for a smoke and visited the bar to get drinks on our way into the hall to watch Hawkwind. We were accosted by a couple of fans who complimented us on our set and asked where we were from cos they had never heard of us.
Hawkwind were on good form and went down as well as usual with huge cheers for the most famous old songs. It was interesting seeing quite a few youngsters who where there with their parents (or perhaps grandparents) and seemed rather bemused, particularly by the dancers, obviously not something they were used to seeing. Backstage we got into banter with Jason and Alan, the friendliest of the band and Chris even gave us a compliment when she gave us our hundred pound fee in cash.
It was quite late when we set off for home and we decided to stop on the motorway for some food in a large upstairs restaurant which we had to ourselves until a large group of rather drunk lads appeared. They were getting a bit leary so we finished off our all-day breakfasts and got back to our car.
Obny and me strutting our stuff.
We had another day of rest before our last gig and did very little except go for drinks in the evening with Hugh, our Chinese guest, who was really good company. I was almost regretting turning down the chance to play two extra gigs and had to remind myself that I didn't have the money to cover the costs particularly as we would have had to spend a couple of nights in hotels. But, we had had quite a lot of requests for a CD and we had quickly had one produced out of demos I had and a friend, Rick, of Feel The Quality Records, who had put out a couple of my recordings, said he would like to come with us to get a recording of our live set and would also man a stall selling our merchandise. And act like we had a 'crew'. So Derby was looking like it could be a great laugh.

Friday 2 December 2016

Supporting Hawkwind on tour, 2006. Part Four; Cambridge, A good gig plus a good night out.

We didn't see much of the others after the gig except Chris, the tour manager who told us in passing that she was still looking for the promoter and so would have to pay us the next day. Northampton looked dead so we went back to our bedsit, chatted a bit and then had a fairly early night. We already knew we weren't going to be playing the Norwich gig because a local band had already been put in the support slot so we would be driving to Cambridge, doing the gig and then spending the next day driving back to Bristol.
Me in front of the venue in Cambridge.
The drive to Cambridge wasn't too far and the most remarkable feature was driving past the large Weetabix factory out in the middle of this cereal growing region. We wanted to get to the venue quite early so I could re-programme my Fantom for one of the numbers and we could check that Olivier had some ideas about the new number we were going to use as our intro number, an instrumental as yet nameless, to replace the number that really hadn't worked on night one. We passed through the old university district and following our map, found our bed and breakfast in a neighbourhood of terraced Victorian houses with a very pleasant Asian landlady.
It took us a while to find the load in entrance to the venue which was part of a complex just outside the old city, a very modern looking place. We found our small dressing room, took all our gear up there and I settled down to programming while Olivier listened to the CD version I had of the new introductory track which was a piece of psychedelic techno really over which he could play some soaring notes. We then went out for a smoke and then wandered inside to watch Hawkwind doing their sound-check. There were already some fans in the hall, all of them from Europe and I got talking to some Germans who knew me by sight and knew of my earlier connections with the band, Sonic Assassins being the by-word. I even got asked to sign some things by way of my autograph, particularly flyers about the gig.
When it was our turn to sound check, the road crew were noticeably friendlier than the first night, being much more helpful, particularly one guy whose name I couldn't remember but who seemed to know me from back in the day. And the sound engineer also gave us more time and the sound we were hearing was a lot better which obviously helped our confidence. The doors seemed to open quite early so we hung around out front having a couple of drinks and chatting with various people and getting invites to an after-gig party that was to happen in a pub not far from our BnB we were told by a young couple who had chatted to us as we were parked outside it.
The sound desk.
Getting onstage we could see that the hall was pretty packed and our new opening number went down well and, in fact, each number we did got a good deal of applause building up to our final number, Monster Trucks, which again was very well received and again we noticed most of Hawkwind watching us play it. In fact, after the gig, Alan Davy was particularly praising of it saying we should put it out as a single, it would be a monster hit. Also Richard, the drummer asked me if I had programmed the drum track myself, which I had.
We were quite ecstatic at how well the set had gone down and knew we would stay with that set list, which was as follows ; Strung Out, the new instrumental number, called thus because of the string sounds in it, about 3mins long ; Yahtzee, an old song of mine, reworked to give prevalence to the guitar and with lyrics about my time with Hawkwind in the USA, just over 5 mins ; Autoroute, an out and out rocker about getting caught speeding on the motorway in France, around 4mins 30 ; Paris-Marseille, a more psychedelic rocker, also about during in France which I sang in French, also around 4 min 30 ; Slots, a slower song but quite heavy, about gambling and other hedonistic activities and the importance people place on money, 5 and a half mins ; and, finally, Monster Trucks, a real crowd pleaser, again, just over 5 mins. So we were coming in at just over 30 minutes, our revised official time.
Quite happy with our performance, we had a smoke and then went out front to the bar and to watch the main act perform and again I noticed a few people pointing us out; we were getting recognised. Hawkwind played well and I was impressed by their dancers and lights as much as the music although I did enjoy some of the old favourites they played. When the lights came on at the end of the show we got chatting with a group of younger fans, particularly a fine looking Asian lass who seemed in charge of her group and who insisted we follow them to this pub for an after party. Luckily it wasn't far from our BnB so we parked up in this alley behind its back garden and walked round the corner to the pub, being waylaid by some other people who tried to tempt us back to their flat for drinks and smokes.
Once in the pub, we found that Jason, the Hawkwind keyboard player was already there and we soon found ourselves as part of a large and noisy group and began a couple of hours of drinking, surreptitious coke snorting and a lot of flirting which all led to nothing but a very late night. In our rush to get to this party, we had only seen Dave and Chris quickly. Dave moaned that it was the last night he was going to sleep on the bus as he wasn't in fact sleeping hardly at all and never could in a bus these days. Chris paid us for the two nights, told us what time to be in Wolverhampton and asked us if we could play an extra two dates up north after the Derby gig. Unfortunately Olivier already had his flight back to France booked and I quickly worked out that I couldn't afford to lose any more money: I was already going to be down quite a lot after 4 was a good thing I had recently sold our house!!
We got up quite late, enjoyed a full English breakfast and set off for the long drive back down to Bristol. It was a nice autumn day and we enjoyed the slow drive, Olivier nodding off just as we hit the M4. Liz had prepared a chicken wings, rice and peas dinner which we washed down with a couple of bottles of red before retiring, looking forward to a couple of days off.

To be continued > part 5: Up to the Black Country where we meet a favourite band.