Kim recalls his life in music…
IN THE BEGINNING…
I was 14 when I started drumming on the covers of old books (snare drum) and cushions (tom-toms) and later on a prehistoric drum kit that actually had real skin on the floor tom-tom.
What got me started was my schoolfriend, Dave Thurogood, whose older sister had a boyfriend in a rock band who played drums. Dave and I had similar tastes in music and I used to go over to his house to listen to his excellent selection of records and watch him drum along to the songs on a chair that he used as a make shift snare drum. As I observed him, I thought to myself, I could do that, and so I bought a pair of drum sticks and began to play. Some months later, I noticed a modest drum kit for sale in the local paper, which I was able to buy with help from my Father.
I taught myself to play, and practiced religiously in our garage. Fortunately for the neighbours, it was located at the end of a long garden, but less fortunate for me, was that it was only about thirty feet from the grave stones in the adjacent cemetery that were clearly visible through the garage door windows when I played. I had an audience of sorts during those long winter nights of practicing, but it was quite scary at times, particularly when a heavy mist hung over the cemetery, or a howling wind found its way through the gaps in the garage doors and blew all my candles out! I would be left in total darkness and it wasn’t the beating of the drums you could hear, but the pounding of my heart as it tried to break free from my chest. I eventually solved the power problem by working at Woolworth’s for a week. My wages were just enough to buy a 50 metre electric cable, which I ran from the house via the kitchen window and up the garden path to the garage. With the flick of a switch I had electric light and mains power too. This was immensely liberating as it enabled other musicians to play with me and subsequently led to the formation of my first ‘garage’ band. The line-up consisted of my school mate Dave (whom I had persuaded to lay down his sticks) on bass guitar, my Godmothers son, Robert, on organ, and yours truly on skins. It was an all instrumental affair and tremendous fun.
Our house at 14 Cardinal Avenue, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire was a location venue for a number of scenes from episode 16, (Second Time Around) of the world famous Inspector Morse TV series, starring John Thaw. There is one shot of ‘Mrs Mitchell’s’ garden, 92 minutes into the episode that briefly shows the brick wall of the garage at the far end of the garden. Shortly after filming though, the property was sold and replaced with homes for the elderly.
However, as my appetite for rehearsals and practice grew, I started drumming in the daytime during school holidays, as well as doing the evening ‘graveyard shift’. This landed me in trouble with the local council whose offices where just beyond the cemetery about 70 metres from me and my very loud drum kit. Clearly they did not appreciate my rhythmic creativity and issued me with a written warning to desist, or face legal proceedings. Fortunately this was only a temporary set back as shortly afterwards we moved to a big solidly built Edwardian house in Bushey, Hertfordshire, about six miles from Borehamwood. The house walls were so thick that I could play the drums in my bedroom without disturbing anyone.
One evening in 1969 while station surfing on my radio I tuned in to a concert where a rock group was performing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra live at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It was Deep Purple and their Concerto for Group and Orchestra written by their organist, Jon Lord. This unique event was a catalyst for me as it embedded in my mind the idea that it is possible to fuse these two distinctly different genres of music and create something powerful, yet beautiful. I became an instant fan and bought all Deep Purple’s albums the next day. Their drummer, Ian Paice, was awesome and I paid tribute to him, and the immense talents of Jon, Ritchie, Ian and Roger five years later, when I ordered a brand new Premier Resonator (twin shell) drum kit in the colour deep purple.
I still have the ‘purple’ drums but my permanent kit now is digital; the magnificent Roland TD-30KV V-drum set up that is neighbour friendly, and in my view, the ‘Rolls Royce’ of digital drum kits, though its replacement (the TD-50KV) is even better.
I also use DW Hi-Hat stands and twin kick drum pedals, plus Vic Firth FI American Classic sticks.
My early musical influences, apart from Deep Purple, and the big three great classical composers: Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, include the more melodic prog. rock bands from the late sixties and early seventies like Yes, SuperTramp, Pink Floyd, Camel, Barclay James Harvest, Genesis and Gary Moore. I also like melodic blues and artists whose performances bring light into peoples lives. The Josh Groban version of Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring is one of my favourite pieces as is Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. In terms of wordsmiths the incomparable master poet, Dylan Thomas, has probably exerted the greatest influence on my work because of the lyrical nature of his verse and profuse use of alliteration and assonance. More recently, I have also come to appreciate the huge talents of songwriters like Cole Porter. But at the end of the day the ‘Music of the Spheres’, the classical music sung and performed by the angels in heaven is where my heart is. And the baroque style, which you can hear in the instrumental section of Funny Money is the style of classical music I enjoy listening to most.
When I listen to music now I want to be lifted up, I want to be inspired and taken to a higher plain, and thus my whole approach and tastes in music have changed towards this end.
To be continued…