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Monday, 15 June 2009

The Reaffirmation of Rock Gods

It’s 1992 and I am off down the shops for a Dime bar.

It’s a chilly day and the Krypton Factor starts at 7 so I dust down the Racer and wheel it to the end of the driveway.

I get the tape out of my puffa jacket pocket and put it in the Walkman.

It’s only a cassette single so I will have to turn it over when I get to the shops and as it plays the same both sides I will have to listen to it twice.

I end up listening to it about 15 times and miss the Krypton Factor as I sit in my room, chomping the calorific delight and reading the latest NME, the one with Miles Hunt on the cover on tour in America. The one with the critics top 100 albums of all time.

“I am the son and the heir, of a shyness that is criminally vulgar”

The lyrics and sardonic singing is the top layer of a complex cake, which saw some of the finest effects-driven guitar ever to see the light of day provide the filling over a skipped backbeat thumped with malice.

‘How Soon Is Now?’ backed with ‘Hand In Glove’ on a reissued single showed me what I had missed back in 1983 when the Smiths lorded over youthland.

And here I am 17 years after really hearing and understanding them for the first time and 22 years after they tetchily imploded and I have just met the architect behind some of the most beautiful guitar lines in the last quarter of a century.

Johnny Marr is a gent. A truly nice guy.

I approached him after the Yoko One gig at the Royal Festival Hall and he was talking to another musician, one I recognised but could not place.

I got the name right but not the group.
It was Mark Moore and I thought he was from Bomb the Bass. It was only on the train on the way home that I thought to myself ‘S’Express’.

Still I bravely said “Hi Mark” even though I wasn’t 100% sure.

Then, onto the main event.

I presented Johnny with my copy of Jon Savage’s ‘England’s Dreaming’ and my wife’s expensive eye-liner pencil.

I couldn’t have presented the situation with a better ice-breaker if I had produced a pick axe.

“What a great book,” the curiously jet black-haired Marr said.

And then he continued with a little pitch of why the book is good, how it engages with the reader and lo and behold he namedrops that he knows Jon Savage.

“Yeah, he’s a good mate of mine”.

Why didn’t I work harder at being a music journalist? This guy is revered among musicians.

He then poses with me for a photo and smiles and waves me goodbye.

There Gillespie, that’s how you deal your fans your grumpy little troll.


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