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Smoke: The Gossip Column

Article from Making Music, April 1986

All the snippety little secret bits of musicians' gossip that no-one else would print

Smoke gets everywhere - in the studio, on stage, up popstars' trouser legs... seeking out the sticky bits of musicianly news and gossip you won't find anywhere else.

Like they say, there's none without fire. Talking of which, that's exactly what the Musicians' Union decided to do with Queen. They fired them for playing in well known nice country South Africa, despite the protests of Brian May who turned up to the original meeting, rattling on about bringing black and white audiences together, hand-in-hand, and so on. After two appeals it seems the MU's Executive Committee has withdrawn the expulsion order, and substituted it with a £500 fine for each member of the band.

...the madness of technology now means it costs twice as much to fit MIDI to a Fender Rhodes as it does to buy one of the things (secondhand)...

...with all the self-congratulatory music business awards going the rounds at present, you might not have noticed that Hugh Padgham (Phil Collins/Genesis/Police) was the only Great British producer nominated for a Grammy...

...a vile and unsubstantiated rumour is going around the music business (Smoke motto: 'Your Business Is Our Business') that Famous Pop Stars had merely to turn up for the televised BPI Awards to procure themselves a citation. Could the surprised look on Elton John's mush indicate that no one had told him his was a shared award? Any sensible millionaire would have smashed it to smithereens back at his hotel...

...the first person to regularly use the Fender electric bass was Roy Johnson of the Lionel Hampton Band, in 1952...

...he probably did a better job than Echo & The Bunnymen who played so badly at one of the early dates on their last tour that the whole roadcrew threatened to resign if they didn't improve. They did... rhyming slang from roadies, part 37: "Blimey, I really am Hank," translates as, 'I say chaps, I'm really Hank Marvin," where Hank Marvin equals starvin'. Simple when you know how. "Blimey, I really need a thora," translates as, "I say chaps, I really need a Thora Hird," but we'd rather not reveal more...

The Beat's 'Mirror In The Bathroom' was the first single to be recorded digitally in the UK...

George Benson talking to keyboard player on recent British tour: "Hey man, you look just like that guitarist, Lee Ritenour." Pleased player replies, "Well thanks, George. It's better than people saying I look like Terry Wogan." George hesitates for a mere microsecond, and comes straight back with, "Yeah! He's a great guitar player too, man!"

Roger Mayer, the long-lost electronics wizard who designed Hendrix's pedals has resurfaced in the States, and is once again making effects...

Paddy of Prefab Sprout puts down his Strat half-way through the Hammersmith Show and turns to his Takamine electric-acoustic. He grins at the audience. "Yes, it's 'Mull Of Kintyre' time!", maybe that explains Wendy doing a Linda stage right - unfortunately, that's not much of a recommendation...

...after another date on their aforementioned tour, the Bunnymen found themselves sharing a nightclub with various members of U2. In a typically charming gesture of magnanimity, the U2s sent a bottle of champagne to the Bunnytable; the Bunnymen responded with an equally typical gesture - they sent back two pints of lager...

Why Albums Are Released Late, #1 this month featuring US band Rubber Rodeo; "Sorry man, but the cover picture's been delayed - the band are out in the desert waiting for the right cloud formation." Perhaps RR should cover 'I Wish It Would Rain'...

...producerist Robin Millar, best known for his work with Sade, Working Week, and other acousticy bands, has been producing Big Country. Has Robin gone loud, or have the biggies gone quiet? We can confirm that Stuart and Bruce have gone Moony, they've taken delivery of a Tele-ish six string and an electric mandolin from Moon guitars of Glasgow...

Keith Richards revealed recently a penchant for using Nashville tuning on his guitars. This involves tuning the E, A, D, and G an octave higher than usual - for which he recommends strings that run .011/.015/.010/.018(plain)/.022(wound)/ and .036...

How Bootlegs Happen: Siouxsie & The Banshees at St. James' Church recorded from the mixer on rack-mounted cassette. Gig ends, soundman bends down to turn equipment off, turns back, and cassette is missing. Next day, copies of cassette appear on stalls in Portobello market...

Phil Lynott was recording a song with Huey Lewis (surprise - ahem - winner at the BPI shindig) just before his demise; the song was called 'I'm Still Alive'...

...and while we're on the subject of death from success, we finish with the The Engineer's Joke as passed on from Mr M. King: Musician ignored all his life by horrible record companies decides to top himself and instructs a mate to record the event, and distribute resulting cassette copies to miserly record industry and press. Goes in with prepared words and gun, and starts reading: "To whom it may concern, this is a recorded message. It's you lot who've done this to me, you never recognised my great talent, so goodbye." Then "Bang", he shoots himself. Engineer comes on: "Yes love, that was fine for level. Shall we do a take.?" Ha, Ha.

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Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - Apr 1986


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