< Drop your bags and give me a kiss- Irene in white night gown and bottle of Mateus. Shopping for ring of commitment; Tower of London, Train to Burnley, Trailer in moors, first breakfast, serenading local bovines,
When we first got together, Irene and I lived in a caravan at the bottom of Pendle hill in Lancashire, UK. I used to practice every day and the British bovines in the field would come right over and listen. It was fine until they began looking at each other and I distinctly heard what I considered to be some offensive ruminations about my playing.
local pub ><Pub with Ken B><London:Op Knocks><Flat in West Ealing><Spotty><Armada Barn><Tony Bennett><Rebuild engine of car for trip back to Oswaldtwistle><Living with Irene’s Mother><First Home><
<Tower Ballroom-Scotland Yard><Wedding><Pantomimes and puppies><Aunt Cele><New Home-Euxton><Home courses-electronics><windshield wiper delay><electronic ignition><Tower Ball Room> <Eric Delaney> <Tony Christie> <Stylistics> <Matt Monro> <NancyWilson>
I was a humbled pauper when I arrived in the United Kingdom as a “child of the universe” (straight from Woodstock) without a plan and five hundred dollars to my name. But, I had a trumpet! And I had my love to keep me warm! And the timbre of my tenacity prevailed as I penetrated the depths of parliamentary etiquette in order to avoid the humiliation of deportation. A mere ocean hadn’t posed an obstacle, keeping me from the woman I was pledged to, and so I wasn’t about to let a few international treaties get in my way. I approached a member of the British Parliament who had influence, and whose name was Dennis Dover. He answered to the name “Den”. “DEN!” Unfortunately, I heard, “Ben!” “BEN!”… I addressed my letter to him: “Mr. Ben Dover, MP. House of Parliament, Westminster, London.” And so… three huge gentlemen from Scotland Yard arrived with little ceremony, and an overwhelming abundance of intimidation to “escort me” to the airport. There followed much posturing, and groveling and they agreed to allow me to remain in the country through the weekend provided that by Monday morning I held a certificate of marriage to a loyal British subject in my most unworthy hands. Irene and I were married the very next day. The magistrate who married us was a Benny Goodman fan, and so my father’s notoriety from that infamous trumpet section carried the day for us.
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician,” he was quoted as saying. “I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music.”
Beauty was paramount in Einstein’s concept of the universe – inspired not least by the “architecture” and “inner unity” he found in the music of Bach and Mozart. Einstein’s work was very much an attempt to unify physics, to explain apparently disparate elements within the same framework.
Certain basic elements are necessary, in order to satisfy the definition of: “Music” Melody, Harmony, Timbre, and Rhythm. Much of today’s pop culture music is completely lacking in architecture and inner unity and would better qualify as dialog or diatribe. (When I see the children of European heritage eagerly shedding the vestiges of their own culture for those of another, I am deeply disturbed and justifiably concerned for our future. Self flagellation is never a good thing…not by an individual, and certainly not by an entire culture. How can we have mutual respect for each other when we are being indoctrinated by those who would force us to drink from a trough of shame…shame for who knows what anymore. It doesn’t seem to matter, as long as we are brought to humiliation! Language, and Art! They can unify, or they can divide. But allow one culture to overwhelm another by means of neo-doctrines borne out of the cries for “Reconquista” or “Reparations”…??? Nah!!! I don’t think so! We will never live constructively in the present and build a path to a better future if we continue to navigate in reverse.)
Like Einstein, I too, was a high school drop-out and I would contend that my own interests in life have been closely aligned with many of the same principles. No! I don’t claim to be an Einstein, but I have little doubt that our self serving moebius of an educational system has failed many a budding Einstein in our midst. I call it, “the cycle of academia.” Teachers, many of them barely out of high school themselves, teach children how to become teachers. Never having navigated the complexities and the realities of the socio-economic dynamics in which private enterprise must remain competitive, it is unreasonable to believe that they could even remotely prepare our children for something about which they have no real world experience? And so they teach what they know: how to be a teacher. I’ve often thought that in order to qualify for one of the most important undertakings that anyone can gravitate toward and to which we entrust our children and the future, an individual should come to the class room with actual real world experience and qualifications. They should demonstrate an unbridled enthusiasm for the future that will belong to their students. Put an age restriction on qualifications…must be over fifty. That’s about the right chronology for when knowledge and wisdom come together.
I have always seen life as equations that need to be balanced. Music provides endless opportunities to create equations and to balance them; consonance and dissonance; disparate frequencies creating “beat frequencies” and thus arriving at a summing frequency. The pleasure pain principle is readily satisfied and provides for immediate confirmation and gratification…it either assaults the senses or it doesn’t. It is always seeking equanimity, balance, evolving and resolving. I see music as an advanced language. If a picture paints a thousand words, then music expresses that for which there are no words.
I was bored in a class room setting and yet, although not necessarily tempered with wisdom, I managed to absorb an abundance of knowledge. Getting things pigeon holed took some time, but as a “late bloomer” I managed to become a fairly creative and logical thinker and found that I actually hungered for knowledge. I just had problems with the delivery system and its messengers.
In 1972, I researched and tutored myself in the fundamentals of computer logic circuits and I created some projects based around those circuits. Transistors were not yet in common usage for the home enthusiast but we were already evolving toward integrated circuits. A ubiquitous ic chip known as the 555 timer and another known as a 741 op amp had recently been developed and I was eager to experiment with them.
One such application brought Irene and her mother to the edge of hysterical laughter. It was based on an oscillator “feedback” circuit that would output a square wave pulse. I could then attenuate the circuit to a variable timer and feed it into a windshield wiper circuit. (There were not any cars at that time in the UK that had anything like this…at least not that I knew of) When I emerged from my “laboratory” and placed a working model on the kitchen countertop in order to demonstrate its functionality, Irene and her mother just stood there looking back and forth between each other and the little “black box” and its assemblage of wires, motors, potentiometers and battery which were haphazardly strewn about the surface. The motor would pulse on and off every few seconds with an exaggerated torqueing motion. When they didn’t express praises for my creation, I said, “OK! Wait a minute while I make some adjustments.” Again, the motor began its previous motion but in a more rapid sequence. Again, they just stood there and failed to see the brilliance of my project. When I explained its purpose, they began to smile…they smiled at me…then they smiled at each other, then they began to snicker…a snicker turned into a chortle which rapidly descended into completely inappropriate guffawing. My credibility as a mad scientist was diminishing with each subsequent pulsing of the motor which seemed oblivious to their scorn as it continued without interruption which only added fuel to their demented hysterical laughter.
It rained so much during my twelve years in the UK that much of my spare time was spent pondering a multitude of ways in which to harness such abundance. I even considered creating dynamos for the gutters and downspouts. I pondered H2O and how hydrogen is the fundamental element that drives our universe. And our sun. Sun! My quest for it drove me to create my most illogical of projects which was a solar tracker and furnace. Believing that if I built it, then it would come, I assembled a complete mockup board with a stasis circuit and homemade proportional servos so that it would follow the sun as it traversed from horizon to horizon. Also attached to the board were rows of hinged mirrors that concentrated the sun’s energy through a lens that was in turn focused upon a rod of ferrite that would absorb the energy and transfer it to a boiler to create steam. Unfortunately, the sun was not very obliging and it made so very few public appearances that any meaningful testing was nearly impossible.
OK…on to more earthly devices. The next time that I emerged from my laboratory, I held a metal detector in my hands and presented it to our twin ten year old nephews whom we sent out on a foray to see what they could discover. The best that they came back with was an old, rusted tea pot and we had a perfectly good one sitting on the stove.
Still another project was inspired after our car had been stolen from a parking lot in Lytham St. Annes. I was performing in an after-hours club called “The Lemon Tree.” On this particular evening, I noticed a cop “Bobbie” sitting outside the club and assumed that his purpose for being there was to send a clear message regarding drinking and driving. “Message understood, your Sir-ship.” We played to a packed club that evening that included a budding young singer named Gary Dorsey. (No relation to Tommy or Jimmy Dorsey) I believed that to be a perfectly fine, old Anglo name but for some reason that remained unfathomable to me, he had subsequently changed his name to Englebert Humperdink. At the conclusion of our sets and the late night crowd was departing, I packed up and headed for the car park…parking lot. There was his Sir-ship to whom I nodded with exaggerated confidence since I had heeded the earlier salutation and I refrained from imbibing. I continued past and found myself standing in the empty space where my recently purchased Triumph Herald 2000 should have been triumphantly heralding my return. How could this be? Did I park somewhere else? Did it leave without me? By that time, most of the other patrons had departed the area thus leaving few alternative conclusions for my razor sharp mind. Addressing myself to his “Sir-ship,” I presented him with the hypothesis that my trusty steed might have been stolen from right under his less than observant nose. He did not accept this accusation with the levity that I believed was implicit in my tone. He actually seemed downright angry…at, of all people, me! How dare I have my car stolen on his watch? That just wasn’t very British of me. I guess he needed to be courted with tea and biscuits before he could become aroused in any meaningful way.
We weren’t to see our vehicle again for three months…and then, only fleetingly. Our neighbor came banging on our door shouting, “quick! Turn on the six o’clock news.” Sure enough, there she was: LJP 16. The police were looking for anyone who knew anything about it. It had been involved in a major payroll robbery in Liverpool. The thieves had evidently been smart enough to “cool” the car off for three months, but dumb enough to run out of gas while revving the engine in their haste to make a clean getaway. Subsequently, two officers from the criminal investigation department arrived on our doorstep with a fingerprint kit. Evidently, they intended to eliminate us and our fingerprints from the car. When we asked if the car would be returned to us, we were informed that it was no longer our property since the insurance company had reimbursed us. We counter offered with an offer to pay them exactly what the insurance company had paid us…fifty pence on the pound which was, of course, summarily dismissed with a scoff.
Oh yeah! The project that resulted from this experience? You guessed it: an anti-theft device. After some initial false alarms and subsequent fine tuning, the neighbors were pleased when equanimity once again returned to 39 Glencroft Close.
Fly By Wire
Other projects included: electronic ignition, smoke and gas detector, variable oscillator and synthesizer, reverb and digital delay,
I followed my musical career as I performed throughout the British Isles, and Europe, with my own band, “Force Ten” and with performers such as The Stylistics, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Tony Christie, Howard Keele, Wilma Reading, Frankie Laine and many others. I also worked for the BBC; which organization presented me with a special award for my musical achievements.
We’ll Be Right Back – Force Ten
In 1973, I founded a ten piece band called Force Ten. (A hybrid of Blood Sweat & Tears/Chicago/Tower of Power) It was comprised of studio musicians from the Manchester area of the UK. I met Producer, Barry Guard, when I was performing with Wilma Reading, an exotically beautiful woman, and a wonderful singer from Australia. Barry was also a producer for Sir Cliff Richards and so he managed to secure a recording contract for the band with Decca, which recording company sequestered us in a marvelous studio in Oxfordshire called The Manor, owned by Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Records. There, we were to reside within its confines for a week; free from the distractions of those things that tend to distract twenty and thirty year old guys with horns and other such instruments. Artistry and creativity were free to conjoin in an atmosphere of mutual expression and aroma therapy. Force Ten followed a group named “Queen” onto the premises, and while we were considering what aroma therapy had done for them, one of the staff members commented, “you guys are rather large for rock musicians.” Well, who were those starving musicians, anyway? Smiling contentedly, we tucked into our third helping of Yorkshire Pudding and a flagon of their best mead. These serving wenches were going to hear some real music now that Force Ten had arrived. What kind of a name is “Queen” anyway. Force Ten! Now there’s a name you can get your teeth into! Let the royal treatment begin, says we. The rhythm section was first at bat after a night of debauchery. The red light came on, and a wave of nausea ensued. The producer yelled, “CUT!” and the brass section hurled insults. “Flipping Heck” Oh well, maybe a little game of football, (soccer) will get the creative juices flowing. Robin sends a pass in my direction, and I collided into a tree. Surely, that was deliberate! (and don’t call me Shirley) More insults, and I spent the next month on crutches. (The nurses at the hospital agreed that we “were rather large for rock musicians.”)
Now it was the turn of the elite, patrician horn section to make their grand debut before the Neumann U87 microphones. The red light is turned on and tension fills the air; Eric fouls the air. This wasn’t the aroma therapy we had signed on for. Eric lets out with one of his robust belly laughs, and the producer yells, “CUT!” More insults, and another game of football ensues. By the third day, “Force Ten” was beginning to think that maybe “Queen” wasn’t such a bad name after all.
The final recording product was something to be proud of, however, timing, karma, or just plain bad luck denied Force Ten their audience, their entourage, their—-MONEY! Decca went belly-up and scrapped the project and refused to release the masters. When asked for a rough mix, they rendered one that was full of bleeps and other sounds that I feel certain that they didn’t make. (Except for Eric) Even Lee Kramer, a Recording Producer known for Olivia Newton-John and Xanadu, made a pitch to Decca to purchase the master recordings but, the moguls remained obstinate. I guess we really were rather large for rock musicians!
I had written a Jazz-Funk arrangement on what was at the time a relatively obscure piece of classical music: Aaron Copland’s, “Fanfare For The Common Man.” Once recorded, and believing that we had something really special, it was presented to the “powers that be” at Decca. A few days later the response was not favorable in that Aaron Copland would not permit any arrangements on his music. Six months later, Emerson, Lake & Palmer had their number one hit with a conceptually very similar arrangement on this very same piece, thus earning millions in gross revenues. Years later, I wrote a “cross-over” arrangement for trumpets and trombones [no rhythm!] and then trombone player, Andy Crompton and I tracked up all eight parts. Although this arrangement found its way into the curriculum at Leeds University Music Composition Program, there remains very little pecuniary evidence for my efforts.
Fortunately, I managed to secure a “rough mix” of the Force Ten album from a sound engineer, Mick Glossop, before Decca had pulled the plug on the project. After years of storage on cassette, and non decoded reproductions of encoded dubs, I managed to digitally convert and preserve many of the tracks on my hard drive and on my web site.
The issues of copyright are enigmatic. Evidently, the facts of authorship and performance warrant absolutely zero entitlement to the recordings or their disposition. Even though Decca entered into bankruptcy, their mean-spiritedness lived in perpetuity as they continued to deny any acquisition rights whatsoever. Given the musical climate of the seventies, this band definitely caught a bad break from a despotic multinational corporation.
Lovelace Watkins was a sensational African American singer/boxer who had a deep rich baritone voice and at six foot six inches he made a commanding stage presence. He had appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show but like many American performers of that time, he was unable to penetrate his home market. Sadly, Lovelace Watkins was little known in his own country but he enjoyed immeasurable notoriety and success in the UK, South Africa and Australia.
I first worked with Lovelace at The ABC Theater in Blackpool, Lancashire, UK. His reputation as a dynamic performer preceded him and those of us selected to accompany him felt that we were privileged to fulfill a ten week commitment with him. His musical arrangements were demanding but exciting and they had been written by Danny Sandige who was an alumnus of the Stan Kenton band. Danny was also Lovelaces’ pianist and conductor and as a fellow Yank, I enjoyed an excellent relationship with him. Danny was pretty heavy handed on the twelve foot Steinway grand piano and on several occasions I heard a distinct staccato zing as a broken string went sailing past my head. Oh well, there were only eighty seven more notes, three strings on sixty of them, two strings on fifteen of them and one string on….but then, who’s counting? One of the arrangements on the Beatle’s song, “Hey Jude” was notorious for the lead trumpet high notes on the “out chorus” that seemed to repeat without end. Well, this was my meat and potatoes and why I got paid the big bucks. (Pounds.) And so for ten weeks and eight performances a week, I challenged myself to faithfully execute my duties as the lead trumpet player. What’s a little brain hemorrhage between friends? And so, filling my lungs and fortified to do battle, I plunged onward and upward….
“Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude huf,Gasp
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude Gasp, Gasp
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude Gasp, Gasp, Gasp
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude Huf Gasp, Gasp, Gasp, Gasp, Snark
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude Gasp, Gasp, Gasp Gasp, Gasp
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude Gasp, Gasp, Gasp Gasp, Gasp, Gasp
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude Huf, Huf Gasp, Gasp, Gasp Gasp, Snark Huf, Gasp, Gasp, Gasp
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude Gasp, Gasp, Gasp Gasp, Gasp, Gasp, Gasp, Gasp, Huf, Huf, Gasp, Snark, Snark, WTF!
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude Gasp, Gasp, Gasp, Gasp, Gasp, Gasp, Huf, Huf, Gasp, Snark,Snark,
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Gasp, Gasp, Gasp, Huf, Gasp, Snark, Huf, hey Jude
Anyway, if I had any moments of doubt, they were quickly dispelled when on or about the tenth go around…and with my eyes bulging out of my head like Marty Feldman from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and tunnel vision threatening to overtake my consciousness while a heavenly glow beckoned…”come to the light”, transcending all, I happened to glance over at the second trumpet player’s music where emblazoned in bold print, it read: “NEVER BE JEALOUS OF YOUR LEAD TRUMPET PLAYER.”
During this same time, I received a call from the musical director at Granada television who had heard good things about this young American trumpet player and he wanted to book me for a series of tv shows. Previously, he had asked his musical contractor to “get the lead trumpet player doing the Lovelace show,” but the contractor brought in several other players instead. He was a Scotsman and when he finally got caught with his pants down, he told me. “I’ve nee git nithin agin ya ‘cept fer the fact that yer Amiriken.” Well, I respected the guy for being honest and realizing that there was little that I could do to change his particular bias, I demonstrated that I held no grudge by sharing a bottle of Scotch whiskey with him. He may not have respected me as an Amiriken, but he certainly held a new respect for my ability to consume Scotch whiskey. He probably would have liked me even less had I shared with him that my heritage is mostly Irish. I realized that the Scots are still smarting a bit from that Hadrian’s Wall thing that the Romans imposed on them…not to mention Wallace and the continued harassment from their southern border. Beautiful Scotland…where men are men and sheep are scared.
Having voraciously devoured all of Author, Wilbur Smith’s (30+) historical novels about the African continent, imagine my excitement when I was selected for a three month “Good Will Tour” of South Africa and Zimbabwe in 1981 with Lovelace Watkins. Lovelace had himself selected the musicians for this prestigious tour and as it turned out, I was the only Yank while two others came from the UK, three from Australia and the rest from South Africa. The tour was sponsored by Suzuki and I consider it as a career highlight. Lovelace enjoyed “superstar” status in South Africa and we performed to mixed audiences and political dignitaries from Pretoria, Pietermaritzburg, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Harare in Zimbabwe. Along for the ride and for the camaraderie was Cameron Mitchell (Uncle Buck from The High Chaparral) while Goldie Hawn was also touring with her own show.
My surreal experience began at Heathrow airport where right up to the last minute the foreign affairs ministry was threatening to pull our visas due to a boycott of South Africa by both the UK and the USA. Finally, when they were convinced that our mission was for a good cause and we would be serving as ambassadors and bringing good will to mixed audiences throughout South Africa and Zimbabwe, we were sent on our way.
Our flight was by way of South African Airways and the flight duration was fourteen hours with a refueling stop on a tiny Portuguese island leased by South African Airlines for the sole purpose of refueling. In the nineteen eighties, SA Airlines were not granted flight clearance over most of the African continent and so the flight path was mostly over the ocean. I’m somewhat of a nervous flier as I tend to be unable to sleep while my ears are ever tuned for any changes in pitch, harmony, melody or rhythm from the four General Electric engines of a Boeing 747. Actually, I’m simply not a good traveler at all…unless I’m in charge. (Thus my years at sea during fleet operations were basically the stuff of nightmares. Ships on each side of us, submarines under us, planes above us…Who’s driving this boat? “Flank maneuveeeer…port!” “That’s left, Right, sir?”)
When we landed at Isla Del Sol and as the wheels touched down, I noticed that a pack of dogs were playfully running along with our plane. Once we came to a stop and as we disembarked, I noted that the dogs had taken up positions at each of the landing gear. They seemed to be content after their brief chase and they simply assumed a watchful “attitude” while the passengers headed for the terminal. Once refueled and as we took our position on the runway, the dogs also assumed their position at each side of the plane and prepared once again for the chase. Slowly, the plane began to accelerate and the dogs kept pace as long as they could or until they were satisfied that this great iron bird was leaving their domain. I can’t imagine what kind of prey animal they were envisioning and just what did they think they were going to do if they caught it? I guess it served as their entertainment and was simply their version of us watching the A&P truck being unloaded for entertainment on a Saturday evening.
Once our 747 leveled out for the duration of the flight and with most of my fellow travelers sleeping soundly, I was restless and so I asked a stewardess if I could ascend to the upper deck for a change of scenery. She said she would check to see if that would be alright and set off down the aisle. Her departure was bountiful and uplifting and I was looking forward to her return. Her approach was equally as bountiful as her departure and with a seductive smile she invited me to follow. Through the darkened cabin and past the sleeping passengers I felt a growing sense of excitement as she led me up the stairs, through the lounge and right onto the flight deck. Well, didn’t this just make my day? The captain and the crew were welcoming and eager for the company and so I was invited to sit in the jump seat by the flight engineer. Formalities dispensed with, and settled in for the long haul, my enthusiasm for the instruments of flight was obvious and the crew was eager to satisfy any questions or observations. One such observation that I happened to notice was that the generator on engine number four was running on the hot side. The engineer replied, “good catch! We have three more so I’ll just shut this one down.” The captain and I seemed to have a good rapport going and when the co-pilot decided to go to the lounge for a nap, the pilot immediately invited me into the co-pilots vacated seat and we continued our conversations. He was eager to tell me all about the beauties of his country, South Africa; and I was only too happy to draw comparisons with my homeland, America. Our respective countries share many similarities in history as they were being settled by Europeans who were shedding the vestiges of the old world while seeking the promise of a new beginning. In the course of my travels over the ensuing three months, I would come to know that South Africa’s diversity of landscape is equally as breathtaking as our own. Cape Town was of course a major stop along the trade routes for the Dutch East India Trading Company and it became a permanent settlement in 1652. The obdurate majesty of Table Mountain could not contain the wanderlust of the early Dutch settlers, and for many of the same reasons as the early American settlers in Jamestown and Plymouth, they set out to explore and to settle their new homeland…since before the time of Genghis Kahn, this has always been the quest of mankind. Our conversations carried on well into the night as we watched the Southern Cross arise tantalizingly from the southern ocean while the eastern horizon was beckoning with various hues of crimson. A new day was dawning and I knew that Africa, the Africa of my childhood dreams was just a few miles off of our port wing. (That’s left! Right?) Wilber Smith’s novels had truly set the stage for me and I couldn’t wait to begin this grand adventure.
Johannesburg, poolside; burn; Lovelace insists we stay with him. The Transvaal. Native runners, prickly pear. Bill Twyman, Ron Aldrich, Ted White, Bob Gillespie, Frank Ingram
TOURING WITH FRANKIE LAINE
I was contracted to do a week long engagement with Frankie Laine who was in the midst of touring the UK.
|On Tour with Frankie Laine: Who gave Paul & Irene the honeymoon for which they hadn’t yet found the time.|