Questions From The House (Of Fire)



1 What was the first record you bought and where from? And can you remember the price?

It was an EP by Johnny Duncan & The Blue Grass Boys with ‘Last Train To San Fernando’ on it (plus three others). That was about 1957/8. I was either four or five, and it was from National Radio of St John’s Wood High Street. I would have had it bought for me by my Mum, I guess, so I have no idea what it cost.


2 What was the record that changed your life and how did it do so?

There have been quite a few. Firstly I’d cite ‘Man Of Mystery’ by The Shadows. Like so many kids, it made me want to play guitar. Then I suppose The Beatles were very important. I think I’d nominate ‘With The Beatles’, which isn’t my favourite Beatles album, but it’s the first one I got, and it really made me think about the possibilities of writing songs. Then you have to go for ‘Are You Experienced’. Jimi just raised the bar so high. David Ackles’ ‘Subway To The Country’ really opened my eyes to the power of lyrics. How you could be really brutal, but still poetic. Then I reckon in the ‘80s I was really affected by The Wipers’ ‘Youth Of America’ LP, which showed that you could be punky, and angry, yet still do ten minute feedback guitar breaks.


3 What’s your driving playlist and who, if you had the chance would be riding shotgun?

I’m usually listening to something or other in the car. I do a lot of miles, as I live in Hastings and come up to London at least once a week, often two or three times. So there is no prescribed listening choice. Everything and anything really. It gives me a chance to listen to things I don’t know, check out new stuff, re-acquaint myself with old favourites. I’d have my daughter Deb riding shotgun… she’s really into her music, and has a very open mind, and she’s great company. Very funny and interesting (when she’s not falling asleep).


4 What’s your favourite Elvis song?

I like Elvis a lot. I’d go for ‘Hard Headed Woman’, ‘Party’, ‘Got A Lot Of Living To Do’, ‘Baby I Don’t Care’, that sort of thing. Definitely the rock ‘n’ roll Elvis, as opposed to the fat, drug-addled, rhinestone Elvis.


5 Who’s your favourite Beatle and why?

I like them all, with the possible exception of Ringo, whose recent ‘I’m not signing autographs’ statement, and also his rather petulant performance on the Klaus Voorman TV programme, did him no favours in my opinion.


6 If you were commissioned to write the theme song for any TV programme what would you choose and how would you tackle it?

Hmmm, I don’t think that’s my kind of thing. I’ve made a lot of music over the years, so they could easily pick something I’ve already done. I don’t really work well to order.


7 Which song have you always wanted to cover but never quite managed yet?

I don’t do too many covers, but I’ve always fancied having a go at ‘Youth Of America’ or ‘When It’s Over’ by The Wipers.


8 What, after a social evening, is the one album that you insist your fellow socialites should hear before they leave?

Well, it kind of depends what kind of social evening you’ve just had, doesn’t it? If it’s kind of upbeat, I’d go for Patto’s ‘Hold Your Fire’, if it’s more laid back, maybe anything by David Ackles.


9 Which film do you wish you’d had a cameo in?

Monterey Pop or Woodstock. I would have loved to have been there… in the audience would have been fine.


10 In the biopic of your illustrious career who plays you in the movie?

This is getting silly… Gawd knows. How about Herbert Lom?


11 If you were on a night out with Ozzy Osbourne where would you suggest you went?



12 If you were asked to cover a Simon And Garfunkel song in the style of Frank Zappa who would you rope into the band to get it nailed?

Well, without wishing to be a spoilsport, if I’d been asked to do a cover of a S&G song in the manner of Zappa, I would have declined.


13 Pete Townshend had pictures of Lily, what did you have on your teenage bedroom wall?

I papered my bedroom wall with album sleeves. Back in the ‘60s, I used to write to record labels and say I’d bought an album (say, The Doors’ ‘Strange Days’ or something like that) and the cover had got damaged, and they’d often send you a replacement sleeve, which I’d then open up and stick on my wall. They were all kind of Sellotaped to each other and one night they all fell off the wall and I woke up covered in psychedelic album sleeves. I’ve never recovered.


14 Did you ever join a fanclub? If so, tell us about it?

I was never in any fanclub.


15 What’s your most treasured piece of memorabilia?

Definitely my Jimi Hendrix coat hanger.


16 What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?

Wow, that’s tough. Blossom Toes at The Marquee were brilliant. Patto were always fantastic live. Cactus at The Lyceum was great. I also went to see Argent at The Roundhouse, which was nice, but the two support acts were David Bowie and Elton John… so, in retrospect, that was a bit special. Robin Trower very early on at The Marquee was wonderful. Johnny Winter at The Roundhouse. Country Joe at The Albert Hall. Vanilla Fudge at The Marquee. I could go on…


17 Which gig did you wish you’d seen?

I don’t have many regrets, but going to The Isle Of Wight Festival and leaving before Hendrix came on has to be my biggest one. Which meant I never saw Jimi live. Tragic!


18 John Lydon – hero or villain?

A bit of both really. I can see where he’s coming from. He’s a similar age to me, maybe a couple of years younger, from North London. I really dislike the fact that he’s a fan of Nigel Farage. I can’t really see that at all. I’ve always thought that he’s quite a smart guy (butter adverts notwithstanding), and I know he often says things for effect… but publicly backing Nigel Farage? Come on.