February 2019 was something of a poignant month. Comrade Colin wrote brilliantly and eloquently about the death, at the age of 64, of Mark Hollis. I’d like to now say a few words about Peter Tork and Beatrice Colin, both of whom also left us last month.
Peter Tork was one-quarter of The Monkees, a band without whom I’d unlikely have developed such an affection for great, guitar-based pop music. The TV show seemed to be on BBC1 during the children’s hour all the time in the 70s, a show which I would get to watch just after getting home from school and before my mum would get in from her long shift in the factory to make us something to eat. The Monkees were, to my young mind, a magical and fun group of people to be around. It made for great TV with what seemed to be a perfect blend of slapstick comedy and drama, soundtracked by songs which, by the third or fourth time you’d heard them, were embedded in your brain, but in a very good way. Of course I had no idea that so much of it was manufactured and that the songs were the work of others who weren’t ever going to appear on-screen but to be honest, that didn’t matter and I wouldn’t have cared in any event. I just wanted my four heroes to come good and play us out with a great song…which they always did.
I’d be a liar if I said Peter was my favourite Monkee….that honour was bestowed on Micky Dolenz as he made me laugh more than the others and the songs he sang on seemed to be the best. But I loved watching all four of them, and the news of Peter’s death made me recall happy memories of very olden days while providing a sad reminder that I’m now constantly losing people who in some shape or form shaped me, directly or indirectly, into who and what I am today.
Beatrice Colin didn’t have anything like the impact on the music scene as Peter Tork – indeed very few people will actually associate her with the genre. Readers of old, however, will know that she was one half of the very short-live band April Showers who emerged out of Glasgow in 1984 – the other half was David Bernstein. (co-author of a very fine book which was reviewed back in 2014)
There was just the one single, but it was absolutely glorious and one of my favourites from the era:-
Beatrice was ages with me and I happened to be in her company a couple of times, but only as part of a larger social group in a city centre pub. She was the girlfriend of James Grant who, by complete coincidence, was featured on the blog just last Saturday.
She seemed a lovely, down-to-earth person and not the slightest bit big-headed or boastful about the fact she had made a pop record (which to me, at the time) was the be-all and end-all.
But pop music was not be her forte and while she remained on its fringes as a backing vocalist in studios and on stage – including stints with Love and Money – (and as I’ve since learned with a band of her own called Pale Fire, she began to carve out a career in journalism and writing, initially penning reviews and features for newspapers and magazines. Such was her talent for writing that, by her mid-30s, she was a published novelist and playwright. In later years, she would expand her horizons even further with a move into academia as a lecturer in Creative Writing. Her tragically young death at the age of 55, came after a long battle against ovarian cancer and has left a significant hole in the cultural life of my home city.
Thoughts are with her husband, children and close friends who will be missing her so much.
A hastily added PS….
The above words were pulled together a few days in advance of the very sad news of the passing of Keith Flint.
There will be many tributes across the internet today on top of those which appeared throughout yesterday. I’ll simply take a few words from a Facebook posting by a London-based friend of mine, the comedian Steve McLean:-
You know what I really loved about The Prodigy?
Almost everybody liked them.
Back when people had very firm music camps that they stayed in, everyone would be enticed out with The Prodigy. You were as likely to hear them played at The Underworld as you were at The Ministry. Even before their heavier guitar sampling tunes too, everyone loved Charly and Out of Space – The Prodigy let you dance with all your mates regardless of your snobbery.
Later in their career they headlined both Download and Creamfields. Has there ever been another band that could do that?
RIP Keith Flint.