Many years ago I lived in the heart land of England, just a stone’s throw from Birmingham, known as Brum by the locals. Like many would be musicians I began my singing career in a band at the ripe old age of twelve. I soon found out that everyone wanted to be the lead guitarist but me I loved the bass guitar. I took lessons with this old guy (he was probably thirty) called Horace Jonson and soon I was playing bass at Youth clubs, Pubs (bars), Social clubs, Weddings, in fact anywhere “our manager, the lead guitarists father” could get us a gig and get paid. Three or four nights a week we learned our trade sometimes playing four hours a night.
By this time the influence of Elvis, the Mersey sound of the Beatles and the London groups like the a Rolling Stones had seen better times. New bands called power trio’s like Cream and Jimmy Hendrix’s Experience were the rage so our band reformed and became a trio. Amps and speaker cabs suddenly became larger than life, towering over band members at college gigs like South Bank Polytechnic. Where we played with bands like Hendrix, Cream, Super Tramp, Roy Woods Wizard (later to become ELO) and many others. Glen Hughes soon to be of Deep Purple even used my gear. We had several different names over a three or four-year period in the seventies but a musical change was on its way.
Back in Brum Heavy Metal was on the rise, bands like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath with Ozzy (John Osborne) were on the rise. It was a crazy time rubbing shoulders with Robert Plant at JB’s but the music was something else. Just listen to the musical progression of the albums from Led Zeppelin.
Many people ask where the name heavy metal came from? Well if you’d have been in Brum forty years ago you would hear it, see it, smell it and work in it, it was “metal bashing”. The whole area was one massive manufacturing hub and the sound day and night was like a deep rumble. The only way you can experience the sound is if a bass player is playing bottom E through four 15 inch and eight 12 inch speakers at around 200 watts of sheer power.
This summer with two friends Nathan (guitar) and George( on skins), we played live after many hours of rehearsal for five hundred friends for two hours. I did remember most of the music I played and loved over the years. But I do wish I had taken an EXAIR Digital Sound Level Meter with me……WOW!