From Bombsites to Rock and Roll

Lizard straddling the strings and pick-ups of a Fender Stratocaster Sunburst solid bodied electric guitar
Lizard straddling the strings and pick-ups of a Fender Stratocaster Sunburst solid bodied electric guitar
Image by Scottslm via Pixabay

I live in a small English seaside town a few minutes walk from the beach, in an area many describe as ‘the back of beyond’. It suits me now, the relative quiet and easy pace of life, whereas at one time I much preferred the hustle and bustle of city life.

I was born in the 1950s in a city which, during World War II, was the second most bombed in the UK after London, with 95% housing damage. Of course, I wasn’t alive for that, but as a child I did play among the bomb sites, while in the…


To be labelled the godfather of Chicano rock music at 17 is quite something

Photo of Grave of Ritchie Valens and his mother in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery
Photo of Grave of Ritchie Valens and his mother in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery
Grave of Ritchie Valens and his mother in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery. Image by ArthurDark CC-ASA-4.0 via Wikimedia

This month marks the 80th birthday of the late Ritchie Valens, yet his music is timeless.

My first reaction to hearing Ritchie Valens’ ‘La Bamba’, was that it made me smile and feel happy. I considered it another American rock classic, in the same league as those by Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Elvis. I’d never seen a photo of him; had no idea of his ethnicity. Why would it matter? He rocked. Another thing: it’s sung in Spanish. Did I know what the words meant? No. It still rocked.

Yo no soy marinero
Yo no soy marinero…


What a difference a year can make

Photograph of The Beatles pop group dressed in British police uniform in 1963 at a concert in Birmingham UK
Photograph of The Beatles pop group dressed in British police uniform in 1963 at a concert in Birmingham UK
Picture was taken outside the Birmingham Hippodrome in 1963 when the Beatles were smuggled into the venue in the back of a police van. Image by West Midlands Police CC-ASA-2.0.

Lets face it, love ’em or hate them, The Beatles made a difference. They paid their dues. They probably played more gigs than any other band before a hit record came along, enabling them to perfect their style and sound, becoming as tight as a ducks proverbial. Struggle was probably their middle name. Drive, self assurance and belief, they had in spades.

Noah Nelson’s ‘A Beatle Visited Small Town America’, is a fascinating story about the time George Harrison visited the mining community of Benton in Southern Illinois. This was six months before the Fab Four set foot in the…


1976 was a great year for albums, a blazing hot summer. And a cat.

Image of a cat between recording studio equipment
Image of a cat between recording studio equipment
Image by Stephen Drake. CCA 2.0 via Wikimedia

The year opened with 53 year old Slim Whitman, legendary country singer, knocking Roy Orbison off the #1 spot on the UK album charts. Slim remained there for six weeks, denying Bob Dylan’s album ‘Desire’ any chance of that top spot. How could that happen? This was going to be a very strange year indeed.

Queen, Abba, Mike Oldfield, The Eagles, Jethro Tull, Thin Lizzy and Elvis were all flying high in The Top 40, but although I bought ‘Desire’, it was Al Stewart’s seventh studio album that caught my eye.

It was the ‘Year Of The Cat’ for Al…


Would The Real Fleetwood Mac Please Stand Up

Photograph of members of Fleetwood Mac blues band 1968, from the album ‘Mr Wonderful’.
Photograph of members of Fleetwood Mac blues band 1968, from the album ‘Mr Wonderful’.
Photograph of members of Fleetwood Mac blues band 1968, from the album ‘Mr Wonderful’ — image by author

Fleetwood Mac is a bit of an enigma. In 54 years, the band has had around 18 different members and a variety of line-ups. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame credits this diverse cast of characters for the band’s experimentation and variety — with elements of pop rock, blues, and soft rock.

Mick Fleetwood admits that many fans of Fleetwood Mac don’t know it was originally a blues band. …


Is it all my fault?

Sparrowhawk with blackbird kill — image by author

Getting back to nature is great for our well-being. Gardening can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, or prevent diabetes, heart disease, depression, and osteoporosis when practiced on a regular basis. So creating a habitat to attract wildlife will benefit both the ‘critters’ and our health.

Once the hard work is over, there is nothing better than sitting outside watching the world go by. This world, which I created by turning a bare mossy lawn into an oasis for wildlife, has four small ponds, two birdbaths, several trees, and shrubs.

Colorful borders were planted, filled with coneflowers (echinacea), scabious, echinops…


Some won, some lost, and one may even have been murdered

British Police van in rain parked up in nighttime under street lighting
British Police van in rain parked up in nighttime under street lighting
Image by Steven Straiton CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia

Songwriters say they write from life experiences, good and bad. Some writers have done things they regret, got busted, and wrote about it. Some didn’t care if they got busted, they still wrote about it. Some never got busted but wrote about it anyway.

They imagined what it would be like getting ‘nicked’, thrown in the back of a ‘paddy-wagon’, and hauled off to ‘clink’. A good beating in the back of the ‘meat-wagon’ en route to the cells always helps sell a few more records.

There are many great songs about breaking the law, injustice, and going to prison.


When things do go wrong — Three Steps To Heaven

Eddie Cochran playing guitar and singing with two Saxophonists and a drummer behind him.
Eddie Cochran playing guitar and singing with two Saxophonists and a drummer behind him.
Eddie Cochran: screen capture of YouTube video via Rewind The Music

Eddie Cochran was killed in a car accident in England 61 years ago on 17 April 1960. The previous year, his friend, Buddy Holly, died when he changed his travel plans, and the same fate awaited Eddie. Life can be a bummer when things do go wrong.

Step One: ‘Three Steps To Heaven’ would be the last single Eddie recorded at Gold Star Recording Studios, LA. Ironically, his backing musicians on that session were Sonny Curtis and Jerry Allison, former members of Buddy Holly’s Crickets. …


No slouch: Lefty played with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood

Three guitarists playing Blues, Lefty Dizz, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood at the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago in 1981.
Three guitarists playing Blues, Lefty Dizz, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood at the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago in 1981.
A Still: from YouTube video below: Lefty Dizz, Keith Richards & Ronnie Wood playing at the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981

Spring Street Theatre used to resemble a big shed, hidden away down dingy side streets off Hull’s main drag. Basic. A bar, no stage, just the floor where the band played, smack bang in front of an audience on raked seating, and hardly any ambient lighting.

One freezing February evening in 1992, walking those icy streets, hoping not to get mugged, I was relieved to see the welcoming light at the entrance of the club-cum-theatre, and a billboard pronouncing ‘Tonight — Lefty Dizz — all the way from Chicago!

With the city morgue opposite, you’d always get some guy at…

David Acaster

British, retired, loves reptiles & amphibians, keen on history, steam locomotives, travel, real ale and still trying to master that Fender Stratocaster.

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