Kevin Harrison



I was born in George Eliot Hospital, Nuneaton in '52 to a working class family, it's five or six or so years before I hear any music that I like on the radio, I dread the jolly 'Workers Playtime' and later I have nightmares about a short-lived encounter with Sunday School followed by the awful 'Sing Something Simple'. In fact I don't care for anything remotely religious except for a few uplifting hymns with good tunes sung at school. My only solace is when I discover late-night Radio Luxembourg and later the offshore pirates. Rock 'n' Roll & Pop Music! Up until then I've made-do with a broken gramophone, spinning 78's by hand and listening to them at various revolutions. Speeding-up then slowing down, backwards or forwards, it seems a big improvement on playing them in the correct way! In '64 my parents buy a Grundig Tape Recorder. Eureka! I start taping the hit-parade off the radio, but I'm soon bored, I find I'd rather record the sound of my own voice plus nuts and bolts dropping into buckets of water whilst modifying the capstan to produce out-of-this-world effects, (more Doctor Who, Gerry Anderson than anything else I guess. Another favourite childhood thing)

65-66. After seeing a few beat groups at school dances (The Sabres & The Peeps) and at a disused church hall in Chilvers Coton, ('Jack the Ripper' is a big favourite). I decide to start a group with school friends, Ron & Steve. I'm going through the 'teenage rebel' phase and don't have much time for teachers, except for one or two, A person who has a big influence on me is my English teacher, Mrs. Timmins who takes the class to see The Liverpool Poets (Henri, Patten, McGough) and later introduces me to the work of Corso, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, and the rest of The Beat Poets. I'm inspired to write reams of poetry, mostly pretentious crap I later decide, but a good kick-start to flexing the magic muscle. The other love I have is Picasso and later on Surrealism. (Max Ernst, Man Ray & Jean Cocteau)

With the music, I've been through the Bert Weedon/Hank Marvin phase some years earlier first with Mr. Gotobed then Ray, a good guitarist/teacher who plays down the local pub 'The Golden Eagle' in Keresley. Things are changing. I'm absorbing a lot of the current pop, soul, rock and folk music. I'm now more interested in The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Small Faces, The Animals, The Who and particularly Jeff Beck for his amazing eastern-tinged solos for The Yardbirds. I vividly remember trashing my only guitar at the local youth club. A £35 Hofner like Beck smashes into smithereens in Antonioni's film 'Blow-Up'

I like to go out dancing, favourites are: Motown, Atlantic & Stax. I guess I'm a young mod and all that entails. Then the musical climate alters dramatically. 10/11/67. I see Jimi Hendrix, my absolute idol, The Move, Amen Corner, The Nice, and Pink Floyd (with a disintegrating, dissociated Syd Barrett), all play the same bill at The Coventry Theatre.

68-72 - I'm at the local Art School, fall in love with Pop-Art, Dadaism, Girls, Cigarettes and Alcohol. I get into trouble with girls parents, play my battered acoustic guitar and go to see and hear lots of good bands at 'Mothers', in Erdington. Psychedelic/underground music is now de rigueur and a passion, so, bored with the snobby and strait jacketed conventions of further education I decide instead to rent an Art Studio in Stockingford with my friends Geoff and Aidan. Geoff & I play a bit of acid-folk & record a demo at Fresh Maggots Mick Burgoyne's Home studio (Incredible String Band, Third Ear Band, Tyrannosaurus Rex are an inspiration), I then join 'Whistler', and play some progressive jazz-rock with tricky time signatures (Mothers of Invention, Caravan, Softs), I'm starting to experiment with an ambivalent gender thing, this behaviour often leads to me getting badly beaten-up regularly at gigs and in the mining village where I live, for the androgyny and non-conformity not the bleedin' jazz-rock! Roddy Byers (aka Radiation) lives down the road from me and later on suffers a similar fate with the 'bully boys' On one occasion the same now-mended Hofner guitar gets thrown into the Swanswell, I get badly beaten up and robbed by drunken thugs. When interviewed by the boys in blue they say I deserve everything I got for looking like a f*****g c**t! - Bloody charming. I'm now getting very strong signals about the intolerance and hypocrisy in this society. Around this time I start experimenting with acid. This has an incalculable affect!

Albums I like at this time: Blonde on Blonde, Revolver, Pet Sounds, Younger than Yesterday, The Doors, Da Capo, Are You Experienced, Axis Bold As Love, Electric Ladyland, Sunshine Superman, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Velvet Underground featuring Nico, Electric Music for the Mind and Body, Mr. Fantasy, Freak Out, Lumpy Gravy, I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night, Spirit, Marble Index, Gris-Gris, A Love Supreme, United States of America, Third, The Madcap Laughs, Music in a Dolls House, The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, Astral Weeks, Trout Mask Replica and Joy of a Toy. I also get very excited when I hear 'In C' and 'Rainbow in Curved Air' by Terry Riley in a record booth in Berwick Street, and later, Steve Reich's experiments with tape going in and out of phase, 'Come Out' & 'It's Gonna Rain'.

Photos: top to bottom: Kevin in Whistler - Unknown. '69 • Kevin & Lynda at Holland Park '71 by Ken Burns