- Dave Sinclair…piano
- John Murphy…a composer
- Mark Hewins…himself
- Richard Sinclair…an electric bass player
- Richard Coldman…an intense fellow who played guitar
- Alan Prosser…acoustic guitar
- Arthur Kitchener…another electric bass player
- Bill Bruford…a drummer
Herne Bay is about 5 miles from Canterbury and on the sea. Many of the students from the University live there, but they are mostly the ones who prefer the seaside to lectures. Well that was in 1975 anyway.
Dave Sinclair was living in a flat in the road that runs parallel to the sea. I lived at the top of the road about 200 meters from him. I used to see him quite often, usually in the mornings I would go for coffee. I remember he first introduced me to Edam cheese, on toast for breakfast, a habit which has lasted for me ever since. John Murphy and his wife had the flat upstairs so the surroundings were always musical, and Richard Sinclair only lived about another 200 meters further on from my flat. He had moved to Herne bay because of some personal problems that were in Canterbury and had been pretty quiet. So we didn’t at that time play together even though we lived virtually on the same street. Then Richard Coldman turned up, out of the blue. Alan Prosser, the Guitar player with the Oyster band (who later had a No.1 hit in the UK with ‘Didn’t we have a loverly time ….’) introduced us and as I had just run out of cash I needed someone to share the flat in Herne bay. So he moved in, this was a really fine musical relationship and we had several successes.
I had found this person who was as serious about playing as I was and we began working and practising up to 16 hours a day, as a Guitar duo. This kind of work needs an outlet and we began playing the bars in Canterbury to earn some money. To save the bus fare, and often to get home at night after the last bus had gone, we hitchhiked the 5 miles – with two Guitars!
But very soon we began to branch out and we did a recording project at the Hornsea College of Art in London. Their electronic music studio at the time was arcane, with old VCS 3 patch synthesizers and bits of wire everywhere, but we got, and I still have, some nicely strange music from there.
Back in Herne bay we were offered a brief to do the music for a TV commercial which was a real deal for us, and more money than we had before. I had been playing on and off with Arthur Kitchener (later the Bass player with the Balham Alligators) in a country and western band who had a great pedal steel player (I wish I knew his name!) and as the company wanted a bluegrass tune we used him. We did it at John Wood’s studio somewhere in Soho – very exciting, but not really what either of us wanted to do. The commercial was broadcast nationwide and earned us a slight reputation.
We came home to Herne bay and continued writing. Richard Sinclair started spending a lot of time playing with us, because we were getting some work it seemed we had became popular, and he seemed more upbeat. I still have some written music from this period. One of the pieces is called “Waltz for Spanish gargling waiters, riding square wheeled bicycles who have lost their way”. I think this was a committee title! We were all having a fine time. Around this time we supported Sinclair and the South at the university, an amazing gig. I got to play my Euphonium on that one, more by stealth than wonder. Where is it is now? Maybe John Murphy has got it, there were some terrible storms that year! I took it out once in a virtual hurricane and played it to the sea. I had it wrapped in a black plastic rubbish sack and played it very loudly, both Richards were there and we had a real laugh, and I had a jolly good parp! But back to the S&S gig. Me and Rich C. did a little 45 minute duo supporting them. By playing things that the crowd sort of knew the tunes to, Nuages by Django Reinhart and the Harry Lime theme we got the audience (6-700 people) singing along wildly, I still have the recordings to prove it. Sinclair and the South went down really well, but Bill Bruford stole the show, making total mincemeat of his drums. He arrived with his gear in a blue Ford Mustang – well impressive. Years later Richard Sinclair and I rented one to drive round Texas for a while. But that was another time and space. This period lasted about 9 months.
MORAL – Just keep going, don’t plan too much and if you are lucky, things will come to you.
WORD COUNT – 835 COPYRIGHT – MARK HEWINS 1994
PS! This is a repost of a story that was originally published on the old website on Musart.co.uk. These old web pages are gone, but are still accessible through archive.org’s Wayback Machine. Read the story on musart.co.uk by clicking here.