My Dad played the guitar and piano. As was usual with Dad, it was something that took his interest, something he learned then put aside as he had proved to himself he could do it. Dad was good at everything he turned his hand to, but he was also something of a dilettante . . .
At 17, I decided I wanted to try the guitar, so Dad gave me his battered acoustic and said, ‘Prove to me you can learn these chords, and I’ll buy you a decent guitar’.
Two weeks later, I had learned all the chords and could change fluidly between them, so off we went to Kingfisher, where Dad bought me the cheapest guitar and amp combo they had.
Two months later, I was cranking out the intro to “Purple Haze” with such accuracy, Dad had to knock on the door and enquire whether it really was me that was playing.
‘Little shit’s already way better than I am,’ I later overheard him saying to my mother, words that still cause my heart to swell with pride.
At roughly the same time, I joined my first band, and the rest is history. I practised 8 hours a day for the next two years (and totally giving up my studies in the meantime, getting three U’s for my A-levels).
Still, that did not matter: playing in bands was so much more enriching than going to university. I got all the drugs and drink that I would have got as a student, as well as being accepted as an equal by guys who were 4 or 5 years older than me (which means a lot when you’re a gangly 17-year-old – have a look at the photo with this post and you can see how painfully young I was).
I also had the wonderful revelation that playing guitar in a band was how shy, weedy, unattractive, non-athletic blokes get girls. I don’t know what it is, but women are suckers for musicians . . .
Anyway, as my grief for Dad softens into something more melancholy and reflective, my mind has turned to how I started. Like a lot of things, I have the wonderful support of my Father and Mother to thank.
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