“The 120 Greatest Stories in Rock n Roll” proclaims the latest issue of Q Magazine, promising tales of debauchery more extreme than an episode of Celebrity Big Brother. Almost. Claiming to have Rock n Roll’s Greatest Stories is a pretty punchy boast, and as it happens, what they were really compiling was “Rock’s 120 Most Slightly Underwhelming Stories”.
To be fair, the blurb inside did claim Q was trying to search out rock and pop folklore’s lesser-told tales and there are some entertaining tales of a journalist throwing up over Mariah Carey’s shoes after a heavy night out and how Kasabian spread the rumour that Keane’s Tom Chaplin went into rehab to be treated for an addiction to port, all of which is diverting enough if you need to misplace a Tuesday afternoon down the pub or coffee shop, but there’s not a mud-shark, swimming pool-garage or Mars Bar mentioned anywhere.
I was chatting to some friends the other day and they were swapping their tales of being music fans, and I thought that the stories they told were perhaps just as worthy of our attention. They were perhaps unremarkable compared with cars-in-swimming-pool stories, but every bit as interesting as the ones in Q Magazine. Caveat: I don’t have 120 of them – I’ll give Q credit for sheer volume – but here are four rock and pop tales that you almost probably won’t have heard before…
1. How Five Star’s Manager Used Dirty Tactics To Sell Out Hammersmith Odeon
My friend was a teenage cashier at the Ilford bank where ’80s pop band Five Star would pay in all their earnings (eg. royalties) and deduct expenses (mainly hairspray). The band’s manager, “Buster” was paying in the band’s latest Swap Shop appearance fee and mentioned the band were playing Hammersmith Odeon that weekend. “Why don’t you and a friend come down?” he offered generously “just go to the stage door and say Buster said it was okay and they’ll let you in”.
My friend was delighted and she and a friend travelled down to Hammersmith for the Saturday night show. She found the stage door and knocked. It opened up, revealing a large, unimpressed bouncer-type. “Buster said we could come down and he’d let us in” said my friend.
“Yeah, love – you and about three hundred others” replied the bouncer, and he closed the door. Not having anywhere else to go, the two friends bought tickets anyway at the box office and saw the show. This begs the question: Was Buster’s apparently bogus offer of free tickets to “hundreds” of fans merely a tactic to get the show to sell out?
2. A-ha’s Controversial Under Age Backstage Pass Policy
Another story was of the night a friend went to see A-ha in concert. At the end of the show, a man approached her holding a VIP pass and invited her backstage to meet the band. It is not recorded how honourable his intentions were.
“I’m sorry” she replied, “but I’m only fifteen and my dad’s waiting for me in the car outside…”
3. Paul McCartney Seeks To Avoid A Wrinkly Front Row
A friend of mine lived with his girlfriend in Earls Court just over a decade ago. They were a young, good looking couple and were on their way to a local bar. A girl approached them and asked if they wanted to see Paul McCartney in concert that night – he was playing a show at Earls Court Arena. They replied “Sure”, and were given front row seats, absolutely free. When they asked what this was all about, they were told that “Paul likes to see young people at the front of the crowd – he doesn’t like a sea of old faces or the same people every night.”
4. George Michael Had Help Writing Young Guns (Go For It)
I once met an American lady who was a session singer at the recording of Wham’s Young Guns (Go For It). She told me: “You know the line that goes ” “Hey tell this jerk to take a hike / There’s somethin’ ’bout that boy I don’t like”? Well, do you think a British guy would write that line with “jerk” in it? George was coming up with ideas in the studio, and I came up with that line…”
So there you have four quite interesting rock and pop tales. The next question is, do you have a similarly slightly underwhelming but quite interesting tale of your own to share? If you do, please tell us in the comments section below…