Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Elvis Presley, My Father & "Junior Choice" by Chris Coleman


I'm going a bit “off-piste” with this contribution to the blog and it's likely to be a one-off. Fear not, gritty rock'n'roll reports are just around the corner – normal service will be resumed - just thought I'd try this piece and see how it goes.

January 8th 1935 and Elvis Aron Presley breathes his first breath in Tupelo, Mississippi, USA. The very next day, Ian Laurence Coleman, my father, does the same in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England. This relatively irrelevant coincidence does at least give me the theme for and the opportunity to write, for my father's 60th birthday in 1995, a pun-heavy Elvis song themed poem to be played at his party.

Then (and now) top BBC Radio One DJ, Annie Nightingale, was generous enough to record it on to cassette, as if it were a radio request, and here it is.

video

This came to mind as I was re-reading Karen Schoemer's paean to 50's pop stars ("Great Pretenders: My Strange Love Affair With '50's Pop Music") and their role and relevance to her parents relationship as they married in the early 60's. My parents married 1960 and I was born just under a year later. Karen was lucky enough to grow up in a home with the music of the sixties (helped of course by being in the USA) whilst I, when music made an appearance at all, was bred on the sounds of Acker Bilk, Nat King Cole, and the Syd Lawrence and James Last Orchestras, very much the music of the mid 50's, when my parents were teenagers. It's fair to say their tastes did not much develop with the changing of the decade.

Two things “saved” me, musically, both a touch on the bizarre side. First was BBC Radio's “Junior Choice” with Ed “Stewpot” Stewart (author, by the way, of quite probably the very worst autobiography (“Out Of The Stewpot”) ever written), which he hosted from 1968 onwards. The very first time I wrote to a radio station was to Junior Choice in 1973, asking Stewpot to play “School's Out” by Alice Cooper for my Dad's birthday. He didn't, but then this was supposed to be a show where parents, relatives and siblings requested songs for children. The clue was in the title though I guess I chose to ignore it.



The second was my maternal grandmother. She worked in a local electrical goods store, more specifically their record department, so from the very late 60's to the early 70's, she was a source of many a 45 RPM single. Yes, my grandmother rescued me from my parents tastes. Two songs in particular stand out in my memory. One was “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” by Middle Of The Road and the other “Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson. Though there were many others. She also bought me my first album, on pre-recorded cassette, “Sheet Music” by 10CC, in 1973.


In that same year, I was one of many school-children of that era to go on a “School Cruise”, on the SS Uganda (used many years later, in 1982, as a hospital ship in the Falklands War), and my claim to fame was persuading the ship's radio station to play, several mornings in a row, Hawkwind's “Silver Machine” to start the day. If you also take into account that my first album on vinyl was Lou Reed's “Rock'n'Roll Animal” in 1974, you'll see a moderately with it musical taste taking shape at a relatively early age....precocious or what, huh?

Of course, in 1977, punk rock entered the life of an easily influenced 17 year old.

Things changed.

But back to more innocent times and a couple of Junior Choice memories......




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