Thu, Mar 7th - 7:18AM
Beachcombings from the Halling Valley Riverbank 2
More (Lyrical) Beachcombings
Some Romantic Afternoon
Some Romantic Afternoon
I will hear that haunting tune
The one that I would softly croon
By a lagoon
We'd go sailing to Cadiz
For a while it seemed like bliss
Now it all seems just a myth
Took a boat to southern Spain
Just to see her face again
She had gone forever
Not to return there
I could not control the tears
How they burned my eyes
As I looked back at those lost years
Some Romantic Afternoon
I will hear that haunting tune
The one that I would softly croon
By a lagoon.
Oh My My My (Call the FBI)
Couldn't believe my peepers
When I first saw you
Couldn't believe the beauty
Of your baby blues
I knew I had to ask you if you'd
Like to dance
I knew I had to take heart and to
Take that chance
First you resisted me you said
You couldn't leave
Your friends alone
But after our first dance you said
You thought they would be
OK to find their own way home
Oh my my my
Call the FBI
I think I lost my pride
I think I found my bride
Couldn't believe I'd ever
Find a girl like you
Couldn't believe we'd bond
As if by Superglue
I knew I had such tender feelings
In my heart
I knew that I could fix it so we'd
First you resisted me you said
You weren't ready
To fall in love
But after our first dance you said
You thought you'd give
This crazy swain another chance
Oh my my my
Call the FBI
I think I lost my pride
I think I found my bride.
For More than a Million Dreams
Keep on chipping
Right away at my heart
Because you touched it
Right from the start
If you were to leave me
We were to part
It would really tear me apart
Don't stop now,
Darling you're getting to me
Don't quit now
That you're ahead
Don't stop now
You've made an impression on me
Now there's no getting you out of my head.
Keep on tearing
All my defences down
Because I feel that
They're all going to fall
Keep on keeping up with
All of your charms
Because I feel
I'm going to give you my all
Don't stop now,
You lit such a fire in me
Don't quit now
Because that would be cruel
Don't stop now
Darling, don't tire of me
I'd feel such a fool and so confused
You're the one
I have longed for you
For more than a million dreams
You're the one
I have been strong for you
You don't know how hard it's been
Don't stop now,
Darling you're getting to me
Don't quit now
That you're ahead
Don't stop now.
With your pre-Raphaelite curls
You don't seem quite of this world
Such a strange and a sad-eyed girl
What happened to your smile
How came you to be so full of guile
Your eyes seem to stare for miles
For such a sweet and a tender child
There's someone you've got to meet
The truth can set you free
The way you live is a shame
Life is more than a game
Freedom's found in just one name
I'd like to show you another way
Where the dark can't harm you
Night or day
With your pre-Raphaelite curls
You don't seem quite of this world
Such a strange and a sad-eyed girl.
My travels start
Deep in my mind
My travels take me just where
I please I don't have
To leave my warm room
My travels start
Sinatra's crooning Jobim
And I'm just dreaming of my
Great romance to come
I don't need a little ticket
Tells me I can take the train
I don't even to risk it
There's no blistering sun
Or driving rain
And it's here that I remain
My travels end
With a sweet
And peaceful time
I've found such sense deep within
No more will I feel
The need to go travelling again.
Wed, Mar 6th - 2:36PM
Beachcombings from the Halling Valley Riverbank 1
First (Versified) Beachcombings
Some Sun Drunk Day He Said
Emotions war against sense
And his mind remains
A pot pourri,
And thoughts in his head
When he lies in his bed
Would make Dorian Gray
He wishes to moralize
On a corrupt example
Yet from the wicked cup
He hath supped a sample.
He appears to think in extremes;
He is beau-laid and realist
Whose inspiration stems from his dreams.
"Life is a beautiful strain for me,"
One sun-drunk day he said,
"But I pray I say what my soul needs to
Before the heavens decide me dead."
But his mind is a disorderly drawer
Full of confused categorizations;
He has that Scott Fitzgerald illness
For dates, times, rhymes and quotations.
"I have a clear flowing mind
But I cannot foretell
When the clogging black clouds will arrive,
For they will arrive.
Live with the love, then bear the pain
Recurrent like the monsoon rain."
He is afraid of happiness
For the inevitable despair that must follow it;
Afraid of happiness
For its cruel impermanence.
Like Zola, the seasons in life, for him
"All artists," he says, "are at once alike and unique
One day, it's clear,
The next, hazy, like a beery vision
The fulfilment that they seek."
Misty dreams of sweet-smelling roses
And swaying streams
Bring him chills and pains in his soul and being;
He lives his life through a melancholy tragedy
And has an ever-yearning mind.
Bouzingo: The Gathering of the Poets
The boy was aged about eighteen,
Pale and pensive,
Weary and frail in appearance.
He could have been
Or Chateaubriand's melancholy hero,
Embraced by a generation,
And about whom Sainte-Beuve said:
"René, c'est moi."
Tortured by a new mal du siècle,
He sought refuge
In the Club Bouzingo.
Two young poets,
One dark, the other fair,
Drifted past. The first,
Whose black hair
Hung in ringlets over his shoulders,
Wore a small pointed beard,
Black velvet tails,
A white linen shirt
Loosely fastened at the neck
By a thin pink taffeta tie;
The second wore a tight coat
That opened onto a silk crimson waistcoat
And a lace jabot, white trousers
With blue seams,
And a wide-brimmed black hat, and
In one of his hands
He carried a long thin pink-coloured pipe.
They were soon joined
By some of their dandified companions.
The music had stopped playing, and
The poet-leader in cape and gloves,
Dark and pomaded
With a Théophile Gautier moustache,
Took to the stage,
Where he proceeded to declaim
Selections from his subversive verses
To delirious cheers,
As if sedition was imminent;
Only the boy-poet remained silent,
His pale cheeks
Soaked by the freshest tears.
"Après nous, le déluge,"
He said under his breath,
"Our leader preaches revolution
But provides no solution
As to the fate of coming generations,
Should the infant be cast out
With the bath water that is so filthy
In his sight
That, intent on doing right,
Gives no thought to the future,
Nor to what might supplant
The society he claims to despise."
The boy was aged about eighteen
Pale and pensive
Weary and frail in appearance.
He could have been
Or Chateaubriand's melancholy hero,
Embraced by a generation,
And about whom Sainte-Beuve said:
"René, c'est moi."
Tortured by a new mal du siècle,
He sought refuge
From the Club Bouzingo.
It was my evening, that's
For sure -
"Its your aura"
For sure -
At last I'm good
"Spot the Equity card!"
"When are you going
To be a superstar?"
That seemed to be
On everyone's lips.
At last, at last, at last
I'm good at something.
And so the party...Zoe
called me...I listened
To her problems;
To my "innocent face"
"Sally seems elusive
But is in fact,
You're the opposite -
You give to everyone
But are incapable
Of giving in particular.
Madeleine was comparing me
To June Miller;
Descriptions by Nin:
"She does not dare
To be herself..."
Everything I'd always
Wanted to be, I now am.
On the reflections
Of herself in the eyes
There is no June
To grasp and know."
I kept getting up to dance
Sally said: "I'm afraid;
You're not just
Of the spells of calm,
And the hysterical
Then anxious elation.
The Wanderer of Golders Green
I awake each morning
With fresh hope
I might go for a saunter
Down quiet London backstreets...
Soon my aimlessness
And I realise
I'd been deceiving myself
As to my ability
To relax as others do.
I decided on a Special B
Before the eve.
I bought a lager
At the Bar
And chatted to Gaye.
Bought me another.
I appreciated the fact
That he remembered
The time he,
His gal Chris,
And Cary Downed
An entire Bottle
Of Jack Daniels
In a Paris-bound train.
A tanned cat
Bought me a (large) half,
Then another half.
My fatal eyes
Are my downfall.
I drank yet another half...
My head was spinning
When it hit the pillow;
With a terrible headache
Around one o'clock.
I prayed it would depart.
I slowly got dressed.
I was as chatty as ever
Before the exam...
Periodically I put my face
In my hands or groaned
Or sighed -
was burning me inside.
I finished my paper
In 1 hour and a half.
As I walked out
I caught various eyes
Amanda's, Jade's (quizzical) etc.
I went to bed;
Slept 'till five;
Read O'Neill until 7ish...
And strolled down
To Golders Green,
In order to relive
A few memories.
I sang to myself -
A few memories
Flashed into my mind,
But not as many
as I'd have liked -
It wasn't the same.
It wasn't the same.
Singing songs brought
I snuck into McDonald's
Where I felt at home,
I bought a few things,
Toothpaste and pick,
Wed, Mar 6th - 4:20AM
A Halling Is a Halling Wherever He Is
Incidents from an Infamous Year Zero
As the '70s proceeded apace, both Prog and Glam receded in terms of influence, although they'd experience periodic rebirths. Glam, for example, would be revived in the '80s through American Glam Metal, and the British Goth and New Romantic movements; and still exists to this day. However, given the extent to which the West has become inured to outrage, its power to shock has been reduced to zero.
By '77, it had been supplanted by Punk, a movement which, if it were at all possible, was even more scandalous.
While some years earlier, Soul, a melodic fusion of Gospel and R&B which had made a massive impact on the Pop charts, birthed a mutation known as Disco, one of whose major hallmarks was the liberal and highly distinctive use of strings.
Thence, Pat was involved in several major projects at the height of the Disco era, including the international hit album, Symphony of Love (1978) by Miquel Brown, which was produced by British composer Alan Hawkshaw. And another Hawkshaw production, Again and Again by Love De-Luxe, from the following year.
Pat also worked with Alec R Costandinos' Love and Kisses project, which produced three albums between 1977 and '79 which were massively successful at the time, yielding several US hit singles, and helping to define the Disco sound.
And both Pat and Costandinos had worked with another French Disco pioneer, Jean-Marc Cerrone, on the 1976 hit album, Love in C Minor, concocted at a time when Disco had yet to truly enter the mainstream.
While Pat played on several other Costandinos records, including an acknowledged Disco masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet (1978), which has to be lauded for its subject matter. For while Soul in the seventies was as extensive as Rock; and every inch as sublime at its most artistic, Disco had a greater tendency to fixate on the pleasures of the flesh. And so was the ultimate music of the mid 1970s, at a time the values of the permissive society were seeping into the mainstream. Yet at the same time, there were many exceptions, and Disco could be no less artistically exalted than Soul.
He also appeared on Costandinos' own Sphinx and Winds of Change, from '77 and '79 respectively, Look Out and Ordinary Man (1979) for Bad News Travels Fast, and a Costandinos produced album for Tina Turner entitled Love Explosion, also from '79. As well as, from the year before, Melaphonia's Limelight Disco Symphony, produced by Franck Pourcel and Alain Boublil as a Disco tribute to Sir Charles Chaplin, who'd died the previous Christmas Day.
Boublil went on to write the libretto for the smash-hit musical, Les Misérables, with composer Claude-Michel Schoenberg; while John Cameron provided the original orchestration.
And Pat was involved with the London production of Les Miz for many years as the leader of the orchestra, one of several highlights of a concert career which has seen him work with Pop legends as diverse as Ella Fitzgerald, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Tiny Tim, Barry Manilow and Boy George of Culture Club; and tour with Tom Jones and Barrie White.
But as a personal fan of the Old Groaner's, it's his participation in Bing Crosby's final tour that is perhaps the dearest to his heart.
In September '77, Bing, his family, and close friend Rosemary Clooney began a concert tour of England that included two weeks at the London Palladium. He recorded an album, Seasons, and a TV Christmas special with David Bowie and Twiggy, which featured a famous duet with Bowie.
And Pat actually managed to wangle an autograph from Der Bingel during what may have been a final recording session at Maida Vale studios. But the great man had initially objected to Pat helping himself to a piece of his sheet music, before relenting with the words, "He seems like a good man," and signing the music into the bargain.
His final concert took place at the Brighton Centre on the 12th of October 1977. For two days afterwards, following a round of 18 holes of golf on a course near Madrid, he died from a massive heart attack. And his passing came at the end of a year that had claimed a string of cultural giants including Joan Crawford, Elvis Presley, Groucho Marx, Maria Callas, Marc Bolan, and Charlie Chaplin.
And amidst all this tragedy, Punk's inexorable ascent to international notoriety showed no signs of abating. Yet while the London variant thrived, New York failed to capitalise on its initial promise as Punk's true spiritual capital.
For lest we forget...Punk's origins lie in the US among the so-called Garage bands of the 1960s. And their attempts to emulate the rougher acts of the British Invasion, themselves heavily indebted to American Rhythm and Blues. But it was the distinct New York variant of the early '70s that exerted the greatest sway on British Punk, and largely through the influence of a young entrepreneur by the name of Malcolm McLaren.
McLaren was born in London as the son of a Scottish father and Jewish mother, and raised by his grandmother, the daughter of a Sephardic-Jewish diamond merchant.
As an art student in the late 1960s, he was drawn to the subversive ideas of the Paris Situationists, believed to have played a part in fomenting the '68 riots, and were themselves offshoots of the post-war Lettrists.
Formed by the charismatic Isidore Isou in the late 1940s, the Lettrists were very much precursors of the Punks, and one of their number, Jean-Michel Mension sported a pair of trousers scrawled with slogans as early as 1953, as seen in a famous photograph by Ed van der Elsken.
In 1971, he and his then girlfriend, Vivienne Westwood, opened Let it Rock, an outlet specialising in '50s style Teddy Boy clothing designed by himself and Vivienne, at 430 Kings Road, Chelsea. It exists today - as Worlds End - as part of Dame Vivienne's global fashion empire.
Four years later, he became the manager of the disintegrating New York Dolls, who'd created a sensation in the UK at the height of Glam with a combination of androgynous image and uncompromisingly raw proto-Punk music.
He designed some red leather outfits for them in tandem with a new pseudo-Communist image, but it was too late to save them, and they folded soon afterwards. But while in New York, he came across a former Sandford Preparatory student from Lexington, Kentucky, by the name of Richard Hell.
He'd taken his name from a famous prose poem by Arthur Rimbaud, and was at various times a member of several key New York Punk Rock outfits. And McLaren was especially impressed by his unique image of torn tee-shirt and spiky unkempt hair, allegedly inspired by the famous tousle-haired photograph of Rimbaud by Etienne Carjat, and so before long he'd decided to take it back home to London and promote an anglicised version.
Some time afterwards, he afforded his Kings Road boutique the provocative new name of Sex, and set himself up as the manager of a group formed by three denizens of the Hammersmith area of West London, allegedly at the urging of their guitarist, Warwick "Wally" Nightingale. And there is some evidence they were called the Strand, after a song on the second Roxy Music album, For Your Pleasure.
And with Johnny Rotten, a young London Irishman born John Lydon in 1956, on board as front man, the band was renamed the Sex Pistols, and so began the most infamous Punk odyssey of them all.
However, no sooner had Punk taken off, than it was supplemented in the UK with those very elements it was reacting against; as a generation of brilliant acts and artists, such as the Police, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, fused the attitude of Punk with the sophistication of Art Rock.
While this New Wave threatened to supplant Punk at its crudest, other genres competed with it for the hearts and souls of the British young. Such as Reggae, which was favoured by many Punks, and Electronica, which had been pioneered all throughout the '70s mainly by so-called Kraut Rock acts such as Can, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. And which became highly fashionable in the London of the late 1970s, ultimately birthing the New Romantics.
And Disco was at the height of its popularity, not just in the UK but the US, although I can't remember even being aware of the term. One thing is certain, though, is that I was as much a lover of Soul as Punk circa '77; and for much of that year, dressed more like a Soul Boy than a Punk, although I would not be apprised of the existence of such a phenomenon until relatively late in the year. Soul Boys and Girls being largely young working class men and women who in the late 1970s, dressed in a flamboyant style somewhat reminiscent of Punk (at least how I saw it), while favouring, as their name suggests, the melodic and rhythmic beauties of Soul.
In fact, it was only in its final few months I started affecting the more flagrant trappings of Punk; such as spiked and dyed hair and drainpipe jeans.
So for me, '78 was my own personal Punk Year Zero; and it was in that year, at the very height of Disco, that Central Heating by Heatwave, a rare classic of British Soul, was released.
Produced by former teen idol Barry Blue, and with arrangements by John Cameron, with Pat Halling serving as his concertmaster, it was a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic, ascending to number 10 on the Billboard 200. And yielding two hit singles in the shape of The Groove Line by Englishman Rod Temperton, and Mind Blowing Decisions by American lead vocalist Johnny Wilder Jr.
Temperton went on to write for the best-selling album in musical history, which is Michael Jackson's Thriller, produced by Quincy Jones in 1982.
He also wrote for Quincy on his own hit album The Dude, with singer Patti Austin sounding remarkably like Jackson; as well as for Patti herself. While George Benson's Love X Love was blessed with the same kind of stardust that helped turn Michael Jackson into the most famous Rock star on the planet.
Then towards the end of the '70s, Pat played what was possibly his most memorable ever solo for a television program. And this was for the stunning opening and closing theme to the BBC's Life on Earth natural history series, composed by Edward Williams, and conducted by Marcus Dods.
As a solo it was so breathtakingly beautiful that Pat was compared by one devotee of the violin to Jascha Heifetz, whom many believe to have been the greatest violinist of them all. Quite an honour for the boy from the Tamar Valley.
From New Pop to Rap in the Crazy 1980s
The '80s was a potentially tough decade for session musicians such as Pat Halling as the synthesizer started threatening the world of recorded music as never before. And one of the fruits of this putsch was the so-called New Pop that arose in the wake of Punk.
And New Pop could be said to be a more purely commercial variant of the aforesaid New Wave; itself an offshoot of Punk. Although the term was only ever used in the UK, while the US continued to favour that of New Wave to describe the explosion of British synth-driven bands that invaded the Pop charts on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the '80s.
For several New Pop acts took part in the so-called Second British Invasion, which saw British bands dominating the American Pop charts to a degree unknown since the hey day of the Beatles. And this was largely due to a demand on the part of the newly launched MTV music channel for glamorous videos which enabled British acts such as Culture Club, Duran Duran and Eurythmics to score massive transatlantic hits.
But for many, this resurgence of Pop was a negative development, despite the musicality of many of its proponents, so that it fused the commercialism of Pop with the virtuosity of Rock. And it could certainly be said that such phenomena as Glam, Punk and Goth witnessed a certain taming throughout the '80s; so that by the end of the decade, they had been shorn of their ability to shock.
But for all the ballyhoo created by the rise of Electronica, Pat Halling's career was barely affected. And in 1980, he worked again for his old friend John Cameron...this time on the movie The Mirror Crack'd, based on the Agatha Christie novel, with music by JC, and featuring a roll call of Hollywood legends. Pat even had a small non-speaking cameo in the movie as a World War II bandleader.
And in that same year, he led the orchestra for Man of the World by Greek superstar Demis Roussos, which, while produced by David Mackay, featured another close friend, Barrie Guard, as conductor.
He also found time to lead for the distinguished composer Wilfrid Joseph's theme to the 1980 BBC TV series of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. While a year later, he appeared on Pas Facile by French Rock and Roll legend Johnny Hallyday.
In 1982, he was back with John Cameron for a further star-studded Agatha Christie movie, Evil Under the Sun, helmed, as in the case for Crack'd by Bond director Guy Hamilton, and produced by Lord Brabourne and Richard Goodwin, who became a close friend.
For Richard's wife, Christine Edzard, he served as the soloist for "Biddy" in 1983...working again with Christine, with Richard producing, on Dickens' Little Dorrit in '88, and two years later on The Fool, written by Christine with Oliver Stockman. While all three movies were scored by Michel Sanvoisin.
For Paul McCartney, possibly the most lauded Rock and Roll musician in history, he led the orchestra for the soundtrack to the '84 movie, Give My Regards to Broad Street. And while it sold well, the film itself performed poorly at the Box Office; although it benefits from a good deal of affection from contemporary McCartney fans.
A year later, he was concertmaster for his old colleague David Essex on the album version of the musical Mutiny, based on Mutiny on the Bounty by Nordhoff and Hall. And also in '85, played on three tracks from Jazz musician Barbara Thompson's album Heavenly Bodies.
And then a year after that, he contributed to To Go Beyond II, final track from the hugely successful Enya album by Irish superstar Enya Brennan. As well as If for Hollywood Beyond, featuring singer-songwriter Mark Rogers. And tenor saxophonist Spike Robinson's Gershwin Collection.
In 1988, he and Richard Studt served as orchestra leaders on Elaine Page's The Queen Album, produced by Mike Moran, while in '89, he worked with yet another Rock legend, Pete Townshend, serving as leader on his concept album, The Iron Man - The Musical, based on the novel by Ted Hughes.
Interestingly, Pete's father Jazz saxophonist Cliff Townshend had been a colleague of Pat's during their time together on the famous BBC television chat show, Parkinson, named after host Michael Parkinson.
Then in 1990, he appeared on John Williams' album, The Guitar is the Song, having earlier worked with the great Classical guitarist on John Williams plays Patrick Gowers and Scarlatti (1972), and Portrait of John Williams (1982).
But briefly returning to film and TV, television projects on which Pat worked throughout the '80s include Hold that Dream (1986), based on the novel by Barbara Taylor Bradford, with original score by longtime friend Barrie Guard, Tears in the Rain (1988), from a novel by Pamela Wallace, with music again by Guard, and The Darling Buds of May (1992-1993), based on the novel by H.E. Bates, and with music by Pip Burley and Guard.
His recording career in the '90s included work for acts and artists as varied as British Indie band Cud, and French singer, Dany Brillant (Nouveau Jour from 1999).
And on a larger scale, the '90s witnessed the fading of such once provocative cults of Glam, Punk and Goth to make way for the far starker cult of Grunge, as well as the facelessness of Electronic Dance. But the greatest success story of the decade was Rap, which many would contend is not a Rock music genre at all, but an entirely different form of music, as distinct from Rock as Rock once was from Jazz.
While others would insist all offshoots of Rock's first forefathers that have in some way benefited from the Rock revolution are perforce forms of Rock and Roll. And by forefathers I'm referring primarily to Rhythm and Blues and Country and Western. And I'm inclined to side with this view.
A Halling Is a Halling Wherever He Is
Moving into the Noughties...and Tiny Tim's 1968 concert at the Albert Hall finally secured a CD release in 2000 through Rhino Handmade Records as Tiny Tim Live! At the Royal Albert Hall. And conducted by Carpenters producer Richard Perry, and with Pat among the first violins led by Tony Gilbert, it was revealed as a neglected masterpiece that had remained unreleased for nearly two decades. Yet within two years of its recording, Tim's legendary appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival would secure a standing ovation from the assembled hippies, with the Beatles and the Stones among them.
And between 2000 and 2002, Pat played violin for a band formed by his good friend Barrie Guard, and featuring myself on vocals; and together with bass player John Sutton, we recorded a series of demos at Barrie's home studio in Esher, and even went so far as to record a pilot radio show. We gigged sporadically for about a year and a half to limited response, until a final concert at the 2002 Shelton Arts Festival brought us - as I see it - into contact with the kind of intimate cultured audience we should have been aiming for all along...and we all but brought the house down. But dispersed soon afterwards after barely eighteen months together.
On a brighter note, there's a fascinating tale attached to singer-songwriter John Dawson Read for whom Pat served as leader on his two classic albums from the '70s, namely A Friend of Mine is Going Blind from '75, and Read On from a year later.
Sometime around 2005, fellow singer-songwriter Michael Johnson included an MP3 of Read singing the title track of his first album, A Friend of Mine on his website, and many Read fans began communicating through the site as a result.
His subsequent re-entry into the music world after nearly thirty years of relative inactivity, resulted in a third album, Now where were we? being released that same year, and a fourth, One Life, in 2012.
Until quite recently, Pat served as leader for the longest running comedy series in television history, Roy Clarke's Last of the Summer Wine. And working alongside Pat was harmonica maestro Jim Hughes, whose playing it was that made Ronnie Hazelhurst's gently pastoral theme tune so distinctive.
From about 2005, Pat began work on an album of popular song standards featuring Jim on harmonica, myself on vocals, Judd Procter on guitar, Dave Richmond and John Sutton on bass, and John Dean and Sebastian Guard on drums.
The album was produced by Pat and arranged by John Smith. And largely engineered by sound recordist Tony Philpot, with contributions by Keith Grant of West London's legendary Olympic Studios. To be finally released in 2007 as A Taste of Summer Wine by James Hughes Carl Halling with the London Swingtette.
Pat's most recent projects as of early 2013 have included the 2007 world premiere of A Poet's Calendar by long-time friend Derek Wadsworth, with whom Pat first worked in the '70s, such as on Alan Price's Metropolitan Man from '75. As well as performances of Quartets 1 and 2 by legendary drummer, composer, arranger and band leader, Tony Kinsey. And a string of concerts, the first of these taking place at Central London's Cadogan Hall in the spring of 2010, and featuring works by Haydn, Debussy and Purcell. To say nothing of the world premiere of John Cameron's Tara's Brooch,which features on a CD of theirs released towards the end of that year. All with the revived Quartet Pro Musica.
Then in early 2012, the quartet - whose current members are, apart from Pat, Keith Lewis (violin), Richard Cookson (viola) and Myrtle Bruce-Mitford (cello) - worked with harmonica genius Philip Achille in bringing a beautiful new work by Tony Kinsey, Quintet for String Quartet and Orchestra, to glorious life.
Away from his music, Pat continues to be a fervid dinghy sailor during the season at his local club of Aquarius SC.
Also, for several years he's attended functions organised by PPL, formerly known as Phonographic Performance Limited, a music licensing company which collects and distributes airplay and performance royalties on behalf of record companies and performers throughout the UK.
At one of these, the Fair Play 95, which took place on behalf of the Fair Play for Musicians campaign at the Stanhope Hotel in Brussels in April 2009, he played a medley of Tony Hatch's Downtown and the Beatles' All You Need is Love, before inviting flamenco guitarist Manuel Espinosa on to the stage for a short duet.
There seems to be no end to the man's almost preternatural energy and force of will. And although there's no hard and fast evidence that Pat has Scandinavian blood, research related to the Norwegians who emigrated to the American Midwest from about the mid-19th Century onwards reveals that one of the purported characteristics of the Hallings of the Halling Valley in Norway's Buskerud County is firmness "in thoughts and beliefs"; so that he would "rather break than bend." This in the words of the Norwegian-American writer, Syver Swenson Rodning, who allegedly took first prize in an essay set by a man called Hallingen in 1917 called A Halling is a Halling wherever he is, the Hallings themselves settling primarily in Spring Grove, Minnesota, where traces of their dialect and subculture survived into the 1930s.
Perhaps then, alone among the three children born to Phyllis Mary Halling, Patrick is a true Halling with roots deep in the Hallingdal where the Halling Valley River lies.
And what of the music that has dominated his days and nights for so many decades? The truth is it has never been more accessible thanks to the miracle of sites such as Spotify and You Tube. Sites where one might access a degree of music inconceivable to those of my generation, who as late as the late 1990s could only ever hear as much music as they were able to afford via the medium of the long playing record, Compact Disc or Musicassette.
And of Rock...surely the most revolutionary music form in history, it could be said it has been tamed at long last. And quietly taken its place alongside Classical, Jazz and Folk as just another facet of the massive music industry. But then is that not its final victory?
Tue, Mar 5th - 6:59AM
Rock and Roll and the Western Soul
The Burgeoning Generation of Love
The highpoint of Patrick Halling's early Pop career was undoubtedly his leadership of the string section for the Beatles' All You Need Is Love, transmitted live at the height of the so-called Summer of Love on July 25th 1967.
The programme, entitled Our World, was the first satellite broadcast in history, and it secured an audience of 350 million, which was unprecedented at that time. And among those taking part were such legendary figures of the swinging sixties as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Eric Clapton, Keith Moon, Marianne Faithful and Donovan.
But this was not Pat's first involvement with the burgeoning Underground or Progressive Rock movement. For the previous year of '66, he'd taken part in the recording of Donovan's Museum, destined to see the light of day on the Mellow Yellow album, which reached the number 14 position on the Billboard Hot 100. Although it failed to secure a UK release due to contractual complications.
Also involved with the Mellow Yellow sessions were close friends Mickie Most, who produced; and John Cameron, who did most of the arrangements. As well as session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan, and future Led Zeppelin members, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones.
A year later, he worked on a project that was as much a concept album as any of the Beatles' records of the same period, Ken Moule's superb Adam's Rib Suite, which fused elements of Jazz, Pop and Classical music to recount the history of womankind from Eve to Cleo Laine.
Needless to say, though, it was infinitely less successful than any comparable record within the Rock genre, Rock being at the vanguard of popular culture in a way that Jazz had once been, but no longer was. However, by the turn of the decade, a reconciliation between the two alienated factions was well under way, with Jazz-Fusion coming from one camp and the more populist Jazz-Rock from the other.
In '75, Pat served as leader for Mike Gibbs' The Only Chrome Waterfall Orchestra, an unsung early example of British Jazz fusion, which was finally released on CD in 1997. Adam's Rib followed it on CD exactly ten years later.
By the time of his involvement with Adam's Rib, Pat had already moved into the worlds of film and television. And his early career included solos for the 1960 movie, Exodus, produced and directed by Otto Preminger, with music by Ernest Gold, as well as for much treasured British sitcom, Steptoe and Son (1969-'74), whose incidental music was composed by his close friend Ron Grainer.
He also served as concertmaster for the great Johnny Green on Carol Reed's version of Lionel Bart's Oliver in 1968, and for John Williams on three movies beginning with the musical version of James Hilton's Goodbye Mr Chips.
And going on to include Jane Eyre (1970), directed by Delbert Mann, and Fiddler on the Roof (1971), by Norman Jewison.
Directed by Herbert Ross in 1969, Chips featured a screenplay by no less a luminary of British literature than Terence Rattigan. And as he was the author of such quintessentially English tragedies as The Browning Version and The Winslow Boy, both centring on the English private school system, he was the perfect choice.
Sadly, though, for all its virtues, including a lovely score by Leslie Bricusse, it was not a critical success, although it was nominated for several major awards, and has gone on to enjoy something of a following on the internet.
Also in '69, he worked on David Lean's Ryan's Daughter, a visually beautiful epic set in rural Ireland during the First World War, which was another film that has grown in stature since its initial release. Written by playwright and screenwriter Robert Bolt, with music by Maurice Jarre, it was poorly received by the critics (while being a modest box office success), although today, its considered by many to be among Lean's finest works.
In addition to Williams, Green and Jarre, he's served as concertmaster for a panoply of major 20th Century musical figures working within the media of film and television, including Dimitri Tiomkin, Nelson Riddle, Georges Delerue, Wilfred Josephs and Christopher Gunning.
But to return the world of Pop, which mutated into Rock, possibly some time towards the end of the late 1960s, while retaining a Pop subsidiary; and became known as such to many of its devotees, presumably as a means of investing it with some respectability as an art form:
As the '60s ceded to the '70s, Pat's close friend Mickie Most was poised to enter the second phase of his glittering Pop career, having been briefly involved with the nascent Rock movement through his management of the Jeff Beck Group. And yet, even at that, he'd sought to turn guitar virtuoso Beck into a major Pop star...while apparently remaining impervious to the star quality of his one-time front man, Rod Stewart.
And it fell to business partner Peter Grant to prosper within Rock music, first as co-manager of the Yardbirds with Most; then as sole manager of Led Zeppelin, who went on to become the ultimate Rock band; and second only to the Rolling Stones in terms of legendary darkness and mystery.
And by the time of the Zeppelin's conquest of America, the face of Western society had been altered almost beyond recognition by the Rock and Roll revolution. Yet, in all good conscience, responsibility for this transformation can't be laid exclusively at the feet of Rock. For, after all, tendencies hostile to the Judeo-Christian fabric of the West can be traced at least as far back as the Enlightenment of the 16th and 17th Centuries.
Much of the groundwork had already been done in other words, and that's especially true of the forties and fifties.
It was in these two immediate post-war decades that the Existentialists and the Beats became international icons of revolt, while lesser groups such as the Lettrists of Paris served as scandal-sowing forerunners of the Situationists, believed to have played a major role in fomenting the Paris riots of May '68.
At the same time, Britain's first major youth cult surfaced in the shape of the Teddy Boys, and a cinema of youthful discontent flourished as never before.
Movies such as Stanley Kramer's The Wild One and Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause fostered a desire among millions of young Americans to be identified as rebels themselves, reacting against the widespread conformity of Eisenhower era America.
For all that, though, none of these phenomena enjoyed a tithe of the influence of Rock in terms of its effect on the Western soul.
Glam and the Gender Revolution
My Pangbourne years coincided with the rise of Rock, which was Pop transmuted into an art form, while somehow including Pop as its less intellectual counterpart. And the music we listened to as self-styled lads had "lad value"; and we called it Underground for its shadowy exclusivity, while at some point it became known as Progressive.
But as I recall...it included both Hard Rock and Soft Rock, and the sophisticated Art Rock of acts and artists as diverse as the Beatles, Frank Zappa and the Doors. And for me, there was no real difference between the experimental Hard Rock of Deep Purple, and the out and out Prog of Yes or Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
For Rock was split into two categories...Underground and Commercial...a term we tended to spit out like some kind of curse, as this was pure Pop, whose domain was the despised hit parade featured weekly on the long-running British TV programme, Top of the Pops.
The Underground, on the other hand, was composed of acts and artists who made music largely for the growing album market. And there were those among them, such as Led Zeppelin, who never graced the singles chart despite earning fortunes through concerts and album sales. And from about '69, the Zep constituted one of my prime facilitators into the turbid depths of the Underground.
But by the time I quit Pangbourne in 1972, a new Rock revolution was underway in the shape of a heterogeneous mix of Rock and Pop allied to an outrageous androgynous image...and known as Glam.
Glam had begun to infiltrate the British charts as early as '71, while making little impact on the US, despite the fact that many of its pioneers were American. While its true roots were to be found in the Blues and early Rock and Roll, more of which later.
But it had been carried into the mainstream by one Marc Bolan, born Mark Feld in 1947 into a Jewish family of working class origins, who had been featured in 1962 in a magazine called Town, as one of the Faces, or leading Mods of Stamford Hill in East London. Although by then he'd moved with his family to a council house in Summerstown in West London.
He went on to achieve major success as one half of the acoustic duo, Tyrannosaurus Rex; the other being multi-instrumentalist Steve Peregrin Took who, like Bolan, was a leading figure of London's Hippie Underground centred on Ladbroke Grove.
But In 1970, Took was replaced by percussionist Mickey Finn, who shared Bolan's love of old-time Rock and Roll. And as T. Rex, they had their first top 5 hit in the shape of Ride a White Swan.
And by the time of their first number one the following year, T. Rex were a four-piece band, with Bolan the biggest British teen sensation since the Beatles. While the Bolan phenomenon was dubbed T Rextasy by the British press...and all throughout the land, bedroom walls were adorned with Bolan's fascinating elfin face.
However, for the true roots of Glam one must return to the very earliest days of Rock and Roll. And specifically to a certain Rhythm and Blues shouter by the name of Little Richard.
As a boy, Richard had attended the New Hope Baptist Church in his native Macon, Georgia, and sung Gospel songs with his family as The Penniman Singers. And aged just 13, he joined Gospel legend Sister Rosetta Tharp onstage in Macon after she heard him singing before the concert. And he had serious ambitions of becoming a full-time minister of the Gospel, while demonstrating extraordinary gifts as a boy preacher.
By 1951, however, the world had begun to beckon, and he won a talent contest in Atlanta that led to a recording contract with RCA Victor, but the four records he subsequently released all flopped. While around about the same time, he came under the sway of an outrageous Rhythm and Blues musician by the name of Esquerita, who shaped his unique piano style.
Esquerita is also believed to have influenced his increasingly flamboyant image, although self-styled King of the Blues Billy Wright, who piled his pomaded hair high on his head and wore eye liner and face powder, was also an influence in this respect.
Real success came for Richard in 1955 with Tutti Frutti, which has been cited as the true starting point for the Rock and Roll revolution; but within two years, he'd quit the business and returned to his faith. And as a Christian myself, I can only hope that for all his struggles, the good Reverend Penniman is a saved Christian man, and there is a good deal of evidence he is. For few Rock stars have been as vocal in their condemnation of Rock and Roll as he has been.
Yet, in his wake, androgyny went on to become one of its major features; and this was true of several of its earliest pioneers. And that includes the single most influential phenomenon in Rock and Roll history with the possible exception of the Beatles, the boy who once worshipped as part of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God for whom fame turned out to be such a mixed blessing: Elvis Aaron Presley.
And the mantle was taken up in the mid to late sixties by such pioneers of Glam as the Kinks, Barrett era Pink Floyd, early Soft Machine, the Rolling Stones, and Alice Cooper. But the decade as a whole witnessed an extraordinary explosion of androgyny on the part of the Western male, which served to pave for the way for the '70s.
And Glam swept a host of musicians who'd been striving for major success since the early '60s to fresh levels of stardom in the UK and elsewhere. Such as David Bowie, Elton John and Rod Stewart. For all three had first appeared on record as part of the British Blues Boom...Bowie and Stewart in '64, and John in '65; and despite being idolised at the height of Glam, they continued to be admired as serious album artists.
For there were two major strands of Glam in its heyday of 1971-'74, one being allied to the consciously artistic tradition of Progressive Rock, the other, to the purest pure Pop. And among those acts and artists affiliated to the former were David Bowie, Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band; while the latter embraced T. Rex, the Sweet, Gary Glitter, Slade and Wizzard. While there were many more who either flirted with the genre from within the confines of Prog, such as the Strawbs, or existed on its fringes, such as Silverhead.
As to stateside Glam, pioneered primarily by Alice Cooper, it went on to include such cult icons as Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, the New York Dolls, Jobriath and Brett Smiley; as well as singer-songwriter, Todd Rundgren, a serious candidate for the most gifted Rock artist of all time. While several major acts were briefly touched by it; such as Aerosmith and Kiss, but it would not be until the 1980s that Glam entered the mainstream in the shape of Glam Metal.
Also among those part of the first wave of Glam was the band that effectively invented the genre, the Rolling Stones. Although they didn't adopt its more flagrant trappings until around 1972, the year they released the album which is widely considered to be their masterpiece, Exile on Main Street.
Initial sessions took place in the basement of the Villa Nellcôte, a 19th century mansion on the waterfront of Villefranche-sur-Mer in France's Cote d'Azur, which had been leased to Keith Richards in the summer of '71. However, several tracks had already been recorded at Mick Jagger's country estate, as well as at West London's legendary Olympic Studios.
Originally a theatre, then a film studio, Olympic was converted into a recording studio by the architect Robertson Grant, while his son Keith Grant - a very close friend of Pat Halling's - completed the acoustics in tandem with Russel Pettinger. It went on to become the virtual nerve centre of the British Rock movement.
Much has been written of the Exile sessions, which saw various icons of the Counterculture passing through Nellcôte as if to lay blessings on the decadent antics taking place therein, which stand today as the very quintessence of the benighted Rock and Roll lifestyle. While less than a decade had passed since Rock's true inception at the hands of the clean-cut Beatles, Western society had already been altered almost beyond recognition within that short space of time.
Yet, responsibility for this transformation can't in all good conscience be laid exclusively at the feet of Rock, given that tendencies inimical to the West's moral fabric can be traced at least as far back as the Enlightenment of the 16th and 17th Centuries. So, how had society come to be so successfully and swiftly revolutionised by Rock?
Part of the answer lies in its sheer popularity, itself arguably born of its extraordinary eclecticism. And among bands embodying this quality during Rock's first golden age of the mid-1960s were the Rolling Stones. And this thanks significantly to the sheer musical brilliance of founder member Brian Jones, who plausibly helped to sow the seeds of the Progressive movement to come, but buttressed by the considerable song writing gifts of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. However, in the late 1960s, with Progressive Rock in the ascent, the Stones seemed to make a conscious effort to return to their Blues origins, as well as embracing other forms of roots music, such as Country and Western, and this process could be said to have reached an apogee with Exile on Main Street in 1972.
In that selfsame year, Pat Halling was involved with an album that was greeted with little of the ballyhoo of Exile. This being Slides, by the great Irish actor Richard Harris, who'd launched a Pop career on the back of Jimmy Webb's 7 minute Pop tour de force, MacArthur Park.
In 2005, it was released on CD with My Boy, receiving very high ratings from Amazon reviewers both in Britain and the US.
However, as the '70s progressed, Pat became involved with several far more successful projects on the fringes of Glam, more of which later.
Rock and Roll and the Western Soul
When such Glam acts and artists as David Bowie and the Sweet had first appeared on British television in full make up around 1972, there were those undilutedly masculine British males who were doubtless moved to revulsion and rage. Yet by about '74, Glam could be said to have shed much of its revolutionary potency.
But by the time it had done so, it had effectuated a minor sexual upheaval by making male androgyny more acceptable than ever before. And it did so in defiance of the Bible's strict delineation of the sexual roles, and prohibition of any form of cross dressing.
And one can only wonder what effect it had on the psychological development of young men such as myself, who'd already been weaned on the ferocious rebel sounds of Rock, only to swoon at the feet of the gorgeous androgynes of Glam.
But while it had entered the mainstream as Teenybop Pop, an avant-garde form persisted in the shape of an apparent nostalgic love affair with Europe's immediate past - and especially its decadent cabaret culture - on the part of acts and artists as diverse as Bowie and Roxy Music; as well as critically acclaimed newcomers Cockney Rebel. And the persona Bowie adopted in 1976, and which he enigmatically dubbed The Thin White Duke could be said to have been the apotheosis of this romantic Europhilia.
But little of this was in evidence in the happy world of Pop which continued to mine the Glam Rock craze for all it was worth, propelling a multitude of entertainers into the charts in the process. Such as one David Cook, a startlingly handsome young cockney Londoner of Irish Traveller extraction who as David Essex became a major star on the fringes of Glam.
But rather than Rock or Teenybop Pop, he did so largely through acting. And it was his own song Rock On that really put him on the map as a major heart throb in 1974, when it became a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic, due in no small part to its distinctive string arrangement, featuring one Pat Halling as concertmaster.
Its follow-up, Stardust, was the title of the hit movie of the same name, a salutary tale of a young Londoner who achieves his dreams of superstardom, only to end up holed up in some Spanish castle as a drug-addicted recluse.
Like its predecessor, it had been produced by New Yorker Jeff Wayne, with whom Pat worked both on Rock On and his own Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, widely viewed today as a masterpiece.
That same year of '74 saw the release of Cilla Black's In My Life, produced by David Mackay, and The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast by Rod Edwards and Roger Hand from an original book by William Plomer; both with orchestra led by Pat.
While he was still a close colleague of Mickie Most, who was enjoying the second phase of his glittering Pop career. For as previously stated, Most had been briefly involved with the burgeoning Rock movement in the shape of the Jeff Beck Group, which had been formed in early '67.
But in time, he bequeathed the band to his friend and business partner, Peter Grant, and under Grant's aegis, they went on to enormous success in the US. And by so doing, they anticipated the mega-glory of another Grant-managed band led by a one-time member of the Yardbirds.
I'm referring of course to Led Zeppelin, a band perhaps second only to the Rolling Stones in terms of legendary darkness and mystery, if you'll excuse the leitmotiv.
While Grant went on to take the US by storm with Led Zep, Mickie set about turning RAK, which they'd formed together in 1969, into one the key Pop record labels of the '70s and home to several classic Glam, Pop and Teenybop acts.
These included Disco-Poppers Hot Chocolate which had been formed as early as 1969, and former Detroit native Suzi Quatro, both of whom Pat worked with on several occasions with Mickie at the helm; as well as Mud, Arrows, Kenny, Smokie and Racey.
Quatro benefited from the brilliance of songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who also wrote for the Sweet, Mud, Arrows, Smokie and Racey, and for a time was one of the few female stars of the Glam-Glitter genre. But Pat's work in the mid 1970s was by no means restricted to the purest pure Pop, far from it.
There was a major movie project in the shape of The Day of the Jackal, directed by the great Fred Zinnemann, whom I have always admired enormously.
I was fortunate enough to be introduced to him by Pat. And he was the second of two legends of the cinema I met around about that time, the first having been the great Charles Chaplin, and they were both quite delectably charming to me.
Pat was the concertmaster, serving under the Frenchman Georges Delerue - whom I also met - who both composed and conducted the music.
In terms of recorded music, Pat became caught up in the final stages of the Prog Rock boom when he served as leader for Jethro Tull, for despite himself, he'd been part of the growing Rock movement from the outset.
And notably through his association with the Beatles, who by '67 were at the forefront of the Rock revolution; although their Rock was ever replete with beautiful Pop melodies. But the same could also be said of Tull, one of the most purely artistic bands of the genre, which yet achieved both commercial and critical success on both sides of the Atlantic. And the first of these projects, War Child from 1974, could be said to be the quintessence of Rock as an art form, whose earliest expression was the aforesaid Prog.
For by fusing elements of Classical, Folk and Rock, the Prog phenomenon created a music that at times amounted to high art, as in the case of Tull.
But it was Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention who effectively birthed the genre; although the notion of Rock as art had evolved by degrees in both Britain and America, with both the Beatles and Bob Dylan being especially influential in this respect.
Yet while both Britain and America served as the cradles of Art Rock, Prog was characteristically British, with King Crimson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes, Gentle Giant and Genesis serving as early exemplars. And in keeping with its position within the rebel music of Rock, its lyrics often inclined to a darkness of tone which was characteristic of much of the musical Underground of the late 1960s.
Speaking of which...from about '73, it could be said that Progressive Rock set about a return to the Underground whence it had emerged. And from there, took to informing a vast variety of musical genres...including Glam Rock, Jazz Rock, New Wave, Post-Punk, Alt Rock and Indie. In fact, one might go so far as to say its been ubiquitous ever since, so that as things stand, several of the most successful acts in the world could be said to be Progressive in varying degrees.
But by '73, pure Prog was already starting to look stale in comparison to the Art Rock of figures such as Todd Rundgren and David Bowie, who were operating as progressives within the Glam Rock genre.
And in that selfsame year, Pat worked on two concept albums that were nowhere nears as commercial as anything by these two innovators, namely Cosmic Wheels by Donovan; and Johnny Harris' All To Bring You Morning, for which he led the strings. And which featured no less than three one-time members of Yes, who just happened to be recording next door at the time as Johnny and friends, and were great admirers of his work.
He went on to work on a series of Art Rock projects which while not as successful as international best-sellers by the likes of Tull have received fresh critical acclaim through the internet.
They include Beginnings (1975) by Steve Howe, Octoberon (1976) by Barclay James Harvest, Visionary and Perilous Journey (1976/'7) by Gordon Giltrap, Donovan (1977) by Donovan, and Woman in the Wings (1978) by Steeleye Span lead singer Maddie Prior. While a very early Progressive project of Pat's was Definitely What (1969) by Brian Auger and the Trinity.
But for Pat, involvement in the rebel music of Rock and Roll was ever but a means of earning the amounts of money necessary to support a home and family. While in my case, it was entirely voluntary, and one after the other I immersed myself in its messages of revolt.
Which is not to say that all Rock music is overtly dark or iconoclastic, far from it. For much of it is relatively innocuous, and there is much beauty to be found in all forms of Rock, both musically and lyrically, as I've already made clear. Yet from a historical perspective, it could be said that few art forms have been quite so effective in challenging the Judeo-Christian foundations of Western culture as Rock.
And for a time, it was as if a civil war was being fought for the hearts and minds of the young. And that's especially true of the '60s, where in both Britain and America, the conflict was quite extraordinarily fierce...and this persisted into the '70s. With the result that the British Punk insurrection provoked a reaction from ordinary members of the public which would be inconceivable today in a West that has become so utterly inured to outrage.
While by the '80s it could be said to have started to wane, as the values of the Counterculture started percolating the mainstream. And while this was concurrent with a famous conservative backlash, the latter hardly constituted a wholesale return to traditional values. For these were still in terminal recession, and fighting desperately for their very existence. And the backlash was but an expression of this desperation as I see it.
And to those who disagree, I can only say they have failed to realise just how deeply embedded into our society these values once were.
While today, they are merely the province of a minority, and a relatively powerless one at that. So for the time being, it could be said that the culture wars of the past half century or so have been won...and that Rock and Roll stands tall among its victors.
Mon, Mar 4th - 6:38PM
And So the British Blues Explosion
The Riddle of the British English
The first son of Patrick and Ann Halling was born Carl Robert Halling at the tail end of West London's Goldhawk Road, which is the sole and only section not to bisect the traditionally working class district of Shepherd's Bush. And while officially in Hammersmith, is far closer to the more bourgeois area of Chiswick.
My first home was a little Victorian cottage in Notting Hill, but by the time of my brother's birth, the family had already moved to Bedford Park, which while also in Chiswick according to its postcode, is nonetheless part of the Southfield ward of nearby Acton. And presumably was then too.
One thing is certain is that it was part of the obsolete Borough of Acton; and along with the County of London, which paved the way for the contemporary Greater London Council, it was scrapped in 1965.
Carl was the name of my paternal grandfather, and Robert that of my mother's brother Bob, and technically speaking, I came into the world very much a Briton as opposed to an Englishman. Which is to not to say I don't consider myself English, because I most decidedly do; but my origins lie not just in England, but three of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom.
Thence, I'm Scottish and Scots-Irish and - possibly also - English Canadian through my mother, and English and - again possibly also - Danish Australian through my dad, with a further feasible Cornish admixture coming courtesy of my paternal grandmother.
For her maiden name of Pinnock is a common one in Cornwall, and therefore of conceivable Brythonic Celtic origin...the word Brythonic having served as the origin for more modern terms such as Britain and Briton, as well as British.
To explain...there have always been two distinct strains of Celtic people, which is to say, the Brythonic and the Goidelic, or Gaelic. And while the Welsh, Cornish, Manx and Breton peoples are of the Brythonic strain, the Scottish and the Irish are of the Gaelic.
It could be said therefore that I partake of both Gaelic and Brythonic Celtic ancestry. Confused? You should be.
Whatever the truth, I'm proud of my roots in Ulster and Glasgow, both of which possess long-established proletarian traditions, and the same applies to Wales and the North and Midlands of England. The South, on the other hand, is widely seen as an affluent, middle class region, and that's especially true of the so-called home counties, which are those adjacent to London.
Needless to say, though, poverty does exist in these regions, and even the great metropolis of London contains no less than fourteen of the nation's most deprived twenty boroughs. Yet it remains one of the most powerful urban centres in the world.
And according to certain authorities, it's easily the most powerful, being the financial heart of a still existent British empire.
Others would refute this theory out of hand, but it attracts strong support nonetheless. For my part, I view it with a characteristic mix of open-mindedness and scepticism.
What's more, while Glasgow is home to a massive urban working class, with clearly defined Catholic and Protestant communities, Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh has a reputation for great gentility. Yet, in common with other affluent cities throughout a nation of striking extremes of wealth and poverty, she also contains areas of enormous deprivation.
One of these, Leith, is the setting for the controversial novel Trainspotting by Irving Welsh, which was made into a successful movie in 1996.
I'm also proud of more overtly Anglo-Saxon ancestry coming through my father, who although born in Tasmania and raised by a Danish father in Sydney, New South Wales, is English through his mother Mary. For having established my quintessential British credentials, England is the nation I identify with in spirit.
Indeed if anyone incarnates the riddle of what it is to be both British and English, it's me. For lest we forget, Britain is less a nation than a sovereign state of four nations, four countries, four peoples...England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Yet, for all this talk of earthly nations, in the end there will only be one state remaining, another country, to quote from the famous British hymn, I Vow to Thee My Country, another country in which all distinctions of ethnicity and class will be a thing of the past, and all conflict consigned to the Lake of Fire to burn forever and ever.
And so the British Blues Explosion
My first school was a kind of nursery school held on a daily basis at the home of one Miss Pierce in Bedford Park.
But as the sixties were about to dawn, I joined the exclusive French Lycée in South Kensington, where I was to become bilingual within a matter of months. While it was early in the totemic decade of pop and youth culture that Pat Halling moved into the tough London session music world...where he was to record for film, television and the new popular music that had been recently sired by the Rock and Roll revolution.
And for much of the time he spent within this lucrative sphere, his main role was that of principal violin, or leader or concertmaster, traditionally in charge not just of the string section but the entire orchestra, and so answerable to the conductor alone. But he also served as the fixer contracted to recruit the players for a particular session.
In the meantime, Miss Ann Watt's musical life was put on hold while she concentrated on being the mother of two small boys, while supporting her husband in his various passions.
For example, she faithfully crewed for him for many years at the Tamesis Sailing Club in Teddington, West London, where he was a member for much of the sixties, winning several racing trophies initially in Firefly number 1588, while his career as a session player thrived.
According to what Pat has told me, he worked on early sessions for British musical sensations Lulu, Cilla Black and Tom Jones, as well as with superstar producers Tony Hatch and Mickie Most.
Hatch wrote most of Petula Clark's hit singles of the sixties, some alone, some with his wife Jackie Trent, and she went on to become a major star in the US as part of the so-called British Invasion of the American charts. And the same was true of several acts produced by Most; such as Herman's Hermits, whose angelic front man Peter Noone ensured his band were briefly almost as popular as the Beatles stateside.
Pat became close friends with both Most and composer-arranger John Cameron, the two men who helped turn Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan into an international superstar. And among those session musicians who played for Most in the early to mid '60s were Big Jim Sullivan, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, who also arranged for him.
And guitar virtuoso Page went on to join seminal British Rock band The Yardbirds, which had been initially managed by the impresario Simon Napier Bell, before being taken over by Most's business partner, Peter Grant.
When the Yardbirds collapsed in 1968, the two remaining members, namely Page and bassist Chris Dreja, set about forming a new band, the New Yardbirds, also to be managed by Grant.
While the super-talented Terry Reid, who was among those constituting what could be termed Page's first team of potential lead vocalists, turned him down, he yet recommended a 19 year old from the Midlands of England by the name of Robert Plant for the job.
Page duly travelled to Birmingham with Dreja and Grant to look the youngster over, and was impressed by what he saw. He then invited Plant to spend a few days with him at his home, the Thames Boathouse, in the beautiful little Berkshire village of Pangbourne for initial discussions related to the band.
And all this took place in the summer of '68, just months before I joined the Nautical College situated a few miles from the village itself.
So the New Yardbirds were born, but before long they'd mutated into Led Zeppelin, one of the most successful Rock bands of all time, and perhaps second only to the Rolling Stones in terms of legendary darkness and mystery.
It seems incredible that a force of such seismic power and influence as Led Zep should emerge from the relative innocence of the London Blues and session music scenes of the sixties, but then a similar thing could be said of British Rock as a whole.
So what was it that transformed an interest among young men of largely middle class origin in the bleak brooding music of the Blues into a musical movement that took the world by storm all throughout the '60s and beyond? That's not an easy question to answer, but I'm going to give it some sort of a go.
The Blues themselves may provide something of a solution to the puzzle, for in the shape of the British Blues boom they constituted one of the dominant tendencies within the Pop explosion of the 1960s.
Yet, far from proceeding from the Pop revolution inspired by the Beatles, the British Blues came long before it. In fact, they emerged from the Traditional Jazz revival of the late 1940s, although most Trad devotees decried the Blues as simplistic in comparison to Jazz.
The most beloved and fearful form of the Blues was the Delta Blues, whose spiritual homeland was the Mississippi Delta, a region lying between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, and stretching all the way from Memphis in the north to Vicksburg in the south.
With lyrics reflecting the sensuality, isolation and anguish of lost souls victimised by life and alienated from God, she found fertile soil in the still repressed United Kingdom of the late 1950s and early sixties. And especially in the affluent south among such passionate young men as Brian Jones from the spa town of Cheltenham in Gloucester; Eric Clapton from Ripley in suburban Surrey; and Jimmy Page from nearby Epsom, also in Surrey.
However, it's none of these legends, so much as a certain guitarist of Greek and Austrian ancestry by the name of Alexis Korner who's been called the Founding Father of the British Blues. And justifiably so, for more than anyone, he was the incubator of the British Blues Boom which was one of the great cornerstones of the entire Rock movement.
Korner began his musical career in 1949 as a member of Chris Barber's Jazz Band, but his love of the kindred but then lesser known music of the Blues led him to form Blues Incorporated in 1961. And he did so with several future Rock superstars, including Jack Bruce, most famous for his tenure with Blues-Rock legends Cream, and Charlie Watts, future sticks man for the Stones, both from a Jazz background. As was Brian Jones; for this was not unusual for the first generation of British Rock artists.
And in addition to those already mentioned, the list of future Rock and Roll stars who were drawn to Korner's regular Rhythm and Blues night at the Ealing Jazz Club in the early '60s included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Ginger Baker, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, and Paul Pond.
Pond, a tall, elegant Oxford undergraduate with the chiselled good looks of a Greek god, had been Brian Jones' first choice as lead vocalist for a projected Blues band, but apparently convinced the Blues had no future, he turned the young Cheltenham Welshman down.
He later resurfaced as Paul Jones, front man for former Jazz outfit Manfred Mann, one of the first generation of British Blues bands to achieve mainstream Pop success. And alongside Jones and Mann were Mikes Vickers and Hugg, and bass man Dave Richmond...soon to be replaced by Tom McGuiness, who'd begun his career in the Roosters with Eric Clapton.
While Clapton himself found fame with the Yardbirds which, like the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Who and the Spencer Davis Group surfed the first wave of British Blues and R&B all the way into the Pop charts.
But British Rock was fuelled not just by the Blues, but an effervescent fusion of Rock and Roll, Skiffle, R&B, Doo-Wop, Motown and Tin Pan Alley known as Beat. And Beat emerged principally from the tough industrial North and Midlands of England to form part of the great Pop revolution of '63 to '64, although it's doubtful the great record buying public had any notion of the difference between Beat and the Blues.
Yet there were those Pop musicians who clung doggedly to the Blues ethos, despite spectacular chart success. Such as Brian Jones of the Stones; and Eric Clapton, who forsook Pop stardom to seek refuge in Blues purist band Bluesbreakers...whose leader John Mayall played host to a veritable plethora of future Rock superstars at various stages of his career.
Another vital component of Pop that threatened to subvert Rock's evolution as an exclusive offshoot of the Blues was melody; which was the very element the Beatles made central to their music. And as the Rock revolution proceeded apace, it came to play as important a part in its music as rhythm.
And this was significantly attributable to the Beatles, who, in thrall to the nascent sounds of Motown, a form of R&B that had been heavily infused with a Pop sensibility, sought to emulate its exquisite romantic tunefulness.
They also imbued their early music with the sentimental sweetness of both Vocal and Latin Jazz and Canzone Napoletana; while all three songwriters were admirers of Classical Music.
Thence the Rock explosion emerged from several incredibly divergent areas to produce a veritable musical Babel. But lest we forget, it did not begin with the Beatles, for even the term Beat was first used in relation to Pop music as early as 1961.
For instance, in The Big Beat Scene by poet and writer Royston Ellis, Beat is used to describe the music of the first British Pop stars to emerge in the wake of Elvis. While the term Rock is used as shorthand for Rock and Roll in the selfsame tome.
In fact, by the time of the Beatles' first hit record in 1962, Rock had existed in Britain for at least five years, birthing a host of early superstars. Among these, song and dance men Tommy Steele and Joe Brown had brought a music hall element to the music; while Cliff Richard and the Shadows had preceded the Beatles as the quintessential British guitar band.
In other words, an entire spectrum of British Rock and Pop music had been established even before the Beatles had recorded their first hit record. But this is a truth that history has failed to sufficiently emphasize.
This Thrilling New Art Form
The Beatles are seen by some as the inventors of modern guitar Pop. While this is of course untrue, they are without doubt the best known and most successful Pop group in history. For it was they who consolidated and perfected British Pop, thereby laying the foundation for the entire Rock revolution.
Yet, while they began very much as a Pop group, in time, having resisted being typecast as mere Pop, they could be said to have birthed a special type of Art Rock founded on a vast variety of genres, including Classical music, Music Hall, Tin Pan Alley, Rock and Roll, Country and Western, Folk, Jazz, Motown, Soul and the Blues. But no less removed from pure Pop than the Blues-based Rock of their chief rivals the Stones.
While this might lead one to conclude that it was largely through their influence that Rock became the ultimate musical smorgasbord, this was only partly true, as I've already made clear.
Yet, during their brief few years of existence, they informed the development of Rock to a greater degree than any other group or solo singer. And that includes the Rolling Stones, for while the Stones' primal proto-Punk went on to constitute the basis of all forms of Hard Rock, even these have arguably benefited from the unrelenting melodic inventiveness of the Beatles.
In addition to those already mentioned, another of its chief sources was the Brill Building Sound, which thrived in that brief period between Elvis's induction into the US Army and the onset of Beatlemania. And during this era, the music's initial threat was neutralised by its co-option by teenage idols who, while heavily influenced by Elvis visually, had nowhere near the same devastating effect on the moral establishment.
Brill Building was named after the very building in New York City where many of its songwriters were housed and which since the '30s had been a centre for Pop music, a term allegedly coined as early as 1926.
Its music could be described as traditional Pop informed by the Rock and Roll revolution; and as such it exerted a massive if largely unsung influence on the evolution of Sixties Rock, with the Beatles covering several Brill Building songs in the early phase of their career.
Yet, while the Beatles remain indelibly associated with modern Pop, by the totemic year of '66, they were arguably as much a Rock as a Pop group; and their lyrics had started to acquire a marked intellectual dimension. And this was in no small part attributable to Bob Dylan.
For Dylan was a consciously intellectual figure who, in the fallow years immediately preceding the British Invasion, had mined the ancient American art of Folk Music for inspiration.
By so doing, he'd gained an international reputation as a poet-minstrel in the Protest tradition, and largely thanks to him, Pop had acquired a certain gravitas by the mid 1960s. And one which was strikingly at odds with the innocent and sentimental music of the early Beatles. Yet, the Beatles outgrew the Beat era with ease, while Beat itself was rendered obsolete by the depredations of Rock.
This thrilling new art form developed not just as a result of Dylan's influence as the first great poet of Rock, but an increasing musical complexity, possibly allied to a greater spiritual darkness. And while the Beatles led the field in terms of the former, the latter could be said to have arisen from a tougher element introduced into the music.
This came courtesy of such Blues-based outfits as the Stones, the Kinks, the Yardbirds, the Pretty Things and the Who, and the term Rock was somehow perfect in describing their powerful primal sound. However, when this moved in to supplant Pop as the critic's term of choice, it's impossible to say.
One thing is certain is that as soon as it did, Rock became far more than a mere music form. In fact I'd go so far as to say it was a way of life from the outset; a philosophy; even a religion, and as such, one of its prime tenets was rebellion against the traditional Judeo-Christian values of the West. So it's not surprising its spiritual homelands were Britain and the USA, given these are the nations most associated historically with the rise of Evangelical Christianity.
For despite having been inextricably linked to Pop since its inception, Rock is clearly more than just another form of popular music. And while it possesses very little ability left to shock, its rebel spirit, and the sexual and social upheavals it once spearheaded have altered the fabric of Western society, possibly beyond all hope of recovery.