How did I start playing guitar? Well by accident really! It was 1969 and I was ten years old. My folks were obsessed with attending auctions at the local sale rooms, they had two or three self catering flats they used to let out to holiday makers, and used to pretty well furnish them completely at knock down prices from ‘Francis Pittis’ auctioneers. Anyway I was usually dragged along to the dusty smelly showrooms to hunt bargains, and on one occasion I spotted a dilapidated old guitar....what I now know to have been an old German ‘parlor’ acoustic.....filthy and with the headstock broken clean off. I don’t know why but I nagged my Mum and Dad rotten until they put a ‘four bob’ bid in on the pile of junk, and a couple of days later Dad brought it home. To be honest by the time I got my hands on it I had lost interest and gone back to my perennial pastime out of school hours if building Airfix models! The old Instrument sat forlorn in the corner of my bedroom for several months, until my Mother got fed up with blowing the dust off of it and relegated it to the loft.
There it might have languished but for a chance event.....I had an older cousin called Cheryl, she was about sixteen or seventeen and what I suppose you would call a hippy .... all cheese cloth skirts and feather boas! I suppose even at the age of innocent age of ten , I could see something alluring about this attractive young female......especially as she never ever seemed to wear a bra, unlike all the other females that surrounded me. When it was suggested therefore that she might like to take me (a bit of a sickly child) on the odd outing in her old, but quite extravagantly painted, Morris Oxford I was glad to go along.
This was how I came to be stood a year later in a field with 600,000 other people in the early hours of the last day of August. An eleven year old boy smuggled into one of the most significant music events in history by a gaggle of stoned teenagers to be spellbound by Jethro Tull, then completely thunderstruck by James Marshall Hendrix. It was the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, the summer of love was past and the mercurial career of probably the greatest guitar innovator there will ever be would soon end in tragedy. But that night burned into my soul and changed something in me forever.
Cheryl and her friends got into terrible trouble with my parents for keeping me out all night, but I had been infected with something far worse than a chill from the night air............all I could think about were guitars and playing, and the old acoustic was dug from the loft and hasty repairs were made. I remember thinking I was going to take on the world.....well when I learned to play I would anyway!