GO PLACES – DO THINGS

GO PLACES – DO THINGS is a play by Tenzing Scott Brown.

GO PLACES – DO THINGS takes the form of the inaugural Roger Eagle Memorial Lecture given by Bill Drummond at the Bluecoat Chambers on Friday the 7th of June 2019.

GO PLACES – DO THINGS takes the form of a one act play acted out by three individuals, playing the part of Bill Drummond at various times through the play. 

These individuals may include: 

The actor Tam Dean Burn…

The “real” Bill Drummond 

and…

The actor Karen Young

Tam Dean Burn and Karen Young will be reading from a hand held manuscript. The “real” Bill Drummond may be doing his lines off the cuff. 

GO PLACES – DO THINGS begins with the “real” Bill Drummond walking onto the stage wearing his blue shirt, blue jeans and walking boots.

He is carrying a Dansette Monarch record player. 

He places it at the front of the stage. 

He plugs it into an extension lead that is already in place. 

He then puts on the record player a 7” copy of the record True To The Trail. 

True To The Trail is a tune written and recorded by the “real” Bill Drummond in 1986.

True To The Trail is also the “real” Bill Drummond’s theme tune.

While True To The Trail is playing… 

He leaves the stage. 

And returns with one of his large and bulky hand made easels.

He positions this to stage left, facing the audience.

He then leaves the stage again.

And returns with a stack of three of his battered chapel chairs that he uses when painting his text paintings.

He positions the chapel chairs at… 

Stage left. 

Stage right. 

And centre stage.

He then leaves the stage again.

And returns with three copies of the manuscript of this play.

He places a copy on each of the chairs. 

He then takes off… 

His walking boots…

His blue shirt…

His blue jeans…

And places them by the chair positioned in the middle of the stage.

He is now only wearing his vest, underpants and socks.

He then sits down on the stage left chair…

And starts to read through the manuscript.

And sends a text message.

Then… 

Tam Dean Burn enters the stage.

He is wearing black jeans, a white t-shirt and stocking soles.

He puts on the “real” Bill Drummond’s blue shirt, blue jeans… 

Over his own jeans and t-shirt.

And the walking boots on his feet.

He does not tie up the laces.

Tam Dean Burn is now in character as Bill Drummond.

He now leaves the stage.

He returns onto the stage carrying one of Bill Drummond’s large text paintings.

He places the painting on the easel facing the audience.

The painting is black and white.

And the words on the painting are…

GO PLACES – DO THINGS.

He then takes the needle out of the groove of the record playing True To The Trail 

And switches off the Dansette Monarch record player

Returns to the centre of the stage and…

Turns to the audience and…

Tam Dean Burn being Bill Drummond:

Good evening my name is William Ernest Drummond. 

And I was born on the 29th of April 1953.

That makes me 66 and five weeks old.

My sometime alter ego and arch nemesis is Tenzing Scott Brown. 

And I have no idea when he was born.

When I was first asked to do this lecture – and agreed to do it without thinking…

I didn’t even ask if I was going to be paid to do it.

Or how long it should be.

Still do not know how long it should be.

And still haven’t asked if I was going to be paid to do it.

Am I being paid to do it?

But…

I was honoured.

My ego was flattered.

I had at least a year’s worth of stories about Roger Eagle.

Both good and better…

Dark and darker…

This was going to be easy.

But…

Then last night I woke up before I had properly fallen asleep and thought: 

“Fuck the past. 

And fuck all those people who want to celebrate the past. 

And how it was all so much better then.

And if only the young folk could learn from the past.

Our past.

This city’s past.”

But…

I did fall asleep properly.

But…

Then I woke up again, about 3am I think.

And as I lay there trying to get back to sleep…

I had this idea that I should come in here today… 

And the first thing I should say… 

No not say… 

DEMAND! 

“Every one in the room that is over the age of 23 should leave the room now!”

Including myself, as all of us over the age of 23 are irrelevant. 

But… 

Before me leaving the room I would bring onto the stage one of my text paintings… 

And put it on my easel. 

And the words on the text painting would say GO PLACES – DO THINGS.

And then all of us in this room that are over the age of 23 would leave the room… 

Leaving behind all those under the ages of 23 to go places and do things. 

And that would be it.

My inaugural Roger Eagle Memorial Lecture would be done.

A conceptual lecture maybe.

And it would last as long as the concept would last.

How long do concepts last?

Anyway it would at least be a lecture that did not have to rely on well polished anecdotes from bygone eras. 

And there is part of me that still thinks that is what I should do.

As in tell everyone over the age of 23 to fuck off.

But I know I have not got the guts to do it.

So whoever is in this room that is 23 or under can you raise your arms.

And maybe a very few people raise their arms.

This is the compromise that I made with myself some time between 7am and 8am this morning:

I will not ask all those over the age of 23 to leave the room – including myself, but from here on in everything that I am about to say is going to be aimed at you. 

As in you under the age of 23.

That said, if there are any of you above the age of 23 that want to leave now, please do.

Some people in the audience get up and leave.

Here goes…

Actually there was something else that I should say now before going any further. Something that I thought of when waiting for the kettle to boil sometime between 7:31 and 7:46 this morning. That was, that maybe this lecture should not be a lecture but a play.

And this play would have the title GO PLACES – DO THINGS. 

And this play should be conceived and written by that sometime alter ego and arch nemesis of mine – Tenzing Scott Brown. 

And if that was the case, I better get into my Tenzing Scott Brown alter ego fast and start writing the play. 

So I did.

And once I started writing the play, I thought I better contact Tam Dean Burn, who is the actor who lives in Glasgow, and might be Scotland’s greatest living actor… 

And see if he can get on the train… 

And get down to Liverpool to play me in this play that was going to be performed tonight.

So I did. 

And I told him, he would not have to learn any lines, as there would be a manuscript on a chair waiting for him…

And he could just read it to the audience as if he was giving a lecture from notes prepared beforehand.

And just for the record, Tam Dean Burn has played me in several other of the plays that Tenzing Scott Brown has written.

And then I thought it might work better if it was not Tam Dean Burn acting me, but a young female actor. 

One under 23. 

One from Liverpool.

Maybe I should phone someone from the Everyman Youth Theatre and see if they could get someone to play me and read this out.

At this point in the play Karen Young walks onto the stage.

She is wearing black jeans, a white T-shirt and is in her stocking soles.

Tam Dean Burn takes off the blue shirt, blue jeans and walking boots.

He then sits down on the chair on stage right.

Karen Young puts on the blue jeans, blue shirt and walking boots, on top of her white T-shirt and black jeans.

She is now in character as Bill Drummond.  

The Karen Young being Bill Drummond faces the audience. 

And she begins her first shift in this play as Bill Drummond.

Karen Young being Bill Drummond:

On Merseyside anything of any lasting importance…

Or even fleeting importance… 

And at times fleeting importance is more important than lasting importance, has come from the minds and bodies of those under the age of 23.

Billy Fury wrote much of and recorded The Sound of Fury at the age of 18. This album is the greatest British rock’n’roll album of all time. 

Even Ringo Starr, the old man of The Beatles, was still only 22 when they had their first hit record. 

And George was still a teenager.

Gerry Marsden was 22 when he wrote Ferry Cross The Mersey

Cilla Black just 21 when she was at number one with Any One Who Had a Heart.

Pete Wylie only 20 when Wah Heat were formed.

Paul Simpson 21 when The Wild Swans first flew.

Ian McCulloch 19 when he wrote the words about the pictures on his wall that were about to swing and fall.

Andy McCluskey 19 when Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark were formed over on the Wirral in 1978.

Holly Johnson formed Frankie Goes to Hollywood when he was 20.

Pete Burns created Dead or Alive in 1980 when he was 20.

Lee Mavers formed The La’s in 1983 when he was 21.

James Skelly was just 16 when he formed The Coral

Even on the classical side of things Sir Simon Rattle was only 22 when he conducted his first Prom at the Royal Albert Hall.

Okay maybe there is one exception that proves the rule and that is Ian Prowse not forming Amsterdam until he was 35 and then not releasing Does this Train Stop on Merseyside until he was over 40.

But putting music aside and fleetingly bringing football into this:

Dixie Dean had just turned 18 when he signed for Everton. And by the time he was 21 had scored more goals in one season than any other footballer in the top flight of English football has ever done, before or since.

And not to leave Liverpool FC out, Trent Alexander-Arnold is right now only 20, thus making Steven Gerrard seem like a pensioner having to wait until he was 23 before becoming captain of his team.

So basically what I am saying is, if you are from Liverpool and you are over 23 with any sort of visions in music, or ambitions to being a football legend, or a cultural icon of any kind – forget it.

Go home now.

Get a proper job.

At this point Karen Young being Bill Drummond turns and looks at both Tam Dean Burn and the “real” Bill Drummond sitting on their chairs.

And…

At this point Tam Dean Burn gets up from his stool takes the manuscript from the young actor.

And Karen Young being Bill Drummond takes off the walking boots, blue jeans and blue shirt.

And Tam Dean Burn puts them back on.

And she sits down on her chair.

And the “real” Bill Drummond is still sitting on his chair reading the manuscript to himself and maybe making notes on it.

And sending text messages.

And Tam Dean Burn is now back in character as Bill Drummond.

And starts talking to the audience again with these following words…

Tam Dean Burn being Bill Drummond:

But Tam Dean Burn texted me back…

And he said he was up for doing the gig, if I could get him a train down to Liverpool for this evening. 

So I went on the Trainline app on my phone and got it sorted. 

But before I could text Tam Dean Burn back, he was already texting me about how he had found the Brutality Religion & A Dance Beat piece on the internet. 

Brutality Religion & A Dance Beat is the name of a story I wrote on hearing that Roger Eagle had just died of lung cancer. 

This was back in 1999.

And Tam told me in his text how he had seen Doctor Feelgood on the same tour, I wrote about in the story. 

Even texted me an image of the poster for it.

So I texted Tam back and told him I no longer had that pamphlet with the Brutality, Religion & A Dance Beat story in it. 

And couldn’t even remember what it was about, other than the Doctor Feelgood bit – so maybe when he is acting me, he should read it out.

But before I get into that, there is something else I want to tell you that sort of counters all that stuff about having to be under 23.  

A friend of mine from Liverpool…

Who I know is not here tonight…

Who goes by the name of Angie Sammons… 

Told me that it always takes the arrival of an outsider to make things happen in Liverpool. 

She said that if it were left to Liverpudlians, they would talk the talk, bicker and argue, shoot the breeze and the years would tick on by. 

And brag about what could have been. 

And bad mouthing whoever was not there. 

And anyway procrastinating is what Liverpudlians do best.

Or something like that.

And it was her that said it – not me.

And when she said “it always takes an outsider” she meant it in a way that it didn’t have to be someone who had come from somewhere else in the world geographical speaking. 

There were two of these major outsiders in the 1960s Liverpool that made a major difference. 

The first being Brian Epstein. 

And all though he was a Liverpudlian, him being both Jewish and gay, meant he had a complete outsider take on things.

And overview. 

And then there was that fellow Scot, Bill Shankly who dragged Liverpool FC from the old second division into being the “greatest team” in Europe. 

And that is what Roger Eagle did with us lot. 

As in Roger Eagle was from Oxford or somewhere. 

Proper southern. 

And he had already been around the block.

He invented Northern Soul in Manchester sometime in the 60s…

Before ending up in Liverpool about the same time as that almost Geordie, Bob Paisley was taking over the reigns at Anfield. 

And Roger Eagle lit a fuse.

And told us to “Go places and do things.”

So we did.

Sort of.

But…

Before telling you about one of those places and what was done there, I want to read something from this Brutality, Religion & A Dance beat thing that Tam Dean Burn reminded me about.

Tam Dean Burn as Bill Drummond then puts the manuscript for the play that he has been using down on a the central chair. 

And picks up a copy of Brutality, Religion & A Dance Beat. 

Looks at it.

Turns it over.

Thinks.

Then looks out at the audience.

I will just read a couple of bits from it.

Might jump around a bit.

Hope it makes sense.

Here goes…

Tam Dean Burn as Bill Drummond starts to read from the pamphlet.

October 1975… 

I was 22 and back in Liverpool, after a two year absence. 

Just started a new job. 

Building stage sets at the Everyman Theatre on Hope Street.

I had a room at the top of a rundown house in Fairfield Street off Prescot Road. 

Shared the kitchen and bathroom with a Karl Terry. 

Karl Terry had a band called The Cruisers. 

The Cruisers also lived in the house. 

Karl Terry and The Cruisers were also-rans in the Mersey Beat boom of the early sixties. 

Not only was Karl Terry fuelled with a bitterness that he was not John Lennon, but Karl Terry and The Cruisers were not even… 

The Searchers, 

The Swinging Blue Jeans 

or 

Gerry and the Pacemakers. 

This meant they were not able to make a lucrative living on the Mersey Beat nostalgia package tours that had been going ever since the genre had outstayed its Hitsville welcome.


Karl Terry and his Cruisers eked out a living playing working-men’s clubs across Merseyside. 

Karl also regaled me late into the nights about what an arsehole John Lennon was 

And what a crap live band The Beatles were.

At 22 I had long since lost any interest I may have had in contemporary pop. 

It was the arse end of progressive 

And the Bowie / Bolan axis held no interest for me. 

I was just too old for all that stuff. 

Each weekday morning I got the number 78 into work. 

I was still young enough for the top-deck front seat to be my one of choice.

One Monday morning I found a bundle of magazines on the seat next to me. The first thing I noticed about the magazine was the word FREE on the cover. Back then the world was not awash with giveaway papers, magazines and periodicals stuffed with meaningless adverts and column inches full of shit that nobody reads.

Back then for something to be free was a radical statement. Almost like burning the Stars and Stripes or smashing down the gates of the Bastille.

The only other words on the cover other than FREE were ‘Trumpet’, ‘Last’ and ‘The’. 

If The Last Trumpet was the name of this magazine it was the best name for a magazine I had ever heard. 

It instantly resonated with something deep and lost. 

A clarion call from the edge of time.

Looking round first to make sure no fellow travellers thought I was nicking one of these free Last Trumpets, I picked up a copy. 

On opening it up I was disappointed to find that it was not packed with revolutionary rhetoric, there was no call to arms, it was just stuff about local bands, adverts for record shops and gig lists. 

Then I turned to the back cover. 

This was taken up by a black and white photo of a man who looked and dressed like he had just escaped from the high-security ward of a mental hospital. 

Whatever this man was or did he was my instant hero. 

The intense and demented stare, the crap haircut, the bad suit all screamed “I am Legend, worship only me.” 

And I did. 

Under the picture was one word WILKO. 

What this word referred to I had no clear understanding. 

While Tam Dean Burn as Bill Drummond is reading this out and intends to carry on reading this out from Brutality, Religion & A Dance Beat, the “real” Bill Drummond is busy sending and receiving text messages. And for the sake of clarity, he is still sitting on the chair towards stage left and he is still only dressed in his vest, underpants and socks. He then turns toward Tam Dean Burn as Bill Drummond and…

The “real” Bill Drummond:

Tam, you better stop there…

Tam Dean Burn is now out of character as Bill Drummond and is now having to play himself, even though he is still dressed in the “real” Bill Drummond’s blue shirt, blue jeans and walking boots.

Tam Dean Burn:

What?

The “real” Bill Drummond:

I have just had a couple of text messages. 

The first was from Angie Sammons…

Tam Dean Burn:

Angie Sammons?

The “real” Bill Drummond:

She was the woman that told me about how it takes outsiders to get Liverpudlians to do anything. 

I sent her the script for this play. 

And she tells me that I am totally misquoting her. 

And if it were to get out that she supposedly said this stuff her life in Liverpool would not be worth living. 

Or something to that affect.

Tam Dean Burn:

Well it’s too late now…

The “real Bill Drummond:

Yeah I know, she said she was going to text me back with what she actually said but…

Tam Dean Burn:

What?

The “real” Bill Drummond:

Well, I got another text from Craig Pennington.

It was Craig who asked me to give this lecture in the first place, and he had no idea it was going to be a play. 

Well anyway he tells me the lecture was supposed to be only 30 to 40 minutes long. 

And I based all of this on us having an hour to do the play.

Tam Dean Burn:

So what are you saying?

The “real” Bill Drummond:

Well I guess we should cut to the end piece about me not playing the guitar on…

Tam Dean Burn: 

But I haven’t even got to the bit in the story about kids smashing up the Liverpool Stadium and Roger Eagle in his red shirt. 

And him telling you in 1977 that all great music has to contain the three elements of brutality, religion and a dance beat. 

And…

The “real” Bill Drummond:

Okay but if people want to know about that, they can find it on the internet like you did. 

I suggest we go straight to where Karen is telling the Dead White Man story.

The “real” Bill Drummond looks over to where Karen Young is sitting. 

Is that okay with you Karen?

Karen nods.

You will have to change over the clothes first.

Tam Dean Burn being Bill Drummond now takes off the walking boots, blue jeans and blue shirt.

And Karen Young puts them on.

She is now back as Karen Young being Bill Drummond.

She moves to the centre of the stage.

Tam Dean Burn sits on the chair to stage right.

Karen Young being Bill Drummond:

When I first came to Liverpool as an art student in 1972, I was 19.

Me and three other art students rented a place above a shop in Windsor Street. 

There was no heating.

No hot water.

And just an outside bog. 

But we did have a room each.

It cost us seven quid a week between us.

Our landlord was called Bernie.

He fancied himself as a gangster.

He would turn up every Monday and we would pay him the rent in cash.

Everything was cash then.

And for some reason we took the piss out of him.

Even though he fancied himself as a gangster.

And as far as he was concerned we were all Wooly Backs.

Each of us were from far off rural parts of the land.

From so far away, we didn’t even know what Wooly Backs were.

Then sometime in March 1973 we got busted by the police.

They searched the place.

They found wraps of white powder under my bed.

And my mate from Devon’s bed.

Us two were arrested.

And charged with dealing drugs.

We had good cop and a bad cop.

Bad Cop would tell us that he would make sure we would go down for three years.

Good Cop would tell us that if we told them everything he could get us off with community service.

And they both told us Liverpool does not need smelly, dirty art students bringing drugs into their city corrupting the local youth etc…

The drugs were not ours.

We didn’t even smoke dope.

But nobody believed us.

Not even the Students Union would help us.

But then things changed.

Suddenly the police did believe us.

Because our Bernie was a wanted criminal for all sorts of things.

Suddenly we were in court as the witnesses.

It seemed that our Bernie was a gangster after all.

And it was Bernie that was going to go down.

But Bernie had a solicitor and a barrister.

I did not know what such things were.

According to his solicitor and barrister…

We were educated posh types slash dirty decadent art students, that were taking advantage of the good will of an honest hard working Scouser.

The case was postponed.

Or at least Bernie was out on bail.

The conditions of his bail was that he could not go near us or the flat in Windsor Street.

So we went out to celebrate.

And the next day we went home for our Easter holidays.

But when we came back two weeks later we found that the terms of Bernie’s bail had been changed.

And we had not been told.

It seemed that his solicitor had convinced those that made the decisions that Bernie renting out the flat in Windsor Street was his only way of him making an honest living. 

We turned up in Windsor Street to find that Bernie was now renting out the place to a family. 

And all our furniture… 

And record player… 

And all my record collection… 

And clothes were inside… 

And being rented out as part of it being a furnished property.

And the Students Union would not help us.

And it was then that I lost all interest in being a student.

And whatever was going on in art school seemed meaningless compared to what was going on in the real world. 

So I quit.

And I got on with real life.

I went places.

And did things.

I spent the next twenty-six years going places and doing things.

Then I hear that Roger Eagle has died.

Roger Eagle cannot die.

So in the small hours I drive…

The 178 miles from my small farm in rural Buckinghamshire 

To Liverpool…

In my Land Rover.

I arrive at dawn.

And I find a wall on Bolton Street.

That’s round the back of Lime Street.

And out the back of my Land Rover I get… 

A bucket of white paint…

And paint brush.

And on the wall I paint three words…

As large as I can…

DEAD WHITE MAN

It was done in honour of Roger Eagle.

And everything I learnt from him.

And didn’t learn from him.

And then I got back in the Land Rover 

And drove the 178 miles back to my small farm.

Three nights later there was a knock at my door.

There were two policemen there.

They apologised 

They said it must be a mistake.

But it was their job to follow things up.

It seemed there was a man who painted the words…

DEAD WHITE MAN 

On a wall in Liverpool…

And a witness wrote down the registration number of a Land Rover…

And the said Land Rover is registered at my address.

They apologised again for wasting my time…

And it must be a mistake.

But I said: 

“It’s a fair cop.”

Two weeks later I am in court in Liverpool.

My solicitor in London recommended a solicitor in Liverpool.

It was not until the day of the trial that I met the Liverpool solicitor.

I recognised him immediately.

It was the same solicitor that represented Bernie 26 years earlier.

His name was Rex Makin.

He had already warned me that it was going to be a heavy fine…

I mean the words DEAD WHITE MAN on a wall in Liverpool looked like some one was being threatened with murder…

And I was doing the threatening.

So this solicitor that I recognised from 26 years earlier had got me the best barrister in Liverpool.

This barrister had to prove to the court that I was not threatening to murder someone…

And I was just a confused middle-aged man…

And had led a complicated life… 

And was a bit muddled with the world…

And meant no harm…

I got away with only getting an eleven hundred quid fine and the costs of having the wall repainted.

But that was nothing compared to the bill from Rex Makin and the barrister.

But all that was the start of something else altogether…

While Karen Young being Bill Drummond is reciting all of the above The “real” Bill Drummond has been sitting on his chair sending and receiving text messages. 

He stands up.

And…   

The “real” Bill Drummond:

Sorry Karen, I will have to stop you there, I have just had this text from Craig Pennington who invited me to give this Inaugural Roger Eagle Memorial Lecture. He is telling me that Bryan Biggs from the Bluecoat was supposed to give me an introduction.

Then the “real” Bill Drummond addresses the hall.

If Bryan Biggs is here, can he come up and give his introduction. 

Then after he has done that I will spend a couple more minutes rounding all of this up.

Bryan Biggs comes up out of the audience.

Climbs onto the stage.

And gives his introduction.

Bryan Biggs:

This is the first time I have introduced someone – or in this case three ‘someones’ – during, rather than at the start of, an event.

Most of what you have already heard is true. Bill did come to Liverpool in 1972 to study fine art at the Art School on Hope Street. I know, because so did I. We spent the first term in the life room being forced to draw the naked model, by Welsh expressionist landscape tutor Peter Prendergast. To draw and draw until the paper surface was no more.

We were inspired by visiting lecturers like Gavin Bryars at an art school annexe that was referred to as ‘The Deaf School’ on Oxford Street. It was here that the archetypal art school band of that name was formed…

And while Bryan Biggs is doing his introduction…

Karen Young is getting out of the boots, jeans and shirt and…

The “real” Bill Drummond is putting them on.

And Bryan Biggs continues…

After a year on our course, Bill had vanished from the art school, which had recently become part of Liverpool Polytechnic, which would, in turn, become John Moores University. Even then, in 1973, Bill could see the way higher education was heading – and jumped ship.

After running into Bill again working on the production of The Illuminatus Trilogy by Ken Campbell’s Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool in Matthew Street in 1976, music was – from then on – where he was most likely to be encountered: Eric’s, Big in Japan, the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, Zoo Records etc.   

At Jump Ship Rat, the name of an independent artists’ space on Parr Street, after Roger Eagle had died, Bill built a massive set of wooden shelves, housing Roger’s record collection: a homage to the dead white man. The sculptural installation was part of the fringe programme of the first Liverpool Biennial in 1999.

Bill has made many forays into the art world – an interloper, a provocateur, sometimes invited in, but always following his own path. Here at Bluecoat, he has presented work in exhibitions, as fly-posters, and as live presentation, including selling to the audience for a $1 each, fragments of a photograph and text work by the famous English land artist Richard Long that he had bought for $20,000 and was now cutting up into twenty thousand little squares.  But that’s another story. 

Now, back to the play…

The “real” Bill Drummond:

On the evening of the 5th of May 1977…

Kev Ward, Phil Allen, Clive Langer and myself met up in The Grapes, Mathew Street.

Clive was the guitarist with Deaf School.

Phil was one of their roadies and the brother of Enrico Cadillac.

Kev designed their sleeves.

And I was designing stage sets for theatre.

We were wanting a pint before heading down into Eric’s to see what The Clash were all about.

At our table in the snug were a couple of familiar faces.

The faces belonged to Allan Williams.

And Bob Wooler.

Allan Williams was the infamous manager of The Beatles before Brian Epstein.

Bob Wooler was, as you may already know, the DJ in The Cavern…

Back when The Cavern was The Cavern. 

Allan Williams had also been my landlord.

We all knew each other.

We get talking.

Deaf School were heading off to the USA in the morning.

It was to be their first US tour.

They were leaving all their crew and gear behind.

We were talking about punk and…

Bob Wooler told Kev, Phil and myself…

In no uncertain terms…

That the three of us have to form a band…

Allan Williams confirmed this and…

Clive Langer tells us that we could use their equipment and rehearsal space while Deaf School were in the USA.

Pints drained…

And we went and experienced The Clash.

They were the final shot in the arm that Liverpool needed.

And the next day we started rehearsing.

Phil Allen came up with the riff…

Kev came up with the title…

And I came up with the chord changes…

The following Friday we had our first gig.

That first song was Big In Japan.

And that became the name of the band.

Phil was the drummer.

Kev the bass player.

I was the guitarist.

Kev and I did the vocals in unison.

Three months later we had done dozens of gigs.

Jayne Casey had joined us as the front woman.

Roger Eagle had become our manager.

Roger Eagle ran Eric’s.

But that August I went on a two week camping journey through Brittany in France.

And while there I saw the headlines on a French tabloid…

ELVIS MORT.

Elvis had died.

Elvis was my beginning.

He was never my Beatles.

But he was my Elvis.

Elvis was immortal.

But Elvis was dead.

How could this be?

I returned from the journey through Brittany to find that Roger Eagle had sent Big In Japan to record a record. 

And had told Clive Langer to play my parts.

This had happened on the same day that Elvis had died.

I was devastated.

You can only make your first record once.

And I had not even played on it.

I did not hold this against Roger Eagle.

Or Clive Langer.

Or the rest of the band.

Things move fast.

Should move fast.

Must move fast.

And Elvis had died.

ELVIS MORT.

That for me was the reason behind this. 

But added to this…

The record was shite.

I mean totally fuckin’ crap.

Maybe the worst record ever made.

I had so many plans for how we should record this song.

Our theme song.

There were the verses about having… 

We’ve got thirteen records in the Turkish top ten

Cause we are Big in Japan

Yeah we are Big in Japan.

And we haven’t made a record since I don’t know when…

Cause we are Big in Japan

Yeah we are Big in Japan.

Big – Like the rising sun

Big – Yes we’re number one

Big…

Big…

Big, Big, Big, Big, Big, Big, Big Big.

Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig

Then there was to be the verse about having 17 wives and 23 kids, cause we are Big in Japan.

And there was to be the orchestral part.

And the massive choral chorus.

It should have been Shel Talmy meets Phil Spector.

It should have been one of the five greatest British punk rock records of the era.

Or at the very least the record that proclaimed the beginning of Post Punk

And gave Liverpool a new anthem.

You’ll Never Walk Alone could be finally ditched into the Mersey.

But there was none of that.

Just the shittiest record ever made.

With the shittiest sleeve ever seen.

And it was all too late.

Elvis was dead.

And there was nothing I could do about it.

And every thing that I have been involved with musically since then…

Zoo Records…

Working with The Bunnymen and The Teardrops…

And all the other stuff that followed from there…

Even The17.

Has been driven by one thing.

And that one thing is to make up for the fact that I did not get to play on my first record.

And that first record was not an epoch defining moment.

And over the months and years and decades since then, I at least once a week indulge in fantasies about re-recording Big in Japan by Big in Japan.

That said, over the years the re-imagining what it would sound like has evolved and changed.

Up until last week, I was still planning on doing a version of it performed by Liverpool Cathedral Choir – but I never got my shit together on that front.

This morning I learnt that Karen Young – she being the woman sitting on that chair there…

The “real” Bill Drummond points at the woman who has been playing him on stage for the past almost hour.

I learnt that Karen sings traditional Scottish songs and accompanies herself on her violin. So I asked her if she might listen to the shittiest record ever made on You Tube. So she could learn it and play it as the closing moment.

It I guess will be the antitheses of the overblown versions I fantasised about, but I think it might be the most fitting way to end this inaugural Roger Eagle Memorial Lecture.

Thank you very much…

And please welcome Karen Young making of Big in Japan by Big in Japan what she will.

The “real” Karen Young stands up and plays and sings Big in Japan.

While the “real” Bill Drummond reads a text message on his phone.

The End

Post Script:

The “real” Bill Drummond:

And just for the record, Angie Sammons did text me back.

She says:

“But nobody embraces an outsider like they do in Liverpool, and when the pollen from another place blows in, there is a transformation. The creative magic occurs and nobody is quite the same any more. And that’s an alchemy you won’t find anywhere else.”

The “real” End

*                *                *

From here on in, it is just background information:

The five greatest British Punk Rock records should have been:

New Rose by The Damned – October 1976

Anarchy In the UK by The Sex Pistols – November 1976

Boredom by The Buzzcocks – January 1977

Big in Japan by Big in Japan – September 1977

Oh Bondage Up Yours by X-Ray Spex – September 1977 

But they were:

Anarchy In the UK by The Sex Pistols – November 1976

New Rose by The Damned – October 1976

Boredom by The Buzzcocks – January 1977

White Riot by The Clash – March 1977

Oh Bondage Up Yours by X-Ray Spex – September 1977

*                *                *

The Merseyside Under 23s

Billy Fury (1940) wrote much of and recorded The Sound of Fury at the age of 18. This album is the greatest British rock’n’roll album of all time. 

Even Ringo Starr (1940), the old man of The Beatles, was still only 22 when they had their first hit record

And George was still a teenager.

Gerry Marsden (1942) was 22 when he wrote Ferry Cross The Mersey

Cilla Black (1943) just 21 when she was at number one with Any One Who Had a Heart.

Pete Wylie (1958) only 20 when Wah Heat were formed.

Paul Simpson (1958) 21 when The Wild Swans first flew.

Ian McCulloch (1959) 19 when he wrote the words about the pictures on his wall that were about to swing and fall.

Andy McCluskey 19 when Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark were formed over on the Wirral in 1978.

Holly Johnson (1960) formed Frankie Goes to Hollywood when he was 20.

Pete Burns (1959) created Dead or Alive in 1980 when he was 20.

Lee Mavers (1962) formed The La’s in 1983 when he was 21.

James Skelly (1980) was just 16 when he formed The Coral

Even on the classical side of things Sir Simon Rattle (1955) was only 22 when he conducted his first Prom at the Royal Albert Hall.

Okay maybe there is one exception that proves the rule and that is Ian Prowse not forming Amsterdam until he was 35 and then not releasing Does this Train Stop on Merseyside until he was over 40.