Alien Skin undressed: starting with the beginning
Spread over 3 parts and 3 blog posts, I trace my musical development from initially being disinterested in music as a child, to my obsession with bands and the passionate addiction to writing & creating music myself a few years later, through to Real Life and Alien Skin today.
Part One: irony
Considering my chosen path later in life, ironically I resolutely avoided and disliked pop music as a young child in the '60s. Born in 1959, I first went to school in the decade that would later have the biggest impact upon me musically and personally, but I didn't know this till much later.
I vividly recall being aware of some of the radio hits at the time, songs like Petula Clarke's 'Downtown' and a small number of others. I was aware of the Beatles and the Beatles' cartoon series but kept it all at arms length. I guess coming from a migrant background (my family migrated to Australia from Greece in November 1962) the cultural origins of my father and mother clashed with the new world, and for a number of those early years of development I followed their lead.
Slowly at the age of eleven I began a curious interest in music, beginning with Simon & Garfunkel's beautiful masterpiece 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. It was a record my 6th grade teacher played in class in order to discuss its lyrical content. I was mesmerised by the song; the melody haunted me for months afterwards; I fell head-over-heels over it and quickly began searching out other Simon & Garfunkel songs. The folk duo was my first musical love and I bought a compilation LP album, released in 1970, featuring many of their early hits like 'Sound Of Silence', 'Scarborough Fair/Canticle' and others. I treasured this new acquisition, and played it repeatedly on my parent's furniture size gramophone.
During one of those listening classes at school, where we were encouraged to bring our own albums along for possible play and discussion, one of my classmates brought the new Beatles LP 'Let It Be'. This would instigate the greatest transformation in my young life so far. After consciously having avoided all interest in the 'biggest band in the world' I began to slowly be seduced. It took a further few months, well into 1971, before I became addicted, and from that point my life began to change.
Below is a 1972 photo from that early era, with a school friend.
Do you recognize me in my school uniform? I'm on the right.
The Beatles became my alter ego, and like many that came before me, and after me, they represented everything I wanted to be and achieve. Historically, never had an entertainment act become such a phenomenon globally, successful with the public and critics alike. The Beatles seemed to reflect the changing forces and attitudes in our society within the 60s, inspiring so many people due to their enormous appeal. And at the same time producing some of the most memorable, innovative and influential music, both artistically and commercially. I wanted to achieve nothing less:)
As a youngster, just beginning my teen years, I had little spending money, only what my parents gave me to buy lunch at school and a little extra on the weekend. So I devised a plan which lasted a year or two, in which I didn't buy lunch but saved the money instead. This was unknown to my parents of course, they would have been rather upset! I brought along savory biscuits from home or whatever I could find, without my mum knowing, to lessen my hunger. Every 17 days, as I had originally calculated, I was able to afford a new vinyl LP album of The Beatles. In those days an LP cost $5.95 (Australian dollars). That's how I collected their entire body of work.
It's a long way from today's technology where one, even someone of the same age as I was in the early 70s, can quickly download an artist's complete body of work, legally or illegally, with just a few clicks of a mouse button. Times they sure have a'changed and it appears there's little patience anymore to earn your acquisitions and therefore treasure and value them more.
In the years since that period though, I have lost, sold or given away about 99% of my vinyl collection; the only LP's I still have and cannot part with are those original Beatles LP's; they have a value for me which is intangible yet immeasurable as I struggled and sacrificed to obtain them. This was the period in which my interest and obsession with music and more importantly, creating music, was first and forever set in concrete!
Other artists I loved as a youngster in the early 1970s were bands and performers such as Slade, David Bowie, T-Rex, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Don McLean, The Kinks, The Who, Rolling Stones, Elton John, and an assortment of others that elude me at present. It was such an electric period for me, possibly the most exciting era as I feel I came out of a formless, interest-less childhood and began a personal transformation that led to pre-adulthood where dreams started to be forged.
This concludes Part One of the unfolding of my past and remembering the key moments that changed my world and brought me to where I am today, musically. Part Two will feature my development from this point onwards, playing guitar & performing in rock bands. I will also include some archive garage recordings from that 70s period.
Click to read part 2 of this series