Stop press! I’ve started performing in the street again
(Dear reader, we will transport you back to Turkey in 1978 shortly,
but things are happening in London 2021, which are claiming our attention.)
This is me performing by myself outside Earls Court Station.
So where is Bongo Mike? Well I’m recording this in September 2021, and the sad fact is that Bongo Mike passed away in June last year 2020.
It’s taken me this long to get used to it, but you get over these things because you have to. Of course, a friendship and artistic partnership of the best part of fifty years doesn’t just vanish from your mind overnight; but now I’ve started busking again, I’m by myself, and I’ve had to work out a new act. I’m accustomed to having percussion going on with me as I’m playing the guitar, so I arrived at the conclusion that I should now provide it myself with a bass drum and foot-pedal, turning myself for the purpose of street playing into a one man band.
When I first came to London in the 70’s there were several one man bands operating in the street. I think it was the success of Don Partridge, who genuinely started his career as a busker and had a couple of hit records in the late 60’s as a one man band, that inspired others in London to try it as well. I knew Scotty and Herman the German, and there were others.
I’ve taken a slightly different approach from these others I’ve just mentioned, in that they all strapped their drum on their back and played guitar while standing, whereas I’m sitting with the drum in front of me – more in the way a drummer would. Don’t suppose it alters the sound much, but it’s a different theatrical effect. And playing music in the street is of course partly theatre.
As you can see below, I’m also starting to perform with harpist Mal Collins, whom I met at a workshop run by jazz vocalist Maggie Nicols. You might call us “One Man Band + One”
And you may have noticed that I’m a fan of Buddy Holly, who performed both these two songs. They seem to work well in the street.
But finally…. this below is another song Mal has joined me on, Singing The Blues. Three singers had hits with it in late 1956/57, Marty Robbins, Guy Mitchell and Tommy Steele – a little before my time, but it was one of the songs Mike liked to play in our early years of busking together, so I made its acquaintance then.