What gets your motor running?

20th June 2008 at 01:00
Progressive rock might not have existed had it not been for my school friend Brian's elder brother
Progressive rock might not have existed had it not been for my school friend Brian's elder brother. He was in a band called Clouds and is cited as an influence on Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman.

At this point, your reaction may be "Who?", "What a hero!" or "He's got a lot to answer for."

Brian, the cleverest kid in our year by far, was also musically gifted. In second year, at the end of term, he brought his Rolf Harris stylophone into school. Our maths teacher let him play it and remarked that a talent for music was often accompanied by a talent in her own subject. When I had a shot of the stylophone, she remarked that perhaps it was time it went back in its box.

While the rest of the boys were into The Sweet, Status Quo and Nazareth and pretending not to like the Bay City Rollers, Brian had moved on to Genesis and Yes. I was unappreciative, especially of the latter. Fast wind to the present. It was only when ironing, accompanied by the Planet Rock radio station, which chose to play one of the group's shorter pieces, that I discovered my old friend might have been on to something. I duly bought a compilation. I like the CD, though The B-52s (recommended by another pal) are more suitable for the M9 spur on a sunny morning.

I owe Brian for more than educating me musically. He never lost touch with any of his old girl friends, even the ones he went out with for a week or less, which was most of them. One, Kathleen, he invited to a pub night which I went along to in the early 1980s. Kathleen and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this year.

The second most important thing he did for me was to be a nice guy who was brighter than I was. I left primary school with a dux medal. A year into high school and I discovered that, smart though I was, I wasn't the smartest and the person who was the smartest was also more modest and unassuming. My ego thus sailed more gently on the topographic ocean that is secondary school life.

Gregor Steele is worried that he is becoming Compilation Man.

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