Dreams

07/30/04

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Every Young Boy Should have a Dream

A few words about the band leader.

 

At the age of five I was in a shop in Blacktown and found a small wooden Xylophone which I began to play. I could make a tune and my mother could hear me playing. When she discovered it was me playing she seems surprised that I could play so well. Later that year I got the Xylophone as a part of my Christmas presents and so I owned my first musical instrument. I thank my mum and dad for the early and on going encouragement with my musical career.

 

Some of my aunts and uncles were musical, mainly playing the piano, although aunty Con was a true club entertainer during the '60 with her Al Jolson mime act. Music always seemed to be a part of my familyís life. Life was great.

Like all young boys during the '60s I would spend time with few friends, some of whom also played musical instruments. One of my earliest recollections is of Steve Apps who played guitar in a band called the Magpies. They were group of pre teenagers who got some guest appearances on television before Johnny Young's Young Talent Time started. With influences like this I want to take the guitar. Once again Mum & Dad come to party and I got my first Acoustic Guitar Christmas 1967.

It wasn't long before I was writing songs that weren't too bad and wanting to get an electric guitar and amp. My first Band was "the wax" and my electric guitar was my acoustic guitar plugged in to a tape-recorder with a microphone shoved in the sound hole. We practiced in Paul's parents garage, the tape-recorder balanced on his dadís step ladder and Paul playing his loan snare drum (thatís all he could afford). Barry the other guitarist didn't have an amp which was a good thing because he couldn't play at all. Barry left a week or two later. Itís hard to believe that practice in Paul's' garage would get so loud that the police would come and ask us to turn it down. Didn't they know my guitar on had two settings on and off.

After awhile Steve join us as a bass player. He became quite good and eventually spent some years playing professionally on cruise ships. Paul tried to play drums and actually got some more drums to go with his snare drum but couldn't really cut it as a drummer. He was a good mate but not a good drummer. I found Martin who could actually play, so for the most of the rest of my high school life I played with Steve & Martin playing at a few functions but practicing every weekend. The band went through a few different names but I don't remember many of them. I know we went under the name Klaxen for a while ( I think it was the only word I knew from my French lessons at Mitchell High School).

We played at friendís parties and once played at the school concert. It was a big deal and I sung a song that made the deputy principals face go red. It was tough getting recognition as a guitarist at High School as we had a professional Guitarist who played with a band called "The Click" He later  became a session musician and was backing guitarist  for a few John English records.

Despite this I still had a dream to be a good lead guitarist with a band and did play with several other bands, some of which had some notoriety in the local music scene. The year before I left school I meet Jesus in a very real way which changed my desire to make deputy principals face go red. This changing of priorities and entering the work force, as with most school friends, caused me to loose touch with my original musical friends. As mentioned earlier Steve the base player go a job playing in a band with a cruise line. Paul the first drummer died at the a few years after leaving school and Martin perused his own life.

Late in 1970 the Jean Jefferies crusade came to Blacktown and thee young men Terry, Ken, & Barry came along and later come to the Anglican Church I was now attending. They were long-haired youths who didn't best fit the hat and glove wearing people of Christ Church Blacktown, but neither was I. We soon made friends and while I was the only person with a musical background and an instrument, we still decided to start a band. I had already been through  teaching the band members how to play a bit in my first band so I could do it again.

Terry was going to be the singer as he wasn't going to play an instrument and Ken and Barry both wanted to be Drummers. Hey a band with two drummers would be good right? Well it was Christmas time and Ken was going to Queensland for holidays. When he returned Barry had already gone out and purchased a Drum Kit. Ken was miffed but bass was all that was left. I think Terry only lasted a few weeks as our singer so the lead singing was left to me.

We practiced almost every weekend and at first it was pretty hard going given that I was the only one who have ever played before. But things came together. Barry was quite good a writing words to songs and I could always put them to music. Much of our music was our own which meant you couldn't compare our version with the original as we were the original.

Our music was heavily influenced by the heavy bands of the time, like Back Sabbath so when it came time to work out a name for the band After Forever seem to fit just right. It encompassed our Heavy Rock theme with our Christian Beliefs and so was born the band called "After Forever" - the Blacktown edition.

The true early band was me as lead singer and lead guitarist, Ken on Bass and Barry on drums. Later we invited David who was and excellent keyboard player to join so as to fill out our sound. That's how the band got started and was pretty much that way musically for quite a while. I found singing and playing hard so when Martin came along and joined up as lead singer I  was happy to just play and lead the band.

From and early beginnings with my acoustic guitar and tape-recorder amp to owning a Gibson SG and JMP Marshall amp was quite a step up. What money we earnt from playing at gigs always went into better equipment, although I spent quite a bit extra over the years.

Looking back I can only say that being apart of any of the bands I've played with have helped to make me a better person because I have had some goals in my life. I played with these great guys from the early 70's until I got married in Ď76 and had a year off then finally left around the time my second daughter was born in 82.

I didn't play for a long time. I missed playing but life was too busy. I had a wife and family. I was running a business too and there was just no time to spend practicing every Saturday like I used to.

Quite a few years later I was asked to pay lead guitar in a Musical produced by Bob Burrell. It was called the Great Praise Meeting and I really enjoyed the time paying with the guys and getting to play my Gibson again. Including practices this only lasted months but still it was good to get back into it again. We play at several Sydney and Canberra  locations. When it was over it was back to being too busy again to be involved in music.

I spent much of my time developing my career in the computer industry working long hours or on various church committees or other similar activities. I had another long period of not playing. I was probably in my early forties when someone asked me to play with them in the evening service at our local church. I was pleased to do this but lead guitar and piano was not the best match so I decided to play bass guitar. This was only once a month but it was still good to play with other musicians.

A year or so later I moved churches having been at the same church for over 25 years and the one thing I was going to miss was my monthly bass playing at the evening service. This new church I was going to had heaps of musicians and 3 or four full bands, so I would not expect as a newcomer to be able to join in.

I offered to help out with the sound system. The bands and music was all very good although there were only two guys who played lead guitar. To my surprise they were short a bass players and I was invited to play bass for one of the bands. While it was not my preferred instrument I was happy to be paying with a band again.

As from my old band, After Forever, the members had all gone in different directions. Ken had moved to Victoria, Barry had moved out of NSW for a time although he has since returned and David too has lived in Victoria for a while. With the passing of time we had all drifted into different things and although we still send Christmas cards etc we had not had much contact over the years. In July 2003 it was time for Kens 50th Birthday. He was coming to Sydney to his wife's parent place for the party and it was suggested that as most of the old band would be there we might have a bit of a jam. That was an exciting idea. When I got to the party two former drummers Barry & Ian were there but not drums. Ken had his base and amp and I had my guitar & amp. I decided to get some drums so we could make it happen. We set up and played most of the afternoon. I hadn't played much Lead for many years but it was incredible how much comes back to you. We played many of the old songs we used to play. We had such a great time that we said we should do it the following year when a few more of us were turning 50 and we did.

Since that first get together in 2003 I have been playing Lead most weeks in the church band and loving it. While I don't see myself as one of the great guitar players I still enjoy playing and some people enjoy listening to my playing.

Itís great to a have a dream. My dream was to make music. I know I lost sight of that dream over time but I think I've found it again. I still work some incredible hours running my own business keeping computer networks running. But I have been making time to make music.

If you have a childhood dream to make people happy by making music let me encourage to  go with that dream. Music is one language that reaches everybody. If you've got something inside you that wants to make music then let it out.

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