How Come There’s a Highway to Hell but Only a Stairway to Heaven?

A story of sex, drugs and sausage rolls

Accordian to rumours some people doubt my ability to open a story with a music-related pun followed by the lyrics of the song ‘Uptown Funk’ all jammed into one opening paragraph. Don’t believe me? Just watch!

On a serious note, if you are affected by the overuse of music puns, you have my utmost symphony.

I keep coughing and singing ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra
I think I’ve got the crooner virus

Lee Serpa Azeva-who?

Intro

Reflecting on the back-catalogue of ballads, heartbreakers and none-hit wonders that have become the Greatest Hits of my life, it’s comforting to know I’ve never felt the need to sell out. Plus, let’s not forget that as a witless weed-toking wino, masterfully masquerading as a high-functioning, upstanding musical member of society, I don’t really have the time for such shenanigans.

Surely, not everyone was Kung-Fu fighting?

Like many other adolescent boys my age, I used to sit alone in my bedroom for hours on end beating the stick, avoiding the rim and crashing the cymbal. I loved that drum kit.


The Blu-Tac Dinosaurs

As we all know, I didn’t get where I am today without being anything less than a complete and utter bullshitter, but even I can’t polish the proverbial turd that is my first foray into the world of a wannabe musician.

Me and some guys from school had a band and we tried real hard. I should’ve known we’d never get far.

I know what you’re thinking — “is this wannabe writer going to wax-lyrical about his musical meanderings for very much longer? He’s talking absolute gobbledygook!”

My first wander into the world of music was about as successful as Mick Jagger’s solo career. Within a matter of months The Blu-Tac Dinosaurs had split up due to musical differences; we didn’t know our treble from our trouble, our Rock from our Roll, nor our Soul from our arsehole.

Jimmy quit and Jody got married, Stevie carried on playing the guitar, and I realised that if I remained a drummer, the only way I was ever going get a pretty lady on my arm was by visiting the local tattoo parlour. I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet, but I’m really good when it comes to remembering names in songs and stories, but every Dom, Rick and Gary knows that.

Suffice to say within a few months I’d taught myself to play the bass guitar. Want to know my secret? Stay tuned.

Shrubbery Convention

About a year or so later I hear through the grapevine that Stevie’s got himself a half-decent band and is looking for a bassist.

I was now in my first rock band. I once shared an office with a slightly unhinged guy who played heavy metal at work, every single day. He was office rocker.

It takes exceptional stage presence, tons of talent and oodles of animal magnetism to front a successful rock band, none of which our beloved frontman Pete had.

Pete would leap on stage in a flowery summer dress, singing to — or more like shouting at — his favourite cactus about his love of all things cheese. I slip you knot, he was a complete and utter basket case, as mad as a hi-hatter.

Pete’s voice was so bad no one would ever dare sing along with him. It was like he needed a duet yourself kit. Pete took more drugs than Keith Richards, who himself should win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, don’t worry, it’s alright to tell jokes about the Rolling Stones, in fact, it’s a gas.

All rock bands have their personnel problems. For example, back in the day, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry spread those filthy rumours that Steven Tyler handles a pen very femininely. The word on the street was he doodles like a lady.

We released our debut EP ‘Cheese Comes in Other Colours Than Yellow’, and then disbanded. Talking of colours, it’s a shame The Beatles didn’t make the submarine in their song green, that would’ve been simply sublime.

The Duvets

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but, that’s the only way to judge a tribute band.

Being the new kid on the rock in a middle-aged classic-rock covers band is neither cool, hip or trendy. But my god was it fun! No joke.

In The Duvets, I loved jamming more than a broken printer. The guys took me under their Wings and really got to know me. It was like I was a need to know bassist.

Many people now regard the 90s as the new 60s, if you remember the Pixies, you really weren’t there, man.

Honey Pit

A couple of years later Stevie had himself another band and was once again seeking a bassist.

As ‘Honey Pit’ we were a half-decent back-to-basics rock band, with some decent songs under our belt and a demo tape to boot.

Some things are not meant to be, and each of us ended up going our own way.

Solo Career

Admittedly my solo career is a back catalogue of half-written songs penned by a burnt-out old hippy. But they do say it’s better to burn out than to fade away, but they also say you shouldn’t buy the newly released Bonnie Tyler sat nav, it keeps telling people to turn around, and every now and then it falls apart. But, at least it’s not as bad as that Bon Jovi sat nav. Apparently, we’re always halfway there.


Outro

To conclude these shenanigans I’d like to say it’s been an absolute privilege to perform in front of you this evening. You’ve been an amazing crowd, thank you, goodnight, god bless.

“Play like no one is listening,

pick like you’ve never been plucked,

and sing like no one is paying to get in.”

Lee Serpa Azeva-who?!

Encore

Thank you for the applause, thank you, thank you, you’re too kind.

In writing this story, I hope I haven’t sounded like a broken record, I’ve just enjoyed talking ‘bout my generation and what it was like to be a wannabe musician in 90s London.

Music is both magical and powerful. It has the potential to enter our soul and stir our emotions.

Music connects us to one another, through our culture, and our language.

Through this gig called life, I’ve accumulated a veritable set-list of life lessons:

  • Life is not a rehearsal
  • Rockstars are only cool because they have a lot of fans
  • Live your life like there’s no encore
  • Never techno for an answer
  • We are all words of a song that is yet to be written
  • If you throw faeces at the audience, the shit will hit the fan

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

Plato

Originally published in Medium publication The Swipe, 24th May 2020

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