article originally appeared in the Sydney Jazz Club Quarterly Rag,
Nos. 68-69, 4th Quarter 1993.)
My nickname is
"Spotty" but I often think it should have been "Magnet".
I seem to attract "certain" people on gigs. When I play in pubs
and clubs, and have just played a long bracket there's usually only two
things I want to do in the break, but I have to run the gauntlet on the way.
"Hey mate, come
here, you play a good sax." I knew he was paying me a compliment but
being a smart alec and busting, I said, "I'm a Selmer man" (the
brand name of the instrument). He replied, "I don't care if you are
only the cellar-man, you still play a mean horn!"
In the hey-day of the
clubs, there were times that they ran talent quests and boy, did they come
out of the woodwork then. Some of the aspiring stars of tomorrow had the
foresight to bring some sheet music; some did not. One lady who did not was
asked what key she sang My Way in. She replied, "I'm not sure,
but it's just a little higher than I'm talking now."
The following week,
Macdonaldtown's answer to Slim Dusty was tuning his guitar to our piano.
"Hey mate, your piano is a quarter of an inch out of tune."
After a while we
worked out that he had to move his capo a quarter of an inch from where it
had been embedded for the last five years.
Many years ago I
worked for a chain of record shops relieving when the various managers went
on holidays. One day a guy came in and said, "I don't know who sings it
and I don't know the name of the song, but it goes '. . . dum de dum . . .
da da dum de dah'. Have you got it in stock?"
Occasionally, you can
get even. Recently at the Norfolk Hotel one of our lady regulars came over
as we were packing up and said, "You boys didn't play my song
"Baby, I didn't know you wrote one."
But I guess if it's
any comfort, I know I'm not the only muso who suffers. Dudley Moore, on one
of his trips here, was cornered by a junior female reporter and asked,
"How long have you been a constant penis?" (concert pianist) and
"How many play in your trio?"
To the latter I think
he replied, "We all do."
And they wonder why
A magnetic young Lord Spotty English at the Clifton
Gardens Hotel, Sydney, during the 1965 Jazz Convention