April 10, 2012

Alex used to say “The best thing to do with advice is pass it on.” Well, I had some great advice from his dad way back in the beginning when he came to our gigs in the Glasgow Apollo. He used to say to me: “Do it for yourself, Ted. Think about yourself when you’re out there.”

It’s easier to see what he meant now, though at the time it didn’t make sense. I thought it was important to believe in the band and support what Alex was doing; but I can see now that what he meant was: have a goal. Be aware of the game and what you expect to get out of it yourself.

It’s advice I never was very good at taking. At the time music and being in a band was all I could think about. I suppose we were all the same – sex, drugs and rock’n’roll was the name of the game. I (we) didn’t know anything about the music business. All I knew was about getting on a stage and doing it. Business and the big picture? I, like most musicians of my generation, had no idea.

Without wanting to sound jaded, as I’m not really, I guess that’s what the business survives on. A student of mine once gave me a quote from a London-based music lawyer: “Youth and enthusiasm will always be beaten by old age and treachery”. We learned the hard way.

After a professional career of 30 years, I got involved in education and learned considerably more about the industry by research for my teaching. I answered a lot of my own questions about the past. I often wonder though: would I have had the same passion for playing if I’d known more about artist royalties, PRS, PPL, MCPS, BPI, copyrights, trademarks etc?

I wish I’d realised sooner that I’d never be finished with music. It only stops if you let it. Always rely on your musical instincts as you will stand or fall by them.

I’d made a career for myself by teaching myself how to play drums. Got my first kit in 1966 and I’m still doing it 46yrs later. What do I put it down to? Learning to play properly, learning to play as many styles as I could, always seining the importance of practicing, practicing as often and as for as long as I can, life permitting. The love of music. (Loving and being moved by music.)

Around 1985 I moved with my family to a beautiful house in Suffolk. It was pretty idyllic: a 15th-century farmhouse on four acres of land, complete with orchard and swimming pool. A great atmosphere for the kids to grow up in.

The only problem was I was out of the business – and as I’d always been on the road, I didn’t have a lot of work connections in London. It took a while to realise that, for the first time in my life, I’d have to get a job doing something else.

This I did and was eventually offered full-time employment with a company in Sudbury. At that point I thought to myself, “This is what happens to musicians. I’ve seen it happen. They have responsibilities, they need to work to survive, and they leave the business.”

At the same time my dear friend Tommy Eyre told me he’d put me forward for a gig. Linda Womack, Sam Cook’s daughter, was looking for a drummer for Womack and Womack. Tommy had toured with them before and knew I could handle it. So, before I had a chance to consider the full-time job, I was miming Teardrops on Top of the Pops and touring the world for a year.

Funny old game, innit?