Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Day the Music Died Twice: 4 January 2011

I have a confession to make.

Well not so much a confession as any of you who knew me in the 80s will know I walked around school, blazer sleeves rolled up, the hair as big and up (as an athlete could have it without causing blindness by sweaty hair gel), and a dash of colour in the paper clips on the label. Any one who has seen me since will know my aversion to still wearing anything covering the end of my arms as a result.

Yes I was a New Romantic. I modelled myself a bit on my two favourite bass players John Taylor and Mick Karn. While I got to see Duran Duran play I never did with Japan as they last performed live in 1982 when I was just 12/13. However, I have all of Japan's album on vinyl as well as duplicated on CD.

Therefore late last year when one of the founders, key writers and bass player of Japan Mick Karn was diagnosed with late stage cancer I was waiting for the news which came yesterday, that he had succumbed. It came within hours of the news that another songwriter, the singer Gerry Rafferty has also passed on.

For a fellow bass player Karn was one of the wonders of the fretless bass, a guy who could play by feel with precision. Listening again now that I know that art as well as guitar I pick up the intricate nature of some of the stuff that he was able to play, especially when the band moved towards a fusion of Euro Pop with Asian influences as befitted their name in their later albums. One of the greatest examples of his craft on the bass has to be Gentlemen Take Polaroids.

So as a tribute to Mick Karn here is that.

One final legacy of Mick death is that he was diagnosed with late stage cancer. I don't know if he had earlier symptoms but did nothing about it, but seeing as most men tend to put these things off, may I add an additional legacy. If in Doubt, Check it Out if any of your bodily functions changes, and stays changed always best to check, it may be an early sign, possibly of an invisible cancer and may be worth getting checked. 

Rafferty was from Paisley but in his early days he came across a certain Billy Connolly and together they formed the Humblebums. They released two albums did John Peel sessions but got nowhere with their folksy stuff. Gerry encouraged his friend to go it alone as a comic.

He carried on with his music writing stuff like Stuck in the Middle with You in 1972 before in the mid 70s preceding Prince or George Michael he had disputes with his contracts lasting for 3 years. Through this period he worked away on a demo for his next album in his wife Carla's parent's old house on a 4-track, laying down every instrument himself, including lentil jar percussion. United Artists signed him and the comeback single was Baker Street the song was an instant smash sold 5 million copies. It and it's iconic saxophone solo carried on making Rafferty £80,000 a year in royalties. He carried on working away writing, recording and performing until 2000. But he was always battling alcoholism, in the end it spiralled out of control.

However, remembering the man at his peak here is Baker Street.

In memory

Mick Karn (born Adonis Michaelidis) 1958-2011


Gerald 'Gerry' Rafferty 1947-2011

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