'The third in our series of occasional insights into the minds of our
extraordinary and talented band, this time the gauntlet falls at the feet of amazing guitarist Jim Streets - a torrid tale of genius, picketts and pants....' JM : ) x
'My first mid to late teen gigs were frankly disappointing. Prince at Manchester Main Road (twice) was an unexpected let-down. Despite worshipping at the alter of the lascivious purple pixie of pop, it was no great surprise in retrospect that watching a tiny dot in the distance from the opposite end of a football stadium was not going to be the thrill of a lifetime. As if he wasn’t tiny enough in the first place.
Similarly, INXS at Birmingham NEC was distinctly underwhelming, if only because Security’s threat to expel us from the wings if we didn’t sit down and stop dancing wasn’t exactly the wild rock n roll abandon we’d been hoping for.
More indeed could be said of my pre-teen gigs. Seeing my dad’s friend’s
blues band at a local pub was good, and the following day’s tinnitus seemed equally exciting, in the way that any war-wound recieved in childhood can be enthusiastically brandished amongst friends as a cool badge of honour (“Sorry, I can’t hear you… I went to a GIG last night!”) The Flying Picketts (one-hit-wonder British a capella group who covered Yazoo’s ‘Only You’, lest you forget) were extremely enjoyable. Classical guitar prodigy John Williams’ international instrumental symphonic classical rock fusioneers Sky were thrilling and technically brilliant, in the way that anyone around in the 70s would expect. But not enough for me to set the controls for the heart of the sun.
No, there were two threads that came together serendipitously that finally floated my musical boat, fired my imagination and made me crank it up to 11 (big respect to The ‘Tap.) Firstly, at about 13, I had an epiphany.
A proper light bulb moment. Suddenly, for no reason, it clicked that Hendrix’s guitar playing was thrilling, sublime, transcendent. I’d grown up with Hendrix - played often, at high volume, by my dad on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder (for you audio and techno nerds out there). I’d never got it. For years it sounded like an unmusical squall of noise. Then one day I woke up and suddenly, inexplicably, it sounded like he was channelling cosmic messages from the ether of the universe, rather than coaxing reluctant notes from a plank of wood strung with bits of wire. Inexplicable, magical, thrilling. I wanted to do it myself. (Still do - doesn't every guitarist?)
The second, again at about 13, was much more explicable. In a word: hormones. I was on holiday in Majorca. We were in a small town in the central square. There seemed to be some sort of festival going on. There was a rock band. On the back of a lorry.
There was a crowd. Dancing, singing, whistling, cheering. There were attractive young women cavorting in a manner that made parts of their bodies wobble in a strangely compelling way. And they were throwing underwear at the band. Oh my God ! I’ll have some of that, I thought. I never looked back. I picked up a guitar when I got home.
And I’m still playing it.
Well, 30 years on and it has to be said I’m still waiting to to be inundated by a hail of bras and knickers. Don’t hold back if any of you feel the need. No really, knock yourselves out. But I’m old enough to have recovered from the disappointment.
It really doesn’t matter.
The journey has been amazing, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.'
JIM STREETS, GUITAR