EXCERPTS FROM MAGAZINE FEATURES 2003-2013

Telstar was a massive and immediate hit. It went to number one in Britain, and was in the charts for all of twenty five weeks. Through late ’62 the song seemed to be everywhere; it was there when you turned on the wireless, it was playing when you walked into any establishment that could boast a juke box. The song was being whistled and hummed in every street in the land. It was an enormous hit.

THOROUGHLY MODERN TELSTAR (Classic Bike Guide)

 

Nancy Spungeon defined obnoxious. She was a highly disturbed girl from Philadelphia who was probably clinically schizophrenic. She had been a druggie since her age had been in double figures, and became a groupie not a lot later. She came to London tagging onto The New York Dolls like a tic on a dog, and there she met Sid.

SID VICIOUS: Obituary

 

Of course, I had to ask Edward about the acting and entertaining dynasty of which he is the patriarch, which goes back into the Nineteenth century, and which now – with his son Freddie and his daughter Emilia – is stretching out ahead of us. He has an older daughter who is not in the business, but as he says, “I could never have persuaded Freddie, in particular, not to be an actor. Freddie and Emilia just did it!”

A CONVERSATION WITH EDWARD FOX (Private Life magazine)

 

The Corvette is unashamedly American and reminds me of the Aston Martin Series II V8, which was designed for the US market. It’s a gentleman’s hot rod, a laid-back bruiser that offers brain-sizzling performance and all the thrills of a front-row seat at a Bruce Springsteen concert.

TALES OF A COUNTRY ‘VETTE (The Daily Telegraph)

 

McQueen owned many makes of bikes, including Husqvarna racers and even a very sober Honda CA77 Dream Touring equipped with a windscreen, but his favourites were Indians and Triumphs. He courted his first wife, Neile, on Triumphs. As soon as he first met Neile in 1955 he took for a long no-particular-place-to-go night-time ride on his Triumph. She asked if he always just rode around aimless. ‘No’, he said, ‘Sometimes I have some place to go’.

TRIUMPHS GO TO HOLLYWOOD (Classic Bike Guide)

 

E IS FOR ENGLAND

Think of something uniquely English, such as Harold MacMillan’s accent, the practise of swan-upping or the phrase ‘Mustn’t grumble’ … and then add ‘rocker’ to the list too. Like mods, rockers were entirely home-grown and owed nothing to the USA. A lot of the best music was American, sure, but the scene was 100% British, and that’s something we can all be proud of.

 

THE A-Z OF THE ROCKER YEARS (Classic Bike Guide)

Patriotism is regarded as a devalued currency in many quarters these days, so does Sir Christopher regard himself as a patriot? ‘Yes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘my country, right or wrong’, but you have to have an anchor somewhere. You have to be pragmatic; I am patriotic but I am also a great believer in the notion of the national interest.

 

A VERY SPECIAL ENVOY: Interview with Sir Christopher Meyer (Private Life magazine)

Lee Marvin’s character, Chino, is a completely different kettle of hoodlum. He’s a real outsider – bordering on being a sociopath – and you’d only see him in a button-down shirt if a mortician with a bizarre sense of humour put one on his corpse. Chino is a volcano waiting to explode; utterly unpredictable and terminally volatile.

‘YOU’RE JUST A HOP-HEAD WITH A BIG OL’ BIKE’ (The Legend Of Harley-Davidson)

 

Only The Lonely also showed that Roy had become an absolute master of the rock ‘n roll single at its finest. Roy knew instinctively how to take a slice of time just two and a half minutes long, and not just tell a story that would connect instantly with what were only now being called teenagers, but also craft it in such a way that it had a distinctive structure. Roy’s songs were hand-carved masterpieces, with an attention-grabbing beginning, a narrative middle, and a definitive end.

ONLY THE LONELY: THE ROY ORBISON STORY (Classic Bike Guide)

 

Now I suppose I can own up. More than thirty years have passed, the shame has faded and neither my old mum nor my children are likely to read this. So here goes. In 1975 I bought a Bond Bug and ran it for about six months. Look, I was young; we all do silly things at some point in our lives.

A BUG’S LIFE (Daily Telegraph Saturday Motoring)

 

In a moment that remains one of rock music’s greatest tragedies, The Singing Nun and Annie took a long walk to a local vegetable plot, lay down together, and downed enough sleeping pills to kill themselves. An empty bourbon bottle was not found nearby. The rock world grieved.

THE SINGING NUN: Obituary

 

No one can doubt the Prince’s commitment. His workload is phenomenal; he undertakes an average of more than two official engagements every day of the year, weekends included. During , directly and directly, his work has raised £130 million for charity – and yes, you did read that correctly; £130,000,000.

A VERY MODERN COURT Interview with Sir Michael Peat KCVO (Private Life magazine)

 

I asked John [Leyton] what the legendary Gene Vincent was like and the reply came back like a flash; ‘A bit barmy. He was a strange guy – for example, he carried a gun round with him all the time. On one occasion he had a row with Jet Harris and Gene got his gun out to shoot him, and Jet hid behind me!

JOHNNY – REMEMBER HIM? (Classic Bike Guide)

 

It’s difficult to adequately describe Tiny Tim’s looks. Although he was very large, his head was too big for his body and his nose far too big for his head. His eyes were hooded and staring, and his hair was lank and looked rat-infested. His lips looked like something you discard from the inside of a dead chicken. His hands were spooky and his mannerisms were affected in a way that goes off at a tangent from the adjective ‘camp’.

ON UKELELE, TINY TIM – AND ON GARDEN HOSE, MR VIV STANSHALL’ (The Sixties)

 

You could no more have made The Loveless without bikes than you could make omelettes without eggs or beer without hops. And whereas Easy Rider is a ‘buddy’ movie, The Loveless is a gang movie. A gang in the loosest sense, as in a group of similar-minded people with a common aim and intent, but a gang none the less

‘YOU’RE JUST A HOP-HEAD WITH A BIG OL’ BIKE’ (The Legend Of Harley-Davidson)

 

The Bug’s purpose, as the marketing campaign made clear, was to attract lithe young ladies in satin hot pants and white plastic boots. They would be stunned by the radical design and the sheer modernity of the one-piece front-hinged roof, and once inside they would be equally wowwed by the slinky form-hugging seats and the groovy central instrument console. This was to be a poor boy’s Mini Cooper S.

A BUG’S LIFE (Daily Telegraph Saturday Motoring)

 

Shops that sold electrical goods – in the High Street, not purpose-built buildings the size of aircraft carriers out on ‘retail parks’ – were full of radiograms. They suddenly came into fashion, and all the well-known manufacturers offered a dazzling range. It was a curious concept; entertainment as furniture – furniture that entertained you. Most, like ours, were modern and looked like they were made by G-Plan or Parker Knoll. They were a completely new form of domestic furniture.

TWO SPEAKERS AND FOUR SMART LEGS: The Short Life Of The Radiogram (The Sixties)

 

The Shadows are the most successful instrumental group of all time, and we won’t see their like again. How many other pop and rock bands have seen so great a success? None. How many instrumental records even make the charts these days? None. It’s a phenomenal achievement, and that’s not even including the huge number of hits they had as Cliff Richards’ backing band. So, where did it all go right?

SHADOW DANCING (Classic Bike Guide)

 

Similarly, do ne’er-do-wells still steal hubcaps? Or is it just stereos and mobile phones left in glove compartments? There was quite a lively trade in stolen hubcaps at one time; I once bought a set of Zodiac hubcaps in a low pub in Wythenshawe as a treat for my Corsair. I can’t remember how much I paid but I bet it wasn’t more than a pound or so, and no, I didn’t ask where they’d come from.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HUBCAPS? (Classic Car Mart)

 

A few years prior to his death he survived a fire on his house boat; an ex-coastal patrol boat of the Irish Navy which he kept moored on the Thames at Chertsey. In the spring of 1995 Viv Stanshall died in a fire at his tiny flat in north London which was probably accidentally caused. We shall not see his like again.

ON UKELELE, TINY TIM – AND ON GARDEN HOSE, MR VIV STANSHALL’ (The Sixties)

 

When the Beatniks died out, they disappeared from the face of the earth entirely. There are no Beatnik revival clubs; no annual seaside holiday camp festivals that re-create the era of the Beatnik. They were the Tyrannosaurus Rex of youth cultures of the Fifties and Sixties – except that you won’t even find the bones of one in a science museum.

THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE 2I’s COFFEE BAR (Classic Bike Guide)

 

Adam Faith recalled how the café stretched out under the street, with old linoleum on the floor and patterned Formica on the tables. ‘It was an ordinary sort of place’, he said, ‘Especially in the day time. At night it came alive though. The first music I heard there was skiffle, but rock ‘n roll soon came along.

THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE 2I’s COFFEE BAR (Classic Bike Guide)

 

In the Seventies Elvis looked back at his film career with dissatisfaction. Be that as it may, at the time they allowed fans worldwide to see and hear their idol, and the majority were solidly commercial. His wasn’t an Oscar winning movie career by any means, but it was a career with which very many actors would have been delighted. Elvis’s films did exactly what they were designed to do.

THE KING ON FILM (Classic Bike Guide magazine)

 

Nowadays, not only are the Beatniks long gone but so are the rock ‘n rollers. You’ll hear young men with pony-tails and women in Jimmy Choos taking in marketing-speak about ‘building the brand’, and the advantages of new media for the Twenty First century. Old Compton Street is still cool, but in a very different sense. No hissing of Gaggia machines, no strumming of guitars, and absolutely no Be-Bop-A-Lula.

THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE 2I’s COFFEE BAR (Classic Bike Guide)

 

S IS FOR SOLVOL AUTOSOL

There are three half-used tubes of Solvol Autosol on the shelf in my garage, and I couldn’t start to guess how far back the oldest dates. I used one only this week – delighting in the gold, black and red livery – but, sadly, only to polish the toaster and kettle in the kitchen. Still, the smell alone took me back to the weekends when I’d spend hours burnishing my bikes’ chrome plate.

THE A-Z OF THE ROCKER YEARS (Classic Bike Guide magazine)

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