During the second world war my Dad played drums with an RAF dance band. They played music by Glen Miller, Benny Goodman etc and broadcast on the radio. So throughout my childhood in the 1950’s my Dad would play along to any music on TV by using the arms of his old arm chair as pretend drums.
Throughout the 1950’s we listened to him play along with the Everly Brothers, Elvis, and Chuck Berry. Then in the 1960’s we had to listen to him play along with the Beatles, then Cream and even Jimi Hendrix.
By the 1970’s we had to replace his old arm chair with a new one, so my Mum insisted that he progress to cushions. These were cheaper to replace and were quieter – something the wife of any drummer will appreciate.
So it was natural that he would buy me a junior set of drums for my ninth birthday and that he would encourage me to join a rock group when I was fourteen. The other members of the group were much older as they were undergraduates at Cambridge University.
My dad would drive me to student parties in his Mini with my drums in a wooden trailer at the back that he had built especially for the job. When Pink Floyd came on the scene he built a light show out of lights salvaged from a department store and at each gig he would sit at the side of the stage with a light switch in each hand and flash them on and off in time with the music.
By now I had progressed to a double bass drum kit and played like Keith Moon of The Who – I was a real show off and I loved it. I formed a Jimi Hendrix tribute band with Vic Ramsey, the only black man in Cambridge, who luckily happened to play a white Fender Stratocaster, the same as Hendrix. My Dad took us to rehearsals every week at a church hall and to gigs in and around Cambridge.
Eventually I became a professional rock musician and my Dad stayed at home with his cushions. But he was very proud of me and the minor success I achieved in the music business. By the time I became a therapist he had accepted that I needed to have a proper job and make a regular income.
They say “once a musician – always a musician” as it’s in your blood, regardless of your career path. My Dad never lost his love of playing drums and he instilled it in me and it is something I will always be grateful for.
I’m building a house in the mountains next year, miles from anywhere, and for the first time in over 50 years, I will buy myself a drum kit and start playing drums again. I honestly can’t wait – and it will be my own personal therapy.
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