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I expected a lot of response about our Clash cover story, but we’ve had just as many emails about Alex Harvey, also featured in the current issue. I was lucky enough to see Alex on the Who Put The Boot In Tour at Charlton FC in 1976, and he put on a great show. He had a comedian’s sense of timing. He was strutting up and down the stage dressed as Hitler, to laughter from the crowd. It’s hard to imagine a rocker getting away with that now. But Alex knew the reality of the situation. At the end of the song, he stared out at the stadium and waited for the laughter to die down. At the exact moment when his words would have the greatest effect, he barked: “Don’t be fooled. Hitler was a c***.”
There are not many performers who can control a huge audience like that today – and he wasn’t even the headline act. There is much talk of respect these days. Alex Harvey knew you had to earn it. I believe firmly that John Lydon learnt a lot from him, even though punk’s arrival killed the careers of rockers of so many rockers like him. Listen to Faith Healer today: this is a record that still sounds utterly modern and riveting. Alex Harvey had everything it takes except luck. I am proud to have a story about him in the mag.
Meanwhile we’ve been putting together features for the next issue and planning our 400th edition for the following month. And I’ve been trawling the record shops of seedy Soho in search of a vinyl thrill; went back to the basement of BM Records in D’arblay Street for a reggae hit and found a few nice tunes; went to Sister Ray in Berwick Street and spotted some unusual stock, and finally settled in Phonica in Poland Street to discover that a US retro rock band is now a dance act – about which, more in our next singles column. All within a hundred yards or so of each other. You can’t beat buying in a real shop – the most satisfying way to get your hands on music. Unless you win it: see our competitions below…
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