Wednesday, December 27, 2017

James Michael McLellan MBE - a celebration

10-March-1925 to 27-December-2016.

It says something about Dad that so many people, when I told them his funeral was on Friday 13th, said "He would have loved that" or "That would have tickled him". His choice of music for the committal was Abba's Waterloo - "Finally facing my Waterloo".

From the Order of Service:

Michael McLellan, formerly Chief Architect of Waverley Borough Council, passed away peacefully on 27th December, 2016 at the age of 91.

Born on 10th March, 1925 in Battersea, London, Michael’s training as an architect was interrupted by serving as a sub-lieutenant in the RNVR during the war, and he took part in the operation on Omaha beach in the wake of the D-Day landings in June 1944.

After finishing his studies at The North London Polytechnic he worked for the architects’ department of Scotland Yard before becoming Senior Architect and then Principal Architect at Coventry District Council from 1956 to 1973. He was responsible for much of the re-building and regeneration of Coventry after it had suffered so badly during the war. He is particularly remembered for the much-acclaimed Swimming Baths, which have recently been listed as a Grade II building by National Heritage.

From 1973 to 1987 Michael was the Chief Architect at Waverley District Council. He led a dynamic and imaginative team who worked on a broad range of projects, winning a number of awards and distinctions, including for the Sports Centre and the St James’s Church conversion. He was awarded an MBE for services to architecture in 1984.

After retiring as Chief Architect Michael continued to work as a consultant for a number of private architectural practices and to develop his interest in painting. He enjoyed considerable success as a painter, and had numerous exhibitions, most significantly a major retrospective at Wolfson College in 2006.

He was also actively involved in Farnham life, particularly as a member of The Farnham Society and of The Farnham Public Art Trust.

Michael is survived by his wife Geri, and two sons and a daughter.

Michael was not your stereotypical father. He didn’t take me to the park to kick a ball around. He didn’t take me to a football match to see his favourite team be trounced.

Instead he took me to Stratford to see Peter Brook's production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. He took me to the Tate to see a Roy Lichtenstein exhibition. He took me for a weekend away to Chichester to see Fishbourne Roman Villa and to stay up all night to watch the moon landing live. That’s the kind of dad he was.

His own father died when he was only 10 and so he had no role model on how to be a father. By his own admission he made it up as he went along and a damn fine job he did of it too.

So thank you very much, Dad.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Castle Rock feat. Tyrannosaurus Rex

Dudley, Zoo, Dudley, Worcester, UK. Friday 05-June-1970

This was the first time I saw Marc Bolan live after listening to him on the John Peel Late Show and buying all those Regal Zonophone singles and the four Tyrannosaurus Rex albums. This was just before they shortened their name to T.Rex and burst upon the pop world with Ride a White Swan.

I bought my ticket somehow, there was no TicketMaster in those days. Off I went by train from the soon-to-be-reopened Kenilworth station to Birmingham and somehow from there to the Zoo. This was my first ever open air concert so it was all very strange and a little bit scary for a non-streetwise schoolboy.

I still have this programme.

Text of the above page.


Tyrannosaurus Rex are two.

Marc Bolan is one. He sings, plays guitar, organ and bass, and writes all of T. Rex's songs. "How do I see myself? I suppose I'm a poet. Well, sometimes."

Marc's first contact with top music came when he worked in Soho selling cokes at the 2I's coffee bar—the starting ground for early British rock’n’rollers like Adam Faith, Terry Dene and Screaming Lord Such. "I remember Cliff Richard being thrown out 'because you can't sing' I was nine at the time."

Marc is now 22 years old and Tyrannosaurus Rex are two. From their earlier accoustic songs, the group has travelled into electric music. . . . "But 1 don't think about it as 'being electric' I'm into the media power of the electric instrument, to reach as many people as possible."

Aiding Marc in reaching these people is Mickey Finn, the other half of T. Rex. Mickey plays bongos. And sings. And sometimes plays bass.

"Before I joined up with Marc, I was into painting. I painted the Beatles' shop—actually painted it and organised it so it'd be ready in time. Before that I sometimes played with Haphash and the Coloured Coat. We made an LP and did just one live gig, in Amsterdam.

Mickey, who particularly enjoys the music of Jack Bruce, The Band and The Flying Burrito Brothers, is a motor-bike freak. . . . "And I'd like to take up drag racing."

Following a chance meeting with Marc in a London macrobiotic restaurant, Mickey became T. Rex's other half.

"I wouldn't have put myself forward. He had an ad in the paper, didn't he? It came so easy. We met talked and then went down to Wales for three weeks."

"Since Mickey became a part of T. Rex the music has become freer, more relaxed, and we can improvise—which we could not do before."

And Marc's songs, those songs of fables and fantasies and dreams and images.

"I don't write the songs—inspiration does.

I couldn't write those songs—I'm being used."

And not badly either. Not badly at all!

I hadn't thought through the transport logistics and ended up missing the last train home. I didn't have any money to speak of, certainly not enough for a taxi or a hotel.

I had somehow picked up from my father the bizarre idea that in an emergency police stations acted like Western Union, that he could go into Kenilworth police station, hand over a tenner and the Birmingham police would give me the same. I told you I was not streetwise, not then, not now! They didn't, of course, and the upshot was that they took pity on me and let me sleep in a police cell overnight. The next morning I made my bleary way home by train again.

I had been sufficiently geeky during the gig to note the set list on an old scrap of paper. That set list eventual found its way into the excellent book Marc Bolan: A Chronology by Cliff McLenehan:

Set List: One Inch Rock, Debora, Hot Rod Mama, Wind Quartets, Pavilions Of Sun, King Of The Rumbling Spires, By The Light Of The Magical Moon, Organ Blues, Elemental Child, Conesuela, Salamanda Palaganda, Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart, The Wizard, Jewel.

The track that has stuck in my memory was an extended version of The Wizard with a long guitar solo to the words "he was a wizard and he was my friend he was [repeat * n]". Ah, that was all a very long time ago.

PDF of the complete programme.

TXT of the complete programme.