I’ve always loved a good biography and a well-written autobiography is even better. This is neither! Surely you must claim some degree of celebrity to be the subject of a biographer or to take the time and effort to write about yourself? Well, perhaps not. Publishing is so cheap and easy now that we can all put ourselves out there if we choose. And nostalgia is big business. Sometimes people just like to read about others’ experiences just so they can say “Omg, I so did that!”
So, I’ll do it. Not the full cradle to grave life story but a handful of stories plucked from along the way. Related as honestly as possible; if I have to embellish them I might just as well not bother. Perhaps you who are reading this were on the particular journey with me and will find yourself in the paragraphs along side me, or maybe it’s one of those favourite stories I’ve told you before. Better yet, you might learn something about me. If you have only known me for part of my life, then perhaps the revelations will help you see another side.
Or you might just be utterly bored. Disgusted even by my arrogant belief that someone else would contemplate reading about my life. Well that’s OK; just scroll on. That’s why its so easy now. Easy to get it out there and easy to ignore. Good heaven’s, I might even end up ignoring myself.
So where to begin? You know music has always been important to me right? Ever since as a child I serenaded nan with my version of Solomon King’s She Wears My Ring, or when I wrote a song called Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) which Cher picked up but cheekily credited the writing to her husband.
It was important enough to me to start a band. I think it was just for a few months in the spring of 1974. Our last few weeks at Primary School. Goffs Oak JMI by the way, later to be the school of one Victoria Adams but that will probably crop up in a different memory. This memory is that we really started the Honeybugs as a way of getting off the cold playground and into a warm classroom where we could rehearse. There were other equally shallow reasons for the band. It featured me (Steve Smith), Steve Syrett, Steve Kidman, and Andy Fry. This meant we could do a twisted version of Sweet’s Ballroom Blitz intro (Are you ready Steve? – uh ha; Steve? – yeah; Steve? – mmmm; Andy? OK fellows, let’s go) So maybe it didn’t scan quite as freely but it worked.
Our limited repertoire also included our version of Snoopy Versus the Red Baron, recently a smasheroonie in the UK charts for the Hot Shots (Actually the Cimarons in disguise). We only did it because we could sing the word ‘bloody’ and get away with it. No really, that’s why we did it. That’s the shallow 10 year old boys that we were. It was an important song to me though. I had a solo. You know the bit where it goes “Snoopy fired once, and he fired twice. And that Bloody Red Baron went spinning out of sight”? Well I got to shake my maracas – twice!
Maybe I didn’t mention that. I played the maracas in Snoopy but actually I was lead Kazooist. Rhythm Kazooist too. And bass Kazooist I guess. If there was any kazooing to be done in the Honeybugs then I was your man; your go to guy.
Steve Kidman wielded an acoustic guitar. He probably knew a chord or two. He wasn’t Guitar George, who knew all the chords but wait, Dire Straits are still three years away, let’s not complicate the rock’n’roll timeline this early on.
Steve Syrett must have done the singing which left Andy Fry on drums entirely due to the fact that he was the only person with a drum kit! This, would cause problems later.
The only other song I recall was Hey Rock’n’roll from the songbook of the freshly minted Showaddywaddy. And that was it really. We formed to rehearse. We had no reason to rehearse as we had no bookings but it kept us in the warm. Eventually we did get booked to play at the leaving do. What a way to go. Our final day in the old school before moving on to big school and we get to play to our peers. Surely we must throw Alice Cooper’s School’s Out into the set list after all we were singing nothing else on the playground that week. What a gig this was going to be. Except it wasn’t. It didn’t! I don’t recall the precise circumstances but I think it ended with Andy Fry throwing a strop and taking his drum kit home. I told you it would cause problems.
No drums; no drummer; no gig; no Honeybugs. We split up there and then. I went to St Mary’s; Steve Syrett went to Goffs; Steve Kidman and Andy Fry to Cheshunt. Our paths rarely crossed again. It could have been so different.