Top Yorkshire Covers Band - REAL PUB ENTERTAINMENT!!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

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SAM'S BIOG - Prepare for the Truth!!

Born 7th May 1961 in Batley

Bands:
Aqua Vitae 1977 to 1980
National Average 1980 to 1981
Proposition 31 1981 to 1984
3 Millions 1982 to 1986
Eclipse 1985
4 Millions 1986 to 1995
US 4 1995 to 1997
The Flashing Blades 1999 to 2001
The Erics 1997 to the present


Favourite guitarists: Bill Nelson, Rory Gallagher, Dave Gilmour, Santana, Andy Partridge, Ritchie Blackmore.

Favourite artists: Springsteen, by a country mile, XTC, The Clash, The Smiths, Pink Floyd, The Who.

Favourite guitar moments: The solo in Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape by Bill Nelson of Be Bop Deluxe, live version. Awesome… Gilmour on Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Nils Lofgren on Springsteens Youngstown on Live in NYC.

Best gig: Supporting the Wedding Present back in 1990ish, whilst with the 4 Millions. Went down a storm, whereas they had their gig ruined by drunken nazi’s. Dave Gedge was stupid enough to say “If you’re gonna hit anyone, hit me!” They duly obliged and laid him out! We drank all the wine and beer on their rider, and ate most of the food too. Shouldn’t have acted the stars and turned up late should they? They had to send out for more beer. Very miffed apparently!

Worst gig: 4 Millions in 1991, at a travellers festival on the moors above Hebden Bridge. It was down a track that was barely passable, we needed a push up a slope into the field where we were playing, and we were ably assisted by a gin soaked crusty woman who reeked and shouted obscenities. We then found out that the stage we were supposed to be playing on had been taken down and used as fire wood the night before and we had to play under an awning attached to a 1960’s ambulance. We were offered various substances, edible and otherwise, by people with very dirty hands. We turned them all down… I also counted 25 fucking mosquito bites, little bastards.



Brief History:
Started playing guitar in the summer of 1977, joined a band called Aqua Vitae with Tony Gill, Martin Edgerton and Steve Brown in Feb 78, and played my first gig in May of that year. I have never ever been as nervous since, absolutely bricked it I did. It didn’t help that I knocked the lights over just before I went on stage and spent the whole gig standing on broken glass! Steve was a great songwriter from the legendary Mandarin Rat. Steve, and Russ, later to be in two of my future bands, made me want to pick up a guitar. Anyway, we played a few school and pub gigs, got a reasonable following, and I learned to play, basically. That fizzled out when Tony left to join the Resistance, who later became Proposition 31, with Russ. I joined a club band called National Average, earned good money for a year, and learned an awful lot playing with good musicians. I’ve forgotten it all now of course…I turned down a chance of going pro in early 1981, wanting to write and do the punk thing with Proposition 31, but I never regretted playing second fiddle to the bingo and meat pies, it taught me a lot.

Propo 31 was ace, with me, Tony Gill, a fine bass player, Russ Sowden, who was my geetar hero!!, and a certain gobby twat called Paul Richardson. We wrote some great stuff, spiky, angular punk, like XTC and Bill Nelson’s Red Noise, but not quite as clever. We got some decent support spots, some great gigs, and recorded music that I am still very proud of. It wasn’t to last however, and it gradually fizzled out as we all got married and our priorities changed.

I got into politics in the early 80’s too, along with Paul, and was a member of the Labour Party for 12 years. Out of that came the 3 Millions, consisting of me, Paul and Steve, his brother, and named after the unemployment figures under the evil creature that was Thatcher. We were a ramshackle affair, with some good, some awful, and Steve’s legendary song writing prowess giving us such classics as Ronald Reagan, and Nancy Reagan (a truly moving tribute to a lovely woman who Steve took a shine to…). Suffice to say, he didn’t challenge Dylan or Springsteen, more of a political troubadour with a humorous edge!

Eclipse followed with the infamous Careless Whisper. Alright, alright, the Beatles did Yellow Submarine, we all make mistakes, ok????

Moving swiftly on, the 4 Millions followed when John Hiley, a truly top bloke, joined and we made it into a proper band. Our very own Dave also joined as sound engineer and chief piss artist, a role he has steadfastly carried out to this day. We played a variety of songs, but all at 400 mph, with the Richardson drums being the driving force. John left in 1988 to go to Uni, but Russ came into the band and gig wise things really took off. His “Angus Young on speed” stage presence also upped the anti, energy wise, and Paul raised his game yet again.

We had a fantastic time, initially playing political benefits, ranging from the Labour Party, SWP, Workers Revolutionary Party, various Unions, Anti Apartheid groups and basically anything that was against the vile monstrosity that was Thatcher. You figured that I don’t like her yet? It then took off and we played everywhere, supported the UK Subs, Little Chief, The Wedding Present and just loads of great gigs.

Though the Erics is certainly the better band, I have to say that the buzz we had in the first few years of the Mills was awesome, and the gigs at places like the Central, The Grove, The Duchess, Sweaty Betty’s in Harrogate, Leeds Uni, The Royal Park and so many others were usually corkers, with just ridiculous amounts of energy being poured into every one.

My single most praise for a venue has to be reserved for the Golden Cross in Oswaldtistle, truly the rock capital of the Northern Hemisphere! I can only think that the locals didn’t get out much, or there was some serious inbreeding, possibly with sheep, knowing the area, because we were legends there. I have signed autographs on more than one occasion, and have given my plectrums away to drooling punters who followed us over to gigs in Yorkshire. Seriously, they were an incredible bunch who made us feel like superstars. We sold over a 100 of our seminal, groundbreaking tape release, The Owl and The Glaring Bollocks, recorded live at Sheffield University Students Union in 1990, in one night. Magic.

Possibly even finer was our night supporting the, wait for it, Bay City Rollers at Ripon College! Yup, you heard right, a beauty for the CV or what? The band and partners all bought tartan scarves and stood at the front swaying and singing, despite the indifference of the students, who were probably still in nappies when the Rollers had their 15 minutes of fame. Fantastic, despite the fact that Steve was ready to hit Eric for moaning about us taking too long to sound check, until he realised who he was! Bit of a temper, Steve, which got him a kicking at the Wedding Present gig above. He was put on security to calm things down, except he lost it and dived from the stage at some abusive Nazi. Unfortunately they all moved, leaving him to hit the floor hard, whereupon they proceeded to kick the shit out of him.

Nick, who was to be the drummer in The Erics, did the sound for us for 2 or 3 years, so the team was pretty much together for when the Erics formed. It ground to a halt in May 1995, having got a bit stale for a couple of years, but it cemented friendships that dated back to the 70’s. I first remember Paul’s unstinting loyalty as a friend when he watched me being beaten up in Morley Park in 1976. He put a sympathetic arm around my shoulder afterwards, perhaps missing the point that he could have jumped in and stopped it. Instead he watched from a safe distance! Heart warming…. Our friendship continued through the 80’s, he was my best man, I am godparent to his eldest daughter, and he introduced me to the joys of Springsteen and the Clash!

Anyway, US 4 was formed with Paul, Alex from drama, and Dave on bass. We had a great time, and played things at a decent pace, which was important, as both Paul and myself were no longer young men… Phil stood in a couple of times too, and I think we all looked at each other and thought, now if only this could be permanent…. Things went sour, and Paul and me had a major, major fall out in 1997, which in hindsight now seems trivial. However, at the time, there was bitterness, and we didn’t speak until November 2003. Daft bastards.

The Erics formed in September 1997, and it was clear that the band was different to The Mills. There was more musical quality with Nick’s backing vocals, and much more varied and contempary material. As a unit we all gelled quickly, and it was good to get to a point where we all instinctively knew what we were about to do. 50 gigs a year and lots of rehearsing brought us all close together, and the band atmosphere, for the most part, has been like a family. We played loads of different venues, had some awesome gigs, and just generally had a fantastic time!!

However, as we’ve said before, Nick’s propensity for sex with, ahem, more woolly creatures led him off to a land far away, and we can only say, cheers Nick, for everything! Great drummer and singer, and the hardest working guy we have ever met. Couldn’t take his beer though..;o)>


You know the rest, Paul returned in 2004, and we have regained not only a powerhouse of a drummer, but a really good mate too, who has added another element to the bands sound, i.e. even more noise! The spirit of the 4 Millions remains, we still have the love god Crusher on stage sometimes to make the ladies loins tingle, and Paul has lost none of his gob or his power that is accelerating my hearing loss! The energy that has been with us since the early days of the Mills is still the driving force behind why we do this, even in mine and Paul’s advancing years, and hopefully this chemistry transfers itself to an audience. I certainly hope so. We’ve certainly no intentions of growing old gracefully, though I can’t ever see us playing My Generation, a bit too much irony….. We’re trying to keep the material fresh, and the joy of playing live has never been stronger than it is at the moment. Long may it continue!!

9 Comments:

Anonymous Baz said...

DOB 1961 !!?? Yeah right..!
Wot a biog! Sam will be moving in at No.10 just as soon as Tony B moves some gear out of the way to get Sams guitar collection in.....

10:41 am

 
Anonymous Sam said...

He's got a really nice black Strat, apparently. I wonder if he'll leave it behind....

2:07 pm

 
Anonymous dave said...

you must have read it wrong sam . he has'nt got a black strat , its cherie whos got a black strap on and shes not afraid to use it.
we all know who wears the trousers at number 10 (and who wears the gimp suit)

7:28 am

 
Blogger David said...

Hi Sam

Sorry this is off topic for your post but I wanted to thanks you for your words of support the other day, it is appreciated & would you believe it I ended up having a 30 min tel chat with Paul !!

3:12 am

 
Blogger Sam Hirst said...

As you'd say over there, no worries mate! And really glad you spoke to Paul too, it's been a long time. If you ever plan to return for a visit to the UK then a drink is long overdue!

11:41 am

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.levellers.co.uk/www/lev_home.php?page=100155&v=1 CHECK OUT THIS SITE SAM THEN GO TO VIDEO SECTION M8

5:58 pm

 
Anonymous mavrick said...

or this 1 www.myspace.com-levellerscheers again mav

6:04 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi Sam just wanted to say get well soon...shame about the booze n curries! Take it easy
Tracey Steve Lu n Sophie xx

11:47 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope you have a great new year!!! Can't be bothered sending texts this time, the network always jams at new year. Told mum and dad you'd been in hospital, they say take it easy from now on!!!
Will hopefully be able to come to the gig at the New Roscoe if I can get parents to come too!!!
Oh yeh, visit www.myspace.com/violagurl02uk
From Kate, your little dancing girl!!! (well, not for two years but you get the gist)

6:28 pm

 

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