Then in April 1988, Bertin and some band members – mostly drug addicts, and several infected with the HIV virus – mounted a major armed robbery with the aim of spending the cash before they died.
They successfully pulled off the heist, stealing 12 million francs (almost €2 million) from a Brinks deposit in Toulouse, western France. No-one was injured in the robbery.
In jeans and a grey shirt, Bertin told the Toulouse court that the heist had taken two years to prepare in order to avoid violence. Despite their anarchist ways, the court was told that the band carried out a “quasi-military” operation to such an extent that police first through they were dealing with hardened gangsters.
However, the group then gave the game away somewhat by ringing the local newspaper to boast of their feat.
What Holmstrom remembers of AC/DC is the band’s bone-simple, timeless approach. “They certainly weren’t your traditional heavy metal band,” he notes. “The heavy metal of the mid-70s was a ponderous, bombastic, slow music. They were a high-energy rock & roll band and, before the Sex Pistols changed the image of punk rock from faster and louder to a more political and anthemic music, AC/DC could be classified as punk.” Holmstrom continues, “Then again, so were the Bay City Rollers, Alice Cooper, the Stooges, the New York Dolls, Eddie and the Hot Rods, and hundreds more bands.
You could argue for the rest of your life about what constitutes the first rock’n’roll record and, indeed, on the internet, there are people prepared to do that. An exhaustive 82-track 2011 compilation comes up with candidates for the title, with varying degrees of plausibility, and with tunes dating back to 1915.
But Fats Domino’s 1949 single The Fat Man has a stronger claim than most. Based on Junkers’ Blues, a 1940 track originally recorded by Champion Jack Dupree, there’s almost nothing to it. A pounding, unchanging backbeat and an insistent bass pulse; Domino on piano, playing in a style noticeably more aggressively than that of his peers; saxes and guitar buried so deep in the mix that you barely even spot them until the song’s finale; some falsetto scat singing and three verses that replace Junkers’ Blues’ references to cocaine, reefers and heroin with lyrics that laud both Domino’s bulk and his irresistible sexual abilities: “I weigh two hundred pounds, all the girls love me, because I know my way around.” It sold a million copies and transformed Domino overnight from the pianist in Billy Diamond’s Solid Senders, a locally popular New Orleans band, into a star.
Fats Domino, the New Orleans rhythm and blues singer whose hits include Blueberry Hill and Ain’t That a Shame, has died aged 89 of natural causes.
Domino, born in 1928 and one of nine siblings, left school at 14 to take on work in a bedspring factory – but went on to sell over 110m records in a career that took off in the mid-1950s, having learned piano on an upright a cousin left in his New Orleans family home.
I think, and am open to correction here, that the reason he doesn’t appear at the top of the lists of records sold is that most of these were 78s and then 45s, not albums.
The only uncomfortable bit of the night was its title: We Are Manchester. I looked around the Arena and saw almost exclusively white faces. You could blame it on the guitar bands, to whose charms the BAME community has largely remained immune. But high up on the bill was Bugzy Malone, a young black grime artist who raps about Manchester’s 0161 dial code, despite almost certainly never using a landline. Thirty-three per cent of the local population is not white. Where were they?
Music bill to appeal to largely white audience has largely white audience.
Eric Gill: can we separate the artist from the abuser?
Eric Gill was one of the great British artists of the 20th century – and a sexual abuser of his own daughters. A new exhibition at Ditchling asks: how far should an artist’s life affect our judgment of their work?
The answer seems to be aware of it and yet still admire and enjoy the art.
So, to make things easier, I’ve invented the Sippican Cottage Musical Acid Test:
If you’re from Liverpool, and your composition is played Santuario-di-Madonna-di-San-Luca-skiffle style by five Bolognese men a half a century after you wrote it, you’re on to something with your approach to songwriting. That’s as far as I’ll go.
Akin to Bernard Levin’s idea of the historical filter.
We don’t know what it will be that survives our own cultural or artistic preoccupations and interests. But that historical filter does in fact work. We listen to more Mozart than Scalieri today and there’s nothing wrong with Scalieri’s stuff either, just Amadeus was rather better at it (or as it has been put, God simply poured his love for his creation through him).
Although we can take the odd bet on this. It’ll not be Madonna……