How can any person sum up their influences in a few short sentences and manage to keep the reader interested? From what you'll read on the other pages here what you'll read hear will probably come as a surprise to you though. It's not just a case of the Beatles or the Rolling Stones which you'd expect from a musical guy my age. An influence is something that should change your whole life. Aside from the usual cliché of mother and father, a few unusual ones on my list would be the Spice Girls, Monty Python and Picasso. Admittedly somebody did the ultimate p.r. job on the Spice Girls but their record stands for itself and I don’t buy that manufactured band jibe. After all, the Supremes were manufactured as were the Drifters and many other of the older household names. Oasis were big for me as well. Messrs. Gallagher and Gallagher have proved that they weren’t one hit wonders living off the back of their mentors (Lennon & McCartney). I also love U.2. Bono is a great front man, not to mention a superb singer. And then there was Prince who in my mind was the most gifted multi instrumental musician to be on this planet. I mean, when he died Elton John said words to the effect of "the best musician I've had the privilege to see perform".
Prince Naseem Hamed had an untold effect on my life. His whole philosophy of "this is me, I'm the best, I defy anybody to beat me" is so like me. He did things, and got away with things that only Ali has before him. And on a literary level there’s Frederick Forsyth who taught me that all stories must have a start and a finish, and what's in between doesn't have to smack you in the face, as long as it all comes together in the end.
Of course, on my initial musical influences I have to go back to my youth. A time when The Rolling Stones and the Beatles were riding high in the charts. And Bob Dylan broke the three minute single rule. A time when he said to John Lennon"you have all this power. You should make some good of it by putting a message into your songs". There were so many others too. Pink Floyd. Van Morrison and the Who. And I seen them all in concert at the time. It was a period of my life which was to culminate in my being in the audience at just about every major rock festival of the late sixties and early seventies. And it was probably the teen adulation that the acts attracted that drawn me into being a musician in the first place. Everybody wants to be loved by somebody and if a person has ambition then they want to be loved by everybody. It didn’t seem such an impossible dream in my youth.
At the time when I really got the hang of song writing new hero figures came into my life though. David Bromberg, the musicians musician. John Prine (the new Bob Dylan), folk clown Loudon Wainwright the Third and MC5. Around that time I was nurturing my creative itch as bass guitarist in a band called War - a name which we eventually had to change due to the Eric Burden group of the same name - and Detroit's MC5 were showing me the way of my mental, if not musical future. Every decade has it's own voices though, and the seventies gave us the biggest shot in the musical arm it had had for a long time. The Sex Pistols were for me the number one band. In my mind "Never Mind The Bollocks" remains to this day one of the greatest rock albums of the all time.
The Great Train Robber, Ronnie Biggs was later to show me the way to true inner peace. No matter what, until the last time I met him in 2002 in Queen Elizabeth Hospital which is just down the road from Belmarsh Prison which had become his new home after giving himself up to the police the previous year after more than three decades on the run. He was a very placid man. A far cry from the so called criminal hooligan that the older generation regarded him as. I stayed as a house guest at his home in Rio in Nineteen-Eight Nine to help him celebrate his sixtieth birthday, and shortly after showing me his pride and joy, an original forties collection of Time Magazine bound in limited edition hardbacks, the guy in the apartment upstairs had a burst water pipe. The ensuing torrent of water came through the ceilings all over Ronnie's furniture and floor, and very close to the priceless collection. Ronnie didn't bat an eyelid though. He was totally cool about the whole situation, and if nothing else it made me think, if you say something bad in a time when things aren't going your way it's only gonna make matters worse, so you may as well say nothing. But if you've something worthwhile to say, then say it. And that's exactly what I'm doing now.