I wish I could play a musical instrument or sing but unfortunately I can do neither. I am completely tone deaf and have a voice that resembles a cat being strangled. This is all rather tragic as I love music and as I wander around the streets of Singapore my iPod is constantly blaring in my ears. I am listening to music now. I always do when I write. I have my favorite songs and bands from when I was young. This is so long ago now that the music is considered retro.
Retro is a shortening of the word retrospective. This is a derivation of the Latin word "retrospectare" which means "look back". My son Tom can sing like an angel and he can also play music from sight. Tom can get on a piano and belt out a tune without any effort at all. Tom puts me on to current music and bands that I really like. We have the same taste in music. He often sends me the names of Australian songs and bands that I download and listen to. We both like the band the Hilltop Hoods and The Cat Empire too.
When I was about the same age Tom is now I lived in a large share house with seven or eight other people. There were sometimes more as people drifted in and out. We were all university students. The house was a huge and ancient decrepit place in the suburb of Richmond in the inner city Melbourne. The house was more than a hundred years old and had horse stables out the back. We thought it was haunted but we used to smoke a lot of dope back then so it probably wasn't.
The house in York street was famous for the big parties that we used to host. They were often impromptu and hundreds of people would attend. Our neighbors were a motorcycle gang called the Bandidos who looked very scary but they were actually very nice guys. They came to all of our parties.
There was never any trouble.
Often at the parties a live band would play in the stables. We knew quite a few proper musicians and they would set up their amplifiers and they played their music very loud. Despite my complete absence of music ability I was in a band for a short while. My mate Berty and I were the lead singers. If I had to describe a genre we were sort of punk and the Sex pistols were our primary influence .- so singing wasn't really required. It was more screaming. I wrote the lyrics for a number of our songs. We had a couple of proper musicians in the band.
A guy named Steve Brooks was studying music at Melbourne University and he was our lead guitarist. Last I heard he was a successful session musician and he has played and toured with many quite famous groups. Our drummer was a very hairy guy called Lewis Burdikin. Lewis died of a heroin overdose about twenty years ago. That was very tragic and we were all very shocked when we heard the news. He was a very smart guy who got lost. We hadn't kept in touch with Lewis as you sometimes do with friends, and none of us knew that he had an addiction.
If we knew we would have helped or we would have tried at least.
The name of our base guitarist was Dick Merriweather. Dick was one crazy fucker who was very big into special effects. He tried unsuccessfully to convince Berty and I to set our heads on fire for one of the gigs we played at a university union night. His idea was that we would put swimming caps covered in Vaseline on our heads and then put kerosene impregnated panty hose over them which we would ignite during the show. We were young and naive but we weren't that stupid. Ironically Dick is now a prominent surgeon back in Australia where he runs a burns unit.
The name of our band was the Fukedz and yes we actually played a couple of gigs to packed out houses. Two gigs to be precise. They were at universities and we even got paid. Our most prominent song was a number called "Baby Noise". Bert and I penned the lyrics and it was very punk and politically incorrect. During this song Bert and I would wear Klu Klux Clan outfits and we played kazoos between choruses. At one of the gigs my brother attended and he was charged with letting off flares next to the stage. It was Dick's idea for special effects. With hindsight it was very dangerous but no one got hurt and the crowd loved it.
They went off.
I can only remember the first couple of lines of the song "Baby Noise". They were:
Baby's got a gun
The gun's full of lead
Pulls on the trigger
Blows off it's head
That's what happens
When you give them loud toys
Blood on the baby
Play that noise
Baby noise ....
We would rip the heads off baby dolls we had on the stage during this song and throw them into the crowd.
Here are a couple of pictures of the Fukedz in action:
Here is a picture of Berty and I when we are about 20 years old. Remember this was the 1980's. We were all hair and attitude - but mostly hair.
It was very good fun but we were never going to be a success. I am smiling now as I recall those times. They were an era when we were really alive and nothing seemed impossible. We were brash and brave and were full of hope and dreams. We didn't dwell on things like consequences or responsibilities and we lived in the moment. We thought we were indestructible. We were footloose and we were fancy free. I know Berty will be smiling too at these memories as he reads this. Won't you mate? I wish you were here with me now so we could remember those days together.
So long ago now. So long ago.
Those were the days.