Thursday, 26 July 2012

Web site update

Prior to having the book cover designed I had come up with my own layout featuring tickets from some of the concerts I mention in the book. But as my cover designer pointed out to me, I could well have got into trouble with that due to copyright issues with band and venue logos. So instead I've uploaded them to my web site.

The next step is to get some paperbacks printed as a number of people have asked for a copy of the book in physical rather than electronic form. So if you would like one, please let me know. There is an email link on my web site.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

ebook extract

The first part of my ebook is available to read as a free download but I thought I'd post an entry here from later in the book. I saw Manic Street Preachers four times with the original line-up, the first gig being in London in 1991 (which is included in the book) and the second the following year in Dundee. But this extract is from two gigs in Glasgow in '93 and '94.

The book is available to download from and

Drum Solos, Bottles & Bands
Memories of a Concert-goer 1981-1999
Chapter 5 - The Fife Years

Manic Street Preachers
QMU & Barrowlands, Glasgow
1993 - 1994

In July 1993 the Manics announced a date at the Glasgow Barrowlands. It was a Saturday so I drove through to Glasgow in the afternoon getting to the venue in plenty of time, or so I thought. As I walked up to the entrance I thought it was looking suspiciously quiet and when I got to the door I saw there was a notice stuck on it. My heart sank as I assumed the gig had been cancelled. These days it's much easier for bands and venues to get information out to fans if a gig is cancelled but in the days before mobile phones and the internet you often only found out when you got to the venue. This happened to me at a Rolling Stones concert in London in 1990 and a few years later I drove the 80 miles from St Andrews to Aberdeen to find that The Wonder Stuff had cancelled their gig at the Music Hall.

But the good news that day was that the concert hadn't been cancelled - it had just been moved to a different venue, namely the Queen Margaret Union at Glasgow University. The bad news was that I had no idea where the venue was and they hadn't bothered to put any directions on the sign outside the Barrowlands. So I drove into the city centre and managed to find a student hall of residence and the janitor there pointed me in the right direction. By the time I got to the Union I'd missed one of the support bands but did hear Blaggers ITA before the Manics came on stage. My two main memories of that gig were firstly how impressed I was by Sean Moore's drumming and secondly how much Richey Edwards looked like he was enjoying himself. At one point a couple of girls threw a feather boa at him which he picked up and wrapped round his neck with a big smile on his face. It was tragic that his life subsequently took such a downward turn and that in 1995 he disappeared off the face of the earth.

I did see him one last time with the band in October 1994 at the Barrowlands. I never found out why they had moved to the QMU on the previous occasion but I'm guessing that they hadn't sold enough tickets. But by 1994 they were big enough of fill the Barras and had two very good support bands - Dub War and Sleeper. The mood was certainly much darker than on the previous tour which reflected the feel of their third studio album, The Holy Bible. I ended up out of pocket that night as I'd bought two tickets but had been unable to find anyone who wanted to come to the gig. As it wasn't sold out, the box office wasn't interested in taking the ticket off me so I stood outside and tried to sell it. I made a point of saying I only wanted the face value of the ticket but people avoided me like I was a tout. There was a chap begging near the entrance to try and get enough money for a ticket so I asked him if he wanted my spare one for whatever he'd collected. He said I was welcome to what was in his hat but it was mostly coppers which I didn't want to be weighed down with. I was going to go back to trying to sell my ticket but time was marching on and I didn't want to miss the support bands. The chap then said to me, “you can either give me the ticket and I get to see the gig or you can go in with a spare piece of paper in your pocket”. When he put it like that I gave in and handed him the ticket. He thanked me and said he'd buy me a pint inside but I lost sight of him once we'd got past security. I hope he enjoyed the show.

There have been certain bands which I have really connected with and in the early-to-mid 90s I couldn't get enough of Manic Street Preachers. When their second album Gold Against The Soul came out I played it endlessly. It wasn't a very happy time in my life and the Manics, with songs like 'From Despair To Where', were a great comfort to me. And I know I wasn't alone as many people could relate to Richey's depression, alcohol abuse and self-harming. I have followed the Manics since those days but stopped going to see them live several years ago mainly due to my tinnitus.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Ebook published on Smashwords

My first ever book, "Drum Solos, Bottles and Bands - Memories of a Concert-goer 1981-1999" has today been published by It's all happened a bit quicker than I thought it would as I uploaded the manuscript this morning and, apart from one minor problem with the formatting, it's now available to buy. There is another part to the process whereby it is manually checked by Smashwords staff but as it has got through the Autovetter checking and conversion system (aka the charmingly named Meatgrinder), it is now available in various formats including Kindle, Epub, PDF and HTML. Here is the all important link - 

It is retailing for a very reasonable $2.99 and if you enjoy it and want to share the book with your nearest and dearest there is an option on the website to 'give as a gift'. 

If you do not own a Kindle, iPad or other electronic reader, there are PC options such as Kindle for PC and the Adobe Digital Editions reader, the latter of which I can recommend. To download a copy go to - 

But tell us more about the book I hear you cry! Well, here is the short description of it - 

"Recollections from a selection of concerts the author went to in the UK during the 1980s and 90s. Ranging from big names like Queen and ZZ Top to less well known bands such as Stump and Urge Overkill, the book describes events that made the gigs memorable such as a fire alarm going off during a gig, a guitarist performing an encore naked and a singer pushing a drunken fan off the stage."

It is divided into the following 5 chapters with these being some of the bands featured -

Chapter 1 - The Early Years                   
Sky, Queen, The Stranglers, Madness, Runrig

Chapter 2 - The Rock & Metal Years
Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, ZZ Top, Deep Purple

Chapter 3 - The Student Years
The Damned, U2 , Michelle Shocked, Stephane Grappelli, Ted Hawkins

Chapter 4 - The London Years
Jane's Addiction, Eric Clapton, Urge Overkill, The Who, The Cure

Chapter 5 - The Fife Years
Manic Street Preachers, Smashing Pumpkins, Iggy Pop, Big Country, The Cramps

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Yet more editing

Just when I thought it was nearly finished, my wife Sam took my manuscript away with her last weekend to proofread it. So I've had to spend the last few days correcting spelling mistakes, adding commas and expanding one or two entries. Of course the advantage of publishing electronically is that it is much easier to revise and update your book as it is merely a case of amending the .doc file and uploading it to Smashwords etc. again. But I don't want to be doing any more revisions of it than is absolutely necessary. Once it's published I need to move on to the marketing, selling and promoting of it, which is a whole new ballgame to me.

One thing to mention about ebook readers, such as the Kindle, is that there won't be an index as page numbers aren't used on ebooks. This is because different devices will format the text in different ways and readers can change the font and text size to suit themselves. What I will do is upload a more detailed contents page, on here and elsewhere, which will hopefully whet people's appetites and they'll buy a copy! I've just been through the manuscript again checking for spelling mistakes in the names of bands, musicians and so on as these will not be detected by the spellchecker. I discovered I'd misspelled the nickname of Motorhead's drummer calling him 'Filthy' Phil instead of 'Philthy' Phil. I'd also typed the name of Stranglers' bass player JJ Burnel as Brunel and he's someone you really don't want to upset!

Going back to the index, I've done one (of sorts) which lists the names of bands, singers, DJs, composers and even the name of one orchestra by chapter. What I'm going to do with that I'm not too sure. For anyone interested in such stats, there are 265 entries in this list but inevitably some are repeated. The Stranglers get mentioned in just about every chapter with Queen not far behind them. While I have seen The Stranglers more times than any other band, I only saw Queen once but they are still one of my favourite bands.

So that's this week's update. It feels a bit like 2 steps forward and 1 step back at the moment but I'm getting there. I should just mention that my health isn't great just now and I may be going in to hospital in the next few weeks but hopefully I'll get this finished before I'm admitted. It's nothing too serious but I need to get it sorted.

Thanks for reading my blog and as Black Oak Arkansas once sang, please keep the faith!


Thursday, 5 July 2012

"Drum Solos, Bottles and Bands" ebook

For all those of you eager to get a copy (a virtual one admittedly) of my first ever book, the waiting is nearly over! I have found someone to design the front cover though as he has disappeared off on holiday this week I will have to wait until Monday to get the finalized jpeg. It's a simple but hopefully eye-catching design. And if you don't have a Kindle, iPad or whatever to read it on, fear not, as hopefully there will be a paperback edition coming out later in the year.

In the meantime I have been doing some last minute editing and formatting for both Smashwords and Amazon. As my cover designer told me, it is best to publish on both web sites to maximize sales. So another little task I've been doing this week is writing descriptions of the book which will appear on the aforementioned web sites. This took more effort for Smashwords as you are limited to 400 characters or fewer. So this is what I've come up with, the subtitle of the book being "Memories of a Concert-goer 1981-1999".

SMASHWORDS description

Recollections from a selection of concerts the author went to in the UK during the 1980s and 90s. Ranging from big names like Queen and ZZ Top to less well known bands such as Stump and Urge Overkill, the book describes events that made the gigs memorable such as a fire alarm going off during a gig, a guitarist performing an encore naked and a singer pushing a drunken fan off the stage.

AMAZON description

The title of this book comes from the inevitable drum solos at rock concerts, the plastic bottles thrown in the air between acts at the Monsters of Rock festival and some of the many bands the author saw playing live around Scotland, at Castle Donington and in London between 1981 and 1999.

This musical journey starts in the sedate surroundings of Edinburgh's Usher Hall with Sky - the rock group formed by classical guitarist John Williams. We then move on to The Edinburgh Playhouse, Scotland's main concert venue in the 1980s, with the author attending concerts by big names such as Elton John, Madness, Iron Maiden and Motorhead. Two years at college in Aberdeen, seeing artists as diverse as The Stranglers and Stephane Grappelli, are followed by a move to London with the excitement of seeing Eric Clapton at the Albert Hall and The Who at Wembley Arena along with plenty of gigs at smaller venues. The final chapter sees the author return to his native Scotland and includes memorable gigs by Manic Street Preachers and Iggy Pop in Glasgow.

But this book is not just a list of bands and venues. Having been to over 300 concerts in those 18 years, the author focuses on events that made certain ones stand out - a smoke alarm going off midway through a Jane's Addiction gig, Captain Sensible of The Damned returning to the stage to play an encore wearing nothing more than his beret and sunglasses, and ex-Strangler Hugh Cornwell stopping half way through a song to push a drunken fan off the stage. There are also stories of unpredictable bar staff, overzealous security men, hard working road crews and concerts being cancelled or moved to a different venue with little or no notice.