The Eve of Destruction

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Nothing to do with New Year’s Eve, which it is today, of course, and I’m not sure what sparked off this mini tale, but suffice it to say my fingers have rattled on the keyboard for this last blog entry of 2016. Having only written eleven entries this year I can’t say I’m proud of my efforts, but effort it has been for one reason or another.

Somehow or other, back in 1965, my friends and I who called ourselves a pop group and masqueraded under the strange name of “It ’n’ Us” were invited to perform at the school Christmas Party, how this came about I have no idea, but invited we were and relished the knowledge that we were going to be the entertainment at this annual function, which previously had been a boring affair with jelly and traditional party games.

We weren’t good musicians, yes we knew how to strum chords and get a reasonable tune out of our instruments, but accomplished we were not. We did practise, occasionally, but usually ended up playing the usual hits of the day, Satisfaction, Get off my Cloud, Hard Day’s Night and other of the less complex songs of the mid 1960s. The boys organised a practise session before the big day, on a Sunday, now they knew I did other things on a Sunday but still went ahead without me, I knew they’d probably only play the usual things as there really was not much time to try out anything new, but we’ll come to that later.

Our sound system is worth mentioning, we didn’t have one. Normally I used an amplifier I’d rescued from the innards of a record player, loud enough for practise it was not going to be powerful enough for the task in hand. Normally two of us would plug into that, the third used an equally unsatisfactory (borrowed) machine with an equal output; we definitely needed more power.

Dad came to the rescue: he was in the process of building a guitar amplifier from a plan in Practical Electronics but had only got as far as making the pre-amp and buying some heavy duty speakers. Taking the 10-watt amp out of the home music system and wiring up the pre-amp and putting one of the new speakers into his reflex corner cabinet he created a system. Now 10 watts doesn’t sound much by today’s standards but this packed a hefty punch and created the volume and a richness of tone we were delighted with, OK, it wasn’t pretty to look at, but did we care?

So we belted out Satisfaction, we belted out Hard Day’s Night and we belted out Get off my Cloud, and suddenly the boys announced we were going to play Eve of Destruction – what? I didn’t know this, smugly they told me they’d tried it the previous Sunday, too bad I wasn’t there. Thrusting a sheet music copy in front of me I was forced to sight read, thankfully I could, and muddled my way through, remember I played bass even if it was on a six-string! We played it again later and as our repertoire was quite small no doubt we played it a third time as well. There must have been other hits of the era we played but the mists of time have eroded definite memories of any others.

Now, whenever I hear mention the song Eve of Destruction I’m mentally taken back to the school gym where my friends and I probably murdered the song, and no doubt all the others we were brazen enough to attempt in our sixteen-year-old youthful exuberance, being invited to play at the school Christmas party was indeed an honour!

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This photograph has recently come to light and shows us in our back garden posing with a variety of instruments. This was probably taken in 1964 on the same day as another photo I’ve previously shown and the year before we were invited to play at the school Christmas party. Note my guitar, made from following a plan in Practical Electronics, I’ve mentioned this before on my blog.