Intro Part 2 – Down at Dusty’s

Following on from Intro Part 1

1980: It had been a couple of years tinkering around on keyboards and composing tunes that had brought me to the decision that I wanted to take music further. After spotting an add in the local paper from a guy called Ivor who wanted a synth player for his band My Pierrot Dolls, I took the bull by the horns and rang him. A try out audition was arranged and that was that, no turning back. From what I had heard the band were dark electro in style and were reasonably well-known locally.

The prospect of turning up at a strange venue, meeting a few well-established and respected musicians, show-casing my not-so-skilled keyboard abilities in a genre I wasn’t that familiar with filled me with dread. For someone who had previously suffered major anxiety issues walking into an office full of work colleagues, this opportunity would go one way or another.

I packed up my Yamaha keyboard in a large blue nylon bag (I couldn’t afford a case), walked down to the bus station and made my way to the Dusty Miller public house in Rotherham, the venue for the try out/audition. On the top deck of the bus with the synth jammed tightly between my feet and the seat in front, I had no idea what to expect. I had dressed a little less conventional than I normally would have in an attempt ‘to fit in’ and tried not to anticipate anything. I made my way through the streets and eventually found Dustys.

dustymiller

The pub was a traditional, town based watering hole for locals and nearby workers. I asked where to find the band and was directed up an old wooden staircase into a large and tired looking function room. At the far end of the room there was the band: Ivor (Vocals), Barry (bass) and Eddy (Drums). Also there were Ivor and Eddy’s girlfriends and maybe one other but memories are distant and blurred now.

Ivor was a confident, direct and decent bloke who made me feel at home and his relaxed but dogmatic approach was helpful. Barry played a mean bass guitar and his calm and laid back approach was infectious. Eddy the drummer was keen and drummed consistently… although not for much longer. For the next hour or so we jammed and heard Ivor’s vision for the band, practised some well-established numbers; chiefly ‘My Pierrot Dolls’ the band’s anthem. We drank together and despite a less than average input from me or so I thought, Ivor and Barry invited me back for rehearsals.

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Ivor

After several weeks of writing new material, practicing established tracks and tightening up our act, Pete, another keyboard player joined us. Pete was a showman who outwardly never lacked confidence in his abilities or looks. He was usually accompanied by his girlfriend Linda who always had an opinion on what worked and what didn’t work…in a good way.  It was clear that Eddy’s consistency in drumming wasn’t improving and it just wasn’t working with the current line-up and it was time for him to go. Ivor, Barry, Pete and I drew lots as to who was going to tell Eddy that his time was up. Barry lost and did the deed by telephone on the old payphone sited at the bottom of the stair. In retrospect the sacking was probably best delivered by Barry as he could rarely sound offensive. Roland (the drum machine) took Eddy’s place and was more in keeping with our musical style at the time. Ivor and Pete programmed most of the drum tracks as I recall.

This is the original lot I drew for who should tell Eddy it was time to pack his sticks. Kept alongside numerous other mementos from those days; more of which you’ll see in other posts.

imgMPD001

MPD1
Pete, Barry, Ivor, Ian

We went on to gig regularly, recorded a demo tape, entered competitions and built up a large local fan base. There were memorable gigs involving police escorts, drunken can throwing dockers and fan fights but equally so there were many great gigs that ended on highs like only live performance can give you. I’ll blog about these events in the near future.

Fashion played an important role in the band with many young fans replicating our look. It was post punk early new romantic crossed with goth. Make-up was obligatory and got increasingly flamboyant with each passing gig. This photo was prior to Eddy leaving, one of our early gigs Rotherham Arts Centre.

Eddie-Craven

Here are links to the My Pierrot Dolls web page managed by Ivor and the Facebook page which details the bands gigs and such – they are still gigging 35 years on and one day, if I coincide, I shall be on the front row soaking up the many happy memories of my time with the band.

My Pierrot Dolls

My Pierrot Dolls – Facebook

This is the Band’s anthem which they still perform, this version is later than my time with the band but it gives you an insight into the type of music we played. The accompanying video was put together by a long-standing fan and there are one or two very shot shots of our band playing at Clifton Hall in Rotherham but the quality is poor. Searching online I managed to find a video from which those short clips were taken from, both can be found below. Video quality deteriorates over time and the cameras were rare and the size of a Fiat Punto back then. Oh the fashion…

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