Whenever I look at this image, my mind goes back to those guitar-playing days of my youth. And in case you are wondering – this is not Buddy Holly although he is a pretty good lookalike. This is Mike, a brilliant musician, sadly no longer with us, who I played with, recorded with, and shared a flat with forty and more years ago. Yes, really!
I got my first acoustic guitar in the days of Joan Baez, Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Kingston Trio etc. I played their music plus Negro Spirituals and Gospel. The first album I bought was of the guitar legend Chet Atkins. I played finger-picking folk style, and then bought a semi-acoustic Hofner and started being a rhythm guitarist too.
I met Mike when we were both at Cambridge University. Cambridge was at the centre of new developments in every facet of life including the introduction of Christian rock music into church services. A bunch of us got involved under the awful mouthful of a name: ‘the 20th Century Church Light Music Group’. We played the music of Sydney Carter, Geoffrey Beaumont and others who re-wrote new tunes to old favourite hymns and wrote entirely new music. We performed and led services here and there.
Fast forward 2-3 years and back down in London, the group (now associated with multi-faceted performers including dance and theatre) changed its name to Reflection and created its own record label ‘Reflection Records’. We released an album titled ‘The Present Tense’ of Sydney Carter’s music. We sold several thousand copies. Other albums followed. Mike was the producer and the ring master.
I recall days in recording studios, concerts in central London, a series of performances over Christmas in the East End of London, a live performance on BBC radio on a Sunday morning (scary). I ran the record sales for a year or two, packing up records and dispatching them to mail order clients, quite often overseas including the USA. Slowly over the years we all went our separate ways and married and had children, but the flag continued to fly and the concept of course continues and is now mainstream. And despite Mike not being with us anymore the website is still up there on the net (click here) as a memory and as a listing of what he achieved and of which I was privileged to be a small part.
Those were the days….. That acoustic guitar still sits in the corner of my study. I can see it as I write. I haven’t touched it in years. I wonder if it’s still in tune…