Music Was My First Love
If I had to list all the things that are important to me I am 100% sure what would be at the very top of the list. Music. If there is one thing I simply couldn't live without it would definitely be music. The song Music by John Miles fits me like a glove, no matter how much of a cliche the song has become through the years.
'Music was my first love, and it will be my last'. Music, especially some genres, has always fascinated me. It's one of the most effective ways to capture emotion, whether it is joy, fear, sorrow of aggression. Music has the power to change people's moods. Music is colourful and exciting. If you play it loud you will be completely captured by it. Music can make me cry, especially when I'm in certain moods. Music can make me sing and dance around the room like a lunatic, playing air guitar.
As a teenager I was already fascinated by all of this and devoted a large part of my time collecting music and articles on my favourite bands. In the period around 1985 I spent all of the money I made as a paperboy on LPs and 12" maxi singles with those delicious extended versions of Top 40 hits. Back then an extended version was more than an endlessly repeated sequence. Just listen to the old remixes of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's work and you'll know what I mean.
My love for music will probably (partially) be the result of my father's occupation. No, he wasn't a musician himself but he worked in the manufacturing of vinyl records. Doing work for the same company (EMI) during the holidays got me in touch with the music industry for the first time. Eventually it even enabled me to buy more music at reduced prices. It was also the place where I found my other fascination; work.
As a teenager I always dreamed about being in a band. Not because I wanted to be a big pop star, but just because I wanted to be part of a group of people creating music. I loved to sing, and did not consider myself to be a bad singer either. I would sing along to all my favourite records and would know every single word of the lyrics. I was proud to be able to completely recite the full 'Pros and Cons of Hitch-Hiking' in the eighties. I think I'm still able to do that.
In High School we got musical lessons. This wasn't about any of the old composers or about learning to read musical notes and sheets. No, we got lessons in how to recognise certain instruments, visualize music with graphical drawings, describe songs, etc. We even got an assigment to compose a rap song once. Best thing would be when everybody would get an instrument assigned to them and within the coarse of one hour we would learn to play a certain song. Absolutely marvelous ! I would normally play keyboards or bass guitar. I still regret that I didn't buy one of these instruments as a teenager. I waited almost 15 years before I finally decided to buy a bass guitar, when I finally had the money.
Not being able to play an instrument, I searched for other ways to get involved in the music business. At one day I visited a recording studio of EMI. I was absolutely blown away by the mixing desk and got almost obsessed with the thought of becoming a sound engineer. I gathered some information and found out that there actually was just one school where you could learn that; the Film Academy. I signed up for an entry examn and flung together a very weird sound collage at home, using records and a microphone. It was basically a piece of crap. There were only a couple of vacancies for a sound engineer within the school and I wasn't surprised (although I was disappointed) to hear that I didn't pass with my collage and the application interview.
This event made me decide to try my luck elsewhere and I decided to study marketing instead. I seemed to do well with numbers and I considered marketing to be a nice combination between calculation skills and creative thinking.
The love for music didn't die down though. My collection kept on growing and in the first half of the nineties I got involved in fan clubs for artists like Marillion and Snowy White. The work concerned translating text into English and writing articles. A clash of opinions about the direction and rights of the editors with the chairwoman of the Snowy White fan club eventually made me decide to quit that hobby, but not after having done an interview with Snowy and visiting several of his concerts, one of which was in London.
At a certain point in time, 1995 or 1996, I discovered a band called IQ. Ever since they've played an important role in my life. After discovering IQ I absorbed all of the information I could find on the Internet and I subscribed to the IQ mailing list It All Posts Here. Since I was collecting all of the information about IQ, I offered to write a new version of the lists' Frequently Asked Questions document. This got quite out of hand and turned into a comprehensive piece of work.
After seeing this document I was approached by one Martijn Albering, who maintained a web page on the server of his school, fully dedicated to Progressive Rock, my favourite genre. Martijn asked me if I would be interested in maintaining the site's IQ page and I quickly said yes. This was the start of another activity that would play a major role in my life. DPRP would grow as a site and more team members would join over the coming years. I'm still proud to be one of the first to join the team and help build what has become the most popular web site on progressive rock in the world.
Sometime in the second half of 1996, I gathered all of my courage and called IQ's record label to order some CDs and check on the latest news for the page. Assuming it was a big company (what did I know at the time) I didn't know that I had IQ's keyboard player Martin Orford on the phone, who basically runs the whole record label more or less on his own. Eventually, when I received the CD's and a compliment's slip signed by Martin I started to realise who I had spoken to. I gathered some more courage and called back. From that time onwards I would regularly call Martin to find out what he and the band were up to; news that I would then upload to The Lush Attic, a unofficial IQ page that eventually got around 10.000 visits a year.
When the band played their Subterranea show in Tilburg in September 1997 I had the chance to meet Martin and the rest of the band 'in the flesh' for the first time. During the previous tour in May I had failed to see them because of temporary illness. All band members turned out to be very friendly folks. Martin and I arranged a solo performance at DPRS, a festival which DPRP organised in March 1998.
Helping Martin with his equipment and hotel rooms for that gigs was a further development of a good friendship between the two of us, something which also happened between me and bass player John Jowitt, whom I was able to meet for a dinner with him and his partner Kate while I visited the Crufts Dog Show for work in 1998.
Since then I have visited Martin's place (both old and new home) three times and have come to know his girlfriend Chris and their dog Pipkin quite well. The highlights of those visits were us going to a ReGenesis gig in Southampton, seeing Martin and the band play at the Witchurch festival, sightseeing in Winchester on a rainy evening and above all a walk through the Hampshire fields to a distant pub with excellent beer called Archer's Golden.
My work for DPRP also increased and I wrote CD and concert reviews besides doing the IQ page. When former list owner of It All Posts Here called it a day I took over in January 1998. This was another way to supporting the band and their fans.
Some people do not seem to understand all of this. They complain that I spend so much of my time behind the computer and think that 'the computer' is my hobby. It is not. I really don't care all that much about computers. It is just a tool for me to use in my real hobby; being involved in music, if not from a production point of view, from a support point of view.
In the summer of 1998 I eventually bought a bass guitar and taught myself to play, just by figuring out which tones can be found where on the bass and playing along to my favourite music. I am by no means a brilliant bass player of course, but I do enjoy it a lot and sometimes are surprised by the little ditties and riffs that sometimes seem to flow from my fingers when I'm jammin' around.
'Music was my first love, and it will be my last'. Music is the only thing that they should never take away from me. The concerts, the albums, the nice people in some of the bands. It will always be my top priority. Strange as it may seem.
Ed, February 2000