My rake through the archive is continuing apace. It’s a major weeding, deciding what to keep, what to digitise and what to sell. The latter is hugely important as this behemoth of a thing I created 32 years ago is a veritable money pit.

I will get back to having useful information on here in the not too distant future but for now I’m on a bit of a self-publicity kick. Not my self but Rockmine. Three decades has left me with more memorabilia, music papers, audio, video and ephemera than I can possible use myself, so it’s time to put on my sales cap and act like your favourite used car salesman.

Having trawled eBay and the greater web, it’s clear I’m sitting on loads of stuff that just isn’t available and it’s about time I got rid of it. Just looking at The Beatles items I have, there’s something for every fan.

There’s some original 60’s memorabilia – Fan Club membership cards with envelope and renewal form, bubblegum cards, Beatles stockings (!), a John Lennon signed EP and much more. More recent memorabilia includes rare PR photos of John & Yoko, a full press pack for the Red & Blue albums and a Dark Horse publicity pack for George. There are also promo posters for George’s solo albums and The Beatles Anthology albums.

Finally, there are music papers and other magazines. There’s a New Musical Express going online very soon that has full page adverts on front and back pages for “Abbey Road”. Needless to say, there are also colour supplements and a selection of magazines and comics, including a rare British edition of the Dell’s 1964 “The Beatles”.

It would be nice to think I could get it all online instantly but it takes time as we are talking about thousands of items. You’ll find updates to recent additions on Rockmine’s front page: http://www.rockmine.com.

I’m finally doing what I’ve been avoiding for the last goodness how long – and getting stuff out of the archive and onto Rockmine’s  site for sale.

To start with there are a selection of solo press release photos from the 1970s to the 1990s. They’re all originals and were obtained direct from the record companies at the time. Since then, they’ve been lying in boxes and filing cabinets untouched and unloved. Now, it’s a chance for other people to actually enjoy them. You’ll find them here: http://www.rockmine.com/rockmall/Solo_prs_a.html

There’s 108 to begin with and more will be added this week to be followed by the group photos.

I’ve also unearthed a selection of promo cards, counter displays, posters and window stickers which are online here: http://www.rockmine.com/rockmall/PromoCards.html

The archive’s collection of music papers is also going up for sale as I digitise them. I’ll be starting with NME from 1968 as it seemed an interesting place to begin. You’ll find a complete list of what’s for sale (Melody Maker, NME, Rolling Stone, Record Mirror, Smash Hits, Sounds, Street Life and many more) in the Music Paper Archive here: The Music Paper Archive

Everything that’s not in red will be available for sale. If you’re looking for specific issues of anything, check it out.

 

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I’ve finally finished the first of a small limited edition as a tribute to David Bowie. Each one is cast using a mould taken from a life mask made in late 1974 or early 1975 for the film, “The Man Who Fell To Earth”.

They’re cast in resin plaster and allowed to cure for 5 days prior to being gilded with 25 – 30 sheets of 23.5 carat, heavy gold leaf. A process that takes about 15 hours to complete. Finally, they’re given a protective coating of varnish to ensure the gold leaf isn’t damaged.

Not surprisingly, I’ve decided to call the edition, “Golden Years”. The finished product is a museum grade piece that makes a stunning exhibit and conversation piece. Further details can be found on Rockmine’s main site at: http://www.rockmine.com/rockmall/goldenyears.html

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It’s been a difficult time for lovers of rock music with Lemmy, David Bowie and Glen Frey passing recently. On a personal note, a friend suffered two heart attacks on December 26th and it’s coming up the the first anniversary of my wife’s death.

These events have made me realise that I carry way too much baggage with me. I have a house and a storage container filled with books and music papers going back to the late 1950s. If anything were to happen to me, I would leave my friends and family the onerous task of disposing of an vast archive accumulated over more than 30 years.

To that end, my New Year Resolution is a simple one – get rid of my clutter! That means the archive in physical form. I’ve spent the last few years digitising my music paper library, so why do I still need the paper copies?

I’m currently in France and will be returning within a week to start putting papers online. Until then, you can view the copies I have here: Music paper Library. I’ll happily accept requests for complete years or single copies.

In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here are some NMEs featuring Bowie covers from the early and mid 1970s which I’ll soon have available for sale. Clicking on anyone will give you larger images to flick through.

 

 

You can enquire about copies via the comments here or by email to info@rockmine.com

It’s odd. A lot of my life seems to have revolved around a loose association with The Doors but when Ray Manzarek passed away recently, I was wandering the Midlands of England, looking at narrowboats and unable to comment here.

Back in the 1980s, I was lucky enough to interview Ray, Robbie and John when they were in London to launch “Alive She Cried”. Several weeks later, when Ray was back promoting his solo album, “Carmina Burana”, he was kind enough to invite me back to interview him at length about his solo work and life with The Doors.

I left our meeting with five hours of taped conversation, most of which has never been broadcast or even heard publicly. The tapes were recorded on a portable Uher reel-to-reel recorder on 5 inch reels. Both the tapes and recorder are somewhere in storage and would need to be digitized before being edited into something coherent. In the past, I had never found time to sit and sift through them. Ray was always there; a fixture of life and an articulate, entertaining ambassador for The Doors music.

My feeling was always one that at some point we’d catch up again and I could fill in the blanks surrounding the history and myth of The Doors but that will never now happen.

I think I need to dig out those tapes and find out if my old Uher still works…

It’s been a hot, sunny day in Paris and I found myself wading through a myriad images of Jim Morrison, stretched and contorted over every imaginable body shape.

There were still the cool rock chicks and the posing guys hoping that mimicking the image would give them the undeniable aura and presence that Jim possessed … but they were not alone. In equal number were the dispossessed middle aged. Crisp, new T-shirts, emblazoned with Doors images, forced over bodies once lithe and young; now fighting gravity and the excesses of beer.

Watching these older ‘pilgrims’ was like watching a host returning to a place of ritual in the hope of rekindling its youth. Shared memories and music; a common bond uniting languages.

Throughout the day, they came in procession along cemetery alleys lined with other pilgrims. Part meeting place, part bizarre catwalk set amidst lines of voyeurs. Admiring glances, updated tweets and laid back tokes contributed to a sense of carnival or picnic where the main guest was expected but unlikely to arrive.

What indeed would Morrison have thought of the pantomime being played out on a stage he’d built? The parade was constant. So many languages, looks and styles. The 21st Century Foxes shimmering in their vintage finery, hoping for the part of Pamela when it’s cast but they were few in number. Even scarcer were the clones of Jim himself. I only saw one who could read for the role but his accent was more Liepzig than L.A.

Amidst the throng he stood out. The face was right for a late 20s Morrison as were the hat and top but not the jeans. Clean, light blue denim against the malevolant black does not a rock star make.

There were family groups. In some cases, each adorned with a Doors T-shirt but they seemed to come and drift off all too quickly. Maybe it was the culture clash of generations but most likely it was just another stop on their sightseeing tour.

The crowd itself was good natured. There was little talk of Morrison or his music but lots on recording the event, for YouTube or Facebook and the mini-documentary they were making. It was like watching the world’s paparazzi finding themselves at a site without any celebrities. their predatory nature turned in on itself to look for anything worthy of the lens being triggered.

Whenever a camera was raised it was followed by dozens more. Had something happened or been seen that needed to be documented? Before long cameras and phones were focused on others taking snapshots of the crowd, there to experience an event.

Earlier in the morning, Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger had visited the grave. One mini-doc maker from Australia, captured the moment. In among the sea of bodies, Ray’s face was seen and then Robbie’s before they turned and were lost from shot. It was akin to a glimpse of the rarest animal or bird for a naturalist – Bigfoot briefly walking out of the woods, only to disappear for another how long?

Light relief came from time to time when a fan would vault the barrier to place a flower or joint on the grave, only to be chased away by cemetery security.

For me the day had a sad overtone. It seemed like the last time this would happen. It felt like watching WWWI survivors at the Cenotaph; their numbers dwindling with time until all that’s left is a memory.

For the old, it was a communal experience. A tribal gathering of allegiance to a belief in what so many had once shared. Old rituals of gathering around a record deck to share the latest sound and message of defiance from their icons are lost to the years.

It was easy to see how much has changed from the headphones that gave the young a solitary experience. Alone in a crowd, experiencing an event as if the only one there. So many seemed disassociated, merely dipping into the day before changing the playlist and going elsewhere. A constantly changing soundtrack depending on mood and venue. The sound cushioning them from the world around them.

Fans of the 60s and 70s had long since left their rebellion hanging in the wardrobe and yet they came in hope of finding a way to reconnect with a past that must seem so far away. They paid their respects and went off to a gathering outside a bar nearby. There was poetry and music and a chance to find a temporary home with like-minded souls.

Raucous sing-alongs peppered the afternoon as they sat and watched, enjoying the experience of not quite joining in. There was little interaction outwith groups of friends who’d made the pilgrimage together and when there was it seemed like an absurd game of top trumps.

For someone who’s spent years sitting in corners watching voyeuristically, it was a fascinating insight into social behaviour but I don’t know what to take from it. On a purely personal note, I found my pony tail lost in a gathering of other men in their fifties all sporting them.

A pichet of red wine drunk, it was time to move on to the Bataclan, where Ray and Robbie were playing. The queue had already formed and the odd scalper was touting tickets at 300 euros a pop but I didn’t fancy sweating it for an evening of communal singing.

I left the crowd and walked round the corner to the stage door, far enough away from the main road to hear the soundcheck or rehearsal start. At first, they verged from shambolic to chaotic but eventually seemed to find their stride. When they did get their act together, they were remarkably tight; working their way through “Texas Radio (and the Big Beat)”, “Hyacinth House”, “Crawling King Snake” and “L’America”. David Brock on vocals was surprising good and took on Morrison mantle well.

Preumably happy with their sound, they stopped and I took it as a cue to leave and take in more of what Paris had to offer.