Once upon a time, in a dank, dark, dingy dungeon called the Furniture Cave in Chelsea in 1974 rehearsing material for Kimono My House, it all began so promisingly. I wiggled the Rickenbacker 4001 with abandon and irritated engineer Richard Digby Smith beyond all reason with my demands for sonic perfection.
I played the Rick all through Jet, including at the spectacular CBS convention at the Commonwealth Institute in London (1974) when drummer Jim Toomey went into a spontaneous drum solo during the intro to the very first song.
And I played it at the Marquee in London during Jet’s only gig with Ian Macleod in 1975. The music stand in front of him shows that it was still early days for the second version of the glam-bandwagon-climbing Jet. Brian D’Amage had received his slouching orders, so at least the F chords were now rendered cleanly.
The Rickenbacker made it into Radio Stars but, following one of those innumerable Radio Stars/Hotrods tours, I sold it to their bassist Paul Gray, whereupon (so Paul informed me recently) it fell to bits. The neck began to bend, he says, and lumps fell off it. Clearly I sold it at the right time.
So that Rick became defunct. But that doesn’t stop Island Records from flogging CDs (remember them?) featuring it, does it? (Clue – no, it doesn’t). ‘Barbecutie’ turns up on the rather oddly-titled ‘Island Records Post-Punk Box Set – Out Come the Freaks‘. And then Island declare the album to be ‘Explicit’, whatever that means. Explicitly for Mole-lovers? Who knows, or indeed cares? Not I. But I digress…
For the remainder of Radio Stars’ brief life, I played a Rick 3001 (and a Precision, but that’s another story). This model was rather less elaborate, but possibly more in tune with the times.
And then, to be frank, I dumped Ricks for 20 years, until the 90s. Well, let’s face it, who needed bassists in the 80s? When John’s Children made their US debut in San Diego in 1999, I borrowed a 4001 from Anja Stax. Joy was unbounded.
Actually that’s not strictly true, in fact. We were just about to go into ‘Dirty Pictures’ when guitarist Boz Boorer deliberately began playing an entirely different tune. We had ‘authenticity’ issues until late in the night that evening, I can tell you this much. Sodding purists.
And when I made my own personal US debut in Boston in 2007, I borrowed one from Tristan da Cunha’s bassist Brian Church. It was even a blond one, for old times sake. But it had a sticker.
Then along came my Scandinavian Mammal-debut, in Stockholm in 2011. Here I used local boy Anders Lundquist’s fine-looking black 4001.
And finally, in 2014, just in time for the GG&S project and subsequent ventures, I bought a 4003 and, for the first time, realised that using Ric-o-Sound is actually a damned good tactic. I had never actually done that before, I have to admit. DI the neck, tweak the bridge – sorted.
And there we are. Full circle. Except that now women are allowed, unlike various shower-based discussions held in Radio Stars times. More on this topic soon. Be seeing you!