I came back from a pizza night at Tan and Angie’s on Saturday night, actually it was Sunday morning and decided that I couldn’t sleep, so switched on the TV and the series, ‘The Band’ was on BBC2. It featured Queen.
Now I was a Queen convert. I’d started on the Beatles when my parents, having invested in one of those new fangled record players, bought a record titled ‘Love me Do’, which I have to say I did not like. But several years later on a school trip to Bruges (Belgium) I remember sitting in a café with my mates, eagerly waiting for the release of their latest record, Strawberry Fields (Forever), and when it was played, I recall thinking it was just the best record I’d ever heard.
Later on I ‘progressed’ to Simon and Garfunkel and then the Rolling Stones and finally Queen, when I recognized that Freddie Mercury, despite his rather ‘exotic’ private life, was just the best front man ever to sing in a band.
But then I moved on to probably the best band ever – Fleetwood Mac. I still play Rumours at full blast in the house and the car.
But back to Saturday night/Sunday morning. Following ‘The Band’, the film of ‘the Stones in Exile’ was shown which was quite timely, because the re-mixed, re-release of their original 1972 album called ‘Exile on Main St’ has just made number one in the album charts.
Years ago, the Stones had left the UK when tax rates reached 98% and had decamped to the South of France renting Villa Nellcote in Villefranche sur Mer (pictured). It was originally planned to be just a tax bolt-hole but of course the biggest band in the world at that time couldn’t sit still, so Villa Nellcote became an ad-hoc recording studio where copious amounts of drugs and women resulted in what many critics called a ‘waste of rock and roll talent’ when the resulting LP was released.
The film showed the Stones in all their decadent glory – smoking dope, drinking Jack Daniels, welcoming hordes of women into the villa, sleeping for 24 hours at a time and trying to find their chef to cook for them when he had gone off to Marseille to get more drugs!
Eventually, the music industry recognized that Exile on Main Street was a classic and its re- release may prove to be a bigger hit than the original.
My own claim to fame in this context is that a friend of J’s who used to visit us in Tourrettes once gave me a rather funky t-shirt when either J or myself had done her a favour. It was so outlandish that I could only wear it when nobody could see me and when I admitted this to her later, she said that the design was Mick Jagger’s favourite. She then said that she was a rather in-demand masseuse to the stars in St Tropez but she always refused to provide Mick Jagger with that service because she could not stand handling his incredibly wrinkly body!