Friday, December 08, 2006

The Arabs...they're just disgraceful

There is a very tenuous link to todays story, so lets get it out of the way first...

On that bastion of all that is news and showbiz, GMTV, Lionel Richie mimed nicely to his latest snooze-a-thon song and I was reminded of my showbiz cousin who once booked Lionel for a gig, so I was going to tell that story.

But then i checked and I'd already done it in April, so instead, heres the story of the day my showbiz cousin was nearly garroted and strung from a lamp post after a gig in Leeds...

Tenuous link over...

It was the late 1970's and all over this fine country of ours punk rock was causing all sorts of havoc amongst Members of Parliament and Daily Mail readers, but out on the streets da kids were just havin fun, man, like.

And if you were an aspiring guitar player with pretensions and ambitions to do that job in a professional capacity then punk was where you had to be, man, like.

And so my normally sober, upright, fine, outstanding citizen of a youth, my cousin Ray, formed a punk band with his mates and as most of the punk bands of the time had gone down the Sex Pistols route of being filthy and obnoxious to Daily Mail readers, my showbiz cousin's band decided on a slightly different stage image - they would be arabs.

My Aunti Irene ran up some arab cloaks out of old bedsheets, and arab headresses out of old pillows tied up with rope, they all dyed their faces slightly brown with gravy granules and they spoke to each other in an unintelligible language that no-one, not even themselves understood, it was just made up garbage but it fooled everyone, and more importantly it fooled the music writer for the Yorkshire Evening Post.

The kid who wrote the music column for the Yorkshire Evening Post was an impressionable youth and was granted an interview with The Arabs where, when not laughing behind their ridiculous bedsheet costumes, they explained through their interpreter manager that they had arrived in England determined to make the charts with their next single "The Pigs must die".

The YEP reporter was intrigued as to why they wanted to kill policemen, but they further explained that no, they didn't want to kill policemen, they wanted to kill pigs as pigs were outlawed to those of a muslim faith and should not be tolorated in a free society like ours.

This was good stuff and the YEP reporter nearly wore his pencil out writing it all down, he'd get almost a full column out of this story, just imagine, the YEP might dedicate slightly more than the two column inches a week they normally gave him.

And then The Arabs, or more likely their "manager" dropped the bombshell - they were booked to play a gig at the Warehouse (a trendy nightclub with a reputation for live up and coming new live bands in Leeds) on Saturday night where they would, at the end of their act, slaughter a pig on stage.

It didn't just make the two inch music column in the YEP that night, it made the front page.

And when they went to the Leeds City Council urban farm dressed in their "arab gear" with a YEP photographer to have their photo taken with a huge old pig that was a pet in the childrens part of the farmyard, it hit the headlines again the following night under the banner of "THE PIG DIES ON SATURDAY NIGHT" with all four of them making a throat cutting motion in the photograph.

And on the Friday morning they made the national newspapers and a local councillor who had read the YEP headlines promised the citizens of Leeds that their pet pig was safe at the councils urban farm and that extra security would be employes to ensure that these horrible arab people did not kidnap said animal.

The gig sold out.

And they had a big problem on their hands.

The Warehouse would be full on saturday night, full of punk rock fans, full of punk rock fans who were used to being abused and spat on by the bands that they supported - and they were all expecting a see a pig slaughtered in front of their eyes, and probably have bits of the pig thrown at them in a punk rock stylee.

The Arabs didn't want to do the gig.

But they had a contract and they were forced on stage, almost at gunpoint by the nightclub's manager and security staff - the crowd went crazy in the crazy way that punk rock crowds did in 1978, lots of mayhem and fighting inthe audience while The Arabs went through their set of unintelligible lyrics and unimaginable decibel levels of random and furious guitar strumming.

The crowd had reached fever pitch towards the end of the set but The Arabs played on, unsure of how to finish the gig and leave the building alive without first butchering a pig, it was probably one of the best punk sets played in Leeds that year and it went on and on and on, the band edging their way nearer and nearer to the back of the stage where the firedoor to an alleyway awaited them, it would be every Arab for himself when the last chord died down and the instruments would have to make their own luck as they were abandoned on stage.

Then "the manager" appeared at the back of the stage and slipped something to the drummer, at the end of the next song, which they'd already played twice, the fire door was flung open to reveal "the managers" van with engine running and doors open and the drummer ran to the front of the stage with a toy pig and a stanley knife, slashed its throat open and flung the toy and its stuffing out into the boiling mayhem of the angry crowd - they got out of the building with seconds to spare and lost only the drum kit.

Our showbiz cousin learned a very valuable lesson that week - you can sell any sort of bullshit to a gullible public when you have the press on your side, and he bears that motto in mind every time he rings "Hello" or "OK" magazine with another idea for a £5000 photoshoot.

1 comment:

John_D said...

If ever a band was ripe for a comeback......