HELLO FROM HERBIE FLOWERS
HERE'S A TRUNCATED HISTORY ABOUT ME TO PUT YOU IN THE PICTURE. I MIGHT SLIGHTLY EXAGGERATE HERE AND THERE, OR MISS BITS OUT TO PROTECT THE GUILTY. ADD TO THAT A FADING MEMORY. AFTER ALL, I AM OVER 80.
OSCAR WILDE WAS A GENIUS. AN EXAMPLE OF THE VICTIMISED MAVERICK. HE STRETCHED A POINT AND LIT A LIGHT FOR US BUSKERS AND IMPROVISERS. HE WROTE THAT NOVELISTS ARE LIARS - BUT MUST BE FORGIVEN. THEY MAKE LIFE MORE INTERESTING AND COLOURFUL FOR OTHERS. SO DID THE LIKES OF SALVADOR DALI, ARVO PART, PICASSO, CHAGALL, BOWIE, WARHOL, RODIN, TCHAIKOWSKY, MAHLER, ROMAN ART, RUBENS (ROMAN CHARITY), SHAKESPEARE, MOZART, MILES, ELVIS, DUSTY, (NOTE ONLY THEIR CHRISTIAN NAMES). THEY WERE WINGING IT - IMPROVISING - WE'RE ALL IMPROVISING THIS MINUTE. JAZZ IS JUST THAT - SING SOMETHING AND BE ABLE TO PLAY IT. TRY IT.
MY ABSURD LIFE
"HERBIE" IS NOT MY REAL NAME - IT'S BRIAN.
BORN 1938, A TAURUS.
TRAUMATISED BY WW2.
CYCLED FROM RICHMOND TO RELLIES IN CHAILEY AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE. I NOW LIVE IN SUSSEX.
MRS BARLOW - MUSIC TEACHER AT HOLY TRINITY PRIMARY SCHOOL, SAID "YOU'VE GOT PERFECT PITCH, DO MUSIC".
HAD A TERRIBLE CRUSH ON JUNE MANSFIELD WHEN I WAS NINE. AND EDWINA BALHAM WHEN I WAS ELEVEN.
WHERE ARE YOU BOTH? I'D LOVE TO SEE YOU BOTH AGAIN.
PASSED 11+ TO GO TO TIFFINS BOYS SCHOOL. POSH DUMP. THE PREFECTS WERE ALLOWED TO GIVE YOU THE SLIPPER. JOINED THE SCHOOL BAND ON TUBA. MR GEORGE SPRIGGS WAS MATHS TEACHER AND BANDMASTER. YOU SAVED MY MENTAL BACON, GEORGE - THANK YOU.
JOINED THE ATC - 3522603. WON AN AIRCRAFT RECOGNITION COMPETITION. FIRST PRIZE WAS A WEEK'S GLIDING COURSE AT RAF DETLING. GOT MY GLIDING LICENCE. 1st STEP TO BECOMING A TEST PILOT - MY DREAM. I LOVE PLANES.
I FIZZLED OUT AT SCHOOL - FOR SOME REASON I WAS NEARLY TOP OF THE LEAGUE FOR GETTING THE SLIPPER. I SMOKED 20 A DAY, PAID FOR BY DOING A PAPER ROUND AND HELPING HARRY SMITH THE U.D. MILKMAN. HE TOLD ME OF HIS EXPERIENCES DURING WW1. WE USED TO GET HIS HORSE PISSED AT THE BLACK HORSE PUB AT THE TOP OF MANOR ROAD BY GIVING HIM DREGS LEFT IN BEER GLASSES IN AN ENAMEL BOWL MIXED UP WITH ROTTEN APPLES. I'VE NEVER DRUNK MYSELF.
1st JOB £3.2s.6d A WEEK. ROYAL LONDON CLERK - UGH UGH.
2nd JOB £5 P.W. ESSEX COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISES - THEN CALL-UP. THANK GOODNESS.
IN 1953 MY BROTHER WAS POSTED TO SHOREHAM'S TRULEIiGH HILL AS A RADAR ENGINEER, THE R.A.F. CAMP (A BUNGALOW THAT'S STILL THERE) WOULD HAVE GIVEN US 8 SECONDS WARNING OF A NUCLEAR ATTACK. ONCE I RODE MY BIKE UP THERE TO SEE HIM, AND HAD MY FIRST AMOROUS ENCOUNTER WITH A YOUNG(ISH) PRETTY HIKER STANDING UP AT THE BACK OF THE YHA NEXT DOOR. JUST VERY HEAVY FRENCH KISSING. I COULDN'T SPEAK FOR 3 MONTHS AFTERWARDS, TERRIFIED THAT SHE WOULD BE PREGNANT. SHOWS HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED.
MET VALERIE SAUNDERS. HER FATHER WAS AN UNDERTAKER. FIRST PROPER GIRLFRIEND.
1955 - NATIONAL SERVICE. CARDINGTON, SAW STAN KENTON BAND, OUT OF THIS WORLD. DID SQUARE BASHING AT WEST KIRBY. WANTED TO BE A FIGHTER PILOT. FAILED OFFICER SELECTION (NOT OFFICER MATERIAL THEY SAID). APPLIED TO BE A BANDSMAN INSTEAD. SENT TO RAF UXBRIDGE FOR AUDITION ON TUBA. PASSED. SIGNED ON FOR NINE YEARS. SPENT SIX MONTHS IN THE SCHOOL OF MUSIC.
GOT POSTED TO RAF CHANGI, SINGAPORE. WENT ROUND THE CAPE ON THE TROOPSHIP EMPIRE FOWEY. WE WENT EVERYWHERE - CEYLON, MALAYA, PHILIPINES, MALDIVES, HONG KONG, BORNEO, PAKISTAN. WE FLEW AROUND IN A CLAPPED OUT VICKERS VALETTA, A TWO ENGINED TRANSPORT PLANE THAT WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FLY ON ONE ENGINE. DISCOVERED JAZZ. STILL MY FIRST LOVE.
BOUGHT MY DOUBLE BASS FOR £40. I'VE STILL GOT IT.
MARRIED THE COLONEL'S DAUGHTER. HAVE NOW GOT A 53 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER AND A 50 YEAR OLD SON, AND A 19 YEAR OLD GRANDAUGHTER. HOW I LOVE 'EM.
GIGGED AT THE RAFFLES HOTEL. SMOKED MY FIRST JOINT. TERRIBLE. DON'T DO IT.
I'VE GOT TWO MEDALS!! GSM AND 50th ANNIVERSARY DECLARATION OF MALAYA'S INDEPENDENCE. OUR NON-COMBATANT ACTIVE SERVICE CONSISTED OF AIR SEA RESCUE MISSIONS LYING IN THE BELLY OF AVRO SHACKLETONS, LEAFLET DROPPING OVER THE MALAYAN JUNGLE TELLING COMMUNIST INSURGENTS TO SURRENDER - CLIFFORD DANN, OUR LOCAL ESTATE AGENT''S FAMILY WERE RUBBER PLANTERS OUT THERE - HE REMEMBERS US DOING IT.
ON REPATRIATION GOT INTO THE ROYAL AIR FORCE CENTRAL BAND AT R.A.F. UXBRIDGE. DID DEPUTY WORK PLAYING DOUBLE BASS AND/OR TUBA IN THE PITS OF WEST END THEATRES, 4 CENOTAPH REMEMBRANCE PARADES. ROYAL TOURNAMENTS. WEST SIDE STORY, HELLO DOLLY, OLIVER, BLITZ, SWEET CHARITY. RAYMOND REVUE BAR, DANNY LA RUE'S, BAL TABARIN, GARGOYLE CLUB, - SESSIONS, MANCINI, SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE PALLADIUM, ROYAL VARIETY SHOWS.
WENT ON QUEEN ELIZABETH TRIPS TO NEW YORK WITH THE GERALDO ORCHESTRA. SAW LOTS OF JAZZ BANDS IN DODGY CLUBS. LOVED IT. BOUGHT MY BLUE FENDER JAZZ BASS. STILL GOT IT.
DEMOBBED, ACTUALLY I PURCHASED MY DISCHARGE AFTER NINE YEARS. LIVED IN UXBRIDGE, SO QUICKLY GOT WORK IN LONDON. WORKED FOR DAVID ESSEX, (ROCK ON), ELTON JOHN, (TUMBLEWEED CONNECTION, MADMAN ACROSS THE WATER), SCAFFOLD, (THANK YOU VERY MUCH), DAVE DEE, DOZEY ETC, DUSTY, SPACE ODDITY, SERGE GAINSBERG, NILSSON, MACARTNEY, (BROAD STREET), RINGO (SMELL THE ROSES) GEORGE H, JOE LOSS, TOP OF THE POPS ORCHESTRA. AND ON AND ON AND ON.
WROTE GRANDAD. GOT A BIT OF STICK FOR THAT, BUT HEY, COME ON, WRITING A NUMBER ONE IS QUITE SPECIAL. WAS AWARDED AN IVOR NOVELLO AWARD, HAHA!
I WAS IN BLUE MINK, T.REX, SKY (ONLY ROCK BAND TO DO A GIG IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY). TOURS WITH MANCINI & RPO CONCERT ORCHESTRA, LSO (CLASSIC ROCK).
WROTE 'THE ALCHEMIST (WEDDING OF THE SUN AND MOON)', GOT ERTÉ TO PAINT THE CHARACTERS. PUBLISHERS COULDN'T AGREE. PROJECT SHELVED. SKINT AGAIN.
1974 TOURED THE USA BOWIE'S BAND (DIAMOND DOGS), LOU REED (WALK ON WILD SIDE, PERFECT DAY). TWENTY FOUR QUID.
JOINED "OASIS" NOT THE GALLAGHER OASIS - THE EARLIER ONE, WITH PETER SKELLERN, MARY HOPKINS, JULIAN LLOYD WEBBER, MITCH DALTON. DISBANDED AFTER ALTERCATION OVER SHARED DRESSING ROOMS AT PEBBLE MILL AT ONE. SHORTEST LIVING BAND EVER.
ABBA - "WATERLOO" EUROVISION CONTEST AT BRIGHTON DOME.
RECORDED A SOLO ALBUM 'PLANT LIFE'. SOLD 299. END OF SOLO ASPIRATIONS.
IN '84 BOUGHT A LITTLE HOUSE IN DITCHLING. PERFECT. IT'S GOT A POND IN THE GARDEN WITH NEWTS, FROGS, DRAGONFLIES, AND LOADS OF GOLDFISH, ALL DESCENDANTS FROM THE ORIGINAL FOUR THAT I BOUGHT FROM A PET SHOP.
I RUN "ROCKSHOPS", OUR NAME FOR WEEKLONG INTENSIVE MUSIC WORKSHOPS, BASED ON COMPOSITION - ROSEMARY PEPLAR GOT ME DOING THEM AT FIRST IN PRISONS, THIRTY YEARS AGO. WE DID THEM AT DARTINGTON SUMMER SCHOOL FOR 15 YEARS, AUSTRALIA - ALL OVER THE SHOP REALLY - THE ORPHEUS CENTRE, GODSTONE; BRIGHTON DOME FOR 20 YEARS. MY FAVOURITE GIGS ARE 'JAZZ BREAKFASTS' ALL OVER THE SHOP. NOT TO NAMEDROP, BUT HAVE DONE COURSES IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE BOURNEMOUTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, WHICH INCLUDED DAVID BEDFORD'S MASTERPIECE 'THE WRECK OF THE TITANIC'. TEN TOURS IN THE "BLACK SMOKE BAND" WITH A BIG ORCHESTRA PERFORMING 'JEFF WAYNE'S MUSICAL VERSION OF H.G.WELL'S THE WAR OF THE WORLDS'. WHOOPEE! I LOVE PLAYING LIVE; LOADS OF RECORDING DATES STILL - A FEW DAYS IN PARIS FOR JEAN CLAUDE VANNIER AND BENJAMIN PAULIN; AN ALBUM FOR JOE PICKERING - A SINGER SONGWRITER GREATER THAN THEM ALL - JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE. GOOGLE SOME OF THESE NAMES IF THEY'RE UNFAMILIAR TO YOU.
LAST REMAINING OLDER RELLIE - AUNTIE MAY - POSSLQ - (LOVELY WORD, GOOGLE IT ). WE FOUND HER HUSBAND'S WAR GRAVE IN THE CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY IN SICILY'S MOUNT ETNA NATIONAL PARK RECENTLY, 70 YEARS TO THE DAY HE WAS KILLED, ON A CRAZY CHURCHILLIAN AND MONTGOMERARIAN FOLLY - ATTACKING GERMANY'S SOFT UNDERBELLY. DAMN POLITICIANS. KEEPING TRIDENT, AFGHANISTAN, FAST TRAINS, CUTTING ART FUNDING, AND NO PROPER OPPOSITION.
I DON'T LIKE: AMERICA'S USE OF THE UMLAUT, i.e. REËNTRY, COÖPERATION, AMERICA'S CLAIM TO HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHANGE THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. OXFORD OED. OMISSION OF CHARABANC ETC.
NEW WORDS, LIKE WORDFEST, FACEBOOK, TWENTYFOUR SEVEN.
FAVOURITE LYRIC? BY DALE WASSERMAN - FROM 'MAN FROM LA MANCHA'
I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is.
Pain, misery, hunger... cruelty beyond belief.
I have heard the singing from taverns and the moans from bundles of filth on the streets.
I have been a soldier and seen my comrades fall in battle... or die more slowly under the lash in Africa.
I have held them in my arms at the final moment. These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing. No glory, no gallant last words... only their eyes filled with confusion, whimpering the question, "Why?"
I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived.
When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?
Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams - this may be madness.
To seek treasure where there is only trash.
Too much sanity may be madness -
and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be.
COUNTING IN THREES. YARDS, FEET, INCHES - THE CLOCK, THE CIRCLE, OLD MONEY, BUYING EGGS.
I DON'T BELIEVE IN COPYRIGHT. COMPOSERS, PUBLISHERS, STREAMERS DIDN'T INVENT RADIO OR CD'S. ROCK GROUPS MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TOURING & MERCHANDISING. YOUNG PEOPLE WANT FREE MUSIC. WE USED TO TAPE OUR RECORDS AND GIVE COPIES TO OUR MATES. PUBLISHERS GET 50% FOR DOING NOTHING. RECORD LABELS GET FREE ADVERTISING ON RADIO AND TV.
I'M THE ONLY FABIAN ROYALIST - ABSURD BUT BETTER THAN HAVING A PRESIDENT BORIS. CAN YOU IMAGINE?
SCOTTISH REFERENDUM SHOULD INCLUDE THE ENGLISH, WELSH AND ULSTER PEOPLE BEING ALLOWED TO VOTE. - SCOTLAND WOULDN'T HAVE AN ENGLISH PRIME MINISTER, WOULD THEY?
FALKLANDS ARE OURS. SO IS GIBRALTAR. SPAIN HAS GOT THREE COLONIES IN MOROCCO.
AMERICA SHOULD GIVE ALASKA BACK TO RUSSIA. AND GUANTANAMO BACK TO CUBA. AND TEXAS & NEW MEXICO TO MEXICO, AND GET OUT OF THE 94 COUNTRIES THAT IT HAS TROOPS IN.
WE SHOULD BRING OUR TROOPS HOME FROM EVERYWHERE. DUMP TRIDENT.
£1000 FINE FOR SPEEDING AND 40 TON TRUCKS GOING THROUGH DITCHLING.
75% TAX OVER A MILLION POUND PER ANNUM.
WOMEN. MARIA CALLAS, KARINE GEORGIAN, ASHLEY JUDD, MARILYN, DUSTY, DORIS DAY, KATHERINE HEPBURN, AUDREY HEPBURN, AMY WINEHOUSE, SHERLOCK, I'M A CUMBERBITCH. DETECTORISTS, INSPECTOR MONTALBANO, (HE'S BANDY, BUT THE WOMEN ARE BEAUTIFUL), PARADE'S END, GREAT SCRIPT, AND PHOTOGRAPHY. GOOD OLD BBC. PRIVACY LAWS, BAN CC, USE ONLY BCC.
I'M PLANNING MY ARSE KICKING PARTY AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL ON MY 100th BIRTHDAY ON MAY 19TH 2038. MY GUESTS WILL INCLUDE, IF THEY'RE STILL AROUND, ONASSIS, FOR THE WAY HE TREATED MARIA CALLAS, THE CYCLING MINISTER, BLAIR, BORIS, THE RED HAIRED MURDOCH WOMAN, ALL THE MURDOCHS, WILLIAM HAGUE, THE JUDGE OF LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER, J.F.K.'S FATHER.
MY NEXT PROJECT IS 'WAITROSE MEET'. WILL EXPLAIN WHEN IT'S UP AND RUNNING. IT'S A SORT OF DATING AGENCY, WHERE APPLICANTS, AFTER FILLING IN A QUESTIONNAIRE LISTING THEIR ‘PREFERENCES', ARE GIVEN A TIME AND A TESCO'S IN THEIR AREA, WITH A LIST OF THREE ITEMS IN THEIR TROLLEY, AND THEY WALK AROUND UNTIL THEY SEE A PERSON (MALE OR FEMALE) WITH THE SAME ITEMS. IF THEY LIKE THE LOOK OF THE PERSON, GREAT, GO AND SAY HELLO, IF NOT, DUMP THE TROLLEY AND SCARPA BEFORE YOU GET SPOTTED. BRILL IDEA.
SNOWIE, MY NEIGHBOUR'S ODD-EYED CAT. TABITHA AND DILPOTT (MY CATS).
SHOREHAM SINGERS-BY-SEA, THE BOTHY SINGERS, THE CASCADE CHOIR,
WRECK OF THE TITANIC, COMPOSED BY DAVID BEDFORD.
A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME, BURT BACHARACH AND DUSTY SPRINGFIELD - YOUTUBE.
BOLSHOI BALLET, BORODIN'S PRINCE IGOR - YOUTUBE
MY FAVOURITE BOOKS
I DON'T READ MUCH FICTION. BO BO LO'S RUSSIA AND THE NEW WORLD DISORDER, OBSERVERS BOOK OF AIRCRAFT, I'VE GOT DOZENS OF THEM.
GORDON CORRIGAN'S HISTORY OF WW2, THE NEW YORKER, NEW SCIENTIST, PRIVATE EYE, THE NEW STATESMAN, PROKOFIEV'S DIARIES, ARE ALL GOOD READS.
FOOTBALL, TELEVISION SHITE, BAD WRITING - WILL SELF, COMPUTER MUSIC, ALL MUSIC DONE TO A CLICK TRACK. OVER REHEARSING, BEING WITH PEOPLE WHO GET DRUNK, TRACY EMIN - SHE ONCE SAID "SHOOT ROYALTY". NOW AN OBE.
WHY I DAREN'T WRITE A BOOK
I COULD SPILL THE BEANS ON A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE BUSINESS - BUT I WORK FOR THOSE PEOPLE, SO I CAN'T SNITCH ON THEM REALLY, CAN I.
EVERY AUTOBIOGRAPHY I'VE READ IS NAFF, FULL OF LIES, AND CODSWALLOP.
ALL ROCK MUSIC IS LESSER ART. I CAN'T STAND ALMOST ALL POP MUSIC.
MAHLER, PROKOFIEV, SHOSTAKOVICH, STRAVINSKY, CHARLIE PARKER, MILES, AHMED JAMAL, NOW YOU'RE TALKING.
HERBIE'S DOUBLE BASS
About double basses made by Hawkes & Son
The instruments manufactured by Hawkes & Son during the latter quarter of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century were supplied to private musicians, orchestras and to the many military bands that existed especially in England. There were three models of instruments - namely the Professor which was based on the instruments of William Baker and the Concert and Panormo models - which were described in advertisements by Hawkes & Son themselves as "Copies of the celebrated Panormo Bass used in the Private Band of Her late Majesty the Queen." Herbie's Bass is "The Professor".
What are the main characteristics of the Hawkes & Son double basses?
All the models are characterised by their violin outline, dropped shoulders, deep ribs and impressive tonal qualities. Frequently destined for tours of duty in a variety of climates from extreme cold to tropical - the instruments were constructed to exacting standards and from choice materials.
What are the main differences between the models?
The Professor was a flat back with an upper angle break, outside linings to protect the edgework and corners and four separate tuning machines.
Were all the instruments made in England?
No. To meet the demand for the Professor and Concert models the majority were imported from Germany and France.
What sort of prices did Hawkes & Son sell the different models for?
From an advert believed to date from 1924 but possibly a few years earlier Hawkes & Son were listing the 4-string Professor instruments at £22.
Did Hawkes & Son make other instruments besides the double basses?
Yes indeed they did. Besides violin family instruments they manufactured an immense range of wind instruments, accessories and sheet music which they sold right across the British Empire.
What is your source for this information?
The Boosey & Hawkes collection held at the Horniman Museum, London.
What sort of wind instruments did Hawkes & Son produce?
They made wooden flutes and piccolos, fifes, wooden clarinets, hunting horns, trombones, cornets, copper bugles, French horns, hunting horns, saxophones and kettle drums. Herbie's Tuba is a 1912 E Flat Hawkes Excelsior Sonorous.
During the first part of the 20th century many of these instruments were very important to the military.
Yes indeed. During the 1st world war the British Army ordered thousands of flutes, drums and military bugles from Hawkes & Son. At that time and indeed throughout the 19th century the flute and drum were used to synchronise and regulate the troops as they marched and the military bugle was the primary means of announcing scheduled and non scheduled events on a military installation, battlefield or ship.
Can you tell me something about this particular double bass?
It is very probable that this instrument is one of what Hawkes & Son described in their advertising as a first quality instrument. This is because the maple wood used to construct the back and ribs is particularly well flamed.
What about the quality of the spruce used to construct the table?
The spruce used to construct the table has a really nice fine and even straight grain.
Are the tuning machines original?
Yes. One cog does have very slight differences to the other three but it is still very typical of those manufactured by Hawkes & Son. This suggests that the instrument was originally built as a three string and then converted at a later date quite possibly in the Hawkes & Son repair shop.
What will I like about this Hawkes Professor?
This Hawkes Professor is a visually imposing instrument. With its violin outline, nicely raked upper shoulders and the outer linings to the ribs - the model is strong, grand and impressive.
What about the sound?
Simply huge - on top of which there are lush-dark tonal qualities.
I am an orchestral player / I am a jazz player.
Perfect. Whatever genre of music you are working on you'll absolutely love this instrument.
It is a well-known fact that the majority of Hawkes double basses have had a very hard life - so to find this particular example in such a decent overall condition - is quite remarkable indeed. With its massive sound and full-tone this really is an attractive option for an upwardly mobile, budget-conscious orchestral professional. Fitted with a set of Rotosound Nylon for the G and D, and Rotosound oundwound A and E meds - it really does produce the kind of juicy-groove sounds that you jazzers are all after. In terms of investment potential - this fashionable piece of bass making history is sure to provide excellent dividends.
LOB (length of back) - 111.5cm (43.88in)
Width across upper bouts - 56.0cm (22.06in)
Width across middle bouts - 40.4cm (15.87in)
Width across lower bouts - 66.1cm (26.00in)
Depth of lower ribs inc both plates - 23.2cm (9.15in)
Body stop - 61.0cm (24.00in)
String length - 106.1cm (41.75in)
Review compiled by: Anthony Houska - MD The Contrabass Shoppe Ltd.
Review completion date: 24th November 2014. Estimated value at least £25,000.
HERBIE'S BASS GUITAR CONTROVERSY
HERBIE'S BASS GUITAR IS A 1960 FENDER “JAZZ” BASS GUITAR. HE CLAIMS TO HAVE PURCHASED IT FROM “MANNY'S MUSIC STORE” IN MANHATTAN ON THE 12TH OCTOBER 1959 FOR $70 WHILST ON SHORE LEAVE FROM CUNARD'S QUEEN ELIZABETH. HE WAS A MEMBER OF THE GERALDO ORCHESTRA. OR SO HE SAYS…
THERE IS AN ARMY OF BLOGGERS, TWEETERS, BASS GURUS, ROCK ADDICTS AND THE LIKE, THANKS TO THE INTERNET'S SCARY ABILITY OF GIVING PEOPLE THE OPPORTUNITY AND RIGHT TO NATTER TO EACHOTHER ABOUT ALL SORTS OF SUBJECTS, LIKE THE HISTORY OF BASS GUITARS. THE ORIGIN OF HERBIE'S BASS, NUMBER 57025, IS OF SPECIAL INTEREST BECAUSE IT CAN BE HEARD ON HUNDREDS OF HIT RECORDS, FROM 'SPACE ODDITY', 'WALK ON THE WILD SIDE', BLUE MINK'S HITS, SKY'S RECORDINGS, 'PINK PANTHER', NILSSON'S 'JUMP INTO THE FIRE', SIR ELTON'S 'TUMBLEWEED CONNECTION, TO NAME BUT A FEW.
APPARENTLY THE FIRST EDITION OF “JAZZ“ BASS GUITARS WERE MADE TO SUIT EX DOUBLE BASS PLAYERS. THE INSTRUMENT IS LIGHTER, HAS A MORE 'FEMININE' FEEL ABOUT IT – AND IS ACCLAIMED TO BE NEARER TO PLAYING A DOUBLE BASS. JAZZ MUSICIANS MAKING THE 'CROSSOVER' LIKED THEM. THEY HAVE A NARROWER NECK COMPARED TO THE EARLIER HEAVIER AND CLUMSIER “PRECISION” BASS GUITAR.
THEY WERE ALL GIVEN A WHITE PRIMER COAT, THEN A RED TOP COAT, BUT OFFERED CUSTOMERS THE CHOICE OF AN ADDITIONAL TOPCOAT CUSTOM COLOUR, e.g. SUNBURST, GREEN, BLACK, OR ELECTRO BLUE. HERBIE'S IS ELECTRO BLUE, BUT UNLIKE ALL THE JAZZ BASSES PAINTED ELECTRO BLUE, APART FROM THE 'DOPE' STARTED TO OXIDISE AND TURN A GREENISH GREY. BUT NOT HERBIE'S. - IT'S AS BLUE AS THE DAY HE BOUGHT IT. THROUGH WEAR AND TEAR IT IS POSSIBLE TO SEE (ESPECIALLY ON THE BACK) THE BARE WOOD OF THE BODY, THE WHITE PRIMER, THE RED TOP COAT, AND THE ELECTRO BLUE.
HERBIE'S BASS STILL HAS THE ORIGINAL ROSEWOOD FRETBOARD, AND AMAZINGLY, THE ORIGINAL FRETS. THAT'S PROBABLY BECAUSE HERBIE HAS ALWAYS USED ROTOSOUND BLACK NYLON-WOUND 'TRUBASS' STRINGS. THEY ARE EXTREMELY HARD WEARING, (HIS CURRENT SET ARE AT LEAST FIVE YEARS OLD), SMOOTH TO THE TOUCH, THEY DO NOT 'SQUEAK' LIKE METAL STRINGS DO, AND HAVE NOT WORN AWAY THE FRETS - WELL JUST A LITTLE BIT - BUT THAT MEANS WHEN HE DOES A 'GLISS' IT SOUNDS LIKE A FRETLESS.
WHAT HAS ADDEDTO THE CONTROVERSY MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE IS THE 'DECAL' (TRANSFER) ON THE HEAD OF THE INSTRUMENT. A PATENT NUMBER SHOWS THE DATE AS 1965. HERBIE SAYS THAT THE ORIGINAL CAME OFF AFTER THE INSTRUMENT GOT WET DURING AN OPEN AIR GIG WITH T.REX., AND WEEKS LATER GEORGE HARRISON'S GUITAR TECHIE REPLACED IT WITH A SPARE ONE THAT HE HAD – SADLY NOT THE REAL McCOY.
NOW IS HERBIE LAYING A FALSE TRAIL TO WIND UP THE 'BLOGGERS AND KNOCKERS' WHO WRITE THINGS LIKE HE'S PASSED AWAY, AND THAT HE'S THE RICHEST BASSIST IN THE WORLD, AND THAT HE'S JUST SPLIT UP WITH HIS PARTNER WHO IS NOW PREGNANT. DIFFICULT TO KNOW REALLY. HE'S SUCH A JOLLY CHAP. CAN'T BE THAT GOOD IF HE WROTE 'GRANDAD' AND APPEARED IN THE TV SERIES “MARC” IN PYJAMAS, WITH A HOBNAIL BOOT ON THE NECK OF HIS BASS.
I'M LEADING AN ABSURD EXISTENCE, KIDDING MYSELF THAT I'M COOL. WRONG. I'M FULL OF B/S, I PLAY OUT OF TUNE, I DON'T LIKE MANY PEOPLE, I'VE BEEN A LOUSY FATHER - I WAS NEVER THERE. I HAVE A FEAR OF LOSING WORK. I SHOULD HAVE FOUND BETTER THINGS TO DO. I DAREN'T TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH, LIKE THE 'COCAINE YEARS', THE INFIDELITIES, THE SESSIONS I GOT SENT HOME FROM, THE SESSIONS I DID TO REPLACE OTHER BASS PLAYER'S WORK (OR VICE-VERSA COME TO THAT), WHETHER IT'S TRUE THAT DAVID BOWIE AND I HAD A FIGHT IN 1974 - BOLAN AND HIS SHENANIGANS. HE WAS GREAT. HE BUILT A MYTH THAT MUST STAY INTACT.