Hi, everyone and a big welcome to the new website, which can only get bigger and better as we go along adding that most essential of ingredients, namely you, and that means all of you. It would look awfully empty without you and your input.
Every inclusion adds a new angle and spice to it all and obliterates the tawdry and banal. Our thanks go to Harry Pater who has soldiered on for years as webmeister, and taken his responsibility very much to heart, and It can’t be easy for him. Dealing with the leader/founder of Magna Carta, namely me, who has an intense dislike of social media and its beguiling tactics and obliteration of the true heart of language, must be difficult.
Then there was old campadre, Nelson Silva, who has loved the music for years and sent by Powers unknown to build the new site. He did and has, bless him.
My only recourse is to keep the music up there as long as I can and I have spent the last weeks taking advantage of lockdown, and pasted thousands of photographs and memorabilia spanning some 50 years and a week or two, into albums.
Nowadays people go on line (two words that have changed the face of society) and I am old school. I am not going to put my photos in a PC folder, especially when each photograph, has an atmosphere, colour and character of its own. I can recall taking it, or someone else. So there!
If I am going to be a dinosaur, I might as well do it in style. The world staggers on in travail as never before, and we cannot say that we have not been warned. Even the National Geographic now points out we are the victims of our own self-indulgence and in their words, over urbanization.
How many times do we read or hear about a particular species about to disappear off the planet and the parrot cry is ‘disappearance of habitat’… and then we have oceans of plastic and the melting ice cap…
I love the sheer visual joy of seeing these huge photograph tomes fill with breathtaking worlds of mountains, deserts, and oceans.
Clubs too many to remember, strange tongues, concert halls, dives, endless miles, and angels and villains springing out of the trap of memory.
But stop myself there… one can go on forever.
I looked at a faded box brownie shot of yours truly all curls and smiles and mused he wouldn’t have any idea as to what he was going to throw at the world! Haven’t a clue how old I was either, sitting in my pram, but suffice it to say that my memory is still as sharp now as it was 78 years ago.
After the horrors of the trench wars of 1914-1918 and carnage, of ‘the war to end all wars’ do we ever learn? 21 years later and Adolf turned the world on its axis again. I do recall Dad in RAF blue looking down at me in my cot. Years later and like ‘a young tree growing’ the old man who together with mother despaired of me ever doing anything ‘sensible’ asked me what I wanted to be. I said, ‘an adventurer.’ This was fair enough. In the great wood at the back of the house, I could be anything I wanted from Davey Crockett to Robin Hood. The old man snorted, ‘bloody, hell’ said he, ‘they don’t pay you for that.’
But in a sense they did, for 1971 saw me, Glen and Davey Johnstone, performing my ‘Seasons’ suite with the Royal Philharmonic in London’s Royal Albert Hall. We were guests of HRH Princess Margaret after that and what a roller coaster it turned out to be. But I can still recall my Dad in RAF uniform looking down at me in my cot. He never mentioned the ‘sensible’ bit again. And album followed album.
On through 78 countries, as many of you know and adventures beyond belief. A special one for my birthday off Cape Town, one year, the Humpback Whales were blowing all around us and the scent of ambergris on the wind… Out to Dyer Island and the deckhands ladling ‘chum’ into the sea. We buoyed up and then it happened. I went down in the cage and a Great White shark came alongside.I touched him, several times. What a magnificent beast.
From Jerusalem to Petra; sunrise over the Taj Mahal; the deserts of Oman with the Bedou and I have to thank the guitar for getting me there and the great people I played with.
One especial memory was meeting the legendary Scotty Moore, Elvis’s guitar player. He’d just been invited up to a Stones concert by Keith Richards. He loved it but he mused, ‘I can recall getting there, but I can’t recall coming back!’ They sent a stretch limousine for him and made sure it was stocked with his favorite drinks. He talked of days with Elvis in a tiny car and Bill’s bass on the roof.
Managers ever cast a pall across the business, although he was one of the greatest gentlemen I ever met, he stopped short of the iniquitous Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s manager. He was short and cryptic in his resume of the man. ‘He was an asshole’, said he, and the conversation stopped there. Who knows where all this will end.
The Virus has changed lives for all time and it is not over yet by any means. The Maya in the 16th Century, with frightening accuracy warned of the Pandemic, and the portent would be when 5 planets came into a line. They did a few years ago. As did so many Seers and Wise men, including Nostradamus…
And someone put it in a biopic, an eschatological work, it was given:
‘From time’s first creation
the wise men and prophets
and all workers of magic had warned of the reckoning
the wind and the fire
and the plagues of destruction
that follows the paths of evil’
Welcome to the site and do write in and listen…
With love and music and the odd word or two,
Chris Simpson, September 1st, 2020.