My first ever band was called The Robin Heath Experience. I played bass, with Andy “Kitch” Kitchinson on guitar and vocals, David “Scotty” Scott on lead guitar, and David “Dave” Taylor on drums. You’ll notice we were extraordinarily inventive with our nicknames. My nickname was Janet.
Robin Heath was a guitarist in another local band that Kitch had played in, and was renowned for his twin-necked guitar and his lustrous beard, which he’d since he was 12. The beard, not the guitar.
Robin was never actually in the Robin Heath Experience, but he was the subject of many of the songs in our small repertoire: David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel was reworked into Robin Robin (“Robin Robin, your beard is a mess; Robin Robin, no taste in dress…”); U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday was rewritten as Robin Bloody Robin (“I can’t believe that Rob has finally gone away; how long, how long d’you think he’ll be gone?”); we even had an original song entitled The Ballad of Robin Heath (“Rob’s got a twin-neck, he used to have a Kay; makes no difference coz he still can’t play…”).
We used to rehearse every day in my dad’s garage. Dave’s drums were so loud that you could hear them all the way into next week.
Our first ever gig was at Calday Grange Grammar School: Scotty and I had just left the sixth form there, though only Scotty had left voluntarily. By coincidence, we were to be the support act to Robin’s band: Rob’s band were headliners coz none of them had been expelled yet. To honour the momentous occasion, I painted a portrait of Rob on an old bedsheet, which we intended to use as our backdrop: yes, even this early in my musical journey I was thinking about my stagecraft.
We decided it would be fun to set fire to the backdrop at the end of our set; yes, even this early in my musical journey I was thinking about the use of pyrotechnics.
On the night of the gig, we were approached by several members of Rob’s band, asking us to reconsider our band name and the burning of Rob’s likeness. Rob was a sensitive soul, they pleaded, and might think (for some vague reason we couldn’t quite fathom) that the name Robin Heath Experience was some kind of piss-take. “Mais non! C’est un homage!” we cried. But they didn’t understand. French.
Being the uncompromising artists that we were, we stuck to our guns, until threats of violence got through to our compassionate side and made us see reason; yes, even this early in my musical journey I was thinking about health and safety (mainly my own).
Oh, those were the days, my friend! I thought they’d never end! We sang and danced… badly. But had a lot of laughs. Oh, how we laughed! Like this: “Ha ha ha! Ho ho ho! He he he!” and so on. Yes, a lot of laughs. Literally dozens. So many I lost count once I ran out of fingers and toes.
Anyway, I’m starting to ramble now, I’d better stop.