The death of first my father, and then my mother, within a few short months put the blog on hold.
So it’s only fitting that I return with something of a personal tribute.
I have a lot to thank my parents for.
From my mum I got a love of reading and writing that has served me well over the years
And thanks to my dad I fell in love...
As a child I loved the sound, the sight, even the smell of his long-playing records in their cardboard covers.
There was Bert Kaempfert, Buddy Holly, James Last, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash.
Because Maurice loved his music.
When he built his own hi-fi, I was full of wonder.
“What does it do?” I asked.
“You’ll be able to hear the musicians breathe,” he told me.
And, d’you know, he was right.
It was a revelation.
When the time came, he bought me my first album. It was Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Not fashionable these days, but a major release back then.
We listened to every note together, read all the lyrics together.
When I reached the age of 15 I was desperate to go to my first rock concert.
I’d heard The Strawbs were good, so my dad queued up in Manchester to buy tickets.
A few days later we saw them on a TV show called Disco 2.
They strummed their guitars, playing jangly folk rock – and they were bloody awful.
Dad and I looked at each other and said, as one: “Naaaahhh....”
He managed to swap the tickets for a gig by The Byrds.
Roger McGuinn’s Byrds. McGuinn, Clarence White, Skip Battin, Gene Parsons.
Lovers of the bayou.
I wanted to fit in so my dad took me to a shop in Blackpool where I got kitted out.
Yellow flowery shirt, blue flares, a big steel buckled belt, a suede jerkin.
If he raised an eyebrow, I missed it. I thought I looked the bee’s knees.
Truth was, I looked more like a very camp window cleaner.
We got to the Free Trade Hall to find everyone wearing faded T-shirts, denim and greatcoats.
I didn’t care. We loved every minute.
Eight Miles High stretched out to nigh on half an hour. I was hooked. We both were.
We went to see Sha Na Na, Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Mayall, BB King, Fairport Convention, Santana, Wishbone Ash and many more.
And each time it was a toss-up as to which of us had enjoyed the gig more.
My dad became such a regular visitor to the Free Trade Hall that the security guards recognised him by sight.
Once, I was offered tickets to see a string quartet playing an obscure piece – but I couldn’t go.
Dad and mum went instead,
“Are you sure you’ve come to the right place?” the man on the door asked them.
They sneaked out during the first interval.
“Didn’t reckon you’d last that long,” grinned the doorman.
Our love affair with music never ended.
When I turned 50 a colleague said to me: “You’ll have to stop going to see all those noisy rock bands, get some slippers and listen to The Bachelors.”
“You should meet my dad,” I replied. “He’s 80 and loves his Creedence. You can hear it down the street!”
In recent years I’d introduced dad to the blues guitar of Joe Bonamassa. He’d introduced me to some Gaelic folk groups.
That’s something I’ll always do. Whenever I hear great music, I’ll still say: “You should hear this one, Dad!”
Because I’m sure he’ll be listening somewhere.
Thank you Dad. I’ll miss you.
Maurice Cole 1924 - 2013
Jean Cole 1931 - 2014
Rest in Peace (or as loud as you want).