My inheritance
Kenny Graham bio
Hi there, pop fans!
Smile, smile, smile
It's all over
I have got the furious needle
Brain Drain
Revive me!
My inheritance

The Devil looks after
Hymn Number Dinky Do
The Expert
Post mortem
Tete a tete
Fine, fine, fine
Fame and fortune
Mars, they're making eyes

My inheritance
It wasn’t until my father died recently that I realised just how much he meant to me. It wasn’t that we were particularly close. In fact, as the years went by we drifted apart little by little. Towards the end we agreed on practically nothing. Considering the divergence of our ways of life this, I suppose, was only to be expected. It is my inheritance that means so very much to me. He had no money to leave me but what he did leave me means far more, my love and interest for music.

While serving in the Royal Navy during the 1914–18 war, boredom drove him to teach himself musical notation to enable him to play a three–string double bass in the ship’s band. From there he graduated to tenor and G banjo and later to C melody saxophone. It was money earned at semi–pro gigs on these instruments that kept house and home together during the dodgy ‘Thirties.

During my infant years, he got his kicks teaching me the musical elements and showing me off. He had produced a male infant that could read music before it could make sense of its ABC. By the time I was five I could play simple tunes on finger–style G banjo, read music tolerably well and could recognise the signature tunes of all the dance bands that came on the wireless.

My poor Dad had no idea what he was starting! Around about my tenth year I got him to teach me the basic fingerings of the C melody sax to enable me to play in the school orchestra. By then I was hooked and, although I was warned time and time again against the precarious life of a musician, I knew in my soul that that was what I had to be. Things came to a head just six months before I was to sit for my final exams. I packed my bags and alto sax and set off for my first pro job in Nottingham at the tender age of sixteen. That was me on my way to tear the world apart. I’m still tearing away, but don’t seem to have made much of an impression upon it. But that worries me not.

I love music and all that goes with it. I also love my father’s memory for making it possible.

When the music stops . . .
More and more Americans, Australians and you–name–‘em–we’ve–got–‘ems are deciding to settle down in this li’l ole country of ours. On the other side of the Five New Pence piece, more and more of our lot are leaving for all points east and west.

So why muck about? It is obvious that musicians, never mind prophets, rarely attain recognition at home, so I’ve concocted a brand new rave game. I’ve called it musical countries. I’m writing a Grand March to be played by the Massed Bands of the Brigade of Guards. It will be recorded and bounced off a network of satellites circumnavigating the earth so everybody can hear it simultaneously.

All the time the music is playing all the musical talent in the world must roar about all over the face of the earth. When the music stops . . . well, I’m sure you’ve played the game before!

Are we our brother’s keeper?
 Once again a judge has come out with the old a person in your position should set an example routine. Anytime anyone on our side of the fence with the slightest bit of the old fame gets into trouble with the Law some judge will bring in this reprimand during the proceedings.

What a strange state of affairs! Real criminals, mass murderers, child beaters, armed robbers and the like, end up with far more fame than any pop star or folk singer, but I don’t recall any judge telling them that they have a duty to their fellow citizens. For these occasions a judge likes to delve into his bag of histrionics and come out with “‘Never in all my years on the bench have I come across a crime so heinous . . . ”

Question: Do any of us have a direct moral responsibility towards our fellows? I think not. For example, I don’t seem to remember any increase in the number of suicides when some unfortunate star takes the easy way out!

The show must go on!
The ability of certain key workers to bring the whole of the country to a virtual standstill has got me thinking what a well–behaved lot we musicians are. Suppose all the copyists went on strike. What a mess Show Biz would be in! Suppose as in other trades and professions we had separate unions for different instruments—the Amalgamated Union of Woodwind and Reeds or the Confederation of Percussionists—not forgetting the Brass Blowers’ Union.

What if one of that little lot decided they wanted a rise just before the curtain went up or the red light went on? Horrors! It doesn’t bear thinking about. Yes, it’s just as well we’re a well–behaved bunch of fellas. Or are we? I wonder what would happen within our profession if suddenly music became as vital to the country as electricity or engineering maintenance or transport ! There you have it in a bombshell. The reason we don’t have all that holding–the–country–to–ransom jazz is because nobody would even miss us should we decide to withdraw our talent and labour. Well, not for a few weeks anyway.

Oh well, saylavee! But it does put a fresh slant upon all that cobblers about the Show Must Go On. If the Show didn’t go on it wouldn’t matter much to the pragmatic public or the Trade Gap. The real reason the show must go on is that somebody might find out they didn’t really need it anyway.

Pop music in question
 “Popular music like ‘Puppet On A String’ and ‘Mona Lisa’ was played during the heart transplant operation . . . ” So began the article by Sunday Telegraph Science correspondent John Delin. Surely an event such as this should have been written up by jazz critic Peter Clayton. Apart from that, who on earth did they use as A and R man? What an unimaginative choice of material! What’s wrong with “You Belong To My Heart,” “My Heart Belongs To Daddy.” “You Are My Hearts Delight”, or even “Heart–aches”? Hardly the type of subject to fake about maybe, but surely the fact that music was used during the operation to help relax the surgeons hardly warranted headlines!

Locked hands
What has become of Eddie Farrow, pianist extraordinary and a fine arranger? He came to mind the other day when I saw a TV cop putting the handcuffs on a bent’ un. You might wonder what connection there could possibly be between a law–abiding piano player and handcuffs.

It all happened some twenty odd years ago when we were both working in the Roy Dexter Band in a ballroom in Swindon. In those days musicians were keen and the music was the better for it. We often began a rehearsal after the last paying customer had left. On one such occasion we were interrupted by the intervention of the local policeman. We had neglected to close the windows and he had received a complaint from the adjacent hospital about the sound of a dance band rehearsal at one a.m.

We stopped immediately and invited him to join us in a cuppa before we all left for our beds. One thing led to another and in no time at all we talked our now tame fuzz into showing us his truncheon and handcuffs and even his whistle. The sight of the handcuffs held Eddie fascinated and he insisted on trying them on. After much persuasion the Law consented and Eddie straightaway went to the keyboard to be the first man ever to play real locked–hands style. Happy days!

Thought for the month
 If a French horn player’s instrument plus his innards were uncoiled and laid end to end they would stretch to a distance of 42 feet.

Copyright © 1968, Kenny Graham. All Rights Reserved