Single of the week

Baba O’Riley (The Who)

Just like Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven and Queen’s Brighton Rock, this week’s suggestion was an album track which became so well-known that anyone would have thought it was their biggest hit. Its author had written a rock opera around three years earlier and was planning on following it up in 1971 with another, but it never came to fruition, but one of the tracks written for it became an everlasting legacy.

That rock opera in 1969 was Tommy – the story of the deaf, dumb and blind kid who played the meanest pinball and The Who embarked on the Tommy tour to promote it. Pete Townshend recalled after the tour, “I saw people dance themselves into oblivion, a permanent state of ecstasy. I’ve seen moments in Who gigs where the vibrations were becoming so pure that I thought the whole world was just going to stop, the whole thing was just becoming so unified.”

The sequel was to be called Lifehouse and as Townshend explained, “The essence of the story-line was a kind a futuristic scene. It’s a fantasy set at a time when rock ‘n’ roll didn’t exist. The world was completely collapsing and the only experience that anybody ever had was through test tubes. In a way they lived as if they were in television programmes. Everything was programmed. The enemies were people who gave us entertainment intravenously, and the heroes were savages who’d kept rock ‘n’ roll as a primitive force and had gone to live with it in the woods. The story was about these two sides coming together and having a brief battle.” The project was never completed.

Baba O’Riley, which was originally intended as the opening piece for that project, takes the first part of its title from Meher Baba – a spiritual leader who Townshend met in 1967. He was a self-declared Spiritual guru. He was born Merwan Sheriar Irani in Central India in 1894 and it is claimed that when he was around 19 he was kissed on his head by a holy woman which gave him a religious reality and so he began studying leaders and their experiences which led him to become more holy. By the age of 31 he took a vow of silence and began communicating by use of chalk and slate, two years later he gave up using the writing implement and began using a self-built alphabet board. He maintained that silence right up until his death in 1969.

As for the second part, O’Riley came from the Californian-born composer Terry Riley who was a pioneer at the minimalist school of Western classical music and specialised in Indian classical music who Townshend admired and was a key influence on many of the keyboard riffs heard on the album Who’s Next. In the sleeve notes from that album, Townshend said he wrote it as his vision of what would happen if the spirit of Meher Baba was fed into a computer and transformed into music. The result would be Baba in the style of Terry Riley, or Baba O’Riley, a title which is not mentioned in the song.

Townshend spent a number of weeks on his Lowry organ at home trying to get the right keyboard/synthesizer sound. Eventually he found a marimba setting and set it on repeat to get the complicated repeating chord pattern at the start of the track. It also had a special pedal that, when pressed, would repeat each note played three times in succession. The track is virtually impossible to replicate, especially when playing live, so, like Queen on the middle rock section of Bohemian Rhapsody, the band play it from tape. The intro repeating section is 33 seconds long until the guitar kicks in and Townshend said in an interview with Rolling Stone, “There is this moment of standing there just listening to this music and looking out to the audience and just thinking, ‘I f**king did that. I wrote that.’ I just hope that on my deathbed I don’t embarrass myself by asking someone, ‘Can you pass me my guitar and will you run the backing tape of Baba O’Riley’? I just want to do it one more time.”

As the song opens, ‘Out here in the fields I fight for my meals’ and the talk about ‘It’s only teenage wasteland’ paints a very gloomy picture, well when Lifehouse was conceived (in Townshend’s mind) it was done in a time when a large area of the UK was indeed polluted wasteland, Townshend explained it as: “A self-sufficient drop-out family group farming in a remote part of Scotland decide to return South to investigate rumours of a subversive concert event that promises to shake and wake up apathetic, fearful British society. Ray is married to Sally, they hope to link up with their daughter Mary who has run away from home to attend the concert. They travel through the scarred wasteland of middle England in a motor caravan, running an air conditioner they hope will protect them from pollution.” He went on to explain the ‘teenage’ bit, “they are regular people but they’re the scum off the surface; there’s a few farmers there. It’s mainly young people who are either farmer’s kids whose parents can’t afford to buy them experience suits; then there’s just scum, like these two geezers who ride around in a battered-up old Cadillac limousine and they play old Who records on the tape deck. I call them track fans.”

The last minute and a quarter of the song features a violin which was played by Dave Arbus, a member of the group East of Eden who will always be remembered for their 1971 hit Jig-A-Jig. Arbus was good friends with the Who’s drummer Keith Moon and it was Moon’s idea to add the violin section.

The song has had a fair amount of television exposure; the creators of the crime drama series CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) are clearly fans as they used a different Who song for each instalment. The original series in 2000 used Who Are You, CSI: Miami uses Won’t Get Fooled Again, CSI: NY in 2004 used Baba O’Riley and CSI: Cyber used the 1967 hit I Can See for Miles. It’s also appeared in a commercial for the Nissan Pathfinder. Pearl Jam have covered the track and regularly feature it in their live show and Mr Big recorded it on the b side to their 1992 hit To Be With You.

In an interview with Billboard magazine in 2010, Townshend reflected; “A song like Baba O’Riley, with ‘we’re all wasted,’ it just meant ‘we’re all wasted’ – it didn’t have the significance that it now has. What we fear is that in actual fact we have wasted an opportunity. I think I speak for my audience when I say that, I hope I do.”

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Hound Dog (Elvis Presley)

Bing Crosby’s White Christmas was the first to do it and Gene Autry’s Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer was the second, this week’s suggestion was the third, but first non-seasonal song, to do it. Do what? Sell three million copies in America. Yes, Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog did it in 1956 and helped by the facts it spent 11 weeks at number one on the Billboard singles chart.

Hound Dog in its original incarnation doesn’t sound much like we know the Elvis version. It was written by the Jewish American songwriting and record producing partnership of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1952 and first recorded by the blues singer Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton in that year but not issued until March the following year. Her version spent 14 weeks on the US R&B chart, seven of them at the top.

In an interview in 2001, Jerry Leiber, who often considered himself and Mike Stoller as black songwriters, said, “We’d actually written Hound Dog 90% on the way over in the car. I was beating out a rhythm we called the buck dance on the roof of the car.” The original lyrics were ‘You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, quit snoopin’ ’round my door, You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, quit snoopin’ ’round my door, You can wag your tail, I ain’t gonna feed you no more. You told me you was high class, but I can see through that.’ “We got to [producer] Johnny Otis’ house and Mike went right to the piano, didn’t even bother to sit down, he had a cigarette in his mouth that was burning his left eye, and he started to play the song. We took the song back to Big Mama and she snatched the paper out of my hand and said, ‘Is this my big hit?’ Next thing I know, she starts crooning Hound Dog like Frank Sinatra would sing In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning and I’m looking at her, and I’m a little intimidated by the razor scars on her face, and she’s about 280-320 pounds. Johnny brought Mike back in the room and asked him to sit down at the piano, which was not easy because Johnny had this female piano player who was built like Arnold Schwarzenegger. They finally exchanged seats and did the song the way she thought it should sound. I said, ‘It don’t go that way,’ and she looked at me like looks could kill and said – and this was when I found out I was white – ‘White boy, don’t you be tellin’ me how to sing the blues.’ We finally got through it and we both said ‘that’s a hit.’ And I thought immediately: We both said it, it’s gonna put a hex on it!”

The producer credit states Johnny Otis, but he didn’t actually produce it, it was produced by Mike and Jerry themselves and Jerry explained to Sylvie Simmons in Mojo magazine why, “Johnny Otis was supposed to run the session and when we rehearsed he played drums. When we got in the studio it was his regular drummer on the stool but it wasn’t happening. I said, ‘Johnny, you’ve got to play the drums, do what you did in rehearsal.’ So he said, ‘Who’s going to run the session?’ I said, ‘we will.'”

In 1955 Elvis Presley was booked in for a two-week residency at the New Frontier hotel in Las Vegas and one evening visited the Sahara Hotel on the Strip and there he was a group called Freddie Bell and The Bell Boys performing a kind of parody version of Hound Dog. They had just released their version on the Teen label but if failed to sell, however, Elvis was impressed with their version and decided to covered it in a similar style even keeping the slight change of lyric where Big Mama Thornton sings, ‘You told me you was high class, but I can see through that whereas Bell’s sang ‘Well, they said you was high-classed, but that was just a lie.’

Elvis recorded his version in early July 1956 and it was released as a double A-side with Don’t Be Cruel. Around the same time, Mike Stoller got married and was on honeymoon on a cruise of Europe. It was whilst returning on the SS Andrea Doria that in thick fog the ship collided with the MS Stockholm just sound on Nantucket Island there was 1,134 passengers on board and 50 of them died, but luckily, Mike and his new wife abandoned ship in a lifeboat and were rescued. When Mike arrived at the dock in New York, Jerry was there to give him the good news that they had their first ever hit with Hound Dog. Mike asked, “By Big Mama?” to which Jerry replied, “No, some white guy, a newcomer called Elvis Presley.” Mike later said, “When I heard the record I was disappointed. It just sounded terribly nervous, too fast, and too white. But you know, after it sold seven or eight million records it started to sound better. I should also say that the other things we did with Elvis I liked very much.”

There was much controversy about Elvis’ gyrating hips in the 1950, so when he performed the song on the Steve Allen Show he was told that his movements were not be received well on a family friendly show, so instead Elvis sang the song to a bassett hound.

The song, was featured in the 1994 film Forrest Gump where Gump remembered an occasion when a young Elvis stayed at his home and when he played Hound Dog, Gump, in his leg braces, began to dance and claimed that it inspired Elvis’ famous dance moves. The song has been covered by a number one acts including John Lennon, James Taylor, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, Status Quo, Van Morrison, Robert Palmer and The Muppets.

The one thing Jerry Leiber didn’t like about Elvis’ version was the added line, ‘You ain’t caught a rabbit, and you ain’t no friend of mine’ saying of it, “that was inane, it doesn’t mean anything to me.”

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Ever So Lonely (Monsoon)

I don’t believe any decade can be matched for its musical diversity than the 1970s, it seemed that anything goes given the number of mixed genres and novelty tracks that appeared in those 10 years. By the 80s a smaller number of genres came and went but radio stations continued to experiment with new and diverse tracks which is what made great radio. If you like the same old same old rotation of similar sounding tracks just tune into any commercial radio station and prepare to be bored. One genre that came in the noughties was bhangra but until then Indian based music made little impact in the UK, but in 1982 along came the sweet voice of Sheila Chandra leading Monsoon which opened a few eyes and ears.

Sheila was born in Clapham in London to an Indian father and a half Indian/half English mother and grew up with both cultures. Her mother was very supportive and encouraged her daughter to attend stage school which led to her winning the part of Sudhamani Patel in the school drama Grange Hill which she played between 1979 and 1981.

Monsoon were an Anglo-Indian fusion assembled by keyboard player and one-time Status Quo and Nazareth arranger Steve Coe whom Sheila had met soon after leaving Grange Hill. “Steve had a lot of Indian friends,” Sheila told the NME, “which obviously had had an influence on his writing and he wanted an Asian singer. He heard some demos I made for the German-based Hansa record label which came to nothing and he arranged to meet me.” The band featured Martin Smith on bass, Dari Mankoo on sitar, Tabla on drums and Jhalib on percussion. Sheila, who became romantically involved with Coe and later married, said of the band, “Monsoon is a fusion, a blend and a crossover. We’re trying to appeal to both Indian and Britons by taking the best of each type of music and blending it together. We want to provide a common denominator for both cultures and to bring the kids closer together.”

They recorded an album called Third Eye and its lead single, Ever So Lonely, is like a western dance track but where the guitar has been replaced by a sitar. Sheila said of it, “Young Asians have always said that it should be easier for their parents to accept pop if there were an Indian singer and hopefully the song will have a soothing effect.” Just prior to its release Sheila said, “If it’s successful it could add another more moderating influence. It could become a talking point in the Indian community because before, Indians often got their music from Indian language films soundtracks, so they would always have different topics of conversation from English youth. Hopefully the song will provide a common denominator.”

The song reached number 12 in the UK and spent nine weeks on the chart. Naturally the record company wanted a follow-up and decided upon Shakti (The Meaning of Within) which missed the top 40 by one place. Third Eye contained a nice version of the Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows. Pressure from the record company was not welcome by Coe and Chandra and so the band split with the couple concentrating on Chandra’s solo career. In an interview with Peter Gabriel years later after she signed with his Real World label, Chandra explained what happened, “Phonogram told my band Monsoon to ‘lose’ the Indian influence when it was our entire raison d’etre! Perhaps I overreacted, but it made me very determined to walk my own path artistically, and very suspicious of record companies in general.”

In 2002 the dance DJ Dave Lee, under the moniker Jakatta, recorded a track called So Lonely and sampled Chandra’s vocals and surpassed the chart peak of the original making it to number eight and Chandra even made an appearance, for the second time, on Top of the Pops.

In 2007, the guitarist and record producer Simon Emmerson launched a project called The Imagined Village which brought many different root musicians together and Chandra contributed two tracks; ‘Ouses ‘Ouses ‘Ouses with John Copper and Welcome Sailor with folk singer Chris Wood.

Two years later Chandra began to notice something wrong with her voice. In the 2013 Gabriel interview she explained, “I’ve had problems with my throat since the early ’90s when one of my vocal chords was scarred — probably during an emergency operation for a detached retina. However, I’d done a lot of work on my throat and I could still sing well, although stamina was a problem and I had to be very careful. I was seeing a vocal physiotherapist and having some very intensive work done on the muscles in my neck to see if I could improve things any further. At first I thought the burning sensation in my mouth was simply a result of the physio work, and only a short-term thing, but it got worse and worse. Now I experience long-lasting neurological pain whenever I speak. Singing is out of the question and I haven’t even dared to warm up for about two years. It feels like my mouth is on fire and it goes on for hours or days, and can get bad enough to wake me at night. Remaining silent — which means no talking or singing or laughing or crying — is the only way to stay pain free, and I’m effectively mute. For the first couple of years I didn’t even get a correct diagnosis, but I now know that what I have is burnt mouth syndrome (BMS). It often strikes menopausal women, and there is no known cause or cure. The frustrating thing is that my voice sounds completely normal when I do speak. It just hurts like hell!

In 2017, and determined to carry on, Chandra became an author and has published Organising for Creative People and Banish Clutter Forever and Chandra said of them, “Fortunately for me, I’ve always written in a voice which is close to the way I speak. I think that comes across in my writing and it feels as though the written word is now my true voice. I miss being able to banter with people the most. And I value language and its subtlety all the more now that it’s rationed.

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Elusive Butterfly (Bob Lind)

Some song writers have a knack of painting a beautiful picture in their songs which many can recognise. Bob Dylan did it particularly well with My Back Pages which The Byrds showcased beautifully. Bobby Goldsboro and Adele were two more who could do that effectively and this week’s suggestion is all about the Elusive Butterfly painted so beautifully by Bob Lind but is it anything to do with entomology? Read on.

Robert Neale Lind was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1942 and got break at the age of 23 when he signed a record deal with World Pacific records, a subsidiary of Liberty. He was originally working alongside staff songwriter Sonny Bono but due to Bono’s commitments he passed Lind over to a colleague and one of Phil Spector’s team Jack Nitzsche. One of the first songs they recorded together was Elusive Butterfly and it was Nitzsche’s idea to add the string arrangement. They also recorded a song called Cheryl’s Going Home – which Adam Faith later had a minor UK hit with, but Lind’s version was released as the A side with Elusive Butterfly on the flip. It was only when a radio DJ on station WQAM in Florida flipped it over and played the B side the people began to take notice.

“I didn’t invent it with ‘Butterfly’, Bob revealed, “there’s a poem by Yeats called Song of the Wandering Angus that said it about 100 years ago, but that’s the sea I was sailing – the sea of longing.” Lind wrote it as the sun was coming up after staying up all night and said, “The song is about The magic of the quest, the thrill of searching, even when that which is sought is hard to see. Elusive Butterfly is a story of pursuit though most commonly it could fit a man in pursuit of a woman, or a woman of a man, the pursuit could be about anything. That is what makes it great art.” One notable, but not unique things about the song, is that none of the lines rhyme.

On his website, Bob gives two examples, “I have two dear friends who have touchingly lived Elusive Butterfly. One is Doug who fell in love with Kate in high school, never kissed her or even dated her, yet he has not been able to get her out of his mind for 46 years and dreams of meeting her just one more time in his life…he doesn’t know why, it is the Elusive Butterfly. Then I have the saddest friend of all, Katarina, who feels she is a woman in a man’s body and has lost her family, friends, job and even her health in pursuit of trying to catch the Elusive Butterfly that is her spirit. Tragically in pursuit of the butterfly she had kidney failure as a result of her surgery to be the butterfly and is now disabled and on life support for life.”

The musicians on the track, apart from Lind, are session people including Leon Russell on piano and Carol Kaye on bass. Carol remembers it well because a minor error she made turned into a signature sound. She explained in an interview with Song Facts, “It was at Sunset Sound, it was kind of a boring tune, I think it was D-flat or something, and it stays a long time in that chord and then it moves in a funny way to the next chord, it’s like a sidebar phrase or something like that. I missed it and I went to go up to the G-flat or whatever and I missed it and I came right back down. I did a slide up and down. And they stopped and I thought, ‘uh oh, he caught me.’ He said, ‘do more of those!’ so the slide was born, then. I’d stick that slide in here and there on the records I cut.”

It transpired a number of years later that Bob had also recorded a much longer version of the song and fans have searched high and low to find it’s proved a bit elusive, like the butterfly. Bob explained, “I wrote it when I was 20 and it was full of sap and blarney. I fought Jack (Nitzsche) tooth and nail to record the long version for the record, but he refused to indulge me and he was right. Looking at it now, it feels fat at that length. I think the edit served it. If someone else wants to record the marathon version, he/she is welcome to it. I don’t have any dictatorial mandates about it.

In the UK the song entered the chart at number 48 and the following week it went up to number 21. That same week a cover version by the Irish singer Val Doonican entered the chart at 35 and both versions climbed the chart and both versions peaked at number five. If only one version had been available it could have gone all the way to the top.

Lind’s debut album took its title from a line in Elusive Butterfly – Don’t Be Concerned and features 12 songs including Mister Zero which the late Keith Relf, former lead singer with the Yardbirds, had a solo minor hit with. Lind only charted one other song, Remember the Rain which missed the top 40 completely.

Lind suffered a few set-backs with drugs and alcohol and eventually split with his record label in 1969 and distanced himself from the music business two years later. In the seventies he got himself sorted out and has been clean since around 1977. In the eighties he had a change of direction and ended writing five novels. In 1991 he wrote an award-winning screenplay called Refuge.

In 2004, Bob had an idea and that was to persuade Woody Guthrie’s folk singing son, Arlo to make a comeback, he succeeded and it was done so at the Guthrie Center in Becket, Massachusetts. Bob played live for the first time in years and was re-energised. The pair still tour occasionally today.

Bob recorded some new material in 2006 and showcased it on a live CD called Live at the Luna Star Cafe where he also gives some insight into some of his songs. His last album, Magellan Was Wrong, was released in 2016 and, apart from one Tom Paxton cover, they were all original songs.

In November 2013, Lind, alongside Judy Collins, was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

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The Poacher (Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance)

In the music industry he couldn’t’ve have been spoken of highly enough, but in the public’s eyes he really could be classed as an unsung hero. Rod Stewart said of him, “Ronnie was the essence of The Faces: the backbone, the heart of it,” and producer Glyn Johns said, on learning of his death in 1997, “He had a wonderful and lasting effect on a huge number of people through his music and particularly those of us who were fortunate enough to come in contact with him.”

Ronald Frederick Lane was very proud of being born on April Fool’s Day 1946, not that he had much say in the matter, and was actively encouraged by his father to be a musician. He bought his first guitar and before long had formed his first band called The Outcasts with a budding drummer called Kenney Jones whom he’d met in a local pub. Ronnie’s mother, Elsie, suffered with ill health from around the time Ron was born which was later discovered to be Multiple Sclerosis which exacerbated the situation. Ronnie said, years later, that his mother was often cold and distant but he spoke extremely highly of this father Stan once referring to him as a Saint.

The Outcasts evolved into the Small Faces – so named because all members were around five and a half feet tall – and Jones and Lane were joined by Steve Marriott on vocals and guitar and Jimmy Winston on organ. After their debut hit, Whatcha Gonna Do About It? Winston was replaced by Ian McLagan. They amassed a dozen UK hit singles, 10 of them being written by Lane and Marriott. In 1969, Marriott left to form Humble Pie which halted the band immediately but it proved to be a good omen because Lane, McLagan and Jones teamed up with Ron Wood and Rod Stewart, who had both been with the Jeff Beck Group and re-Christened themselves The Faces and went on to have five UK hits, the biggest being the 1973 number two hit Cindy Incidentally. One of Lane’s most well-known songs was Ooh La La, the title track of The Faces’ fourth album and was eventually a solo hit for Rod Stewart in 1998.

In 1973, Lane left The Faces and bought a farm in Wales but in 1977 his health began to suffer. He consulted a doctor who diagnosed him with the same degenerating disease that his mother suffered from, MS and so in the 1977 he moved back to London. He tried a number of different ‘alternative’ treatments to help slow the effects of the disease some of which worked well.

Lane, who was known as Plonk and was a real East-end city boy with a twinkle in his eye, went on to form Slim Chance, a band Ronnie often joked that he found the musicians for in a copy Exchange and Mart. He chose the name because when the Small Faces disbanded, due to poor management they were deeply in debt and Ronnie thought that all the musicians would be regarded as a bunch of nobodies and believed they had little chance of succeeding and decided there was a ‘slim chance’ of making it again. The original line up comprised Kevin Westlake and Benny Gallagher on guitars, Billy Livesey on keyboards, Chris Stewart on bass, Jimmy Jewell on saxophone, Bruce Rowland on drums and Graham Lyle on backing vocals. Before any success Gallagher and Lyle left for a solo career and were replaced by Robin Lucas and Drew McCulloch. Steve Simpson, Charlie Hart and Steve Bingham were also members at various times. The label credit on both of their hits credit Ronnie Lane accompanied by the Band Slim Chance almost implying they were just backing him rather than ‘his’ band.

Their first success was with the song How Come which charted in January 1974 and reached number 11, but due to bad timing the follow up had problems because as Westlake remembered, “It would have been a hit had it not been for the BBC technicians strike at the time. We turned up to do Top of the Pops only to be told there would be any show for a few weeks by which time the record was dead,” and so it never got the television exposure it needed and the song stalled at number 36.

Ronnie’s music was very London and The Poacher was the epitome of his rural dreaming. “The idea for The Poacher came to me when I was living in a fortune teller’s caravan by the side of the River Thames at Pete Townshend’s back garden,” Lane said, Townsend added, “He was homeless at the time and they lived like gypsies and they used to cook in the open air.” The Poacher is a very unassuming song which tells the story of a lonely man wandering down to the river with his mind upon his (fishing) tackle. He seemingly tells it from his own point of view saying ‘I went towards the river’. He sets the scene of a bright and clear day with peace all around  and maybe a bit fed up with the world as his words say ‘And I’ve no use for power And I’ve no use for a broken heart I’ll let this world go by’. He clearly is rejecting the world. Former Small Faces keyboard player Ian McLagan one said of Lane, “He was often prone to gazing off into the middle distance,” and this becomes evident in The Poacher.

The track appeared on the 1974 album Anymore for Anymore which barely troubled the UK album chart, but Ronnie loved making the music. His wife Kate always said, “Ronnie wanted to bring music back to the people, he thought doing it for money and fame was wrong.” The album was recorded in Ronnie’s mobile studio on his Farm in Hyssington, Wales where he moved in 1973. He loved to play on the hillside as well as record there, if you listen carefully you can hear various band members’ children shouting in the background.

Ronnie and Slim Chance recorded two further albums; Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance (1975) and One for the Road (1976) then in 1977 began working with The Who’s Pete Townshend on a project they called Rough Mix, but things didn’t work out too well, Eric Clapton said, “He wasn’t actually hitting the strings, he was sort of just hovering above them,” and Townshend said, “He couldn’t balance, he couldn’t stand up, and I just thought he was drunk,” sadly it was his multiple sclerosis.

This disease was bringing Lane’s career to a halt. He was desperate to carry on making music and even tried various treatments including injections of snake venom and in hyperbaric oxygen therapy which did give him some physical relief. He was impressed with the latter and even looked to opening a London hyperbaric oxygen chamber and so his long-time producer and friend Glyn Johns organised a benefit concert to be held at the Royal Albert Hall in 1983. Ronnie recalled at the time, “It was my lady who came up with the idea but I didn’t think it would get such a response and not from the people we got,” the names on list included, Jeff Beck, Kenney Jones, Bill Wyman, Andy Fairweather Lowe, Charlie Watts, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Steve Winwood. “My imagination is pretty potent but I didn’t imagine anything like this, the response to Glyn Johns’ project on my behalf was amazing and they all seemed so happy to be doing it, it was almost like they were all waiting in the woodwork for an excuse to come out and do such a thing.”

In 1984, Lane emigrated to Texas where the weather was more beneficial to his health, 10 years later he and his wife moved again, this time to Trinidad, Colorado initially with Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and Jimmy Page covering his medical bills because Lane couldn’t earn and the royalties for songs he had written were not forthcoming. In June 1997 he caught pneumonia and died on 4th June that year aged just 51.

Lane never lost his love of playing and writing good-time music and always remained upbeat. When people asked how his treatment was going, he often joked, “Well a mosquito bit me this morning – and it died.”

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