COLUMNIST: Blondie was a blast, but writing with a heavy heart after loss of my friend Andrew Weatherall
Back in 1977, I was supposed to be covering Blondie for Zigzag, the magazine I edited, but quickly found myself developing an unusually close relationship with the band, especially Debbie and her then-partner Chris Stein.
It seemed quite surreal sitting in a wine bar 40 years later recalling incidents like rescuing Debbie from screaming fans when she was mobbed outside the stage door in Manchester, accompanying Blondie to Top Of The Pops, getting introduced by Debbie to Chic's Nile Rodgers or lovely times spent hanging out with her and Chris at various London hotels.
Particularly memorable was getting play-beaten up by Blondie for a photo session outside the BBC with Debbie sitting on me pulling my hair; suddenly seeing me as an embodiment of the music press who relentlessly gave them bad write-ups. There was so much to recall I forgot to mention the whole Blondie set I was treated to in 1978 at a grubby little rehearsal room in Victoria, with just me in the audience.
Throughout the proceedings, my waffling was interspersed with Blondie classics including 'Heart Of The Glass', 'X Offender', 'Rapture', 'Call Me', 'Picture This' and 'Sunday Girl'.
The next V.O.W. on March 4 comes from Jude and Rick's idea I do my Desert Island Discs (with theme music and Rick Plumley). I've decided to highlight artists we haven't covered (yet!) who I wouldn't be able to brave island life without, each carrying a personal story, including Marianne Faithfull, Chic, Nick Cave, Doll By Doll, Gun Club, Captain Beefheart and Johnny Thunders.
We also launched our Vinyl At The Troubadour spinoff with a massively-enjoyable evening at the legendary London club on February 4 with Alex Paterson, aka The Orb, who I'm currently finishing my next book about. Next one's a biggie on April 14th when, revisiting last year's successful V.O.W. highlight, we'll be celebrating Jimi Hendrix with Only Ones guitarist John Perry (and, fingers crossed, one of Jimi's guitars!).
I'm writing this with a heavy heart as news just came through my old friend Andrew Weatherall has passed away at the young age of 56. So instrumental in my 90s career with Secret Knowledge, along with bands we've covered like Primal Scream and The Orb, Andrew will be honoured at V.O.W. very soon. RIP.