John Paul Young


John Paul Young released Yesterday’s Hero in 1975 and it blew my mind.  I heard it on my little transistor radio and used to wait all day to hear it again.  I was 9 at the time and in Chapter 1 of The Story of Rock and Roll covers it in detail.  This song more than anything else set me on the path of a lifetime of chasing down rock and roll.

I never saw the video at the time and looking at it now it is very dated. The awful 70’s teen idol miming, The Donny Osmond hairdo and the bunny teeth look ridiculous. If you look a bit deeper at the rest of the footage, the early day paparazzi and those creeps peering through the keyhole are fucking chilling. Somehow the vid captures the essence of the downside of being a rock star, like JPY had seen into the future before he was even a star. It’s an inspired piece of work given that it is over 40 years old.

David Essex

David Essex had some big hits, he was sort of a teen idol but there was a lot more to him than that. My best friend Mike and I picked up on him on a sound track to the film That’ll Be the Day.  He went on to star in Silver Dream Racer and was on Jeff Wayne’s War of the World’s.

It’s hard to find good footage from the day, I can easily get modern stuff of better quality and the artist is older but I prefer to stick with how it was because it puts some perspective on where we are today. You can see the Elvis influence on David Essex, chicks just loved this oke. You won’t find one of his albums in my collection but it just had a certain edge to it when I was 9 years old. Please follow and like us:

Alex’s funeral

This may seen out of place in the timeline but I start with it because in the Introduction to The Story of Rock and Roll I use it to explain just how powerful great music can be and how it can transport you from terrible lows to incredible highs.  It’s all about the big chords coming through all that fucking morbidity. When I saw this movie for the first time I got goose bumps , I still get them everytime The Stones fire up ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ which is exactly why this clip is so important.  Hilton Bennet who was a great mate and has a bit part in TSORR got me into this movie and I am forever grateful for that

I would urge you to see this movie, it’s very dated now but it was very cool in the day. The sound track was fantastic and it had an amazing cast, Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Kline, William Hurt, Glenn Close & Tom Berenger all went on to do very well in Hollywood. It’s included here because of this scene, the whole funeral thing can be very depressing but if you leave a funeral, get in your car, crack a beer and put on ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ you should start feeling glad to be alive. Good music and emotional guitar solo’s always give me a Big Chill, I get goose bumps and my arm hair stands on end. Many people I know feel like this and it is a wonderful thing.
The Beatles

The Beatles

The Beatles were all characters, everyone had their favourite, they were recognisable even by silhouette.  As a kid I liked Paul the best but in later years I started to prefer John.  George was an early guitar hero of mine and yep, Ringo was a drummer, a fucking drummer.  My relationship with fucking drummers is well documented in The Story of Rock and Roll

The Beatles were a huge influence on me, obviously they had been around before I was born but I only really heard them when Mum bought the Blue Beatles album. My brother and I listened to it to death and knew every word. My favourite track was always Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and the reason was that it was slightly heavier than the other tracks. I am the Walrus, Back in the USSR and Come Together are all classic rock songs, there is no better introduction to the Beatles than the Blue Beatles album.

Richard Cory

Simon and Garfunkel were huge in our household, Mum took these records out at the Benoni Library and we would have two weeks to listen to it to death.  My best track was Richard Cory, once again in hindsight because it was a bit heavier than the rest of the album.

If you listen to ‘Anji’ off Bridge Over Troubled Water where Paul and Art play an instrumental you just hear how well they played together. It is one of the best two guitar instrumentals I have ever heard. They are famous for their song writing and the way they harmonised but Anji really shows the chemistry they had at a guitar level. The video for Richard Cory was recorded in 1966 the year I was born. They have far more popular tracks but this one is important to me because it got me into these guys in a big way.

Manfred Mann

There was something fantastic about this song.  I just loved that simple driving bass line.  I first heard it on the radio and it blew me away.  Manfred Mann was a South African so we claimed him as our own. He had a massive hit with “The Mighty Quinn” which was a Dylan song and then another with “Blinded By the Light’ which was a Springsteen Song.  Most people didn’t realise they were covers and when they eventually heard the original artist they thought they were kak compared to Manfred Mann’s versions.  Check out the hilarious bit of video on VH1 Songwriters series where Bruce explains how Manfred got the words wrong and sang ”douche” instead of ”deuce”.  Manfred’s version was so popular the pretty much everyone sings douche now.

The moment I watched this clip it was like time stood still. I never saw it at the time but seeing it now makes me fall in love with the song all over again. Check out that big Hammond slide at [1:42], goose bumps. This is off Top of the Pops and you can just see that Manfred wants to rock out, absolutely superb.

Radio Rats

I explain the importance of the Radio Rats in Chapter 1.  They are unsung heroes in my view, they probably had more influence on the SA music scene than most bands.  A lot of bands in SA in the 70’s played covers.  I was too young to ever see them but they featured often in Music Maker in grainy black and white pictures in grimy Jo’burg pubs full of pissed students.  Other than Rabbitt who, image wise were more like teen idols for girls, the Radio Rats were the first SA band I became aware of.  Even more exciting for me as a 10 year old was that were an East Rand band which, with a bit of a stretch, made them hometown heroes for me.

The Radio Rats were very much part of a new wave of rock ‘n’ roll that swept the world with the rise of Punk. The Radio Rats came out of Springs and Jonathan Handley the guitarist and song writer was studying medicine at Wits. The Rats were a big part of the early rock scene in JHB and you can read their whole story here

Billy Joel

The first album I ever bought was 52nd Street which is a bit embarrassing considering the way my music taste was heading.  I loved the song ‘Big shot’ and it was enough to get me to part with cash and start a life time of me giving a shit load of money to record companies.

52nd Street was a huge album for Billy Joel, he became an international superstar and his hit ‘My Life’ and ‘Honesty’ were huge. Listening it again 40 years later I can understand why it appealed to me. It sort of got left behind because it didn’t fit in with my fast growing metal rock image. Funny how much Billy Joel looks like Sylvester Stallone in this 🙂

David Bowie

‘Hey Rosalyn’ was track one on the album Pinups, the second album I ever bought.  This time I hit a home run and this was an album I could be proud of.  Pinups was quickly followed into my record collection by the incredible album The Man Who Sold the World.  I was blown away by the energy on Rosalyn, the guitars and drums all seemed very heavy at the time and then at the end there was this amazing guitar slide my Mick Ronson taking them straight into the opening saxophone of track 2 ‘Here Comes the Night’.

David Bowie, what can you say about this man, probably one of the most influential artists of our time. Bowie was in my view a genius, he features throughout The Story of Rock and Roll in various chapters and fittingly one can argue that the book both starts and ends with Bowie.

The Police

Such a special song, those opening Gm F6 Gm Dm7 chords, the bass line, a little laugh and then that unearthly high vocal.  The Police took the UK and then the world by storm.

Outlandos d’Amour the debut album by the police was released in 1978 and it was brand new when I heard it, I was right up to date by the age of 12 and not playing catch up with what was to become known as New Wave. The first two albums by the Police were rock classics and we used to listen to them until the tape was so stuffed and got all jammed up in the recorder. Then it was the big issue of winding it all back in with a pencil and hoping that the song wasn’t too graunched and still listenable.

Boomtown Rats

In the book I explain how I happened to find the Boomtown Rats when I was really shopping for the Police.  This was probably the most serendipitous moment of my life.  ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ was a huge hit for the Boomtown Rats but as far as I was concerned the best tracks were the rest of them.  There is no crap track on this album it is fucking perfection.

I am probably the only person I know who really loves the Boomtown Rats, everyone knows the hits but no-one else seemed to get the brilliance of The Fine Art of Surfacing the way I did. I reckon most of my mates liked it, and were force fed it by me, but they didn’t seem to connect the way I did. There were 6 guys in the band and the musical interaction between them was incredible. I learnt that the little things count in music, just a short bass run followed by a little riff or a drum role make songs unique. With the Rats I could actually sing along to the instruments, its all in the arrangement and surprise this was an album produced by the one and only Mutt Lange, another South African. Mutt went on to be one of the best producers in the world and this was the first album I ever heard that he produced. Strangely this video for ‘Someone’s Looking At You’ has been taken down and marked as private so Bob if you could allow us to see it I would be most grateful as it is an absolute classic and shows how brilliant you were. In the meantime I ave replaced it with ‘Diamond Smiles’
The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones

I got into The Stones a bit late because obviously when they first started making waves I was about 2 years old.  The Stones struck a chord with me because they were so much more, for want of a better word, dangerous than the Beatles.  They were rebels, antiheroes, bad guys and they appealed to me in a way that The Beatles didn’t.  Like Fender vs. Gibson, Martin vs. Taylor, BMW vs. Mercedes you pick sides in life and when it came to The Beatles vs. The Stones there was no contest in my mind, Stones for life.

The Rolling Stones could probably be called the greatest band of all time, they are probably the oldest surviving band. They have always been with us in some form or other, their album output is consistent and they have been touring the world breaking attendance and many would say ticket price records for over 50 years. As old as they are and as painful as it is to watch your heroes age they are a Rock ‘n’ roll institution. This is the band that you would show alien invaders if you wanted to show them the epitome of Rock and Roll.
The Who


Dave Cooke (RIP) who was in Standard 8 when I was a newboy at Potch gave me an album by The Who.  I am not sure why he gave it to me but I am forever grateful to him for the magnanimous gesture.  I think he realised that I would take hold of the flame and write a book and build a website sometime in the future and that the best way to ensure that The Who were adequately represented would be to give me the album.

Here is a classic video clip from Woodstock in 1969. Pete Townsend looks high as a kite to me, check out those eyes when he introduces the song, classic rock star insanity. One of my favourite stories is that when John Entwhistle died at the age of 58 in The Hard Rock Hotel after a cocaine binge with a stripper, I can’t find the story now so I can’t prove it but I remember reading that The Who set up their gear in the room he passed away in and just played a gig in his honour. Those that could squeeze in saw it and the rest just listened from the corridors through to the car park.


The book details the importance of Kiss in my life.  They were the first band to turn my world upside down.    The importance of Kiss in TSORR is immeasurable, without Kiss maybe none of this would have happened.  Detroit Rock City was the  first song I ever heard by Kiss and nothing would ever be the same.

Destroyer was the 4th studio album from Kiss so I was behind on this one. The Alive! Album had really put them on the map and for Destroyer they decided to use Bob Ezrin to produce. The album was different to the older albums, the songs were better and it was more polished. Destroyer set me up for Kiss Alive II which was just amazing. By now the band were already having problems and had released solo albums, Dynasty and the Elder were still coming *shudder*. Regardless of some of the misses the hits make Kiss one of the most important bands in my life. With Kiss it wasn’t just the music it was the larger than life characters. In the same way as the Beatles the 4 characters were instantly recognisable and everyone had a favourite.


‘Working for the People’ was on the end of the Kiss Destroyer tape a friend gave me.  Like a doos I thought it was Kiss, the detail of that event is explained in The Story of Rock and Roll.  It is a fantastic song and gave me a great love for those single note driving bass lines.

Rabbitt were SA’s first super group, in another country that wasn’t backwards Apartheid South Africa in the 70’s they would have been huge. Trevor Rabin was one of my first guitar heroes. You can hear the influence that Brian May had on him on the Croak and a Grunt in the Night album. It fully stacks up to anything released on the international scene. Everything from ‘TC Rabin in D-minor’ through to ‘Dingley’s Bookshop’ was brilliant. There are no weak tracks. Rabbitt were the SA Beatles and Trevor and Duncan were able to pull off the vocals between them in the same way as John and Paul did, equally good but subtly different.
Van Halen (1979)

Van Halen

Van Halen! Where showmanship meets talent in one giant supernova of brilliance.  For me Van Halen took everything to a new level.  They had the flash of Zeppelin without all the self indulgence.  You cannot listen to Van Halen and be in a shit mood.

Coming out of Pasadena, California in the early 70’s Van Halen moved from being California’s biggest party band to one of the most successful bands in the world. I discuss Van Halen a lot and the fall out with Dave and the Sammy Hagar years are all put in context. As a high school kid I was Van Halen befok, we all were, they just had the whole good times rock ‘n’ roll thing down to perfection. Eddie was a guitar god and I blame him entirely for helping me realise that when it came to playing guitar I didn’t have a fucking clue 🙂 If you want a brilliant book on Van Halen check out

Judas Priest

Judas Priest will always be the band that I credit with being the fathers of Heavy Metal.  I love Sabbath and Zeppelin but to me no-one epitomised Metal like Priest.

‘Beyond the Realms of Death’ got a lot of publicity for all the wrong reasons when two drug addled fuckwits shot themselves in the face with a shotgun. The families attorneys claimed that Priest had used backward masking and that there were subliminal messages on the track. The case was rightfully thrown out but it shows just how greedy lawyers can twist things when they are looking for a buck. The Stained Class album is a masterpiece and Priest are one of the few bands who have consistently written brilliant albums, they had a bit of a wobble with Turbo, Nostradamus and Jugulator but their average for albums released is probably as high as it can get. When all is said and done Judas Priest are probably my favourite band ever.


I was listening to Queen II from around 1976 and it was just the most perfect album ever.  Freddie and Brian in particular were just so good on that album.  A Night at the Opera was released in 1975 but I took it to boarding school with me in 1979. ‘Death on Two Legs’ was Freddie in a rare venomous mood and probably the reason why Queen were lumped in as a heavy metal band.

Queen, as the name suggests, are rightfully royalty when it comes to music in my life. All the albums up until The Game were simply fantastic. After Queen Live Killers they lost the plot I reckon and John Deacon started writing songs that took them in a direction that even Queen drummer Roger Taylor didn’t like. As much as I love Queen my biggest disappointment was seeing them at Sun City when Freddie walked off the stage after the second song. Being starved of international music we though it was a joke initially but once it became clear that the show was over that was pretty much it for me and Queen for a while. It took me years to get over it and listen to them again after that. If they were writing stuff as good as the first 8 albums I would have forgiven then immediately.