All posts by onceuponatime70s

Write Enough

John Allan: May 2023

I was going into town the other day and Mrs A asked me if I could pick up a few things from the supermarket. She reeled off a few items. I quickly wrote them down on a list and headed off on my merry way.

When in the shop I retrieved my list and thought why has a drunken spider crawled across this piece of paper. I never was much of a calligrapher but even Robert Langdon from The Da Vinci Code couldn’t decipher these illegible scribbles.

It made the Rosetta Stone read like The Very Hungry Caterpillar !

To think of the hours spent in primary school trying to obtain the perfect shape and size of your consonants and vowels. Trying not to go above or below the lined paper Aa, Bb, Cc. The concentration intense as you gripped your HB pencil as your tongue protruded from the corner of your mouth. Sometimes glancing at the top corner of your desk wondering if the ink well will indeed be full of ink one day.
No those days had gone.

Did you know HB stood for hard black ?
No, me neither.

A little aside.
Some decades later I found myself nurse in charge of the Urology ward at the Royal Perth Hospital one morning awaiting the Doctor’s round. There had been an emergency admission overnight straight from theatres.
A gentlemen had decided to insert a foreign body into his urethra. One pencil HB underlined as per the theatre notes. With all the consultants, registrars and resident doctors assembled we were about to enter the patient’s room when I quietly announced Let’s see how Mr Squiggle is this morning. The whole entourage hastily retreated from the room barely able to conceal the giggles.

For those of you unfamiliar with Australian children’s TV characters of the fifties, sixties and seventies, Mr Squiggle was a well loved puppet with a pencil for a nose.
Cruel perhaps but don’t stick things up your penis !

I digress.

At some point in my young academic life I was presented with a boxed pen and pencil set from some generous aunt. Not a wooden pencil with a chewed end or a plastic BIC. A proper fountain pen and retractable pencil which you pushed the end of only for the graphite centre to come flying out and splinter into pieces on the floor.

This of course merited a thank you letter written with that very pen. Out came the best Basildon Bond with the lined paper guide placed behind the flimsy sheet and the blotting paper to hand. What inevitably resulted was a mix of hieroglyphics by a startled octopus and a Rorschach test.

Writing with a fountain isn’t easy. I still do occasionally and still come out looking like I’ve been finger printed and released on bail.

I used to dread writing the obligatory postcards to my parents. On my return from whatever sojourn, after the had a good trip ? my own postcard would be handed back to me with corrections to spelling and grammar highlighted in red from my English teacher father. I eventually replied ‘Weather here, wish you were beautiful‘ to any further correspondence.

Airmail was also a hassle. You’d start the story of your adventures thus far and soon realise you still had a lot to say and had used about half the allotted space. You would then, in microscopic font, continue along the sides and along the top.
The trouble was if the recipient was a bit gung-ho in letter opening and had not used a fresh razor blade they may have missed an important part of your message such as Kidnapped by the rebels. Please send ransom !

You could always relate your tales from your pocket sized diary with the small pencil concealed in the spine. Good to pull out in restaurants pretending you are a food critic and hoping for a reduction in the bill. Well that’s in a life before every one whipped out their mobiles to take selfies of their food.

To think that all these once vital tools were once locked away in a special vault called the stationary cupboard in offices throughout the land. That you were at the mercy of the one and only key holder who you had to promise to donate a major organ to to cross that hallowed entrance. Such power.

I wonder if hand writing experts or graphologists will become a dying trade ?

Will the English language give way to communication in emojis only ?

Mean while, I will continue typing away with my two index fingers deleting and backspacing as I go pondering the thought of the human hand evolving into fused flipper like fingers and extended thumbs.

I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in’

–Robert Louis Stevenson

(Post by John Allan from Bridgetown, Western Australia, May 2023)

Warren Zevon

By Mark Arbuckle: Glasgow, April 2023


I first became aware of American singer songwriter Warren Zevon in 1979.

My mate Rikki and were discussing music and he was amazed nay disgusted that I’d never heard of this artist/band/??

‘Goan get an album’ he commanded! 

However as Rikki talked, and still talks, very fast, what I heard was 


Thinking it was a middle east, political protest thingy, I went into the HMV shop next door to our Top Man shop in Union Street and asked for the ‘WAR ON ZION’ album. 

The assistant looked very puzzled then laughed and said ‘Oh ye mean Warren Zevon!’ and went to the vinyl bay marked ‘Z’ He returned, to a suitably embarrassed ME, with ‘Excitable Boy’ 

I thought he looked like an adult version of The Milky Bar Kid and I certainly didn’t recognise any of the songs. 

However I did note that it was produced by Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt was listed on backing vocals! 

As soon as I listened to his deep baritone voice and amazing lyrics, I was hooked. 

I liked the macabre lyrics of “WEREWOLVES OF LONDON
(featuring a rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie)

How’s this for alliteration?!

‘Little ol’ lady got mutilated late last night’
Werewolves of London Again!

But I much preferred


‘I went home with a waitress the way I always do’
How was I to know she was with the Russians too!’

The lyrics of the title track completely shocked me!


‘He took little Suzie to the Junior Prom

Excitable boy, they all said

And he raped her and killed her, then he took her home.

Excitable boy, they all said

Well, he’s just an excitable boy

After ten long years they let him out of the home.

Excitable boy, they all said

And he dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones

Excitable boy, they all said

Well, he’s just an excitable boy

This most definitely wasn’t your standard rock & roll lyric about girls, cars and the high school prom!….
I was intrigued and immediately read everything I could on Warren and bought his back catalogue.

I think the quote below from biographer – Mark Deming, captures Zevon’s appeal. 

Few of rock & roll’s great misanthropes were as talented, as charming, or as committed to their cynicism as Warren Zevon. A singer and songwriter whose music often dealt with outlaws, mercenaries, sociopaths, and villains of all stripes, Zevon’s lyrics displayed a keen and ready wit despite their often uncomfortable narrative, and while he could write of love and gentler emotions, he did so with the firm conviction that such stories rarely end happily.’ 

Warren William Zevon was born in Chicago on January 24, 1947. In his early teens his family moved to California where he developed his interest in music,  learning to play the guitar and piano. Zevon also had a fascination with classical music.

In the early 70’s he joined the Everly Brothers’ touring band as pianist, and following the duo’s acrimonious split in 1973, he would work with both Don and Phil as solo artists. 

In 1974 he left the USA for Spain and spent a summer playing in a small tavern and writing songs. He returned to Los Angeles, and shared an apartment with two aspiring performers, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. 

He’d already struck up a friendship with Jackson Browne, who was on the brink of stardom and one of the most respected songwriters on the West Coast.

Browne greatly admired Warren’s talent, helped him to get a deal with Asylum Records and produced his first album for the label. 

Simply titled Warren Zevon, it featured his former roommates Buckingham and Nicks, (who had gone on to find stardom with Fleetwood Mac), Bonnie Raitt and several members of the Eagles.

It didn’t sell well but won rave reviews. Linda Ronstadt gave her seal of approval by covering three songs from the album.

Any excuse to have a pic of Linda

Browne took Zevon on tour to support the album, and in 1978, they returned to the studio to record ‘Excitable Boy’ It was a huge success and remains his best selling album.

The financial rewards however, rekindled Warren’s addiction to alcohol and drugs and he checked into rehab for treatment. 

Jackson Browne named him…

The first and foremost proponent of song noir” 

‘A supreme collision of acerbic wit, dark irreverent humour, bittersweet romance, and uncomfortable truths.’

Zevon was clean and sober for the tour and one of the shows was recorded and released as ‘Stand in the Fire’ 

It is superb and in my humble opinion, one of the greatest live rock albums ever 

Subsequent albums had contributions from Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry of R.E.M. and guest spots from Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jerry Garcia and David Gilmour but sadly the records never matched the commercial and chart success of Excitable Boy

Throughout his career many wonderful musicians and songwriters contributed to his various musical projects.

A veritable Who’s Who of American Music.

Neil Young, David Lindley, Waddy Wachtel, Bonnie Raitt, Bobby Keys, J.D. Souther, Joe Walsh, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Carl Wilson, Leland Sklar, Jeff Porcaro, Gary Mallaber, Bob Glaub, Rick Marotta, Danny Kortchmar, Russ Kunkel and longtime collaborator Jorge Calderón.

He also had long friendships with authors Hunter S Thompson and Stephen King

King said that it was a deep personal regret that he and Warren ‘hadn’t got around to creating something together’

In 2013 King dedicated his novel ‘Doctor Sleep” to Warren.

David Letterman was a huge fan of Warren’s music and made him a frequent guest on his show. 

This television exposure reminded audiences of his biting wit and musical talents.

In a famous quote Letterman said Warren must be the only writer in history to have the word ‘Brucellosis’ in a song.


‘Daddy’s doing Sister Sally

Grandma’s dying of cancer now.

The cattle all have brucellosis

We’ll get through somehow.

Sweet home Alabama

Play that dead band’s song

Turn those speakers up full blast.

Play it all night long.’

Zevon never enjoyed the massive commercial success and vast riches that his peers, Springsteen, Browne, Ronstadt, Eagles all did in their careers, but in some ways, to me at least, this fact make his music even more endearing and enjoyable.

In August 2002 Zevon began experiencing dizziness and shortness of breath. He was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, an inoperable form of lung cancer, and was told he had a few months to live.

He went public with his condition on September 12, 2002 and  began recording his final album. 

His friends, including Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Dwight Yoakam, Ry Cooder, and Don Henley all rallied to help.

He lived long enough to see the release of this final album, THE WIND, on August 26, 2003

He died on September 7, 2003. 

THE WIND earned him two posthumous Grammy Awards, for Best Contemporary Folk Album and Best Rock Duo Performance for “Disorder in the House” with Bruce Springsteen.

Rikki, myself and four other friends were very fortunate to see Warren perform live in a smallish Glasgow venue in 2000. 

Just him, piano and acoustic guitar. (A drummer joined him for his rockier songs) 

I admit that I would’ve dearly loved to have seen him with his full band in their prime in the 1980’s but he really excelled in this intimate environment too. 

He sang and played his heart out, bantering, as only he could with lots of industrial language, back and forth with the adoring crowd who sang every word and danced and cheered throughout the entire gig.

He told stories of his life, friends, family and his own addictions and the events that had inspired his wonderful songs.

One of the guys I was with at the gig knew one of the security men. There was even a brief excited chat about being invited back stage to meet the great man!

Aaaand even go out for a drink with him after the gig!!

But alas, when considering the prospect of painting the town red with six already Excitable Glaswegian Boys…..Warren (the recovering alcoholic and addict) very wisely demurred.

I had taken along the booklet from Warren’s Greatest Hits Album ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’ 

I was initially ridiculed by my fellow concert goers but they soon realised that THEY also should’ve brought something to be signed!! I asked our friendly security man to take it to Warren to have it autographed. 

Warren wrote:

To Mark – 


Warren Zevon. 

Glasgow 100

The security guy explained that Warren had been so blown away by the reaction of the crowd and had never dreamt that he even HAD 100 fans in Glasgow!

It remains one of my most treasured possessions!

Turntable Talk: Two Distinct Trains of Thought.

Paul and I were, last week, again invited to join the TURNTABLE TALK chat on Dave Ruch’s blog, ‘A Sound Day.‘ This is an excellent site to visit and satisfy your musical curiosity on all genres of music, mainly focused on the 60s, 70s and 80s. Dave is a prolific writer and the articles are filled with fascinating facts and trivia.


Thanks again to Dave for inviting Once Upon a Time in The ‘70s to join in this month’s topic, ‘This Song’s Going Places – a song we like that’s ‘going somewhere.’

When I saw the prompt, one song came immediately to mind. I first heard it on the John Peel Radio show in the late-Seventies and suddenly, like an epiphany, I discovered a whole new world of sound to explore.

I’d been interested in reggae music since being invited to an impromptu basement party in London a year or so earlier. There was by now, though, a fresh new sound dancing across the airwaves – a vibrant, happy and buoyant music that called upon Reggae’s pre-cursor for inspiration.

Suddenly, bands like Madness, The Specials, The Selecter, Bodysnatchers etc were en vogue. They were the new ‘punk,’ and opened a whole new rabbit hole down which I’d travel – and have yet to re-emerge!

The rise to prominence of bands on the new ‘2 Tone’ label shone a spotlight on those who had gone before. Suddenly, radio stations decided it was ‘cool’ to play Jamaican bands from the late Fifties and early to mid-Sixties, citing them as the creative influence for those commanding the UK Charts at that time.

Ska music had been re-born! As a music form, it has never really left us since, but its popularity further surged again in the early 21st century when punk bands melded frantic back-beats into their style.

And the track that signalled the start of a new musical journey for me ….? (God, I hate that expression!)

‘Train to Skaville’ by The Ethiopians

It’s mainly instrumental – I counted only twenty-four different words being used in its two minutes and fifty-three seconds – and spent 6 weeks in the lower reaches of the UK charts in 1967, peaking at #40. (In the late ‘60s, Ska morphed into Rocksteady with a slower beat, and ultimately into Reggae. ‘Train to Skaville’ could therefore be termed by some as more Rocksteady. But they’d be wrong! It’s still Ska … to me anyway.)

A stonemason by trade, Leonard Dillon moved from Port Antionio, Jamaica, to Trench Town in search of work. There, he lodged with the aunt of an old school friend, King Sporty, who was by then a popular sound system deejay. Through Sporty (who co-wrote ‘Buffalo Soldier’ with Bob Marley) he was introduced to Peter Tosh who in turn introduced Leonard to Bob and the other Wailers.

With their help in backing vocals, Dillon recorded some mento songs (Jamaican folk / calypso sounding music that pre-dated ska and reggae) under the name, ‘Jack Sparrow.’  However, despite the quality assistance, none of the three releases made any impact and Dillon left the famous Studio 1 stable to form a harmony group with Stephen Taylor and Aston Morrison.

Still unnamed, they returned to Studio 1 to cut some tracks, and at that point, studio boss, Clement ‘Sir Coxone’ Dodd insisted they adopt the name, The Ethiopians, in light of Dillon’s recent conversion to the Rastafari religion.

Fourteen singles were released throughout 1966 and 1967, several of which proved ‘popular,’ but with finances proving unpredictable, Aston Morrison left, leaving the band as a duo. Fortunately, a private backer came forward to fund the recording of another three singles, the final of which was ‘Train To Skaville.’

The Ethiopians

It wasn’t exactly a massive ‘smash hit,’ but it did gain some attention for the band and a couple of UK tours came on the back of the song gaining airplay and breaking into the Top 75 during 1967.

Over the following years, The Ethiopians continued to record, sometimes with the addition of temporary members, until sadly, Taylor was knocked down and killed in a traffic accident.

After a long period coming to terms with the loss of his singing partner, Leonard Dillon got back to recording as a solo artist, The Ethiopian.

Leonard passed away, aged sixty-nine, in 2011.


Running a ‘70s themed blog with my old pal, Paul, it would be remiss of me not to make even a passing reference to song from back then that not only fits Dave’s remit for this post, but remains one of my Top Ten album tracks of all time.

I’m not sure – have I mentioned previously that my greatest (at least, ‘greatest equal’) musical ‘hero’ is Rory Gallagher?

Rory Gallagher

(Oh – I have? What’s that? ‘Many’ a time. Ok, sorry – I’ll keep this brief.)

‘Blueprint’ was Rory’s third studio album as a solo artist; it was the first with the classic McAvoy (bass); Martin (keyboards) and De’Ath (drums) backing line-up. It was released in February 1973 just a month before I saw him play live for the first time at The Apollo, Glasgow.

‘Blueprint’ LP cover

That night, Rory incorporated four tracks from the new album into his set list. Of course, all the new material went down a storm, but one track stood out for me:
‘Race The Breeze.

This is another ‘train’ song, but unlike The Ethiopians, Rory doesn’t seem to have any particular destination in mind. Also of contrast, are the lyrics – there are some, for a start! Proper lyrics that is.

Like many blues artists before him, Rory had a fascination of old trains (the old Iron Horse types that criss-crossed USA) and backed by a rhythm section that evokes images of a steam train hurtling down the track, Rory celebrates the joyous feelings of speed and freedom. Total freedom – no ties whatsoever.

The guitar work on this track is outstanding. Crisp, clean and uncluttered.

Of all the music I have in my collection, of all the albums, all the singles, this is the one track that best transports me somewhere else when I close my eyes and listen.

It is indeed a song that takes me to another place altogether. A song of going somewhere – I just don’t know where.

Neither do I care.


(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson from Glasgow – April 2023)

Now That’s What I Call 1975

Paul Fitzpatrick: April 2023

1975 is a year that I always look back on with fondness.

I’d love to be highfalutin and say it’s because it marked the end of the Vietnam War or that it was the year that CAT scans were introduced.
But sadly no, my reasons are a bit more mundane and personal than that.

Fundamentally, 1975 for me was a year of transition, from kidulthood to adulthood.
No more dark sarcasm in the classroom, or for that matter, school dinners in the dining hall – it was time to step-up and earn your own bread and make your own pieces.

Looking back, the transition from school life to the workplace was pretty seamless, one minute you’re sitting at the back of the school bus, observing the worker bees, the next you’re part of their colony, although to be fair, there wasn’t a lot of buzzing going on.

You’ll be familiar with the well coined phrase – “the more things change the more they stay the same” – well I can attest to that.
Hail, rain or shine, you still had to get up in the morning, and just like in double-maths, at certain points of the day, you’d be keeping an eye on the clock.

The big difference of course was that wee bundle of cash you received every Friday.

That weekly windfall was life changing….

For a 16 year old it defined adulthood and represented freedom.

Freedom to go out at the weekend.
Freedom to go on holiday with your mates.
Freedom to buy
nice things.
Freedom to go to the ice-cream-van to buy as many Hobos, Blackjacks and Bazooka Joe’s as you liked!

Of course freedom comes at a price and at a certain point you realised the £10 you were handing over to your mum for your keep, probably wasn’t stretching as far as you thought.

Still, those post-school-years spent living at home offered a gentle pathway into the harsh realities of life, although one of the better realities was having a bit of money in your pocket for the first time.

Our parents weren’t daft, they encouraged us to save, to put money away for a rainy day, to start thinking about our futures but there were too many temptations, too many things we wanted, too many things we needed.

Who’s going up the dancing in a pair of hipster flares when all the cool dudes are wearing high-waist baggies?
Who’s sporting last years Harrington jacket when the dapper Dan’s are wearing satin bomber jackets?

I had good mates who would stay indoors every other weekend in order to invest in the right gear but I never saw the point in working hard all week just to mope about the house and watch the Generation Game on a Saturday night.

Compromises had to be made, which is why a handful of us ended up frequenting ‘Paddy’s Market’ on a regular basis.

Wearing my marketing hat, I’d describe Paddy’s Market today as….
A sustainable, alfresco, one-stop-shop for pre-loved fashion‘.

In reality it was an outdoor market selling second hand clothes down one of Glasgow’s more colourful back streets.
Selfridges it wasn’t, but if you knew what you were looking for and could endure the musty bouquet for long enough, then most visits would end successfully with a couple of additions to your wardrobe for the price of a pint.

It was a period of adjustment alright, however I’m sure most of us remember that first year in the workplace favourably – a time when there were no (formal) 360 degree reviews and ‘team-building’ was a Friday afternoon in the pub.

Usually with a jukebox playing some cracking music in the background.

In terms of music, 1975 is a year that tends to slip through the cracks when critics reflect on the decade.
Mirroring my own circumstances perhaps it’s because 1975 was a transitional year, with the established order of things undergoing change.

The Classic Rock bands who had led the way in the first half of the decade were coming to the end of their cycle – although 75 would see Zeppelin release their last noteworthy studio album, Physical Graffiti, ditto Pink Floyd with Wish You Were Here.

Prog-rock giants like Yes and Genesis were undergoing key personnel changes and a lot of the Melody Maker big-hitters like ELP, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple were not shifting albums in the same numbers they used to.

Glam rock had come to the end of its yellow brick road with Bowie moving to the US in search of Fame and his close friend Marc Bolan’s best days were sadly behind him.

Disco was bubbling under but the halcyon days of Studio 54 were still a couple of years off and Disco in 75 was confined primarily to the New York underground gay scene.

Punk, in the meantime, was still a twinkle in Malcolm McLaren’s eye with the first incarnation of the Sex Pistols playing Monkees and Small Faces covers whilst learning to play (or in some cases, hold) their instruments.

One new sound that did come to the fore in 75 was Blue Eyed Soul, a term given to white artists producing a credible R&B sound.

Hall & Oates, the Bee Gees and British acts like the the Average White Band, Robert Palmer and Kokomo were at the fore whilst established artists like Bowie with “Young Americans” and Elton, with his Billy Jean King tribute – “Philadelphia Freedom”, were dipping their toes into the blue-eye lagoon.

Smooth waters that would later be navigated as ‘Yacht Rock’.

Kokomo perform Bobby Womack’s “I Can Understand it” on the OGWT

Another category destined to connect with Yacht Rock, was Soft Rock, a West Coast sound typified by bands like Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and Jefferson Starship.
1975 proved pivotal for Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles who both recalibrated to a sound which would propel them to mega success soon after, with Rumours and Hotel California.

1975 was also the year of Funk, with Earth Wind & Fire, The Ohio Players, The Isley Brothers, Hamilton Bohannon, The Fatback Band and George Clinton’s Parliament all finding their groove whilst maintaining the James Brown tradition of playing ‘on the one‘.

Shining Star – Earth, Wind & Fire

So was 1975 a classic year culturally, or just a memorable year for this school leaver?

When critics talk about the great years in music, 1975 rarely warrants a mention with 1971 in particular receiving most of the accolades, but in hindsight I think 75 has a lot going for it.

Pre-punk and post-prog, it was a year of evolution with new sounds and genres coming to the fore and when I was looking through my albums of the year I was struck by how much diversity and quality there was from a year that no one talks about much.

My top 10 albums from 1975

  • That’s The Way of The World: Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Katy Lied: Steely Dan
  • Kokomo: Kokomo
  • Physical Graffiti: Led Zeppelin
  • The Last Record Album – Little Feat
  • The Hissing of Summer Lawns – Joni Mitchell
  • Pressure Drop – Robert Palmer
  • Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac
  • Mothership Connection – Parliament
  • Live! – Bob Marley & the Wailers

Honourable Mentions:
Still Crazy After All These Years – Paul Simon
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Cate Bros: – The Cate Brothers
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

Trenchtown Rock – Bob Marley & the Wailers

Since we’re digging into the culture it turns out 1975 was a pretty special year for Movies too.

Whilst Jaws ensured that everyone from Girvan to Dunoon was counting their toes after heading ‘doon the watter’, the rest of us were perfecting our best French accents in homage to Peter Sellars’ latest escapade as Inspector Clouseau.

Both good films but only one made my top ten.

My top 10 movies from 1975

  • The Godfather Part II
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Dog Day Afternoon
  • Race With the Devil
  • Rollerball
  • Shampoo
  • Jaws
  • Hard Times
Young Frankenstein – one highlight of many

I know, I know, any excuse to include a playlist, so here you go, a selection of 1975 highlights….

Watch Me Now!

Growing up in The ‘70s, the lives of us blokes, to a great extent, were defined by likes of: friends; school; sport; fashion; hair-styles; music, girlfriends and dancing – the latter two often being inter-related.

From the day in First Year of Secondary school when we learned our PE class had been cancelled but we still had to report to the gym for ‘Social Dancing Practice,’ to the day we strutted our Funky Stuff at the city centre disco seven years later, dancing formed an integral part of our lives and impressing the opposite sex.

In our early teens, when it came to ‘popular’ dancing as our teachers called it, it was the girls who undoubtably displayed a more natural sense of rhythm. Most of us lads had only a very conservative and reluctant shuffle in our locker. Fearing ridicule from our pals should we display anything considered even slightly flamboyant, it’s fair to say the handbags of our suitably unimpressed partners probably moved more on the dancefloor than we did .

Help was at hand though.

1974: the year my peers and I turned sixteen. We were still self-conscious and awkward (oh … so just me then?) but the raging hormones that now coursed through our bodies over-rode the fear factor, and, supplemented by two or three cans of Carlsberg Special Brew, we were ready to dazzle!

Thumbs in belt loops ? Ready with those high kicks? All right fellas, let’s go!

Check this out, girls!

Yeah – Glam Rock was our, okay – my dancing saviour. No longer need I worry about creating some spectacular, personalised choreography. The pressure was off – Mud had given me a routine, which would /was / still is adapted for pretty much every chart record played at any future disco. Later, towards the end of that year, Kenny would kindly gave us (me) a second ‘add alcohol and serve’ instant, no-thought-required dance with which to woo my intended.

‘Hashtag fail,’ I believe is the expression used these days! Oh well.

Of course, set dance moves to popular music were nothing new. Throughout the Sixties, there had been a plethora, The Twist; The Madison and The Locomotion amongst them. And then in 1972, just in time for my first family holiday abroad, came the ‘Mums’ Favourite’ that was played to death across the Costa Dorada and latterly the UK.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only fourteen-year-old boy to be dragged up onto the dancefloor at every wedding / party / holiday disco attended with their parents over the next few years.

I realised very quickly though, this was definitely not the route to attracting a girl of my age, and so ‘Tiger Feet,’ (which could easily be adapted for any Status Quo song) became my go-to routine, pretty much until the time I left school in August 1976.

I was by then eighteen years of age– old enough to gain entry to the discotheques of Glasgow. The White Elephant was the preferred choice of my pals and I.

Sadly, the music on offer in the latter half of 1976, was pretty dire. I mean, you go to a disco and are expected to dance to Chicago’s ‘If You Leave Me Now.’ Or ‘Love and Affection,’ by Joan Armatrading?  Even Mud had slowed things down by December, their hit then being a cover of Bill Withers’Lean on Me.

Who has ‘moves’ for those type of songs, I ask you?

Thank goodness for Showaddywaddy and ‘Under The Moon Of Love.’ I could just about get away with an adaptation of the ‘thumb in belt loop’ and circular walk routine. Just about …

In December of that year though, I found my dancing niche. Punk had arrived; pogo dancing was the future! Even I couldn’t go wrong. I may have looked more stupid than awkward now, but I didn’t caaaaaare.

Damn, I was good! But ultimately unimpressive – seems Glasgow girls are less won over by a wee short-arse jumping high in the air than are the Kenyan women from the Maasai tribe.

Buoyed by my new found proficiency,  I would spend many a Sunday afternoon over the next few years at my pal’s house, blasting some old Rockabilly tunes on his huge Pioneer sound system and perfecting my Bopping moves.

Wow! Were the girls gonna love this?!

Errr … no was the answer. Again. I guess there’s a reason why blokes always dance The Bop alone.

Not to worry. As with trends in music, so another dance fad would be along shortly. And just before the turn of the decade, the 2Tone and Stiff Record labels introduced me to the sounds of Madness, The Specials, The Selecter and The Beat. There were new dances to learn; dances that would have the girls falling at my happy feet.

I taught myself to skank; I taught myself The Nutty Boys Dance.

Nope – that didn’t work either. Sheesh! This was hard work.

In 1980 though, on the lekking display ground of a French disco, I met Diane, my wife of now over forty years. I’d definitely had a good few too many bottles of Kronenbourg, my inhibitions still trying unsuccessfully to find their way home.

Diane too had undoubtedly partaken of several Cointreau and lemonades, because she was apparently taken with my dancing to this – a French hit of the time, now used by Apple to help advertise the latest iPhone 14.  

Somewhat ironically, our relationship was further strengthened over the next twelve months by my obvious prowess at ‘sit on yer arse dancing’ to The Gap Band (abs of steel, me) and the inane Birdie Song.

I’d cracked it! – which just proves you don’t have to be cool to be cool!

Sometimes a boy can try too hard, you know.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson from Glasgow – April 2023)

Cancel Culture Club

Paul Fitzpatrick: March 2023

When used properly, the use of contemporary music in movies can be extremely impactful, the union of the right song with the requisite set of images can ensure that a key scene will live with you forever.

Think Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” at the start of Trainspotting or Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle With You” in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.

That’s exactly how I felt when I saw the scene in Joker using Gary Glitter’s “Rock & Roll part 2”.
It was the perfect soundtrack for Arthur Flex’s rebirth as the Joker, a pivotal moment, driving home the epiphany that this Joker is a ‘bad-guy’ after all.

The use of “Rock & Roll part 2” exhilarated and shocked at the same time in a way that I’m not sure many other pieces of music could.

Rock & Roll Part 2

A big part of that shock-factor of course was the choice of artist, the infamous Gary Glitter, which I’m pretty sure figured in the film makers thinking.

You never hear Gary Glitter any more, not on the radio, not on re-runs of Top of the Pops and not even at sporting events where the use of the anthemic “Rock & Roll” was a constant until he was locked up.
Artistically he’s been erased and these days its his notoriety as a sex offender that keeps him in the headlines.

Due to this, I figured the director Todd Phillips would come under fire for using the Glitter track, and he did.

As perfect as the song choice was there were mixed feelings about its inclusion until we learned that Glitter would not profit, he’d signed away all his recording and publishing rights decades ago.

I was never in Gary’s gang so his lack of profile or airtime doesn’t bother me, but it does raise the question – why was he cancelled when others weren’t?

For example, for reasons I’ll assume most people are aware of, some radio stations and streaming services refuse to play music by Michael Jackson, R Kelly or Kanye West, whilst other channels and services refuse to show films or programmes featuring Woody Allen, Bill Cosby or Kevin Spacey.

Similarly, some retailers have not stocked JK Rowling books since she was branded a transphobic TERF by some.

Presumably the justification for this type of cancelling is to avoid offending or triggering people.

However, lots of radio stations and streaming services still play music by Jimmy Page, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Steven Tyler and Iggy Pop, all of whom it’s well documented, have allegedly broken the law of the land when it comes to engaging with girls under the legal age of consent.

The King feeding his 14 year old Princess
Jimmy Page looking like one of the Osmond’s with a 14 year old Lorri Maddox

Likewise, it’s common knowledge that there were plenty of predators in Hollywood before Harvey Weinstein came along, yet channels still show films by studios that were run by moguls like *Harry Cohn who was renowned for seeking sexual favours in exchange for employment with all of his female stars.
(*in The Godfather the character of Jack Woltz the movie mogul who finds a horses head in his bed was based on Cohn).

This leads people to question why it’s okay for a radio station to play Zep’s “Stairway to Heaven” or Bowie’s “Changes” but not “Thriller” by Michael Jackson?
I’m not sure what logic, criteria or justification is applied in these cases, but it seems like a fair question.

The discussion that interests me more however is….
Is it possible to separate the art from the artist?

Are you able to enjoy a song or a stand-up routine or a movie featuring someone who’s material/performances you like even though you may not agree with some of their actions or at worst, you find them morally bankrupt?

If you’re a fan of R Kelly’s “I Believe I can Fly”, can you still enjoy listening to it knowing that he’s languishing in jail for sex trafficking and won’t be flying anywhere for 30 years?

If you can, you’re certainly not alone.

To support the theory that there’s no such thing as bad publicity – the day that the last episode of the documentary highlighting his many misdemeanours (Surviving R Kelly) aired, the streaming of R Kelly songs actually rose by 116%.

When it comes to what you want to watch or listen to I’m not sure anyone can judge, in the end it’s got to be a personal choice, we’re all capable of self-censorship.

When the American comic Louis C.K. was cancelled in 2017 for sexual misconduct it wasn’t his finest hour but rightly or wrongly it didn’t spoil his comedy for me, (although I could understand why it may have for others).

When the article about his behaviour was published in the NY Times he owned up and apologised immediately but got cancelled nonetheless.
Subsequently, all of his content was removed from certain platforms, he was dropped from TV & movie projects, tours were cancelled and a movie he’d just completed was never released.

Personally, I think the quote from the legendary Soprano, Jessye Norman, aligns pretty well with my thoughts on the matter….

“If I were not able to separate the art from the artists, I think I would limit myself a great deal, and life wouldn’t be nearly as interesting”

Power Of Persuasion

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, March 2023

Growing up in the 60s and early 70s we had it pretty good I reckon.

On our piece of the rock there were no wars, pandemics or civil unrest. True, there was the odd power cut in the early 70s due to the miners strikes, but I remember that being more an adventure-under-candle-light than any real form of hardship.

Apart from the normal growing pains and adolescent insecurities, life was pretty good, and yet, I always had the notion that we weren’t living our best life…. like our counterparts in America.

So, what was this grand social insight based on?
Academic studies? Penetrating documentaries? First hand experience?

Nope, it was based on the only lens I had of the world back then (outside of the National Geographic’s we used to thumb-through in Geography lessons, hoping to discover topless tribeswoman)….
American comics, or to be more specific American comic ads.

To a 10 year old raised on The Beano, the ads featured on the inside covers of American comics were as spellbinding as the comics themselves.

How lucky were those Kids of America (whoa oh), that they had access to the types of treasures we could only dream of owning…

Life size Monsters, Rocket Ships, Nuclear Subs. Sea Monkeys, X-ray specs, Electric engine’s, and Physique’s like Charles Atlas, there seemed no end to the toys, gadgets and goodies on offer across the pond.

I was fortunate to have a great aunt (in both senses of the word), who emigrated to the Big Apple in the early 60s.
My aunt Marj was a PA for a publishing company in Manhattan and a couple of times a year she would send me over a bundle of American comics… bless her heart.

Whenever I caught sight of that package with the airmail stamp I knew I was in for a treat, and they never disappointed – countless capers with Richie Rich, Casper and Archie & his friends (oh sugar sugar).
Adventures with the Justice League, the Green Lantern, the Hulk, Thor and Spiderman, I would devour those comic-books cover to cover until every word was consumed, including the adverts, especially the adverts.

This led to a mild obsession with all things Americana for a few years which to be fair was supported by other cultural happenings from the era.

Take television for example, my favourite 60s tv programmes were mostly American….
The Monkees, The Man from Uncle, The Munsters, The Adams Family, Lost in Space and the Tex Avery cartoon universe.

We weren’t exactly an underprivileged society, but it seemed that our American cousins were a step ahead in most aspects of life.

At a time when our cultural cheer-leaders were the pipe-smoking Harold Wilson and ‘Enry “splash it all over” Cooper, the US could point to the charismatic JFK and ‘The Greatest’, Muhammad Ali.

Our standout orator was Enoch Powell their’s was Martin Luther King.

When we were getting excited about the new Ford Escort they were pimping up Ford Grand Torino’s.

When denim became fashionable, we rolled out Falmers Jeans they already had the originals – Levis, Wrangler, Lee.

When it came to bench-mark resorts there was no debate, Blackpool Pleasure Beach versus The Magic Kingdom was simply no contest.

For balance, it’s fair to say that a case could be made for biased-reasoning on all of the above and of course for every JFK there was a ‘Tricky Dicky’ Nixon, for every MLK there was a KKK and for every Woodstock with its 3 Days of Peace, Love & Harmony there was an Altamont with murderous Hells Angels killing the vibe.

The grass ain’t always greener, but those ‘Mad Men’ of Madison Avenue sure made it look that way.

Pioneers in their field, the US advertising gurus of the 60s & 70s built brands and shifted products by selling dreams and fuelling aspirations.

They convinced at least one generation that smoking cigarettes would make them look cool and attractive to the opposite sex, and that eating sugary breakfast cereals would turn their kids into Olympic Champions, just like Bruce Jenner (if only they knew!).

There was nothing these guys couldn’t sell when they put their mind to it.
Need confirmation?

Check out the 7up ad below.

So when it came to marketing toys to impressionable kids, it was lambs to the slaughter.
What chance did we have when our parents were already entrapped?
And if they weren’t entrapped why the hell did we have a K-tel Veg-o-matic and a Ronco Hair-Trimmer sitting redundant in the cupboard?

My first brush with marketing came with the Jet Rocket Ship below.
As soon as I saw the ad for that bad-boy I was obsessed, I had to have one.
I had the equivalent of 5 bucks in my piggy bank and we had a garden, what else did I need?

I asked my Mum, if I could send money to auntie Marj so she could ship one over. Or maybe she could fly across in one on her next visit? (I wasn’t the brightest kid!).

Not giving her a minutes rest, I gradually wore my mum down to the point of submission, but ever the realist, my dad who was the real gate-keeper, saw through the glossy, targeted advertising with all its features and benefits, still reeling no-doubt from the Veg-o-matic debacle, he predicted it would be a piece of crap… in turn, jettisoning the jet.

What you thought you were getting
What you actually got!

As it turned out my dad was right, of course he was right, and although I was pissed-off at the time, he was trying to teach this gullible 10 year old a valuable life-lesson…. if it’s too good to be true, it probably is

I’m guessing they received plenty of orders for that five dollar interplanetary rocket with ‘enough room for two air cadets‘ and ‘control levers that work!’

I’m also guessing that 95% of people who received one probably wanted to send it back once they opened the box.

Based on what I know now, I’d predict that only about 20% of purchasers would actually have sent anything back.

Net result?
Lots of sales but very few satisfied customers.

And that my friends is the power of advertising!

Btw, don’t worry about the 7up kid he turned out just fine….

Muscle Shoals Has Got The Swampers

Paul Fitzpatrick: March 2022

Fresh from exiting The Faces and the UK with its 83% income tax rate in 1975, Rod Stewart made a pilgrimage to a sleepy little town in Alabama with producer Tom Dowd to record his new Album, Atlantic Crossing.

A legendary engineer and producer for Atlantic records, Dowd had worked with Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin and Rod wanted to capture the same gritty, authentic sound by recording at Muscle Shoals studios utilising the same rhythm section as the queen of soul.

On arrival, soul-fan Rod was keen to be introduced to the musicians who had played on all the big hits by Aretha, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge and The Staple Singers, but he got a shock.
Instead of high-fiving a crew of super cool, soul-brothers, he was introduced instead to four pale dudes with short hair who looked like they worked in the local supermarket.

Roger Hawkins, Barry Beckett, Jimmy Johnson, David Hood -The Swampers

According to bassist David Hood, Stewart was so thrown by this that he took Dowd to one side and said “Really? Is this a joke Tom?” but Dowd confirmed that the four men affectionately known as the Swampers, were the real deal.

The Swampers were originally recruited to be part of Rick Hall’s FAME studio in 1964 learning their craft on countless sessions, but in 1969 they took the decision to set up their own studio across town when Hall refused to give them a stake in the business.

Encouraged by Jerry Wexler of Atlantic records, the Swampers had eventually come to realise their worth, why else would iconic artists be shunning fancy studios in New York and Los Angeles to travel south to record their platinum albums in a sleepy one-horse town.

One of the first bands to visit the Swampers new studio was the Rolling Stones who flew in for three days, just prior to the infamous Altamont concert.
The sessions produced “Brown Sugar”, “Wild Horses” and “You Gotta Move”.

Swamper guitarist Jimmy Johnson on the decks for Brown Sugar

Keith Richard would later say that it was the Stones most productive recording session and that it’s likely they would have recorded Exile on Main Street at Muscle Shoals if he’d been allowed to enter the US at the time.

One of the unique things about the Swampers was their ability to shape-shift seamlessly between any genre; they’re aim was always to blend with the artists sound whether it be soul, country, bubblegum pop or rock.

This way the Stones still sounded like the Stones, Etta James still sounded like Etta James and Paul Simon still sounded like Paul Simon, but to the trained ear there was always a Muscle Shoals feel.

As an example within weeks of the Stones recording “Brown Sugar” the Osmonds rolled up to Muscle Shoals with a bubblegum pop song called “One Bad Apple”. Looking for a Motown sound they requested a Jackson Five vibe, and that’s exactly what they got.
If you listen to the song you’ll see what I mean…

Once Rod got over his initial shock he would record some of his biggest hits with the Swampers, including “Sailing”, Tonight’s The Night”, “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” and “The Killing of Georgie”.
Perhaps the best example of the sound Rod was after is on his version of the Isley Brothers “This Old Heart of Mine”, where you can hear the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section laying down the type of authentic southern-soul groove that you’d hear on any Staple Singers album.

This Old Heart of Mine

Paul Simon who had his pick of session musicians and state of the art studios in the 70s also cut some memorable tracks with the Swampers at Muscle Shoals, including – “Loves Me Like a Rock”, “Take Me to The Mardi Gras” and “Still Crazy After All These Years”. The latter showcasing Swamper Barry Beckett’s keyboard skills on the Fender Rhodes.

The kings of Southern Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd who made their early recordings at Muscle Shoals, would go on to immortalise The Swampers by name-checking them in their 1974 hit, “Sweet Home Alabama”

Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they’ve been known to pick a song or two (yes, they do)
Lord, they get me off so much
They pick me up when I’m feelin’ blue
Now how about you?

Sadly only one of the original Swampers is with us today, the bassist David Hood. However, before Hawkins & Johnson left us they took part in a great documentary about the Muscles Shoals scene made by film maker Greg Camalie in 2013.
It is well worth a watch, last time I looked it was available to rent on Amazon Prime for £3.99.

Over the years everyone from Bob Dylan to James Brown and Doctor Hook to Dire Straits has travelled to Alabama to capture the magic of Muscle Shoals and it’s amazing to think that it is the same studio, mixing desk and in a lot of cases, musicians, that have created such a diverse catalogue of music.

To help illustrate the point here’s a playlist with a few of the artists that graced the old studio….

We Need Your Help, Please.

Please share our blog posts on Social Media. 🙂

Once Upon a Time in The ’70s was introduced to the blogging world at the start of 2021 … just twenty-six months ago.

Since then, there have been over three hundred posts published. Forty percent are music related, but the bulk cover ALL other aspects of growing up / living through the late ’60s and 1970s.

We are confident there is no other blog / website quite like it.

When we started work on it, both Paul and myself were adamant that we wanted the blog to be fun, light-hearted and most importantly, advert free; we wanted to create a ‘clean’ and clutter free reading experience for our visitors.

This remains our commitment.

However, the downside is that our means of promoting the site are severely restricted.

With over 66,000 hits so far, we know the site is pretty well received by those who come across it. However, there is a HUGE potential readership out there, completely unaware of our existence …. just look at the numbers on some of the ’70s related Facebook pages.

Once Upon a Time in The ’70s offers something different to all other pages and blogs we have seen, We just need to find a means of letting The World know we are here!

And this is where you, dear reader, can help, simply at the press of a button …. and maybe the odd wee word or two. 😉

Could we ask a favour of you? Could you please SHARE the posts you enjoy with your Social Media contacts?

This can be done by clicking on the Social Media icon(s) of your choice that appears at the bottom of each post.

Our Facebook Group is ‘Private’ and so posts there are unable to be shared.

However, we also have a Facebook PAGE, which is ‘Public.’ It carries the same post notifications as the GROUP. Posts on the PAGE may be shared by members, so if you Follow that PAGE you will be able to Share any content we post there.

The PAGE carries the Clockwork Orange type logo:

I hope that makes sense! You know what us ‘oldies’ are like with technology! (Oh! Right! So just me then? Apologies … it’s not my intention to try teach my Granny to suck eggs. 😀 )

Thanks for reading. We hope we can count on your help.




“What are you doing, dear?” my Mum asked upon seeing me sat on the living room floor while my pals played out on the street.

“I’m going to watch Thunderbirds.”

“You’re a bit early – it’s not on for another ten minutes.”

“I know – but I’m waiting for the television to warm up.”

This would have been the mid to late Sixties, and our temperamental  14” black and white TV set behaved like a reluctant old dog being forced out for a walk on a windy and wet winter’s day. Grudgingly, it would eventually do what was asked of it, but not without putting up an obstinate fight.

At nine or ten years old, I just went with it. This was the way things were. ‘Instant’ was a word only just creeping into my vocabulary – mainly because my Mum persisted in serving up the disgusting, powdered, butterscotch or strawberry ‘Instant Whip’ for our evening meal dessert.

Butterscotch Instrant Whip

That television experience, though, taught me the virtue of patience at a very early age. You know: ‘good things come to those that wait,’ and all that. It stood me in good stead for my early teen years in the Seventies.

For instance, when I first started going to gigs (1973) I‘d turn up at the venue, usually The Apollo, a few weeks before the show and queue up for tickets. Concerts by the popular bands of the day, invariably meant queues for tickets would form well before the Box Office opened. Like hundreds of other kids, I’d happily wait in the rain (it was always raining in Glasgow in the Seventies) my loons becoming progressively more saturated from the top of my platform shoes up to my crotch. But the shared anticipation of seeing our heroes perform and the communal spirit that engendered made the waiting worthwhile. The wait heightened anticipation.

Overnight queue at The Apollo, Glasgow.

Not like today when any prospective gig-goer logs in to some online Ticket Agency from the comfort of their home and then makes a contactless card payment for some inordinate amount of money for a show in perhaps eleven months’ time.

Letters. We were quite happy to wait a couple of weeks for replies. Maybe, as an alternative to queuing up at The Apollo, we’d send a postal order and S.A.E. to the Ticket Office and hope upon hope we were successful in our application. Again, the wait heightened the anticipation.

Airmail envelopes for our pen pals.

Remember ‘pen-friends?’ Cub Scout and Brownie packs readily promoted the concept; comics and magazines also carried adverts from kids living in what were to us, strange and exotic places the world over. They would ask we write to them, and if Kenji from Tokyo hadn’t outgrown the notion of having a ‘pen friend’ from the UK by the time your letter arrived, then you might receive a reply some many weeks down the line.

On the other hand with no reply forthcoming, you eventually realised Kenji was just a timewaster. At least though, you’d had twelve weeks of excitedly greeting the postman at your door in the hope he brought news from the Far East. If nothing else, at least the wait heightened anticipation for a while.

We’d also happily wait till the following Saturday teatime for the latest episode of Batman – same Bat time ; same Bat channel. Not like today, when we can binge on series Box Sets streamed instantaneously into our homes or mobile device.

Best tv show of The Sixties / Seventies

We’d wait keenly on the sound of the ice cream van chimes – mentally salivating at the thought of a couple Bazooka Joes, a bag of Salt ’n ’Vinegar crisps and if the ‘icey’ was in benevolent mood, some free broken biscuits.

In those days, Time was not pressing; the wait was expected and accepted.

Now, everything is pretty much instant – or close to. We want something? It’s available at the flick of a switch or press of a button.

There are though, some instances where the trend is completely skewed; instances where what used to be quick and efficient are now unnecessarily burdened by delay. Rather than the wait building anticipation, it has now become a source of angst.

In The Seventies, getting an appointment with your doctor was pretty quick. Now …?

In The Seventies, if your favourite top division football team scored a peach of a goal, you could celebrate instantly as the ball crossed the line. Now …?

Aaaargh! VAR check!

In The Seventies, if you were stood at a bar behind some bloke ordering five pints of ‘Heavy’ for his mates, you knew, with confidence, you’d be served within the next few minutes. Now …?

Now, you’re stood behind some geezer ordering five Porn Star Cocktails for his mates. Comprising vanilla-flavoured vodka, Passoã, passion fruit juice, and lime juice, they each take five minutes to prepare and must be mixed by bar-staff with a degree in Chemical Engineering and an eye for artistic detail.

Now, that particular wait heightens agitation!

Porn Star cocktail

Maybe though, the technological advancements of the past five decades have spoilt us somewhat? Perhaps our expectations of ‘instant’ are unreasonable? Will Future’s youth appreciate the concept of patience?

You know, I have many things for which to be thankful about my life. Who’d have considered though, that for instilling an acceptance of The Wait all those years ago, a small, battered, old black and white tv set would be one of them?

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson from Glasgow – March 2023)

(Only three songs beginning with either the word ‘Wait,’ or ‘Waiting’ entered the UK charts in the 1970s. Here’s two of them – the third, ‘Wait Until Midnight’ by Yellow Dog, is pretty crap, I’m sad to say.)