Ξ December 18th, 2007 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Music is Life, Uncategorized |
I wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to a special man and great musician, Andrew Latimer, of the British progressive band Camel. In recent days he has undergone a bone-marrow transplant and is now in isolation, recuperating and dealing with the effects of chemotherapy. Since I missed signing his Guest Book at www.camelproductions.com I thought it would be a fine thing to reminisce and in this way send my fondest best wishes for a speedy recovery. Let this be my Hour Candle, and may its light find its way to his spirit.
In 1974 or thereabouts, my roommate Rich had left his microphone at Camel’s motel “suite” and on his way back asked me if I wanted to accompany him. He had interviewed them for his college radio station while they were on their Mirage Tour (if I recall correctly), and staying at a motel on
Upon our arrival we found Andrew, along with keyboard player Peter Bardens and drummer Andy Ward lounging in their room. Bassist Doug Ferguson was headed out; it seemed he wanted little to do with us, or had pressing matters to tend to (like escaping their cramped quarters). The three remaining members welcomed us warmly and were incredibly nice, polite, and hospitable. Aside from that, the thing that impressed me the most was their teamwork in rolling a HUGE joint the size of my little finger, laid end to end! (So that’s TWO little fingers, which are, in fact, not so little!)
They (I can’t recall who it was, for somewhat obvious reasons) included a crutch for the end, incorporating it into the J. It was quite a feat of engineering, for I hadn’t seen anything rolled up like this, ever. The only other musician to roll me a joint was Buddy Miles, and that one was about as fat as my thumb, and (unfortunately) just as short. Of course, I didn’t complain!
Well, they let us stay for a couple of hours, and we talked and laughed and really had a great time. Outside their door we hung out on the balcony, which overlooked a large but unused swimming pool and chatted a bit before leaving them to prepare for the evening’s concert. It was my most fondly well-remembered meeting with a musical group ever, and I’ve met a few, from Jimi Hendrix to Eric Burdon and probably a dozen more. They treated us as equals and never arrogant, attitudinal, dismissive, or snappish. In other words, they proved to be good examples and most importantly, DECENT HUMAN BEINGS.
After that afternoon they put Rich and I on their guest list (without our asking them), and let us come backstage after the shows, where they entertained us (again), never failing to be the warmest of hosts. For subsequent tours we were always guested; in fact, during one run of 5 shows at the Boarding House (again, if memory serves me well), I accepted the first nights comp, but for the remaining 3 of the four shows I attended I insisted on paying for my tickets, which seemed to puzzle Andrew; I remember his bemused expression well. But I *wanted* to see that my money went toward those exemplary artists, as that is, you know, how they make their living. I feel it is our duty as fans to exchange our currency for the sharing of their vision and Art-works with us.
I could go on about our adventures together: driving them to Rather Ripped Records in Berkeley for a signing, and the after-show night I drove Andy Ward back to their suite at the Miyako Hotel after stopping off at my house to fetch a bottle (or two) of some of my parents’ champagne. This was in 1978, and the fancy Miyako was definitely a step or two up from their motel-staying days, and it was great to see that they were finally able to move up the ladder of success. A fantastic band, as you’ll see in the links I’ll provide at the end.
At the Miyako I met two of my Canterburian heroes from Caravan, Richard and David Sinclair, who had joined the group, and where Mel Collins rolled around in a waitress’ uniform (including *ahem* “padding”), serving beverages to the large group gathered there. Don’t know why he denied this the next tour, but HE DID!
But this is a tribute to Andrew, and a permanent Hour Candle for his swiftest and most-thorough recovery, and not to indulge in my memories, fond as they are.
If there were only one guitarist I had to pick to emulate, it would be Andrew. His passion, clarity, and purity of emotion is unparalleled; his playing so at oneness with his soul that when he is on, it is stunning to see, and to feel. I wore my fingers out playing (or rather, TRYING to play) the instrumentals “Ice” and “Stationary Traveler”, which is linked below for your consideration. These, and so many other of his compositions, communicated directly to me in that Space where there is only Music. And for me, that is a
Andrew, if you are ever able to read this, Thank You, Bless You, and I will pray for your sure and steady recovery. You are already blessed with the finest of companions, Susan, and also please know that you are much-loved by Camel’s legions of fans, and that we are with you in Spirit. Get well soonest, and stay well! We’ll look forward to your next gifts to us with much happiness and anticipation…
And now, a pair of live clips for your enjoyment: The first is “Stationary Traveler” from the album of the same name, filmed at the Hammersmith Odeon. I believe that the exterior film footage was shot in Berlin, which is where that album was recorded. (And for an UNBOUND parallel, this is the song I chose to represent Lily’s Theme on the “soundtrack” I compiled for the novel, as Lily truly is a stationary traveler in the story, as hopefully you will see one day.) Vintage is from the early ‘80’s, I believe.
Second up, and for the old-timers, is a 1975 performance of selections from “The Snow Goose” for The Old Grey Whistle Test. The record was inspired by Paul Gallico’s novel of the same name, and the clip features the original band as they looked when I met them the previous year. It’s a 9-minute clip, and features a woodwind section to assist in retelling the story-album excerpts of these three selections, “The Snow Goose”, “Friendship”, and the rousing “Rhayader Goes to Town”.
Here you will also see Andy Ward, truly a great and vastly underrated drummer, Doug Ferguson on bass, and the late Peter Bardens on the keys, who had previously played with Van Morrison’s Them, most notably on “Gloria”. Needless to say, Camel is one of my all-time favorite, and best-loved bands.
Please enjoy, and say a prayer for Andrew this holiday season.