Music was very important to me growing up. The bedroom wall in my Balham flat was bedecked with singers cut out from Fab 208. The life-sized picture of Clodagh Rogers did dominate the wall; this didn’t leave much room for Melanie, Aretha Franklin or Nancy Sinatra (nothing wrong with having eclectic musical tastes).
I’d inherited some records from my grandparents: the 1939 classic “Underneath the spreading chestnut tree”; “Caruso’s greatest hits” and a full set of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Therefore, the desire to have my own music was paramount.
I bought a cassette player. I also bought several C60 tapes to record on. I declined to buy a reel-to-reel tape as I believed this would make my bedroom look like the IBM building.
I’d plant my microphone in front of the TV during Top of the Pops – sadly I’d not only record the song, but I’d also record my mother asking “what’s this bleedin’ row?” . DJs on the radio would interrupt the songs by talking over the start and finish of songs. At night, I’d try and record the Radio Luxembourg top 20 underneath my candlewick. My mother would enter my room (without knocking) and say “I hope you’re not doing what I think you might be doing?” I was ten and my eyesight was bad enough.
Eventually, as I got older, and with more pocket money, I could buy actual records. I’d buy the Top of the Pops and Hot Hits albums. My mother knew why.