UP YOUR WAY…
With Barry Turtleneck
Barry Turtleneck here, back with another edition of Up Your Way with Barry Turtleneck. The regular reader of this column will know only too well that Up Your Way with Barry Turtleneck, is an affectionate and nostalgic look back at the golden times, the by-gone days which have quite literally gone by over the years in our lovely county of Biffordshire.
The early 1980s was one such yellowy era, a time when life somehow seemed more innocent, more gay and a lot more colourful. Many of you may remember that the tiny village of Fest, a few miles outside of Clump, was thrust into the limelight back in 1982 when it hosted Biffordshire’s first ever music festival. Fest Fest as it became known, was a roaring success, due, in part, to the fantastic contacts and organisational skills of Derek Dropdownmenu, roadie to the stars. Here Derek, now aged 128, looks back at the very first Fest Fest, way back in 1982.
“What a time it was. I’d been out on the road for months with Motley Crue so I’d been busy leading up to Fest Fest. I got the call to come back and manage all the stars who had been booked for the event and, rock stars being rock stars, I had my hands and my feet full! I certainly had my work cut out for me, it was a big responsibility I can tell you.
The first act to show up at the playing fields behind Fest’s St David of Essex church, where we had set up the main stage, were Musical Youth. They were a lovely set of lads, but arrived at the venue looking really miserable. They slung their BMXes around the back of the Scout Hut and sloped over to me. While they were desperate to play, their Mum had told them in no uncertain terms to be back home for their tea – and there was no way they could play their gig in time. To make matters worse, Freddie had broken his left hand playing Connect Four, so passing the dutchie, or anything else for that matter, to the left hand side was out. I suggested they could pass the dutchie to the right hand side, given the state of Freddie’s hand. But the boys, artistes to the end, refused. As it turned out, the lads had pooled their pocket money for the past month to save up for a Huxley Pig Video they had seen in the Fest charity shop and were dead keen to get some lemonade on the go and to watch it all the way through in one sitting. I told them not to worry about the gig and to get themselves home for a spot of Huxley. That soon cheered them up and off they rode, giggling and pushing each other at the thought of having a lovely evening settled down in the front of their massive, three-channel TV. Musical Youth pulling out last minute left a gaping hole in the schedule and with the show just a few hours away I was starting to feel the heat.
As they disappeared around the corner, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Karen, the 6/10 one from Bananarama. Back then the girls used to travel around to gigs in a hot air balloon, but there was no sign of the tour balloon anywhere. Uh oh, we’re in trouble I thought, before remembering that was a song from the future by Shampoo. Thinking the girls were here for their sound check, I ushered them towards the scout hut, which was doubling up as the stars’ changing rooms for the bash. But before I could speak the girls piped up in unison telling me that there was a major issue I needed to sort. They led me around the corner and there on the roof of the vicarage was Billy Ocean. I couldn’t believe it. Caribbean star Billy was sat with his legs dangling off the guttering, crying his eyes out. That’s all I need I thought – the top act at Fest Fest 82 throwing a wobbly. I managed to find a ladder and climbed up determined to find out why Billy Ocean was throwing a major sulk. It transpired that Limahl and he had had a falling out when the Kajagoogoo singer had drunk all of Billy’s Tizer. Sighing, I managed to track down Limahl who explained that he thought that it was his Tizer, although to be honest, Billy had taken the trouble to stick an Elastoplast on the bottle with the word ‘Billy’s’ on it, so I don’t think Limahl had much of a leg to stand on to be fair. Anyway Limahl launched into a long tirade about what he said was an innocent mistake – you could say it was a real never ending story, except the subject matter was Tizer! Anyway, I managed to coax Billy down and the lads shook hands to put an end to the whole sorry saga.
As it turned out that was just the start of my troubles and there was more fizzy pop worries ahead of me! I thought I had better check on some of the other stars, who by now should have been all getting changed over at the Scout Hut ready for the gig to begin. It was a chaotic scene. Shakin’ Stevens had arrived in good time, but to my horror I saw his denim jacket and jeans were still hanging on their peg by the serving hatch. His white shoes were also still there, so god knows where he was. As it turned out he’d been upsetting Manhattan Transfer by getting all their Lilt out of the fridge and Shakin’ the cans around before handing it to the Chanson D’Amour stars. He was rolling around laughing as one by one, members of the group got sprayed by the sugary Caribbean-themed liquid.
I made a mental note to have a little chat with Shakin’ before he went on stage, but there were more problems I had to deal with right there and then.
I have to say I expected a lot better from Renee and Renato. The pair were huge back then and I thought I could rely on them to at least bring a little bit of mature decorum to the proceedings. How wrong, was I?? Hailing from Italy, Renato had never seen space dust before and it wasn’t long before he saw the practical joke opportunities the fizzy snack offered. I had been away trying to fix a puncture and the squeaky brakes on the Bee Gees’ Raleigh Burners, when I heard a loud rumpus coming from the scout hut. I burst in only to see Renato holding on to his allocated peg crying his eyes out with laughter. As I found out to my horror, he had crafted a paste of water and space dust and delighted in rubbing it into the crotch of Midge Ure’s swimming trunks, when the Ultravox star’s back was turned. Midge had opted to take a pre-gig dip in the Fest community pool, but was now hopping around the scout hut grabbing and itching at his crotch. Everyone was splitting their sides laughing and Siouxsie Sue was almost unconscious with mirth.Thankfully the stars were all professionals and the show went on. I was relieved when the whole event finally got under way. I even got a thank you card at the end from Thomas Dolby to thank me for having him. It was a relief to get the acts back to the scout hut after the gig. Soon their mums were there to pick them up, so I handed out the party bags, gave each of them a balloon as a souvenir and poured myself a long drink. Never again until Fest Fest ‘83!”