It was sad to hear about the demise of the Classic Rock Society, a body that I founded back in October 1991 with a gathering of local Rotherham progressive rock lovers. I do not know the reason why it folded and it is not fair for me to speculate why but it always appeared that there was enough personnel to make it work when I passed it on ten years ago. I ran it single handedly on a daily basis while having a day job too and having children and grandchildren, that said I would have struggled if it had not been for the helpers on gig days and writers and administrators at other times. They were essential.
Of course back in 1991 we started the CRS off from absolutely nothing and built it up over 18 years before I decided the time was right to hand it over. It was in good shape with regular gigs by well known and not so well known bands and musicians. On top of that we constructed a magazine from a fanzine to shop quality standard. Alas that has gone but I have kept in touch with many in the trade, so to speak. So imagine my delight when, as a result of the CRS demise, Kris Hudson Lee contacted me to tell me about the website idea, The Spirit of Progressive Rock. He had alongside him James R Turner. James tells me he is the longest continual serving writer from the CRS days. Both were determined that somehow the life of the CRS must continue, not in its old form though, but as a website where there could still be gigs and reviews and news without the need of a magazine. On top of that they asked me to become a patron. I was thrilled to be asked and just happened to be meeting former CRS Honorary President and patron, Rick Wakeman at a dinner in Sheffield and told him all about the website idea. I also asked if he wanted to join me as a patron to help along the idea. Rick being Rick and now having been a friend for nearly thirty years he readily agreed as long as we kept the size of the new format manageable. Next in line I contacted another rock great Steve Hackett and again explained what was happening. I had invited both Rick and Steve and all the other patrons associated with the CRS over those heady days and so Steve knew that it made sense and agreed to put his name to the website. Little did I know that as a coincidence Kris had already asked Steve’s brother John to become a patron also and he had agreed. So there was some handy recognition to start with. The one thing we agreed was that the four patrons, Rick, Steve, John and myself would not be added to so keeping things manageable.
Kris had already organised a few gigs including one by former CRS favourites Strangefish while James had furthered his knowledge in the PR stakes bringing new music in to be reviewed. Another coincidence was that I was meeting Paul Carrack at Sheffield City Hall around this time as he was out promoting his new album that I then reviewed for the site.
As with the CRS days and even though the title of the website points at the promotion of progressive rock I did not want to be scared of taking on other genres that could connect musically and Kate Rusby’s new album dropped through my letterbox. So I reviewed that too.
As I type I have attended the thirtieth anniversary show by Strangefish at Sheffield(Kris is now the bassist) as a result of them asking me along to introduce them from the stage. It was only the second time in ten years I’d been up to do the business, the last time being at a CRS awards night when I introduced Arena at their request. I must admit it was great to be back and also great to see so many ‘old’ CRS regulars.
So the website is up and running and Kris asked if I would do a monthly piece for the site and so here is the first piece. Kris and I have spoken about what could be achieved in the future and one idea is to do a monthly week day ‘acoustic’ gig at the Manor Barn at Kimberworth in Rotherham. I have already had many musicians say they would love to do it including Oliver Wakeman, John Mitchell, Clive Nolan, the Strangefish lads and I am sure I can attract a few ‘classic’ musicians along. However, even though these shows would be sit down, same as we did years ago at the same venue, with tables and chairs out, we would need to fill it every time. This would not require vast crowds and would give the audiences chance to meet the musicians. So we will first be drawing on our former CRS audience to get some sort of guaranteed attendances. Kris will run these (alongside proper electric shows) with my assistance and apart from that I shall keep my nose out. After all 18 years at the head of the table was plenty and I’m a bit older now.
So if you are reading this and like what you have read start spreading the word and get those interested to check out the website. There is no subscription fee and so you simply check in and have a read. I look forward to the opportunity to shout those words, glasses on the floor and hands together please for ……….!’