Stewart was an amazing person - A wonderful husband, a fantastic brother, a loving son and an adored uncle. He was also a brilliant friend and colleague and is missed by so many people. His family are determined that his death will never be in vain and are doing their part to beat bowel cancer for good. We are fundraising for the Bobby Moore Fund which is part of Cancer Research UK and specialises in research into bowel cancer. If you wish to donate to the fund, you can via https://www.justgiving.com/Geraldine-Smith3 .
If you haven’t already done so, please read the article which appeared in the Daily Record and learn from Stewart’s story that you must never be complacent. It makes grim reading for us, his family, even though we were beside him throughout his ordeal, or battle; call it what you will. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/lifestyle/heartbroken-widow-geraldine-smith-raises-3452997
Similarly, if you haven’t heard it, please listen to Geraldine’s moving radio interview which was on Radio Scotland recently.
Stewart began writing The Grambler when he was between procedures and hoping for some form of recovery. He loved all aspects of football and was a lifelong Motherwell supporter. His wish was that The Grambler should continue after his death and I have been happy to oblige. Welcome to The Grambler, the most ill-informed blog you are ever likely to see. Read on and enjoy…
This week’s (g)ramble is likely to cause outrage among some music lovers...
Do you ever listen to a singer or band and ask the question ‘Why’? Not why am I listening, but why did this act ever become famous. I don’t mean acts that are newly famous, either. I am talking about those acts which have been at the top for donkey’s years but you don’t know why. Hence the question ‘Why’.
One act which fits into this category (in my opinion, anyway) is the Rolling Stones. I can imagine all you Stones fans sharpening your typing finger in readiness to complain, but bear with me. [Behhhh! - Ed.] That’s not what I meant. I will explain. Here goes the ill-informed history lesson...
In the late 1950s most of the music we in Britain could listen to was pretty much determined by the Beeb Beeb Ceeb. How so, I hear you ask. Well, the British Broadcorping Casteration had the monopoly of radio stations. There were three: the Light Programme, the Home Service and the Third Programme. The Home service covered serious discussion and news programmes plus it had plays and trivial panel game type stuff - basically it was what is now Radio 4. The Third Programme was more highbrow and covered classical music and serious drama. It became Radio 3 (although it lost much of the drama and concentrated more on the classical music). The Light Programme was the populist channel; it had popular music and popular comedy. When the BBC numbering system came along, it became Radio 2 but lost most of the none music stuff to Radio 4.
Anyway, this is getting ahead of things. In the fifties, the playlist for music on the Light Programme was determined by the Beeb’s programme producers and was designed to be popular, but innocuous. So, in the mid-fifties, when rock and roll began to gain popularity, the Beeb pretty much ignored it.
So, how did rock and roll gain any kind of following in Britain? That was down to a station known as Radio Luxemburg, a station that wasn’t, officially, available to British listeners. However, during the night-time (for a reason I don’t understand; possibly associated with magic) the signal from this music station based in Luxemburg was strong enough that its output could be heard (just) in Britain. Even with the signal being weak and coming and going, Brits were aware that the music being played was a bit more adventurous than the stuff being played by the Beeb. Thus we Brits heard the likes of Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and his Comets and their ilk thanks to Luxo.
However, the output was still fairly conservative and some entrepreneurial individuals realised that this new-fangled rock and roll was but a pale imitation of the real rhythm and blues music of the U S of A. Indeed, it was a very pale imitation as very little music from black musicians was ever played. However, some small record shops started to sell the authentic black American music.
Then, as now, music afficionados liked to acquire material that is different; things that no-one else is likely to have. It is snobbery, of course, but there were people who felt a sense of superiority if they owned this black music.
Okay, let’s now get on to the Rolling Stones. Brian Jones was a keen collector of records by black American blues artists and, as he could play guitar, he tried to copy them. Mick Jagger and Dick Taylor, also fans of this authentic music, began jamming in an American bluesy way and were soon joined by Mick’s old school friend, Keith Richards who was also an afficionado of blues. Somehow Jones linked up with them and the nucleus of the Stones was formed. After a couple of personnel changes, the Rolling Stones became the band that secured a record deal and went on to have hit after hit after hit... etc. That is, very briefly, how it happened.
So the Rolling Stones produced what was perceived to be American blues music. Correct? To us Brits, this was fairly authentic sounding and we certainly took to them in a big way. But then a curious thing happened. They went to the US of A and performed this white working/middle class Brits’ attempt at blues to the Americans. It wouldn’t have seemed odd to me if the American folk had looked at these five Brits pretending to be black American musicians and told them where to go. But instead, they were embraced by the US as if this was the real thing. I mean black American blues, not the Amoo brothers’ band the Real Thing... or indeed Coke.
And this brings me to my original question. Why? Why were they lauded in this way? Look at footage of the early Stones’ and they look ludicrous. What did Mick Jagger think he was when he was rattling his maracas and pouting for the camera? Listen to them and, yes they sound American, but Jagger was no great shakes as a singer and the musicianship of the band was nothing to write home about. Why on Earth did the Yanks love them? I think it stems from the fact that the US people seemed to like any British acts at that time. The Beatles paved the way and were joined by such great acts as the marvellous Dave Clark Five, the fantastic Chad Everett and Jeremy Clyde, the Terrific Peter and Gordon and the pants-wettingly brilliant Herman’s Hermits. Basically, any sh*t* from Britain seemed to succeed.
Unlike many other acts though, the Stones had staying power. Yes Jagger and Richard penned some reasonably memorable songs in the 60s, but by the 70s the new material was becoming a bit...well... samey. By the mid 70s, the hits had virtually dried up and yet, here we are 40 years later and they can still tour and sell out arenas. Good luck to them. They are all in their 70s now (except youngster Ronnie Wood, 69) and they are still performing.
I just don’t get it. Having seen live performances by them, I cannot understand the reason for their success. Frontman Jagger isn’t, and never was, a great singer. His posturing and moving on stage is hardly graceful. The rest of the band can best be described as jobbing musicians; their playing being fairly straightforward.
And before you get all precious about them and say I’m talking crap, I will tell you that I was quite keen on the music they produced in the mid to late sixties. Jagger and Richards aka the Glimmer Twins aka Nanker and Phelge wrote some rather good toons, I thought. I just cannot understand how a fairly ordinary band can still be so popular given that they have produced little of relevance for over 40 years.
Just don’t get me started on the ’Oo.
Remember Mario Balotelli? The Italian striker who obviously cites Paul Gascoigne as one of his greatest influences? It’s hard to decide who is further off the wall. Anyway, he was in the news again this week. However, this time he wasn’t setting fireworks off in his house, or totalling a brand new car, or handing out wads of cash to tramps. And he wasn’t being fined a six figure sum for throwing darts at a youth team. No. He missed the first two minutes of last week’s game between Nice and Lille. Is that all? Why was that, I hear you all ask. The reason was that he had difficulty untying his shoelaces. Jeezo. Has he never heard of velcro? Very popular on shoes for those of a similar intellect... pre-school aged kids.
Balotelli pays homage to Nick Park
Were any famous or notorious people born on the 25th of March? Of course. Here are some I’ve even heard of. Bela Bartok 1881 (Composer.), Ed Begley 1901 (Leave it to Larry.), Binnie Barnes 1903 (Ectress. Married to Charles Laughton. Not really. She was Katherine Howard to his Henry VIII.), A J P Taylor 1906 (The Macaulay of our age.), David Lean 1908 (Film director. Married six times. Unlike Henry, didn’t have any heads chopped off.), Benzion Netanyahu 1910 (Bless you.), Reo Stakis 1913 (Restaurant owner and, for our US readers, not a type of truck.), Patrick Troughton 1920 (The best Doctor Who.), Simone Signoret 1921 (Joe Lampton’s bird.), Jim Lovell 1928 (Spaceman. Went to the moon twice but not on missions that actually landed.), Humphrey Burton 1931 (classical music television presenter, broadcaster, TV director, producer, impresario, lecturer and biographer of musicians. In fact, a right old smarty boots.), Penelope Gilliatt 1932 (Outside Ian Fleming’s orbit.), Johnny Burnette 1934 (Murcan singer. Time for a link. Take it away Johnny... Dreamin... ), Hoyt Axton 1938 (Murcan singer/songwriter. Wrote this which was a hit for Three Dog Night. All together now... Jeremiah was a bullfrog... ), Aretha Franklin 1942 (Queen of soul. Another link, vicar? ), Richard O’Brien 1942 (Want a clip from his most famous creation? All together now... It's astounding... ), Kim Woodburn 1943 (Charlady.), Paul Michael Glaser 1943 (Starsky.), Reg Dwight 1947 (You know him better as Spanish singer El Tonjon. [Ha bl**dy ha. - Ed.] A link? Did I mention the 'Oo? ), Steve Norman 1960 (A fifth of Spandau Ballet. What? Another clip? Go on, then. ), Sarah Jessica Parker 1965 (Murcan actress. Why the long face?), Jeff Healey 1968 (Singer/geetarist. Surely not another link? Yeah? Okay. Here's Jeff Holding on. ), Cathie Dennis 1968 (Singer/songwriter/actress. Did you know she wrote Wannabe, the Spice Girls’ first hit? Well, she did. And guess what. I’m not giving you a link. I do try to maintain some standards.), Phil O’Donnell 1972 (I can’t just say footy bloke on this occasion. I was there on the 29th of December 2007. Saddest football moment ever, for me.), Melanie Blatt 1975 (An All Saint. Yet another clip? And why not? ) and Scott Sinclair 1989 (Footy bloke.).
Let’s move on to grambling matters. How did we do last week? Not quite as badly as the week before. We did get some money back, so it must count as a win of sorts. 62 pees. That’s all we won. What happened? Read on...
Birmingham vs Newcastle - Prediction Away win
Result - Birmingham 0 Newcastle 0
Ooh! ’It the bar!
Matt Ritchie nearly opened the scoring in the first half when he beat Blues keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, but Ryan Shotton got back to clear.
Ritchie had a goal ruled out for offside and Kuszczak saved from Dwight Gayle's header as Newcastle dominated.
Kuszczak made a low stop to deny Ritchie, while Lukas Jutkiewicz had Blues' only shot on target late on.
Jutkiewicz also fired wide twice from good positions for the hosts, while Craig Gardner had a shot deflected wide from long range.
Fulham vs Wolves - Prediction Home win
Result - Fulham 1 Wolves 3
Ivan Cavaleiro turned in Helder Costa's cross from close range to give Wolves a half-time lead.
Andreas Weimann doubled their advantage with a left-foot shot from the edge of the box before Denis Odoi pulled one back with a deflected effort.
But Dave Edwards tucked home another Costa cross to seals Wolves' win.
Norwich vs Barnsley - Prediction Home win
Result - Norwich 2 Barnsley 0
Jacob Murphy fired in his 10th goal of the season from inside the box to give the Canaries the lead at the break.
Adam Hammill, Angus MacDonald and Marley Watkins all went close for the visitors after the restart.
Norwich then stretched their lead thanks to a MacDonald own goal.
Bolton vs Northampton - Prediction Home win
Result - Bolton 2 Northampton 1
Michael Smith scored for Northampton after 57 minutes, from a superb free-kick by Matt Taylor.
Taylor was involved again in Bolton's controversial 75th-minute equaliser when adjudged to have handled David Wheater's header by referee Richard Clark.
Adam Le Fondre thumped home from the penalty spot to bring the teams level.
Northampton’s keeper, Adam Smith, came to Town's rescue moments later, tipping over Darren Pratley's header.
Andrew Taylor provided the assist for Bolton’s second with a fiercely-driven cross to Filipe Morais who slid in at the far post.
There was time for even more controversy when John-Joe O'Toole thought he had equalised in the final minute of stoppage time but his effort was disallowed for offside.
Peterborough vs Oldham - Prediction Home win
Result - Peterborough 1 Oldham 1
Ooh! ’It the bar!
Ex-Motherwell striker, Lee Erwin volleyed in an Oliver Banks cross after 11 minutes to make the most of a rare Oldham attack in a first half dominated by the hosts.
They succeeded in holding onto their advantage until the 73rd minute when two Posh replacements combined to great effect.
Half-time arrival Marcus Maddison delivered a stunning cross from the left which was headed in by Junior Morias, who had been brought on after an hour.
Oh well. Back to the drawing board. What has The Grambler got up his/her/its silicon chips this week?
Game - Result - Odds
Accrington vs Grimsby - Prediction Home win - 10/11
Blackpool vs Hartlepool - Prediction Home win - 8/13
Crawley vs Leyton Orient - Prediction Home win - 13/20
Exeter vs Yoevil - Prediction Home win - 13/20
Wycombe vs Notts County - Prediction Home win - 19/20
All matches kick off at 3pm on Saturday the 25th of March. The bets have been placed (10 x 20 pee doubles plus 1 x 20 pee accumulator) and if they all go according to The Grambler’s Prediction, the Bobby Moore Fund stands to receive a whopping...
Actually, that isn’t particularly whopping.
Teaser time. Yay! Last week I told you that in the past five seasons all but one PFA Young Player of the Year awards have gone to Tottenham Hotspur players and asked you who was the only non-Spurs player to have been given the accolade. The answer was Chelsea’s Eden Hazard in season 2013-14. Incidentally, the four Spurs players were Kyle Walker 2011-12, Gareth Bale 2012-13, Harry Kane 2014-15 and Dele Alli 2015-16.
One for this week? Here’s a good un. Which Scottish international also represented his country at Squash, volleyball and golf?
As usual, let’s finish with a mention of the main reason for continuing to publish this blog – to raise awareness about bowel cancer. If you have any bowel problems, don’t be fobbed off with the line that you are too young for bowel cancer to be a consideration. Just point your doctor in the direction of http://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/campaigns-policy/latest-campaigns/never-too-young-campaign
And finally, Cyril? And finally Esther, this week the music world lost one of the few black artists to have had musical success in the 1950s. Chuck Berry passed away this week aged 90. I might have done a wee biography of him this week, but I did that when he celebrated his 88th birthday (see http://www.thegrambler.com/2014/10/week-11-grambling-along-in-my-automobile.html). However, I think a link to my own favourite Chuck Berry track is in order. Ladeez and gennulum, let’s finish this week’s (g)ramble with his 1958 hit Johnny B. Goode.