Friday 3 February 2012

Alex Harvey

Heard on the radio this morning that there's going to be an event tomorrow honouring Scottish music legend Alex Harvey, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his death. It's being held at The People's Palace in Glasgow, and a tree and a bench will be dedicated to his memory.
I was lucky enough to see the Sensational Alex Harvey Band twice when I was young, once supporting The Who at Celtic Park, and once at The Glasgow Apollo; and their performances were a bizarre mixture of concert and theatre. Alex explored so many musical styles - rock and roll, blues, soul, jazz, rock and stage musical, sometimes all at the same time and performed in a broad Glasgow accent.
In the 50s he won a competition to be 'Scotland's Answer to Tommy Steele'  Tommy being regarded as 'England's Answer to Elvis Presley' at the time. Runner-up was one Sidney Devine - what ever happened to him? Alex went on to play guitar in the original British performances of the musical Hair, before forming the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. When I was a teenager, he was unusual being an 'old man' in the rock world, but now it's weird to think that that 'old man' was only 46 when he passed away.
Here's one of their more conventional 'rock' performances. I was always taken by guitarist Zal Cleminson's 'scary clown' persona, almost like a member of a psychotic version of KISS!

And here's a clip, also from the Old Grey Whistle Test, of Alex and the band performing a manic version of Jacques Brel's 'Next'.

A true star, and a reminder of the kind of maverick performer we seem to have lost. Could you imagine someone like this on X Factor/ Britain's Got Talent/American Idol etc?

1 comment:

  1. A genuine rock & roll original. I remember finding him quite intimidating as a callow youth.