'Musi-cal Dees-course!'

Thanks to BBC Four, Friday night is music night in this household. After what seems like an eternity of repeats and dross-age, the station got back on track on Friday with the first of a three-part series on how the West was won. That is, how British musicians conquered America.

I use the term ‘household’ rather liberally. Despite my best efforts, I watch alone. As interested as they are in music, the ‘girls believe that music is for listening to. They can’t generally be bothered with documentaries and in-concert footage. Fair enough, maybe it’s a male thing. But I can’t help but feel that they’re missing out on an added dimension to their music for pleasure. (And who remembers that label? MfP – 14 shillings and sixpence.)

No doubt I’m showing my age, but I derive as much pleasure from seeing how the rock stars have aged as I do from watching the contemporary newsreel footage. As the terrible landmark of 60 looms on the horizon, I find myself looking at people like Paul McCartney and wondering whether, if I keep up my punishing schedule of twice-daily dog walks, I shall look so presentable at 70. He’s showing a little saggy round the jowls these days, but is still recognisably Paul. Not bad for someone who hasn’t (to the best of my knowledge) gone in for a little ‘lifting’, as they say in France.

It was a particularly good programme in that respect on Friday night, because it was full of characters who don’t tend to be wheeled out for every other music programme. There were the usual shots of the screaming hordes at Idlewild airport (as JFK was then known) to great the fabulous Beatles, but there were also some great clips of the minor stars who followed in their wake. The Animals, for example, arrived to find the airport and the streets of New York worryingly deserted. It provided an excuse to talk to the Eric Burdon of today. He may not be the best preserved of individuals – after all he looked 50 when he was 21 – but he’s certainly the funniest. Despite all the years of living in LA, he still sounds like a fisherman from South Shields.

Mike Pinder, the singer of The Searchers, has an air of a double-glazing salesman on the threshold of retirement nowadays. Tony Hicks, the baby-faced, spindly-legged guitarist of The Hollies, is still as thin as a rake. His face is testimony to that ne’er-quoted truism, ‘once a baby-face, always a baby-face’. He didn’t get to say much, because he was sitting beside drummer, Tony Elliot, who took the opportunity to wax lyrical about all the jazz legends he saw during the group’s first visit to New York.

Another splendid double act was Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone of The Zombies. The latter, he of the breathy singing voice of an adult choirboy, didn’t get to speak much, because he was Ernie Wise to Rod Argen’s Eric Morecambe. The last time I saw Rod Argent on the telly, he was playing Hammond organ with his eponymous group and had just about the biggest head of hair I ever saw on a male (until the day I saw a Rastaman in the Paris Metro, with dreadlocks down to this shins). If I remember correctly, Rod chirped away about visiting Graceland – only to find that the King was away for the day. His dad, though, was happy to show the lads from St. Albans around his son’s humble abode.

My award for the sweetest person on view went to a disarmingly white-haired Jimmy Page, who talked ingenuously about the awe of simply being in the land of all his blues heroes. Peter Noone ran him a close second. Herman of the Hermits still looked and sounded like the cheeky little Mancunian chappie who won the hearts of middle America. I still find it staggering to think – and don’t quote me on this, because I haven’t checked my facts on Google – that they sold more records in the U.S. at one time than the Fab Four themselves.

The best moment of the programme came when an 18-year old Peter Noone, a naïve supporter of the Vietnam War at that time, was debating the impact of music with a Graham Nash just on the verge of going all Crosby, Stills and. Our Graham, bless him, was arguing that music had the power to stop all wars. Peter Noone, even at 18, wasn’t so sure. Graham rubbed the point in by suggesting that if everyone stopped to listen to what Donovan was singing about, they would put down their weapons. ‘No more wars, no more wars…’

Well, it was a delightful sentiment, but you only had to look at Donovan today to appreciate the error of judgement. Britain’s very own Bob Dylan looked like a hurdy-gurdy man preserved in East Anglian clay and dug up by an archaeology team a few centuries later.

There are two parts still to come and I’m dying to see what Robert Smith of The Cure looks like these days. Will he still back-comb his hair? Does he still outline his eyes with kohl? All will be revealed on Friday at 10pm on BBC Four. The girls have got it wrong: music is far more than a mere auditory pleasure.

Depends on what i s on the bill though. I am a fan of stuff like Charles Mingus rather than the quite mediocre European Albert Mangelsdorf and 'Lady sings the blues' type stuff the French prefer. The website shows nothing yet and I looked at the managing agency's site which offers no clues. So they are not expecting really big names or else they would highline them for bookings already. As for 'world jazz', nah... An excuse for poor quality music by experimental bands that often comes out too samey to put up with four full days. I do not expect to be going to any of it as close as it is.

There is to be a 3 DAY JAZZ festival in St Emilion S.W

in July.

World Jazz as well as the usual stuff....WHICH I personaly do not enjoy.

It is something thinking back. I was at the Isle of Wight in 1969, two weeks after Woodstock which we were only getting to hear about. Bob Dylan played there instead of Woodstock for the first gig after his bike accident and broken neck. Straneg, considering he lived in Woodstock! The effect was that the '70 festival was bigger than Woodstock, something like 600,000 people! How we all got on and off that island is beyond me. It is anyway because I think I suffered a combination of jet lag from coming back from Lima two days before and then paper tubes with stuff we consumed by inhaling it, etc. There was no performer, audience apartheid there. The next year at Glastonbury the 'VIP cattle pen' appeared.

Yeah, not too far from me and dead cert having lived through the first rock'n'roll releases and remembering them I am a little bit too past it for anything but a hotel.

I did go to the Cahors blues festival in 2007 I think it was the main act one of then came down and walked around playing. I have not seen that since the 70's If you like bluesyou get a main stage you have to pay for and then lots of groups who play in bars and on the street. If your like me I would stay in a hotel and theres lots.

No sir, not even at things like traditional folk festivals even. Sad!!

Yes very 60/70 free festival feel I thought those days had gone this could not happen in the UK now

Back to roots. This is how it was in the 1960s before they 'invented' the big animal enclosure they call the 'VIP area' between the stage and the audience.

For any body interested in the Crescendo festival in August it is very French on a small site with the ocean behind. All groups play for approx 1.30 hours starting about 5.30 P.M. and finishing 12.00 P.M. The largest audience would be about 2,000. Most groups will just mingle with the audience I've never seen this happen like this before.

I've had dogs, cats, ferrets and who knows whatever else since forever and each one that goes guts me. Know what you mean...

Not with it today....So clarity is not present...feline death of Viv's 18

year old cat.

I TOO saw the Splinter group in Shephersds Bush and for me it was sad.

Peter Green was one of the best.

THE greatest was called Tell me about my life?

JOHN MAYALL s Marshas Mood and The Supernatural are amazing.

Crescendo gig looks pretty good but I am too festival weary (and old) to survive the way I used to which is a drag but reality. As for that clip Ron, guess you see why I have been trying to agitate for its release. The guy who does all of the archive stuff for production for the Zappas told me it would be released in about 2002 but 10 years on I am still hoping it turns up before I am gaga or gone!

barbara, you were putting up something including pity about Pete. Didn't arrive here. The Greenbaum family, not Joe his dad or the other three, had schizophrenia in it somewhere which is one of the reasons they left Bethnal Green. Plus Joe Greenbaum getting a postman's job at Putney. When F Mac was going and Jeremy S's was getting wobbly about it all and Danny Kirwan's head was swelling like a barrage balloon Pete was already strange. Bob Brunning said so often that Pete was not made for the pressure and might have survived if he'd stayed with Mayall until he was able to form a band he lead properly Christine Perfect and John McVie were a bit too dominant for him as a married couple and despite the original name 'Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac' he never really had what he needed. The India stuff when Pete was already gone finished him. I saw the Splinter Band in the late 90s and it was mediocre at best, pity because Pete rated with the best of them in his time.

Well Viv would have known Pete's dad and could confirm the Alf Garnet bit, if even she might have been at the Albert Hall too! Yeah, Putney was Greenie's patch too, well family wise. Aynsley's girlfriend for many years, Sue, came from Putney too...

Aynsley Dunbar well he very kindly gave us all a lift home one night....

I GOT INVOLVED with music and therefore musicians in a very platonic

way. Managed a band AS i SAID ...they were good but inpatient. Had some interesting

times ....Stayed at Freddy Mercurys flat in Barnes. My friend Viv and I were made confy

on thr front room floor. Viv and I are still friends....we eventually became flat mates

in Putney and had Peter Greens 21st birthday party in our flat. I baked a cake and

iced it green. Peter was Vivs boyfriend.Funny thing is that she usually dated...is that the word?

musicians and married an engineer. My relationships were not focused on musicians but I

have spent a great portion of my life with a guitarist ....who, by the way is not in a band.

Got me going now. Aynsley Dunbar you guys. Got the Blue Whale album. Roger Sutton and Tommy Eyre were on it from our pub crowd. Paul Williams, ex Zoot Money, and did make a tribute to Robert Johnson album (!) was singer and probably the best voice of all rock men. Their version of Wllie the Pimp is actually better than the Zappa original in my humble opinion. It got Ayns into Zappa's band though.

Hi Michael, aren't you lucky, sounds like a great festival...the Enid, my word, how English, and Hawkwind, big music!

I have not read all the post but I live near Royan we have a local prog festival every year in August in the last four years i have seen at the festival Hawkwind, The Enid and lots of international groups donot know if any of you are interested

I could spend all day talking about music if I had the time