Thursday, 11 September 2014

He will be missed

Robert Young has died.

I woke with the usual resistance to rise – cold morning and grey skies. It’s Thursday – not quite the weekend – it can be a hanging around day if you’re not careful. When I was younger it was the arrival of early hours hedonism  - but today I got up  - I washed – missed breakfast and replaced it with nicotine - a habit of youth so sadly not shaken yet.

I get to work – I work – I work.

Check the phone – sometime past ten o’clock.

Tagged in a post from the wonderful Jo – news seems to be emerging that Robert ‘Throb’ Young is dead.

I haven’t seen the man in 24 years but I’m genuinely shocked. And gutted.  And sad.

You can begin all this rock n roll casualty talk if you wish. And it may well be true – but check the record – check the record – check the guy’s track record.  He was the guitarist with Primal Scream. No solo projects. Nothing to distract him – except rock n roll. Primal Scream were a much maligned monster when I first met them – it had turned out all heavy and leather and the bowlheads wanted fey and inferior music. I wasn’t one of them. I loved the sheer power of The Scream’s new take on rock n roll in an age of jangly guitars and emerging grunge. Throb and Innes had bottled that MC5 magic - a double guitar assault with Bobby G in the middle - it was all effortlessly cool. They were wearing leather - their shirts were open - chelsea boots and chains. This wasn't anorak city.

Our little known band then – and little known band now  - managed to convince Paul at The Adelphi that we should support them – so he let us. We were third on the bill and got paid £25 quid or possibly £50. Our name wasn’t even on the poster.

We played in t-shirts freshly bought from Crusher – who was their touring manager and merchandise man and pretty much go to geezer.  We finished and The Scream had seen us – they liked it and asked us down to Sheffield the next night.

I know I’ve written this before. But indulge me. It just might get me writing again.

So we drove at speed to reach Sheffield – cars full of us and little else. It was a date with the screamteam. We’d been booked by them – not the venue – they would make it alright. I felt like a kid – these ‘adults’ of rock n roll asking us to play were little more than the big kids at school themselves – they were super cool.

The Scream – were open, honest, wild and full of promise.

And I’m hanging on to those memories.

That's Throb's guitar. The Williams Sheffield Take Two
So eagerly under prepared  we arrived in Sheffield. The third night ‘on the road’. We had no amps – little room for guitars and drums – but we we’re young and up for it. Toby leant Paul his kit. Henry leant ian his amp and Throb lent me his Les Paul – there was no rock star selfishness in the man. He wanted others to have a good time, to have a party.  Suddenly this two-bit rock n roll band (that’s us – not the Scream) were transformed by Marshall amps, solidly constructed guitars and drums. A mighty fucking racket for the rabble of fans. We used to have a song at the end of our ‘set’ all two chord stooges and feedback. Howling guitars and anarchy.

And I’m hitting this beautiful guitar’s pick-ups – driving that feedback out as the booze flowed through me.

Turns out I might have hit it too hard.

But Throb doesn’t mind. A broken Les Paul – it can be fixed – but not tonight. A little mild panic sets in – you know I only met the guy yesterday. He declares it ‘rock n roll’ and straps on the Flying V – effortless – cool – smoking throughout the gig. 

Robert Young made young girls and men fall in love with him.

As Gillespie and Innes said in their statement following his death Throb always saw the stage as a place to conquer. "When we go onstage it's a war between us and the audience" He would conquer it and everyone in that room. Bring then down with his battle sound. This wasn’t a man borne out of malice. He was always open. As my brother said to me – he made him feel welcome.  So I’ll remember the vodka, the hair, the embraces, the acid house parties, the screamadelica shenanigans, the talks, the recommendations and the women.

Throb and a young Rob Dillam (pre Adorable)
I’ll remember Robert Young.

And if running round the past and fitting me into the story makes me seem sad – a touch too nostalgic – then so be it. Hearing the news that he was dead forced me back there.

They're great memories.

I’ll miss Throbert Young. 

I’m turning down the Marshall to zero tonight.