That was it … the first public utterance of a crazy idea! In 2008 I was retiring early ( aged 59 ) from work as a solicitor with South Ayrshire Council. The crystal decanter set had been presented and a colleague asked, tongue in cheek, how on earth I intended to replace my obvious devotion to legal work. I said that I would form a rock band. After a brief silence the room erupted in laughter. I felt a bit like Oliver Twist would have, had he asked for the dessert menu … but my intention to form a band was deadly serious!
I wasn`t starting from scratch of course. I had played guitar in the past and had even dabbled in a band, but this was 30 years ago! During those years, like many of my generation, I had developed a love of classical music and was waiting for my affection for popular music to diminish – to recline humbly by the fireside of reminiscence - but that hadn`t happened! There was instead the dawning realisation that we had lived through a golden age of great songs ( to name some sources, Chuck Berry, the Beatles, the Stones, Fleetwood Mac, the Temptations and other great soul acts ) and that this music had not only survived but was thriving, with many converts among the younger generation. So something had to be done!
My first contact when I decided to form a rock band was Joe, a retired local government officer who played the drums as a very private hobby. He brought with him his brother-in-law, Drew, now retired, but then an ex-civil servant turned consultant, who sang and played bass guitar. Jim, ( now aged 70 ) a friend of Drew and an ex-head teacher, joined us a bit later. He brought with him a huge keyboard and the ability to play both the keyboard and guitar, adding greatly to the kind of songs we could tackle. Of these, only Drew had tinkered in a band before, and this was in the distant past. So the idea had now become reality – my dream to form a rock band had now started to happen in earnest.
After two years of enjoyable jamming in a church hall in Troon, and encouraged by a solitary enquiry from someone who had heard us from a safe distance, we decided that we needed a “gig “ ( a live performance ) to help drive our collective zimmer forward and tighten our playing. A name also arrived just in time for our first gig. Having rejected “ the Old Gits “ ( my wife`s suggestion) and many other ideas perhaps a bit close to the bone, the name chosen was “ Croc Roc“, which we thought would subtly warn the audience that we were not as young as we wanted to be! The gig was a dance in the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Church in Maryhill, Glasgow and an audience of 60 turned up, thanks to the ticket-selling and buying activities of wives and friends. So this was the next big step since the idea to form a rock band.
Before that, I had introduced my stepdaughter Eleanor ( a good singer ) to the band and we had rehearsed about 12 songs of her own choice. Eleanor accordingly joined us on stage for about 40 minutes as our guest singer (she is a Doctor of Clinical Psychology but, for some reason, would not agree to the billing of “Croc Roc and the Doc “ ! ).
We were extremely nervous before this gig, having no idea what the reaction would be to such an assembly of antique performers. Jim reassured the audience, however, that the amplifiers, with their red stand-by lights on, were not life-support machines (!) and we were off to a good start.
This first gig was in fact a great success, raising over £600 for the CRM Society and giving us enormous encouragement. Part of our pleasure here was witnessing the enjoyment of the audience, many of whom were in our own age group. The dance floor was well used and at times crowded and we have had a similar positive response at other events – five in all, with Eleanor joining us at each one. Our next gig is in April at the Admiral Bar, Waterloo Street, Glasgow, which is a very well-known venue for bands, and has hosted big names like Franz Ferdinand, where the audience will hopefully be about 300 - our biggest audience yet.
We are perhaps a bit taken aback by the popularity of our gigs to date but I think there are two main factors at play. First, all members of the band, including Eleanor, value and love the music we play and we work together well as a result of this shared appreciation. Second, rock music is perhaps the most affirmative form of music there is. When I decided to form a rock band I didn’t appreciate all the benefits. At its best, it has an immediacy, energy and presence which, if consumed in sensible doses, will counter the ageing process … And at the very least? It will help you forget it altogether!
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