It kind of feels like Christmas whenever I go to Kensington. Maybe it’s just my ‘winter-brain’ kicking in at the beginning of the festive season that is once more upon us.
For starters, Kensington Market drums up many vivid memories, like its impressive Art Nouveau-styled store with it’s sophisticated look. The building at 49 Kensington High Street – a place where one could consume to ones delight an array of undeniably hippiest of hippiest goods.
Del, Vic and I used to frequently visit the place during our time in the Tame band. This would be 1969-70, where we would be mainly searching for stage gear, and of course just enjoying the general buzz of the whole atmosphere of London’s latest fashion go-to; a replacement Carnaby Street (which, fantastically, is still turning over eye-watering amounts of cash and clobber to this very day!). The Beatles’ Apple Boutique was just about on its last legs and our Fab Four were about to give their last single to our world (to me it was) – ‘Get Back’ – ooh it still sends a shiver. No more, Beatles.
Anyway back to mighty Kensington, home of Biba – the great fashion palace that I took a girlfriend to, buying a wonderful dress along with snazzy trousers for myself. I must have saved for this since 1955 or something, perhaps even selling my ‘Mad’ Magazine book collection in the process! Vic tells me he bought a Biba hat that he still has! I seem to remember that everything was purple or pink! The gents’ section was relatively small because it was a ladies thang.
The heroically celebrated and highly cultured Jimmy Page (a local Kensington guitarist) was recently seen at The Lord Leighton Museum celebrating the return of a beautiful Pre-Raphaelite painting that the flamboyant Lord painted in his enormous first floor studio entitled ‘Flaming June’. This painting was displayed at the Royal Academy way back in 1895. The Leighton art studio is a jaw-dropping space that must have been the envy of every artist in the world – its massive windows allows great quantities of that often elusive, but always potent, Northern light that was and still is so sought after by every painter – the natural light helping to illuminate their work on fine paintings. The house and collection is a must see. Just take a ride to 12 Holland Park as soon as you can!
Nearby you will surely find Kensington Gardens. Kate Bush made several references to this historical Royal Park, notably in; ‘In Search of Peter Pan’ – a beauty of a timepiece, which you will find on her Lionheart album which was released in 1978. The story of Peter Pan (the boy who never grew up) was written by J. M. Barrie and according to the Kirriemuir National Trust Museum (this museum is in the actual house where he was born), the Pan story first appeared in print in 1901 as The Little White Bird. By December 1904 it became a stage play, then later turned into novel form. The first edition of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906), was illustrated masterfully by Arthur Rackham – one of our all-time greatest artists, and a favourite of mine. Just Google and drool at his skills – wizardly creating the atmosphere and fantasy in his own magical way. Almost everybody is aware that the great Sir James Barrie left all copyright proceeds of Peter Pan to The Great Ormond Street hospital for Children. A loving gesture from a caring person. Check out the co-writers tune at the end of Kate’s song. I think Pinocchio got a look in there! It’s all good stuff.
The early demo of Kate’s ‘In Search of Peter Pan’ was put into shape at Wickham Farm in Welling; the studio we all helped build for the capture and creation of many sublime works – sadly some are lost, and some forgotten. According to my good (ok, nearly good) memory, I played a little bit of classical guitar on this track, with ‘the band’ – Del, Paddy and Charlie (Morgan) – mostly contributing ‘live’ at the same time. Usually, one of the team would be up in the control room, which was approx. 30 yards a way, through two doors, and up a good old flight of stairs! So even if you were doing your bit to press record in the control room and also playing on the track at the same time, the tape would be rolling for a good minute or so before we started or you would enter on the second verse or even the middle eight if you arrived very late to the studio!!
The Mastered recording of this track was created at Superbear Studios in Nice, Southern France. It was just a few miles from Monaco, up above the pine forests and sublime views across a mirage of mountains that fall into the sea. Earlier efforts from the London unit were soon favoured by new musical recruits – flown in by necessity to prop up the faltering sessions. I did get a call to come and play on the track one more time, which I certainly did, but unfortunately my efforts did not make the final cut.
Note: My Eldest daughter Emma is raising money for child cancer this coming January 2017 and is looking for sponsors for this gallant cause. She is having her wonderful hair shaved off to be made into hairpieces for a child(ren)-another fantastic gesture from another special and beautiful person. Thank god xxxSupport her at Brave the Shave
– Brian xx