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The Coach & Horses, 391 Leyton High Rd. E10 5NA
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 Blues Jam Profiles
Alan Elliot
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Alan Elliot
Saxophonist
Are you local?

Yep - N15.

Where are you from, originally?

My parents are Londoners. At the end of WWII they moved out to Romford, where I was born. Moved back to London when I was 4, moved to Brentwood when I was 12 - and at 21, I moved back to London!

What's your tipple?

At the moment, Brahma beer - or Cocoa.

What's your earliest memory?

I've got loads of them, but no way of telling which is the earliest! Maybe of a puppy, locked up and crying in its kennel while we were eating lunch, or falling down the stairs (ouch!) when I was about three.

What was the first record you ever bought with your own money?

"The Best of Frankie Laine" - that's not a joke but you can laugh.

...and do you still have it?

I don't know what happened to it but a few years ago I bought it again from a local charity shop. It's got some great old numbers on it!

Hobbies/interests?

I used to paint, write short stories, travel, flirt, drink, but now it's my saxophone, or having a good moan - sounding bad one way or another!

Do you remember the very first gig you went to? What was it like?

The Falcons at Stratford Town Hall. They were guests, along with an unknown Julie Andrews, at my sister's dance school performance. The first proper gig I went to was Rory Gallagher's Taste at The King's Head, Romford.

Worst job you've ever had?

As an engineering apprentice we were given the most boring mind numbing stuff and probably inspection checking of engineered parts was the worst (if you want to know the most extreme case ask me about the Weidermann Template Checker - a job so boring they could only give it to apprentices because no one else would stick it).

What's your claim to fame (not necessarily musical) ?

I'll tell you when it happens...

If you could invite 6 people (past, present or fictional) to dinner, Who would you choose?

My wife and three kids and my parents - because they've never met.

Been playing/performing long?

Been playing Sax for 33 years, and performing for about 2 years.

I had school piano lessons at the age of 10 but was dyslexic when it came to reading manuscript, so I gave it up after a year and a half. At 11 years old, I bought a mouth organ and ran all the way home with it, expecting to be able to quickly play something on it, and when I couldn't it was thrown in my toy box.

When I discovered Top Gear and blues a few years later, I found the harmonica again: pulled it out and quickly found I could play melodies. I loved it but I was puzzled and disheartened when I was unable to play some stuff (not knowing there were five notes missing!), so...

Colosseum ...wow! Dick Heckstall-Smith gave me the desire for sax but I couldn't afford one, so I decided to try guitar. I bought an acoustic but didn't know how to tune it so I learnt to play on one string, and a friend said it sounded like bass. I saw an alto sax in a junk shop but didn't quite have enough money, so out of frustration I bought a bass and very quickly found I could have great fun with it and annoy the family and neighbourhood. I was 25, living in a basement flat, where it was relatively sound proof, before I was able to afford my first sax...

Been in any bands?

Yep, but due to bass player problems we never got to play live. After we finally admitted defeat and folded, the singer did a number on the James Whale TV show, but we lost touch with her soon after. Come to think of it, I suppose I should have just answered no!

What first got you interested in the Blues?

Messing around with my transistor radio and suddenly hearing John Peel's Top Gear radio show. That man really did change my life.

What other types of music do you like to listen to/play?

I listen to old sixties stuff, jazz/rock/fusion, Shostakovich, Bartok, Jeff Beck, old RnB...

Favourite Blues artists?

Oh dear - I've never really gone out of my way to listen to traditional or conventional blues! However I really like Buddy Guy's striking guitar style and since going to the Blues Jam I think I should listen to some Freddie King stuff.

Favourite artists (any other genre) ?

Alvin Lee, Jeff Beck, Stanley Clarke, Chris Youlden, Dick Heckstall-Smith, King Curtis, Colin Hodgkinson, Abdullah Ibrahim, Fela Kuti... Loads n loads of 'em, really.

Ever been lucky enough to meet or share a stage with one of your musical heroes?

They're not big names in blues, or the world in general, but I've met two of my biggest heroes...

Favourite instruments and/or equipment?

Instruments?  Sax, bass, guitar, Piano and forceps.
Equipment?  Anything very expensive - and a rubber band in case a spring breaks...

If you had to sum up your relationship with the Blues using just one word, what would it be?

Blue

Who would you pick (past or present) for your dream band?

Stop - you're hurting my head!

Most embarrassing moment?

"Please miss, can I go to the... Oh no."

Proudest moment!

A time, years ago, when I lied about my proudest moment.

What do you most enjoy about the Blues Jam?

The spirit of the music and the musicians.

If you could travel back in time to be present at one moment/event in musical history, what would it be?

The first performance of "What shall we do with a drunken sailor". Could it be the first ever known funk piece?

Who would they cast to play you in the movie of your life?

Lon Chaney Snr.

Marmite: - Yes or No?

Sorry, I'm not old enough to remember them!

If you were invited on "Desert Island Discs", which 8 records would you choose?

It's really difficult to choose indiviual tracks, as most of my favourite stuff is in the form of complete suites that take up a whole album, so...

Keith Jarrett - The Survivor's Suite:

1. Part One: "Beginning"

Colosseum - Valentyne Suite:

2. Part One: "January's Search"
3. Part Two: "February's Valentyne"
4. Part Three: "The Grass Is Always Greener"

5. Savoy Brown - I'm Tired, from the Album "A Step Further"

6. Jeff Beck - Space For The Papa

7. Heavy Jelly - I Keep Singing That Same Old Song

8. Donny Hathaway - The Ghetto

...and what would be your Luxury Item?

Fifty tons of toilet paper!

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Never put it in writing. (oops!)

Go on - tell us a secret!

After I bought my first sax I spent the first half hour trying to play it with the cover still on the mouth piece. Well, it was chrome - how was I meant to know!

I recently performed on stage with a bottle of Evian in me bell end - and didn't know till I was packing my instrument away.

The secret I've given away is my age (I think?) Better stop here...