Biographical Tidbits

ABANDON TASTE, all thee that enter here.
The tradition of rudeness in Caribbean music can be traced right back to the days befog anyone had thought to call it slackness and condemned it Whether it was Lord Creator crooning the innuendo of 'Big Bamboo' or Lord Kitchener giving dodgy injections to willing female patients on 'Dr Kitch', sex has always reared its ugly head in the dancehalls and parties. Likewise, double entendres have played a large and solid part in British music hall comedy with Max Miller, for example, being barred from various theatre chalks during the 1940's for being just the wrong side of blue. Somehow, the two strands of naughtiness, erm.... came together in Judge Dread.

During the late 60's Alex Hughes was a familiar figure around London's West Indian clubs, working as a bouncer. A large, cheerful character, be was well-known to the likes of Prince Buster and Derrick Morgan on their occasional visits to the UK, and it was Prince Buster who pointed the way for Hughes' future career. Taking his name from the character Buster created during the rude boy era, full title Judge Four Hundred Years, Hughes reinvented himself as the rudest man alive, Judge Dread.
Buster had sold thousands of records in the underground reggae world of 1969 with 'Big Five', a bit of naughtiness based on Brook Benton´s 'Rainy Night in Georgia', but by the early 1970's Buster had fallen out of favour in the reggae market and rude records were few and far between. It was clear that there was a huge market out there waiting for something on a similar theme, and Judge Bread gave it to them as often as they could take it.
However, even the rude Judge himself couldn´t have anticipated the can of worms he had opened. Without any airplay whatsoever, 'Big sixt'. on the Big Shot label, made it to number 11 in the charts and hunk around in the top 50 for 27 weeks in 1972-73. A word-of-mouth record, it seemed like every time it was going to droop a few more people heard about it and made it rise again. A sensible man, Judge Dread knew he was onto a winner and made "Big seven' just to see whether "Big six' was a shot in the dark or not. Whithout waiting for its predecessor to drop out of the charts, it hit number eight towards the end of 1972. Judge Dread was an underground sensation. When he turned up to do PA's at nightclubs, the response was enormous, even if the public were expecting a skanking Jamaican rather than a larger bearded white yob from Kent.
Logically, 'Big Eight' came next (number 11, april .73), and then Dread rested his formula, changed labels to the appropriately spiky Cactus and picked onl 'Je t´aime". While it didn't quite have the erotic touch of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg (unless the idea to a burly ex-bouncer taking his boots of1 turns you on, which conceivably it might), it was certainly different. "Je t´aime" hit number nine in July of 1975. While it proved to be tie last time Dread penetrated the top 10, it wasn't for want of trying. He scored two more top 20 entries in 1975, the first. inevitably, with 'Big 10" and the second a christmas doble-header, "christmas in Dreadland' Coupled with "Come outside', the latter done in a fashion that makes Mike Sarne's original seem like Wagner's Ring Cycle. Finally, "The Wrinkle Man" (number 35, May '76) and "Y Viva suspenders' (27 August 1976), a welcome bebunking of one of the worst hit records if the era, gave him two last chart positions.
As you might expect for such a controversial figure, some would have it that Judge Dread was a user of reggae, a pimp who violated the music and made a living out of its baser instincts. That's really not true. While Dread wasn't exactly at the cutting edge of the music, his records always had a fair bank to them - particularly the early ones - and he has never been a rocker in skin's, or rasta's clothing. "Big Six' and "Big Seven' were both ht's in jamaica (the latter on Derrick Morgan's Hop Label), and while he was never going to be Big Youth, U Roy or any of the other popular "talking' artists of the reggae era, his reference points were always Jamaican: for instance the word ganja appeared on a couple of his records at a time when white people still spoke of 'pot'. Most importantly of all, Judge Dread never kidded himself about what he meant to reggae or his great singing abilities. Judge Dread was an entertainer, leaving the social comment to his friend, Bob Marley. He recently returned to the charts in a roundabout way when his voice was sampled - inadvertently - on the Dream warriors' Ludi'.

As for those who find him too rude: no-one ever forcet Judge Dread on anyone: his name, after 'Big Six' was enough to get his records a radio ban before anyone had even heard them. Together with his writing partner, the late Fred Lemony, Judge Dread ground out a social niche in pop that combined music hall with reggae. And dodgy though some of his material may have been, how can you dislike a man who, err ... abuses himself, on the following exchange from "Come outside'? Dread to girl: ''TeII yer what, it's a nice moon.'' Girl to Dread: ''Yeah, I can see it shining on yer bald spot.''

Ian McCann , Vox Magazine


This is an interview I borrowed from someone who stole it from 'New Mania' fanzine no. 5. (1981?)



How long have you been in the music business?
Ten years and I'm still cracking it. That was the beauty of it. When I started off, it was in the Glam Rock era with Slade, Sweet, T.Rex. But they're all gone now and the one they thought would be a one hit wonder is still here. I started off as a doorman and bodyguard at clubs in the West End and in Kent.

How did your first record come out?
I was working as a disc jockey in Chatham, at the same time working as a debt collector in a record company. I done a b-side of a record which was basically a backing track. I kept the tape and gave a few copies out to various D.J.s. I used to play it on my own disco. Various people heard it and liked it. It came out on Trojan, called 'Big Six', although it was supposed to be called 'Little Boy Blue'. It was just after 'Big Five' by Prince Buster came out and it got confused by that.

How many of your records have been banned?
Every single of them. You talk about punk, but I was a punk ten years ago. I was doing things against society long before anyone else. I've been shocking people for years. What it boils down to now, is you're always known for it. It doesn't matter wether it's clean or dirty. I've had the highest number of records banned in the history of music. 20 singles and 8 LPs. I've applied to Guiness Book of Records twice.

Do you think a lot of your success was due to the fact that your records are always banned from radio and TV?
The early ones got into the Top 20, some as high as No. 5 without beeing played, so I wonder what it would be like if they had been played. The BBC had control of the charts at that time and they probably fixed it so I wouldn't get to No. 1.

Have you kept roughly the same set over the years?
Yes, because people are there to see the numbers they know. I don't like the way other bands say they are sick of doing their hits cos that's what people come to see, not a load of new stuff that the audience don't know. There's certain ones I keep in the show all the time, like 'Big Six', 'Big Seven', 'Big Eight', 'Big Ten', 'Jamaica Jerkoff', 'Up With The Cock' and 'Dread Rock'.

How would you describe Dread Music?
It's got nothing to do with fuck all! Nothing to do with politics or voilence, just a good laugh. I got accused of being a racialist. But how can I be a racialist when there's six black blokes in the band? When I saw all the sieg-heiling going on I thought I've been in the business ten years now but I can't throw it away, so I decided to stop gigging for a while. It's paid off well cos everything seems to have died down now. My aim was to do a giant skinhead show but no-one would put it on because of all the trouble. There might come a time when I can do it somewhere like the Empire Pool.

What do you think is the difference between skinheads of the early 70's and the early 80's?
The early skinheads were alright. They were never as bad as they made out to be. I predicted in 1975 that skinheads would come back in a couple of years time. Nowadays skinheads are becoming outcasts.

How did the Bridge House gig go?
The plan was to play the Bridge House to do a video which is coming out this year. We needed somewhere like the Bridge House because it had a good atmosphere. I tried to capture the early 70's in the 80's and it seemed to work.

You don't seem to tour much.
It's basically a question of finance. It's no good touring unless you've got an LP or a single out, otherwise it's like pissing in the wind and the promoters won't touch you. I'd like to tour eleven months out of twelve but it ain't possible. You gain much experince on the road that you'd never believe.

Don't you try to do one-off dates?
If possible we try and get two or three gigs together. Also, I do a lot of cabaret and clubs because a lot of the blokes who used to see me back in 1969 are settled down and married with kids, so there's two markets that I aim for. The cabaret market and the new lot. I don't like playing sport halls cos there's no atmosphere.

When you do cabaret, do you tone your act down?
Yes, I tone the act down a bit. No-ones ever walked out from one of my shows. In the clubs sometime I bring a bit of skirt on stage and tit her up and do a bit of mooning. The Dread market ranges from eight years olds through to eighty year olds.

You do a lot of charity work, don't you?
Yes. Charity work can get a bit overbearing because people do try and take you for a ride sometimes but I like to help anyone out. People say I've got a lot of money from my records but I haven't cos I spent a lot of it. But if I had to choose wheter I'd do it over again I would.

Do you think the publicity in Sounds has helped you?
Yes, cos the other papers only write about dead bands. You go round N.M.E. or Melody Maker's office and they are all dead from the neck upwards. If I send a letter saying 'Judge Dread has got a new record out', they won't take any notice.

Why did you sign to E.M.I.?
I only signed cos they said they would advertise one of my LP:s on TV. "Judge Dread's Greatest Hits" got in the charts but there was no real push from the record company.

Why did you put out the "40 Big Ones" LP?
It was for all the new followers cos they were moaning that they couldn't get all the old records. It was a compilation of everything we've ever done. We've got pretty popular in Europe, especially in Germany, they don't understand the lyrics so we can go on the TV. We sell loads of records over there. In Germany their version of Top Of the Pops is called Musicladen and there was all these birds running around topless and I couldn't concentrate.

Who writes the lyrics and where does the inspiration come from?
Me and Ted Lemon, the manager, writes all the lyrics and the inspiration come from everywhere I go. I mean, I eat in cafes, a bit of pie and mash and hang around shithouses. I'll never change even if I sold a million singles. People can relate to Dread music cos they can relate to me.

Is it easy to keep writing dirty lyrics?
No. People think it is. It is easy to write a love song but it's difficult to do an LP of dirty songs. There's a limit to how outrageous you can be on a record and I push it to the limit!

Is the song "Big Punk" a piss take?
Yes, in a tounge in cheek way but the reason we recorded it was originally to go in Malcolm McLaren's film "Great Rock and Roll Swindle" and if the film had been made as it should have been, I would been in it but the final product was a big cock up.

What do you think of punk yourselve?
Well, I always reckoned it was an excuse for every ugly bird and bloke to come out on the streets. But it certainly gave the music business a kick up the arse. They were signing up all these punk bands who couldn't even play a guitar let alone do an album. The bands were splitting up like nobodys business.

Could you tell us a bit about the film you are doing?
Yeah, well the film is basically about skins from 69 to 81. It'll show all the things that's happened, like beach fights and they'll be a main skinhead character. It'll be on the end when I come in. Really it's a sort of Qadraphenia, skinhead style but better because it will be more authentic. I've also got a book coming out which is a sort of biography of my life over the period in the business. It's got all the truths about the record business and the days out at Margate. It's got a bit of humour, a filth and voilence but it's more of a story than the usual "I know a man, his name is Fred" type biography. It'll be out next year. The film will have an 'X' rating! If I took out all the swearing there'd be hardly anything left. I've written it in my own language. Perhap the book might get through to a few people, including skinheads, that we should have a laugh, not fight amongst ourselves and get mixed up with politics.

How do you think the press has treated you over the last couple of years?
Sounds has been good, probably cos Bushell is into the music, but the rest they don't give a toss. Their offices are like morgues. If I send a statement saying "Judge Dread's got a new single out on Creole" they wouldn't even put one line about it, but if I sent out one saying "Judge Dread's got a single out full of Gestapo music and he's wearing a SS uniform on the cover", they'd go mad and I'd be on the front page of N.M.E. and Melody Maker. That's all wrong but I don't need them. I've been about for ten years hopefully I'll be around for a few more yet.

Where do you go from here?
Well, as I said there's a book, a film, a video of the Bridge House gig and hopefully the "Rub-A-Dub" LP, our latest, will be a success. We won't get much, if any, airplay but we always manage to sell a few copies no matter what happens. I've got a loyal crowd of fans who buy everything and the exciting thing is, they are younger and bigger every year...


Here is his obituary from the London Times :

-- J U D G E  D R E A D - -


Judge Dread, reggae singer, died from a heart attack on stage in Canterbury on March 13 aged 53. DURING the 1970s only Bob Marley and the Wailers had more reggae records in the British charts than Judge Dread. But while Marley was a true Rastafarian from Kingston, Jamaica, Judge Dread was in reality the white
Englishman Alex Hughes, living a peaceful existence in the Kent village of Snodland. His success was all the more extraordinary - 12 hit singles between 1972 and 1976 - because it was achieved with out any airplay on Radio I and without his ever appearing on Top Of The Pops. His raunchy, risque Iyrics were full of sexual innuendo and were once described as being "as subtle as a smack in the ear with a housebrick".
As a result every new recording was banned from the airwaves as soon as it was released. For a while such notoriety sustained his chart career but his novelty appeal faded in the late 1970s when the fashion switched to harder-edged, authentic "roots reggae". A huge man. weighing 18 stone, Hughes was one of those colourful characters found operating at the fringes of the mainstream music industry. He developed his love for Jamaican music when he lodged as a 16-year-old in a West Indian house in Brixton. His vast size seemed to dictate his early choice of jobs: he worked as a debt collector, a strip club doorman and a security guard,
briefly employed as a minder for the Rolling Stones. After watching the great Jamaican DJs such as Duke Reid and Sir Coxone playing at clubs in London, he set up his own "sound system". He began talking in the Jamaican patois and adopted his Jamaican-sounding stage name. When asked about it he mereIy replied: "Well, a man my size couldn't call himself the Magical Cabbage, could he?" His racial origins made him an oddity in the world he had chosen yet there was no doubt living his genuine love of Jamaican culture. To stay ahead of his rivals, he used to travel to Sheerness once a month when the banana boat the Jamaican Planter
docked. There he would buy copies of the latest Jamaican sounds from members of the crew long before they were on sale in Britain. In he summer of 1972, Hughes decided to make his own record, "borrowing" a backing track from a Jamaican recording and adding his own vocals. Called Big Six, the crude Iyrics left little to the imagination, but the song became a disco hit and, purely by word-of-mouth, rose to number 13 in the charts. Hughes boasted that the record had cost him only £6 to make, but the nearest he got to Top Of The Pops was when his photo was shown during the weekly chart countdown. He even asked if he could
appear on the programme, not to sing the offending Iyrics but merely to thank fans for buying the record. Again he was snubbed. Further hits saw his braggadocio increase with titles such as Big Seven and Big Eight, all in a similarly lewd theme. By the time Big Ten had made thecharts, even Hughes realised that things were getting out of proportion. He followed in stead with a reggae remake of Je T'aime . . . Moi Non Plus, a record first banned by the BBC when recorded by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin in 1969. There then followed the truly awful Y Viva Suspenders, but by 1976 his chart run was over. 

Hughes continued to perform and, always with an eye for publicity, in 1995 he tried to sue the makers of the film Judge Dread, starring Sylvester Stallone,
claiming that confusion with the movie character was ruining his reputation. He had recently been back in the studio, and was on stage with his backing band, The Originals, at the Penny Theatre in Canterbury when he suffered a heart attack. His last words were "Let's hear it for the band." He leaves a widow. 


Although often dismissed as a novelty act, Judge Dread was actually a groundbreaking artist. Not only did he put more reggae records onto the U.K. chart than anyone else (Bob Marley included), he was also the first white artist to actually have a reggae hit in Jamaica. The Judge also holds the record for having the most songs banned by the BBC, 11 in all, which incidentally is precisely the number of singles he placed on the charts. 
Judge Dread was born Alex Hughes in Kent, England, in 1945. In his teens, he moved into a West Indian household in the Caribbean neighborhood of Brixton. Hughes was a large man, which helped determine his early career as a bouncer at the Brixton's Ram Jam club. He also acted as a bodyguard for the likes of Prince Buster, Coxsone Dodd, and Duke Reid. There was a spell as a professional wrestler, under the mighty moniker the Masked Executioner, and even a job as muscle for Trojan Records, collecting debts. 
By the end of the '60s, Hughes was working as a DJ with a local radio station and running his own sound system. It was Prince Buster who provided the impetus for Hughes' metamorphosis into a recording artist. The DJ was so taken by Buster's seminal "Big Five" that he went into Trojan's studio to record his own follow-up. Over the rhythm of Verne & Son's "Little Boy Blue," Hughes recited a slew of hilariously rude nursery rhymes. It was by sheer chance that Trojan label head Lee Gopthal walked by during the recording; impressed, he immediately signed the DJ. His song was titled "Big Six" and Hughes chose the name Judge Dread in honor of Buster. The single was released, aptly enough, on the Trojan label imprint Big Shot. Initially an underground hit, once Trojan signed a distribution deal with EMI later in 1972, the single rocketed up the charts, even though the distributors refused to carry the record. The song was also a hit with a radio ban as well, and Trojan's disingenuous cries that it wasn't about sex were met with the same scorn as Max Romeo's "Wet Dream," the first of the rude reggae hits. The ban was no more effective this time either, and the single rocketed to number 11, spending six months on the chart. "Big Six" was just as enormous in Jamaica, and before the year was out Dread was in Kingston performing before an excited crowd. Those nearest the stage assumed the white man milling around was Dread's bodyguard or perhaps his manager, at least until he stepped up to the mic. An audible gasp arose from the crowd as no one in Jamaica had considered the possibility that the Judge was white. 
Back in Britain, "Big Seven" was even bigger than its predecessor, thrusting its way up to number eight. It too was an innuendo-laced nursery rhyme, toasted over a perfect rocksteady rhythm and reggae beat. In the new year, "Big Eight" shot up the chart as well. Amazingly though, Judge Dread's debut album, Dreadmania, failed to even scrape the bottom reaches of the chart. However, the British continued to have an insatiable desire for his singles. In the midst of all this rudeness, in faraway Ethiopia people were dying, so he helped organize a benefit concert starring the Wailers and Desmond Dekker, and also released the benefit single "Molly." The single was the first of Dread's releases not to boast a single sexual innuendo, but radio stations banned it anyway and the charity record failed to chart. In an attempt to receive some airplay, Dread released singles under the pseudonym JD Alex and Jason Sinclair, but the BBC wasn't fooled and banned them regardless of content. 
The artist's second album, Working Class 'Ero, which arrived in 1974, also failed to chart. "Big Nine," released that June, and "Grandad's Flannelette Nightshirt," which arrived in December, turned out to be just as limp. Judge Dread seemed to have lost his potency and both singles lacked the thrusting naughtiness of their predecessors. However, the DJ shot back up the chart the following year with "Je T'aime," a cover which managed to be even more suggestive than the original. The ever-enlarging "Big Ten" took the artist back into the Top Ten that autumn; and the "Big" series eventually ended at a ruler-defying 12. A new album, Bedtime Stories, just missed the Top 25, while the double A-sided single "Christmas in Dreadland"/"Come Outside" proved to be the perfect holiday offering. The hits kept coming, although none would again break into the Top 25. In the spring, The Winkle Man sidled its way up Number 35. The Latin flair of "Y'Viva Suspenders" proved more popular in August 1976, but failed to give a leg up to the Last of the Skinheads album. 
Britain was now in the grips of punk, but Judge Dread was bemoaning the lack of reggae in clubs, and wishing to "Bring Back the Skins," one of a quartet of songs on his February 1977 5th Anniversary EP. However, the artist was capable of writing more than rude hits. One of his songs, "A Child's Prayer," was picked out by Elvis Presley, who intended on recording it as a Christmas present for his daughter. However, he died before he had the chance. In the autumn, the delightfully daft barnyard mayhem of "Up With the Cock" scraped into the Top 50. Dread's raging affair with the charts ended in December 1978, with the holiday flavored "Hokey Cokey"/"Jingle Bells." It had been quite a run and 1980's 40 Big Ones summed it all up. Dread sporadically continued releasing albums, which were still bought by hardcore fans. He also continued touring, playing to small, but avid audiences. His last show was at a Canterbury club, on March 13, 1998. As the set finished, the consummate performer turned to the audience and said, "Let's hear it for the band." They were his final words. As the mighty Judge walked offstage, he suffered a fatal heart attack. 

Jo-Ann Greene, All Music Guide


Here is a text which, among others, I found on the web and took the liberty to republish here. You find the original on the 

First Vienna Ska Page.

Unfortunately the author is not quoted.

the final curtain

THE WHOLE KENT ska scene is definitely starting to buzz - T-Leaf, House Of Ska and the Skaville UK newsletter are based here, we've had two mini ska festivals organised by Porky, Eastern Standard Time from the States recently played Canterbury with Mark Foggo's Skasters to come, plus various gigs featuring the Kent-based Buster Bloodvessel, Judge Dread, Arthur Kay & The Originals and Intensified. 
So the gig on March 13th at the Penny Theatre in Canterbury seemed all set for another good night out.  As Trevor, the Penny's guvnor, correctly pointed out at the end of what was to be a very sad evening, it was a good crowd in a good mood, having a laugh and a drink. 
Arthur Kay & The Originals took to the stage at the allotted time to the usual good Canterbury welcome.  The only odd thing I noticed at the time was that I hadn't seen Judge Dread wandering about, talking to fans.  I found this especially odd at a local Kent gig where he had so many friends . . . it was very strange.  So during Arthur's set I popped upstairs to the dressing room to see Alex.  There he was sitting in the corner, getting ready, greeting me with his unforgettable smile and the words, "Hello boy, how are you?" 
We sat and chatted about local football more than anything else, and how Margate FC's stuffy directors had upset the whole contingent of music company investors brought in by Link Music, Buster Bloodvessel and the good Judge himself.  What astonished him was, after all the work he and Buster had put into recent events at Margate, how ungrateful they had been, and even almost embarrassed by what they say as "silly ska people".  I have to mention this because it's what sticks in my mind - it was obviously something he had to say that night.  He'd said it before and I wondered why he said it again. 
We then got on to music and how he had had a good feedback about his "skinhead opera" idea, and that several West End producers had asked for more details.  From what I can remember, the Merc were seriously thinking of sponsoring the play.  We even discussed what songs should be in it, but especially having Bring Back The Skins as the main track.  We looked at each other, winked, then laughed about the thought of those hoity toity knobs going to see some skinhead play just because it was in the West End and the trendy thing to do. 
We also further discussed the plans for his new album, which we had finally got to grips with.  It was going to be recorded with many backing bands like The Originals and Intensified in the UK, his old friends Dr Ring Ding in Germany, and also Crooked Beat in Sweden who he'd recently played with to great success.  He had pulled more people in Sweden than The Specials had done recently, and was quite pleased with what he had been paid.  He padded his pocket with an outstretched palm to the backing of his own laughter.  Fuck me, he was really a true character. 
The album was to have had a skinhead/rude boy theme and was to have been licensed to as many ska labels as possible around the world, with the only provision being that all the labels had to release the album on the same day.  It was his way of uniting the whole ska scene, and being the first person to get an out and out ska album released by at least ten labels on the same day all over the world, it would have been another record like all his banned hits!  It was a great idea, and while recording the track Skinhead Moonstomp with The Originals for inclusion as a special track on a forthcoming Harry May CD, he also recorded a new track called Skinhead.  A brilliant piece of Dread ska - it even mentioned The Merc, and we'd agreed to release it as a one-sided promo single, although I'm not sure he ever got to talk to The Merc about it.  The track crystallised his love of the ska and skin world and proved that this new album was going to be a winner. 
He went on to tell me that he had just been interviewed (and taped) by a Japanese student at Canterbury University which was to have been his last ever interview.  From what he said I think he added a bit to the truth on a couple of matters for a wind up, as the Japanese girl didn't quite get his humour. 
I shook his hand, wandered downstairs to see the end of Arthur's set, bought a beer, and waited for Alex to appear as Judge Dread on stage. 
Halfway, well it seemed like halfway through the Judge's set, and after a brilliant rendition of The Winkle Man, he walked over to Trevor the keyboardist and mentioned his t-shirt, making some witty comment.  It was unusual for him to ever turn his back on the audience.  He then proceeded to thank Arthur Kay & The Originals, then he looked up, apparently lost for words, stumbled, and fell off the stage.  For several seconds I thought he was mucking about as he'd been in a fiercely funny mood upstairs.  What was he up to now?  Then there was the awful noise of someone hitting the floor when they keel over unconscious. 
I ran straight out and got Trevor from the Penny to call an ambulance.  Philip, an off-duty paramedic and brother of keyboardist Trevor's girlfriend, jumped into action, and to be honest if the ambulance hadn't taken so long, and if the defibrillating machine had been working, and the fucking ambulance hadn't broken down, I believe he would have been the man who saved Alex.  People say the ambulance got there quickly.  Well, I don't know about that - the hospital can only be two minutes away when you've got flashing blue lights and sirens. 
Those anxious few minutes were probably the worst of my life.  I couldn't bare to look at Alex laying on the floor in his Superman t-shirt.  I can also still remember the anguish in every single person's face at the gig.  The mood had turned from a carnival into disaster in seconds.  The person I remember being most frantic was poor Arthur Kay.  The man has some faults (and don't we all), but he is one of the most honest and genuine people I know, and he sincerely loved Alex and relished every opportunity of playing with him.  Arthur, who had recently split up with his wife and bravely kept off the demon drink was faltering like us all.  The next moments were to be even worse when the defibrillating machine was tried and didn't work . . . it was unbelievable.  Why do they always work on some useless actor in them stupid TV shows! 
The paramedics got Alex in the ambulance only for the fucking thing not to start.  The few people standing outside the gig pushed it as far as they could and rushed back to get the rest of us.  I had been on the phone to Alex's long term girlfriend, Anna, telling her he was off to hospital in the ambulance, only to find it stranded in the closed garage opposite.  We pushed it all around the block hoping to bump start it, but failed.  It finally stopped on a roundabout by Sainsbury's.  And all the time we were pushing we were watching a paramedic massaging and pressing on Alex's heart.  I honestly believe we would have pushed that ambulance all the way to the hospital. 
Then a paramedic rushed out of the stationary ambulance and ran towards a bus shelter on the Sturry Road.  Where the fuck was he going?  Then we realised there used to be a phone box there (I wonder what clever bastard ordered that to be moved).  We shouted at the paramedic, asking if he needed a phone, he replied yes, and unbelievably four of five people who normally carry mobile phones, including me, didn't have them.  Angela, herself a nurse at Canterbury Hospital (which is currently under threat of closure!) used the Penny's phone to get some sense from the hospital as to where the back up ambulance was and how long it would be. 
In the meantime, some dickhead from one of the local houses had called the police saying a group of skinheads and big blokes were nicking an ambulance from outside the Penny Theatre.  The police duly arrived, we told them about Alex as he lay in the useless stationary ambulance, and they told us they couldn't help and drove off!  Maybe they had something important to do like checking cars for tax discs. 
The second ambulance finally arrived and Alex was transferred from one to the other.  I jumped in my wife's car with her mate Bev and drove off to the hospital.  I remember thinking about people like Porky, Toast, Dartford Steve, Dr Paul and Angela and The Filth's Jon and Simon.  It was something about their faces, it was as if they already knew the worst. 
At the hospital there was a small group, including a very emotional Arthur who went off to the chapel to pray, keyboardist Trevor, his girlfriend Sandra and her paramedic brother, Philip  Some time later Philip came out from behind a closed door to tell me Alex had finally died.  I just couldn't believe it, and still can't.  I'm still waiting for his usual phone call with all the local football gossip.  The two police officers who turned up to do the necessary's were a different breed to the earlier ones.  They were younger and genuinely seemed to care - one had been a fan and he just looked out of the window in a daze.  They asked me to ID him, fuck me what a terrible experience - it was worse than seeing my mother in the chapel of rest.  She had been ill and had prayed for a heart attack to end her suffering.  This was the great man laid out on a trolley . . . this was the great legend.  I officially identified Alex and have tried unsuccessfully to push that picture of him out of my mind. 

I don't really remember anything from there on, except going to see Alex in the chapel.  But I do remember saying in the car on the way home that although it had been a complete fiasco, I know that if Alex had been sitting beside me, he would have pushed his glasses back on his forehead and made some hilarious remark about the ambulance being pushed up the road by his friends and fans. 
I can't finish this without saying we all lost a genuine friend and a character who really did touch us with his music, humour and presence.  He was a real gentleman and will be sorely missed, BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN.

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