Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I guess Jonh wasn't that much into doing an email interview, but what I did get outta him was enough to warrant me printing this little repartee...

BLOG TO COMM-I've recently been reading your early-seventies fanzines TWAS EVER THUS and I WAS A FREAK FOR THE CIA. Were you involved with any fandom before these?

JONH INGHAM-Wow - where did you find those? I only have the one with the orange cover. I'd love to get copies - any chance of you scanning or photo-copying them?

I got involved in fandom around '68 through LOTR probably. I contributed to various fanzines and met the LA fan crowd in June '69 when we moved there. Westercon was the first time I really got it full-force.

BTC-Got 'em a few years back at a fanzine clearance sale...I can attempt to scan 'em, though I can't account for what kinda mess I'll make of it.

Now was this around the time you met Greg Shaw? What can you tell us about Greg back in the early days of fandom anyway?

JI-I met Greg in either '69 or early '70. I can't remember who introduced us but it was someone in LA. I phoned him and it went from there. Then he invited me up to stay the weekend, funded by a bunch of albums sold at Village Music in Mill Valley!

From what Greg told me, he was involved in San Francisco fandom in the early/mid-60s. I'm not sure if he had a fanzine but he knew all the people and attended cons. He moved to the Haight-Ashbury in '66 and was a very early hippie. Besides sf he was also a big record collector, so deep into the local music scene. As the local band scene blew up he realised that the concept of sf fanzines could easily be applied to music. CRAWDADDY! was probably out by this point, but whether he knew of it I don't know. Anyway, he produced MOJO NAVIGATOR, with stories on Big Brother, Country Joe, etc. He said one day that Jann Wenner got in touch and came by to ask how you did it all. Which Greg explained. Next thing he knew, ROLLING STONE came out.

BTC-You were doing comics this early? I've seen the ones you've done for BOMP and NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS, and in fact I gotta admit to still cracking up at that illustration you did for the Lester Bangs Troggs article where one guy says something like "Rod Stewart just pissed on me" and the other guy goes "fabulous!"

JI-I started drawing 'illos' as they were called in sf fandom, for sf fanzines in 1969. When Greg and I were discussing what each of us would do for Bomp, we decided I would do illos, because of course a fanzine had illos.

I remember that punch line! A lot of those came from the three of us talking and joking - then I would attempt to draw it.

I still have a folder full of unused ones.

BTC-Let's go back a little're Australian by birth, right?

JI-Yes. Moved to Canada (Vancouver) for a year when I was 10 and then left Australia for good when I was 13 - back to Vancouver and a year and a half later down to Oregon and then California.

BTC-Were you in Australia during the ascent of the Easybeats and the rest of the Australian Big Beat acts of the mid-sixties?

JI-I left in mid-64. I kind of recall The Easybeats, though that may just be wishful thinking. I remember The Bee-Gees though. When I left it was still too early for Beatlemania to have woven its magic and change musicians from guys in matching suits and quiffs into long haired mods.

BTC-Could you give us a rundown of some of the various fanzine operations you were working on at the time since I only know about the ones I mentioned earlier.

JI-You have all of the fanzines of my own. BOMP until I moved to the UK. I helped with some issues of a zine by a guy called Paul Novitski who's tag on Paj. I can't remember the name. And then I went to a couple of collating parties at places like the Trimbles.

BTC-When did you move to England, and how long was it before you started writing for the Fleet Street weeklies?

JI-I left LA on 22 March 1972. I have absolutely no idea why I remember that date when I can't recall more important ones.

I started freelancing for NME almost immediately, then ROLLING STONE by May, I only did one piece for a proper Fleet Street paper - that was a story on Tangerine Dream for THE OBSERVER...which would mean 1974/75. I joined SOUNDS in early '75.

BTC-Stepping back a bit, why did you split the US for England?

JI-I was in the US on a student visa, so no right of residency, and if I changed to a permanent resident I would have had to register for the draft. this was in the middle of the Vietnam War.  My father was English and I wanted to come and explore his side of the family. I was also quite the Anglophile due to most of my favorite bands and artists being British. So I enrolled at London Film School and came over.

BTC-About when was it when you had started writing for SOUNDS, or was that a few years away?

JI-I started in early 1975. Before that I freelanced in the NME, ROLLING STONE, CREEM and some others in the US.

BTC-Any particular pieces of yours that stand out in your mind?

JI-There's two answers to that question.- the pieces I think were well written and that I'm proud of, and the event itself that I was writing about Sometimes the two come together.

I like the story I wrote describing a couple of days with Queen. "Bohemian Rhapsody" was going massive but they were booked into quite small theatres in Wales. The show in Cardiff was absolute mayhem, with rows of splintered seats afterwards. Watching Keith Richards snort a mountain of coke while being fawned over by rock critics was entertaining, though I didn't get the story right until some 30 years later. Two or three days with Lynyrd Skynyrd was a lot of fun - not least watching Ronnie Van Zandt's dad (first time out of the USA) being hustled by a lady about the age of his son. It took awhile for him to catch on that she was interested.

Of the punk stories, I'm pretty happy with the first Pistols interview and a couple of the live reviews. The 6 page ? Rock Special has some good bits. No sleep for 3 days with Patti Smith on her first tour of Europe was another story that I think I only got right recently, though her band told me they thought my 1975 version was the most accurate reflection of a band on the road that they had ever read. Maybe because it came across as disjointed and crazy as the events and conditions it described.

BTC-Any interesting stories regarding your days managing Generation X?

JI-My usual instant memory is of endless hours in vans!

In the early days of '77 we kept getting gigs in the West. At the first one in Bristol we met a guy called Steve Harrington who had come over from Wales with his mates. He looked a total punk. A week or so later we were somewhere else like Hereford or Shrewsbury and he was there again. We knew to expect him in Swansea and sure enough he was there. The fourth time, he asked if he could come back to London with us in the van. He ended up sleeping on the sofa at my place. I don't remember if he was Steve Strange by the time he got to London, but soon after he was in with Vivienne Westwood and dressing in Sex/Seditionaries. Like Vivienne and Malcolm we knew the importance of having a "scene" around you and so we kept Steve fairly close, even working as a roadie for a week or two. At that time he was going through a military look and was dressed in full Laurence Corner squaddie uniform, with a beret covered in pointy studs rolled and stowed under the right epaulette. We were talking to Chrysalis by then and for one meeting they asked us to bring in a band member. So we took Steve, dressed like that, who sat on a sofa and said nothing for the whole meeting - just stared at them. 

BTC-Got anything to say about Billy Idol?

JI-Ha ha - that's much too wide a question to answer.

I always liked watching him onstage. He wrote some good songs and made some great records.

BTC-Well, there goes my scoop! All kidding aside, how long did you write for SOUNDS anyway?

JI-I wrote from about February '75, starting as a freelance, until December '76.
Not much, but I think it will stand the test of time more'n my Twink one.


Anonymous said...

More on "I WAS A FREAK FOR THE CIA" please.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

A short but good interview although I did wince a bit when you mentioned 'Fleet Street weeklies' - pretty sure none of the big three UK music papers were ever on or close to Fleet Street.

A chap called John May was a pal of Mich Farren and Nick Kent on the NME around this time. May was more of a film critic and environmental correspondent than a music man but his blog might interest you - couldn't see it in your links list so am guessing you might not have seen it.



Anonymous said...

Oh sh*t! Just read that Mick Farren collapsed and died on stage last night over here in London. Sad and shocking news.