The definitive history of Passion Spent – by Patrick (the parrot)

PART 3: ‘… it’s a holi-holiday!’

Go to part: 1 | 23 | 4

Mick Douthwaite and Brian Wrigglesworth were the experienced old troopers of the band. Both had been involved with various local bands for aeons, and had a wealth of experience playing with other musicians. They had something with which to compare the way things were going with the recently formed Rio. On the other hand, Dave, Ian and Jim were, to all intents and purposes, band virgins; those three were as happy as goldfish in a bowl! But Mick must have felt that things were not going the way he’d hoped. Even in retrospect I can’t honestly say I know exactly what it was that Mick was unhappy with or unsure about; but one day before slipping off to sunnier ten-foots, he told Brian that he wasn’t happy, and he was thinking of leaving the band, moving on to new projects. But he was going to think about it all while he was away on holiday. He’d let Brian (and the rest of the band) know his decision when he returned.

Quite why he told Brian, I’m not sure. Perhaps he was hinting that Brian might join him in his next project; perhaps he just wanted to prepare Brian for the eventual news, so that Brian would have plenty of time to consider his own position. Whatever the reason, Brian told the rest of the band. Between them they decided that they really couldn’t wait to find out what Mick’s decision would be, and that they needed to find another drummer – IMMEDIATELY!!!

Is life really that short? Was the situation so dire? Couldn’t they have waited a fortnight? Well, who knows whether they did the right thing or not. What would you have done in their position? Or, perhaps more importantly, what would Mick have done if he’d been placed in the same position by one of the other members of the band?

When you’re 17 and playing in a band, you know people, other musicians, who up to that point have only played their instruments in the privacy of their own bedroom; or who have dabbled with some mates in an ad-hoc fashion playing either the old rock’n’roll classics, or songs by the very latest, upcoming pop superheroes. Everyone who picks up a musical instrument has, somewhere in the folds of the frontal lobes of their cerebral hemispheres, the idea that one day they want to join a band. So when it was decided that a new drummer should be found, Ian and Dave had a few ideas about who that drummer might be. You see, since Dave, Ian and Jim were – as previously stated – band virgins (well, perhaps Jim wasn’t exactly a band virgin; but then has he ever been any kind of virgin? Sorry, excuse that. Just me being flippant; of course he has, hasn’t he?) they had no problem with the possibility that the new drummer might also be a band virgin. They didn’t feel the need to recruit an experienced musician with a proven track record when they themselves were so inexperienced.

Step up to the mark young master Rick Wilkinson.

A certain Passion Spent archivist reports that Rick replaced Mick at the Ferryboat Inn gig of 29 July 1983, after the band had played just 34 gigs with Mick on drums. (By June 1983 the band were already playing three gigs a week!) Exactly how this works out, I’m not sure, since the preceding Passion Spent gig was also at the Ferryboat Inn on 20 July. My point is that if Mick played the Ferryboat Inn on the 20th, the band were pretty damn quick at getting things up to par with Rick for the 29th. My guess would be that the band had started rehearsing with Rick almost as soon as they heard about Mick’s plans; and that the management of the Ferryboat contacted them at short notice to see if they could do the gig on the 29th. Rather than turn the gig down, and leave the Ferryboat management in the lurch, the band decided to throw Rick in at the deep end and take the gig. (I’m sure the records of the particular Passion Spent archivist in question must be correct!) My guess would also be that the first gig with Rick, after such a short spell rehearsing must have been, well, below standard, shall we say.

After the Ferryboat Inn gig on 29 July, the band decided to curtail activity to allow Rick the rehearsal time necessary to fully learn the songs the band were playing at that time. There were no further gigs until 8 September 1983, at the Endyke Hotel.

Reliable and efficient transport arrangements are crucial to any gigging band; and when everyone is making their own way to gigs in separate vehicles, or by begged lifts from parents or relatives, there are more chances for the system to fail. I suppose it was always just a matter of time before such a critical failure affected Passion Spent. The ‘failure’ meant that Brian could no longer make his own way to gigs. Eventually, this forced the band to look for a new bass player. And guess what . . . Dave knew just the man for the job – another band virgin…

Watch this space for PART 4!!

Go to part: 1 | 23 | 4