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ONCE UPON A LONG TIME AGO...


Another blazing hot day and a memory of long ago...

Today is Sunday the 15th of July and, approximately 45 years ago today, the circumstances that caused me to write Be Bop Deluxe's '15th Of July (Invisibles,)' song were enacted in the village of North Ferriby near Hull.

Be Bop Deluxe had only recently formed but we'd already established a regular monthly gig at 'The Duke Of Cumberland' pub in North Ferriby. This was the first line up and we were still an unsigned band playing local gigs around Yorkshire. The gigs at 'The Duke' were a big part of our development at that time. We'd built up quite an enthusiastic following in the area and our monthly gigs at 'The Duke' were always packed. It was a great atmosphere and we always looked forward to those gigs.

I had a special reason to look forward to them because I'd fallen in love with a girl from the area. I was, (unhappily,) married to my first wife at that time but hadn't yet divorced. One night at 'The Duke' whilst in the middle of a guitar solo, I looked out from the stage into the small hall built onto the back of the pub where we performed and there, in the packed crowd, I saw a pair of the most beautiful, seductive eyes looking directly at me. The eyes belonged to an equally beautiful girl and I was instantly smitten by her. She held my gaze and smiled the sweetest smile and I knew I had to meet her.

In the interval between sets, when records were played, I sought her out and danced with her and a relationship began which lasted several months, maybe a year. The relationship sadly ended when her father discovered I was married and forbade her to see me again, but my feelings for her had inspired a number of songs.

The first was 'Teenage Archangel' which the original line up of Be Bop recorded as an independent single on my 'Smile' label, sometime before we were signed to EMI's 'Harvest' records. A couple of other songs ended up on the 'Axe Victim' album..One was the album's title track which mentions this particular girl in the line, "smiling with bright eyes". Then there's the song 'Love Is Swift Arrows' which contains a coded reference to her name and features the lyric, "Oh God in some heaven whose number is seventeen dressed you in blue jeans this year, to torment my soul..."' Which is a reference to the fact that she was 17 years old at that time. I was a little older, in my early 20s, but none of that seemed to matter. She was thoughtful, intelligent, mature beyond her years, sophisticated...and I fell for her in a big way.

But this doesn't explain the song '15th Of July.' That particular song tells the true story of Sunday the 15th of July, 45 years or more ago, when the first line up of Be Bop Deluxe travelled to North Ferriby from Wakefield for one of our monthly gigs at the 'Duke.' It was a hot and humid July day, but when we got there a thunderstorm had taken out the pub's electric power supply and with no power, we couldn't perform. Other members of the band had made friends with members of the audience so they went off with these friends to various locations in the village of North Ferriby.

I, on the other hand, was invited back to the home of the beautiful girl mentioned above. Her parents were wealthy and had, what seemed to me back then, a huge and lovely house in the nearby picturesque village of Kirkella. She drove me there in her mother's Austin Mini and made me some lunch. Maybe it was eggs and ham. Outside it rained all the while, a warm, gentle summer rain, hence the line in the '15th Of July' song: "It rained all day across the world..."

Some of her friends visited as we sat in her parent's lounge that July afternoon.. They complained about the rainy weather, but she squeezed my hand, looked at me and said that, as far as she was concerned, 'it couldn't be better.' (Again inspiring another line of lyric in the song.)

Later, before the band had to drive back home to Wakefield, she and I sat in her mother's Mini in the 'Duke Of Cumberland's' car park as it continued to gently rain, cool and soft in the summer air. She said to me that she thought 'rain was the most passionate element.' And I thought, at the time, that was such a perfectly poetic summation of the day...

So, 45 (or maybe more,) years later, I still remember that day fondly. Such a lot of water under the bridge since then of course, so many changes and ups and downs, highs and lows, people coming and going, but the 15th of July stays fixed in my memory as one of the most tender and magical moments of my younger years...


Nick Dew, Be Bop Deluxe's first drummer, on the Duke Of Cumberland's small stage in 2004 when 'The Lost Satellites' did a warm up gig for our subsequent 2004 'Be Bop Deluxe And Beyond' UK tour.


The view from the car park of the 'Duke Of Cumberland' pub, (the roof of which can be glimpsed with the tall chimney behind the white van in the photo'.) This was the spot where the words "I think rain is the most passionate element" were spoken. (This photo' isn't from that time, however, but was taken in the early 2000's.)


© Bill Nelson 2020

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