Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Mark Baxter

My latest guest to be washed ashore on a lonely island in the sea is writer Mark Baxter... a former shop and club owner with a passion for '60s clothing, Tubby Hayes and Millwall Football Club.
Whilst employed in a succession of admin jobs in the newspaper and property industry, Bax has also lead another life as a DJ, event organiser, managing musicians and writer. 

"My mentor in the world of writing is Paolo Hewitt. I first met Paolo properly in 2000. Since then we have collaborated on three books. The first, 'The Fashion of Football', was voted as one of the top 50 football books of all time by 442 magazine. 

Our second book, 'The Mumper', has been made into a feature length film, called 'Outside Bet' which hit the cinemas in the UK on April 27th 2012. Starring Bob Hoskins, Jenny Agutter, Calum MacNab and Phil Davies. Distributed by Universal Pictures.

Our third book was published through Prestel in May 2012 and is called 'The A-Z of Mod' with a foreword by actor Martin Freeman

I have also had a local history book published called 'Walworth Through Time' written with Darren Lock. This looks at the area of SE17, and has sold extremely well locally. A second volume was published in June 2012 and a new third volume is due at the end of 2014

A six month exhibition based on our book The Fashion of Football run at The National Football Museum in Manchester til August 2013.

A new novel called 'Elizabeth, Peter and Me' was published on November 18th 2013 on Mono Media Books."

Tony Bennett - The Best Is Yet To Come

"My exposure to music in the first place, would have been through my dad. On Sunday mornings, he would put on the songs as he got ready to go out for a few pints of the lunchtime and among the tunes I would hear back then ( I was born in 1962)  would be the 'pop' sounds of the mid late 60s, such as The Beatles and Motown with all the stops in between. 

However, he was also a well known pub/club singer in and around South East London where I grew up and he loved the likes of Sinatra/Tony Bennett/Eddie Fisher and especially Nat King Cole. I would often end up at his  venues with him as a kid and was soaked in the standards that he would sing. A group of his pals would always be there and one song that has stuck as a sort of anthem for those days is 'The Best Is Yet To Come' by Tony Bennett, a song I still love and one that reminds me of the old man immediately (Sadly he died in the year 2000).  I constantly thank him for that musical education."

Gladys Knight & The Pips - Giving Up

"I have a distinct memory of running around my school playground in the late 60's singing 'Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch' over and over again, and songs like that one and others from the Motown stable still get me every time to this day when I hear them. 

One artist who I'm particularly fond of is Gladys Knight who along with her Pips, made some crackers, one of which I'm having as track two. 'Giving Up' is a song I have seen them do live (from gig in Harlem in 1969 I believe) and everything about it, from the dance routine, to the suits The Pips are wearing, to the vocal performances are different class. Great song too."

The Jam - Butterfly Collector

"By 1979, I was finding myself immersed in the second generation Mod thing. We saw Quadrophenia at the cinema and then I was identifying with the sounds/look and ultimately the lyrics of The Jam. 

Paul Weller became like the older brother I didn't have and I read anything about him in print religiously and through that I picked up on his nods towards other music and his influences, like The Small Faces and The Who. 

When I think back to The Jam though, it isn't the obvious songs I remember however, like 'Going Underground', 'Tube Station' or 'Eton Rifles'. I seem to think more fondly of 'English Rose' and my third choice 'Butterfly Collector'. Clever lyrics that showed a deeper depth and a sign of what was to come from PW in the future."

Tubby Hayes - Dear Johnny B

"I was by now also discovering Jazz and Northern Soul, being often tipped off on a tune by older lads I was now dodging about with and I was buying as much as I could afford. 

I became a member of Ronnie Scott's Club when aged 23 I think and saw many of the jazz greats there and at other venues. People like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey.

Jazz takes care of my third choice and I've gone for a UK player. I just love the sound of our guys. Ronnie Scott himself was a tremendous tenor man. Phil Seaman was an amazing drummer and Stan Tracey was a genius on the piano (please check out 'Starless and Bible Black') But for me the true great to come from these shores is Tubby Hayes. 

I discovered Tubby on a Paul Murphy compilation album in the mid 80s and have steadily bought his vast back catalogue ever since. His ultimate album is 'Mexican Green' and the tune from that, that I used to play at full volume on my early shifts when I was working in a West End mail room is 'Dear Johnny B'. 

I am in the middle of making a documentary on Tubby to coincide with what would have been his 80th birthday in 2015."

Sam Fletcher - I'd Think It Over

"I always love hearing a new Northern track and I heard my final choice when I saw the play 'Once Upon A Time In Wigan' at The Greenwich Theatre a few years ago now. I knew a lot of the tunes in the show, but 'I'd Think It Over' by Sam Fletcher hit me like a bolt out of the blue. I love the simple but oh so plaintive arrangement and the sumptuous strings backing that great vocal. I NEVER grow tired of it."

'Hello, my name's Vinny, Vinny Hawkins. I'm an old man now, in my seventies and live in sheltered housing, but when I was twenty-one in 1962, I was out and about, ducking and diving. One day I was dodging about in Soho back then and bumped into an Italian hotel porter mate of mine who told me about this world famous actress who was well known for being, shall we say, casual with her jewellery. Always leaving it all over the place she was. Anyway, up a drainpipe I go and I managed to get my hands on some of those gems. This was the best result I'd ever had. These beauties were worth a fortune and would be my pension. Only, things then went all wobbly on me. All going well and then bosh! My 'fence' has a death in the family with his old mum passing over and my gems seemingly going with her... I got my collar felt for a previous job that earned me a ten stretch and me and that jewellery parted company. When I left prison, I went straight, then retired and moved in here. But, fifty years later, those gems suddenly became important to me and I need to get my hands on them again. To do it, to get them back will involve grave robbing and cracking a safe, but you know what? I think I can do it... The question is, do you?' 

'Elizabeth, Peter and Me' is published by Mono Media Books and is available from Amazon and other major booksellers...  follow the link below :

Mark continues to PR for Bar Italia, Threadneedle Tailors, Delicious Junction Footwear, Gibson London clothing, John Simons Apparel Company, Gama Clothing, Peckham Rye clothing and Nicholson and Walcot 'Hand Made In London'. He also specialises in Brand awareness through the use of social media on various short term contracts.