“Live Dates” was my first double album and they were expensive, so I had to wait and get it for Christmas. Even though I knew I was getting it, it was still exciting taking the package out of the pillow case that was always at the foot of our beds on Christmas morning. I’d heard Wishbone Ash on the Alan Freeman Show and quite a few of my newer, more musically inclined friends had heard them too. It was the first album I wanted purely because of the guitar playing, giving no thought at all to the words or the members of the band. I vaguely knew that they were singing about warriors, kings coming and throwing down the sword to take up the plough, but didn’t really understand it at all and had no desire to find out. This time it was all about the music, particularly the twin guitars twisting and weaving their melodies and counter melodies in and around each other. What’s more, it was a live recording and that was really impressive.
I’d been having classical guitar lessons with a bloke called Martin Nockalls for a while and had started getting pretty good. As well as playing the “proper” stuff, I spent ages listening to the same bits of rock and pop over and over again until I’d learned them. The introduction to “Throw Down The Sword” was the main thing that we all tried to play. (I also learned the obligatory introduction to Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water” of course!) There were two harmonised guitar parts so really you needed someone to play with. Although he was more of a piano player, Phil Ruston, a friend of mine from the other end of Sheffield, wasn’t bad on a guitar and we sometimes got together at his house to try and play it. That was until I found I could actually play both parts better myself. He lived on Bocking Lane up at Greenhill and his dad apparently knew mine. As well as playing music sometimes, we spent ages talking about the band we were going to start. It was going to be called Sensory Overload and we designed a logo, album covers, and even titles for songs that hadn’t actually been written yet.
Phil was one of the first lads to start smoking and actually bought his own cigarettes (Players No. 6) which he hid from his parents in the big inside pockets of the RAF Great coat he got from the Army and Navy Store on St. Paul’s Parade in town. He was always generous though and willing to “crash t’fags” when we went down to the derelict house on Ringinglow Road at lunch time. He also wore beads round his neck and looked a bit like the bass player in Wishbone Ash, so would have made a great rock star!