“Look you f..king idiot”

Prompted by the death of Malcolm Mclaren I share this tale particularly with Midge_UK and Sharl

Spring 76  and after five years in Brum  I’d spent a couple of years as a roadie and a couple being a sales rep for the wonderfully niche Transatlantic Records. It was time to find a new music related challenge.

Since I’d seen 100’s of venues around the UK this agency business – finding gigs for artists – sounded interesting with less driving for sure.

There were 2 that caught my eye in town – Jim Simpson’s Big Bear agency for one but I didn’t fancy that since they’d recently booked my mate James Langstone’s band to play on the Isle of Man ferry. In the storm that they sailed through as the band were playing the power supply varied as the ship’s propeller came out of the water causing James’s vocals to vary in pitch  an octave or so during just one vocal line. People subsequently paid a lot of money for this effect but it didn’t work when unplanned.

The other agency that I’d noted – Endale Associates didn’t really appeal as I knew of Dave Corke’s Juda Priest connections and I’d never bought into that bit of metal but the company had promoted some good gigs too so I called him anyway. I went to see him in an office up a few stairs in the Jewellrey Quarter on the afternoon of December 1st. An amaimable fellow, Corky figured that my experience was just the ticket to be a useful booker so it was quickly agreed that I’d start the next day. Corky explained that he was going to be out of the office in the morning so gave me a set of keys with instructions to “Answer the phone” until he arrived around  lunch time.

I didn’t see the Grundy interview from Granada Studios that went out Nationally that night and caused the media furore led by the Daily Mirror but travelling on the No 9 into my new work place that morning and reading the Mirror I did wonder what the day might have in store.

I let myself in to the office at 9.00am and both phones were ringing. Neither stopped for the rest of the day. The first calls were from 2 of the Universities that had dates on the upcoming Sex Pistols tour which Endale had booked – cancelling the shows. Then the BBC looking for comments, then more cancellations followed by press from Europe as it’s press woke up to the story. Different people from the BBC and ITN called – no one could reach Mclaren  or Corky’s mate Bernie Rhodes  and most of the people calling from the media didn’t know the difference between an agent and a manager anyway so the calls just kept coming and by the time Corkey arrived in the office at 1.oo pm I had four sheets of A4 with numbers for him to call back and felt like I’d spoken to every journalist in Europe. Certainly the UK.

He hadn’t seen the TV the night before or read the morning’s press so a cheery “Alright. How are things?” from him led me to pass over a copy of the Mirror and explain that every date on the tour had been cancelled plus it seemed like every journalist in Europe had been on the phone. Corkey wasn’t phased and set about trying to find Mclaren or Rhodes. Failing at that he turned to getting the dates re-instated. “No problem Kid” he says. “Just watch this”

He called the first venue which I think was Stafford Uni and they weren’t having any of it. The date was cancelled and that was that. He called a couple more and got the same response. By the time he got to the fourth – Colchester Uni he took a different line and asked the Social Secretary who’d booked the date what the problem was. “It’s not us” says the Sec “It’s the Dean. He called up this morning and said we couldn’t do it after seeing the Grundy interview last night”. “Give me his number” says Corky.  He calls The Dean. I could only hear one side of the conversation but that went something like this: “Good afternoon Dean I’m calling as the agent for the Sex Pistols who have a show contracted with your University  later this month…. No hold on a minute you don’t understand they are really nice young men who’ve been misrepresented… Look they are lovely chaps, I know them well and this behaviour is totally out of character. I’ve met their Mums and Dads – lovely people. No! No! you are wrong, what you saw wasn’t really them…. Now will you listen to me or not? …. Look you f..king pillock”

… and the Dean was gone and so was the whole tour.

I left Corky with the 4 x A4 sheets of numbers and wondered out into the December chill musing on what I might do next. I didn’t see Corky again but I did hear from a friend a few years later who had seen him hiding behind a newspaper in the lounge of a Dublin hotel during a music biz conference when he realised that 2 a&r guys from 2 different record labels that he’d just signed the same band to were about to meet at the bar.

A couple of years later I had a quiet smile when working with the brilliant Mr John Dowie & The Big Girl’s Blouse and the NME described them as “Making the Sex Pistols look like babies farting in the bath water.”

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4 thoughts on ““Look you f..king idiot”

  1. Pingback: “Look you f..king idiot” - Birmingham: It's Not Shit

  2. Pingback: Digbeth is Good » Tenuous Macolm McLaren Digbeth Link.

  3. When I had the honour of working with John Tully of Brum Beat(slightly dodgy music paper), HQ Publicity (very dodgy fly posters)and Elmers (very jazz-funk all-dayers), I met Corky several times.

    The first time was when he managed a Birmingham band called Fashion for a while. Having signed them to one label, who dropped them I believe, he immediately signed them to another (a la Sex Pistols) and happily took the six figure advance off each. Only to plead poverty very shortly afterwards.

    Some while later, he persuaded me to interview ex-Scorpions guitarist Uli Roth who he was managing. Uli turned up, as did I. But no other journalist was in sight. When I’d settled into the second hour of Uli telling me how his girlfriend was Jimi Hendrix’ ex girlfriend, his guitar was Jimi Hendrix’ ex-guitar and his nightly visitor was Jimi himself…I thought: thankyou Corky, I’m not sure who else would have given me an experience quite so bizarre that I relish it to this day.

    My final memory of Corky (apart from his trips to London on a one-way rail ticket, to get a cab on credit, to raise small £50 here, £50 there loans from various A&R departments – which would pay for the cab, the train fare back and several days of high living) was the debt to John Tully.

    For some reason, Corky owned John some cash. John said if Corky didn’t pay, he’d come round for whatever Corky had in the office. Corky helped me, John and others to carry his furniture out.

    When Malcolm McLaren died, I thought of Corky. Some make it, others don’t. But none of them give a damn for the consequences.

    • Steve, we used to follow a Birmingham band called ‘True Grit’ (nee ‘Strap on Jack’) around late ~80’s who were managed by Corky for while. My mate ended up Roadying with for them on their mini tours and was also witness to his many hustles and wheeler deals :). (i have a rare sighting on Flickr if you search “dave corke brum”)

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