Saturday, 8 November 2008

John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett



I enjoyed John Otway and Wild Willy’s Barrett’s mega-hit Really Free in 1977 – a kind of half spoken, half sung punk record. (Hitting 27 in the charts) And I enjoyed glimpses of Otway on TV being eccentric. Then we (The Wrong Brothers) supported him at the Tramshed in Woolwich in the 80s and I came to love him and to appreciate what a total loony he was. I particularly liked the way he used microphones as percussion instruments. (In fact a rider at the gig stipulated he had to bring his own microphones as microphones generally aren’t made for whirling through the air and bashing into things. )
Jill and I then saw him at a festival a few years back – highlights a double right and left-handed guitar and body percussion – with a very funny set. He’d just had his second hit – Bunsen Burner – voted and brought into the charts by his fans making a concerted effort (it was written to help his daughter with her chemistry homework).
Most recently we saw him at the Edinburgh Festival reunited with Willy. Best bit for me was Willy’s amplifier situated in the bottom of a wheelie bin. For solos he opened the lid. And opening and closing the lid gave it a wah-wah effect.
The B side of his single was House of the Rising Sun, featuring about 900 of his fans, all of whom were credited on the single’s sleeve.
What a warm, eccentric and very, very funny performer he turned out tlo be. If you ever get the chance go and see him.
See a version of House of the Rising Sun here.




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2 comments:

wastedpapiers said...

Another eccentric english performer that deserves more recognition. I have fond memories of him jumping onto his amp during an energetic number on The Old Grey Whistle Test in the 80's and nearly breaking his leg! Oh how we larfed!

C.J.Duffy said...

Yes indeed we need more peformers like this. Just a tad short of sensible and a million miles away from the mainstream but oh so good.