In 1997, Jim Smart, resident of Honolulu, Hawaii, decided to visit the UK. When I heard he was coming over, I invited him to Worcester and suggested setting up a gig at what was then a great local music pub, The Dragon. He seemed in favour, so I set about putting a band together. After a while, Jim started to get cold feet about it, as I seemed to be expecting too much of him.
Unfortunately, I had already agreed the gig date of September 25th with the landlady, Sue, when Jim finally decided he would rather not do it. There was no way I could back out, if I ever wanted to show my face at the Dragon again, so I decided that I would find another singer and the gig would go ahead. I told Sue that the band was called "Jim Chickens Out".
I then told Jim that he had to come and watch us (without telling him the name of the band). When he heard that the gig was taking place anyway, Jim relented and said he would do it, although he would prefer it if I could find another singer. Fine, but too late to change the name of the band. I was lucky enough to get the services of an old friend, Rob Turner, who is an excellent singer and great showman, whose very successful band, "36 Stone" had recently split up, to add to the musicians I had got together.
Someone sent me a photograph of Jim, which I scanned and used to create a poster. - "Jim Chickens Out - 60s and 70s rock, with special guest star Jim Smart, of US band Tripper. (Unless he chickens out again)."
The idea of the gig seemed to catch the imagination of the regulars at The Dragon and soon more posters appeared, including one giving the names of the band members, with made up nicknames. (How on earth did they think of "Geoff, the Kink"?).
The band practised four times together, plus a couple of practices with some missing, so it wasn't likely to be a highly polished performance, but it was going to be fun.
Jim arrived in Worcester at midday on the day of the gig, still knowing nothing of the set-up. He asked if we could go to The Dragon so he could get a feel for the place. At this, I said "You can take a joke, can't you, Jim?" He said he could, but looked very worried as we walked to the pub. I wish I had a camera with me to photograph his face when he saw the posters and notices outside The Dragon. Then, as he walked into the pub, Sue said "That's Jim!". The poor chap looked shell-shocked and wandered round in a daze for a while. "OK, you got me", he said. But he *didn't* chicken out!
We went home and ran through the songs. I was very impressed at how quickly Jim picked them all up, especially the ones he didn't know at all. Then we went back to The Dragon, and, after a quick panic because the drum kit was locked up in the rehearsal studios, we did the gig. We played far better together than I expected and I have to say it was the most successful gig I have ever known at The Dragon. The place was packed, the audience stayed until the end, cheered, clapped, sang and screamed for more (which they didn't get).
Rob teased Jim mercilessly, throughout the gig, for being (1) American (2) from Hawaii (3) too good and versatile a musician (4) too tall and good-looking. This all went down very well with the audience, and Jim took it all in good part
The barmaids had started swooning as soon as he walked in the place, and after the gig, Jim had quite a bit of trouble fending off the unwanted advances of several female admirers. Makes you sick, doesn't it?
That night, the band got two more bookings for gigs in a few weeks time, but guess what - Jim chickened out, with the feeble excuse that it is too far to come from Honolulu! Oh well, that was the start of The Fingers !