Sunday, October 21, 2007

Paul Fox

Sometime around 3 o'clock this morning, Paul Fox died.

Paul used to play the guitar. I play the guitar. He's one of the reasons that I play the guitar the way that I do. Thanks Paul.

Paul played in a lot of bands, but I first saw him playing in a band called The Ruts. They were amazing, and he was amazing. Have a listen to 'The Crack'- it's the only 'real' Ruts album. They sound amazing, and he sounds amazing. I bought it when it came out, it's got a sticker on it that says 'PAY NO MORE THAN £3.99'. I bought the next Ruts album too, it's called 'Grin and Bear It' and my copy's got a similar sticker on it; it's not quite as good as 'The Crack' but a lot of that has to do with the fact that their singer Malcolm Owen had just died. I'm listening to 'The Crack' at the moment- I've just got to the bit where 'You're Just A...' turns into 'It Was Cold'. That's one of my favourite bits. It sounded great when I first heard it, and it sounds great now. I still love the guitar playing on it, but I always loved Paul's guitar playing. I saw him play so many times- I think that the only guitarist that I've seen more often than him is Wilko Johnson. I can still go to see Wilko play, but I can't go to see Paul play anymore. I remember literally running home after seeing The Ruts play, desperate to get to my guitar, running up the stairs, picking it up, trying to remember where his fingers had been on the guitar neck and trying to put mine in the same places in the vague hope that the same sounds would come out. Sometimes it would sound a bit like it, sometimes a lot like it- but never exactly like it. I'm still trying to manage that.

Nearly 10 years after I bought The Ruts albums Paul produced a single for The Price. We had just had 2 tracks released on a compilation album called 'Underground Rockers Volume 2' and as a result we were invited to record a single for Released Emotions Records. It remains one of our most, for want of a better word, 'praised' recordings- and rightly so, because it's one of our very best. I remember so much of the recording sessions for it, and not all my memories are good- check out The Price website and my 'never meet your heroes' comment. But real life is like that isn't it? Then again I have so many great memories of Paul, because he's one of the reasons that I play the guitar the way that I do. Thanks Paul.

Earlier this year I played in The Ruts. Sort of. If you'd like to you can go back and read about it- it happened in July and August. It was mostly great, sometimes amazing and often sad, upsetting, poignant- somewhere between a schoolboy dream come true and an adult nightmare made all too real. As a schoolboy I'd played along with the records so many times, searching for the notes, searching for the sound... as an adult I searched for myself. Again. I search for myself all the time; I'm in the music somewhere, that much I do know. The Price should be playing a couple of gigs towards the end of this year, and I've no doubt we'll play a Ruts song for Paul; earlier this year we played a Mega City Four song for Wiz- is this what people are referring to when they say sentences that begin with the words 'well, when you get to my age...'? I feel like I'm playing songs for my dead mates, and that makes me sad- but I also feel like I'm playing songs that have changed my life, by people who I was lucky enough to meet and to call my friends. That's the best way to be thinking at the moment- don't you think?

The first time that I can remember Paul seeing me play was at Brunel University in Uxbridge; it was a very early Price gig and we were supporting his then band Choir Militia (though they may not have been called that at the time?). Paul was the first person that I spoke to after the show; he came up to me with the words 'you didn't tell me that you could play like that!'. I remember saying something like 'I'm glad you liked it- do you want your riffs back?' He laughed his head off, and so did I. He had a great laugh, which I heard often- but I can't hear it anymore now. Wilko Johnson's got a great laugh too, but I haven't seen him play for ages. I must go to see him play again soon. Wilko's one of the reasons that I play the guitar the way that I do, and I won't be able to see him play forever- which is sad. Then again, at least I can go to see him again- I can't go to see Paul play again, and that's sadder, much sadder, because Paul's one of the reasons that I play the guitar the way that I do. Thanks Paul.

A lot of people used to call Paul 'Foxy'. I never did- I always thought it sounded too hippy-ish. I wish I could call him it now. Maybe I didn't know him well enough to call him that; maybe I knew him too well- I don't know. But what I do know is that Paul was one of the best guitarists that I'll ever see and one of the, for want of a better word, 'nicest' men that I'll ever meet. That doesn't mean that I always liked some of the things that he did or some of the people around him, or that he always liked me or what I did or didn't do- but, as I say, real life is like that, and real people make other real people feel the way that I feel at the moment. Well I think they do, anyway.

Paul used to play the guitar. I play the guitar. He's one of the reasons that I play the guitar the way that I do. Thanks Paul.

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