Within three weeks of Alan Gowen’s untimely passing, his musician friends held a memorial concert for him at the 100 Club in London’s Oxford Street. Sadly, no recording of the event has surfaced, or is even known to exist, so to reconstruct what exactly was played and by whom, we are left with the participants’ increasingly distant memories and various pieces of evidence.
Here is the ad which appeared in the press to advertise the concert :
I have been unable to find a review of the evening from any music periodical. The closest to a contemporary source describing what happened is this excerpt from an interview with Phil Miller by Pascal Bussy, made in the spring of 1982 for the French magazine Notes. Phil remembered the proceedings thus :
A precious piece of evidence is provided by photographs taken throughout the evening by Tim Gravestock, some of whose work (from this and other concerts) was later used for the cover of Before A Word Is Said and D.S. Al Coda. There are photos in both colour and black & white and, assuming they are arranged chronologically, the set by Richard Sinclair, Nigel Morris, Phil Miller and Elton Dean would appear to have begun the evening (contrary to Phil’s recollection).
Next, we have Rapid Eye Movement, on this occasion performing instrumentally as a trio – Dave Stewart, Rick Biddulph and Pip Pyle. Jakko Jakszyk, it would seem, was present, but remembers not being keen to perform as he had never known Alan Gowen personally. Coincidentally, it also happened to be Jakko’s birthday. What was played by REM is anyone’s guess, although “Matching Green” is a likely candidate. (A version of this recently appeared on the Bruford box set.)
Next in Tim’s photos, and the last batch that are in colour, is the set by National Health. When I interviewed Phil in 2000, he more or less nailed down what the band had played that night.
We did “TNTFX”, we did “Above and Below”… “Shining Water”, we did that one that night, with Dave playing the keyboard parts… One other one, I can’t remember, of Alan’s, right now. That was one off the album, but I think we did four or five of Alan’s pieces, with Dave on keyboards. It sounded really good. Very well received, as it should be.
The fourth piece Phil was unable to remember may have been “Reflexes In The Margin”, as this is one piece by Alan Gowen that Phil later performed with In Cahoots ca. 1985.
What happened after National Health’s set is not entirely clear. The only line-ups which appears in Tim’s black & white shots are more National Health and one which includes Elton Dean, Phil Miller and Hugh Hopper (Phil’s first time playing with either of them outside of a jamming situation, pre-dating Elton and Hugh’s membership of Phil’s band In Cahoots).
Who the drummer would have been for this is unclear (and sadly none of them are available to ask), although Pip Pyle is the likeliest candidate based on Phil’s 1982 memory that Hugh and Pip played together that evening. What they played is also unknown, although we have a clue with the score on Elton’s music stand. Here it is, cropped and reversed :
A little detective work has enabled me to determine that this is “Petit 3’s”, Alan Gowen’s contribution to the s/t Soft Heap album from 1978. Here is a fragment of the master score for that :
The quartet described above by Phil – Jimmy Hastings, Phil Lee, Jeff Clyne and Trevor Tomkins – sadly went unphotographed, and may well have ended what would have been a superb evening of music.
Hopefully this piece may trigger memories and corrections from those who were lucky to attend !