Alan's Music Career.
Alan went to London when he was 19, in 1977. After being made unemployed as an electrician he took a catalogue of Punk Rock photographs with him, taken at various venues. It was his intention to show them off to record companies with some sort of view to selling them.
On arrival in London he met up with a musician by the name of ROY HILL.
Roy was on the Arista Records label and to be fair his brand of music was not suited to the evolving times of the Punk scene.
"Roy was a very likeable person. He and I struck up a friendship and would go out night clubbing together in London.
I was eventually employed by Roy as the 'backline technician' for a forthcoming tour of clubs and colleges throughout England and would look after the seven piece bands' equipment such as keyboards, bass & drums, guitars etc. Setting them up and making sure nothing went wrong during the gig. I was usually sitting by the side of the stage just keeping an eye on things. Pretty boring really as nothing exciting happened onstage apart from seven musicians all doing their best to create an exciting gig.
So one night as we were playing Sheffield Limit Club, I discovered the house light control desk. It had only about six faders controlling the club lighting system.
As the band were halfway through their set I decided to play with the lighting desk. The six faders controlled some coloured spotlights above the tiny stage and I started to change lights in time with the music with some subtle fade ins and outs. I knew the music, so playing with the lights while the the band played actually came together in one of those 'magic moments'.
The band came offstage and I met them back in the dressing room. Everyone was euphoric! How could it be?
They had gone from playing a kind of dull set to a completely 'bouncing off the walls' , just won the World Cup celebrations!
I met them in the dressing room and they were all ecstatic about the gig. It had gone great........but only when I started doing the lights.
I rememeber John Cooper, Roys' manager, who was in fact.....the financial advisor for Beggars' Banquet, he came into the dressing room and along with the band started raving about "what a great gig" it was. "The lights lifted the show....without a doubt".
On the next tour "We'll get you some lights"
Alan was to hire lighting equipment for the tour from Gaslight Lighting. Gaslight was a ram shackled lighting company working out of a tiny lock up garage in Earls' Court. Run by a man by the name of Nick Fisher and occasionally assisted by Jim La Roche or John Dipple, Gaslight was a small company with big ideas.
John Cooper had told Alan that in order to hire lights for Roys' tour, he would have to convince Nick Fisher that he was familiar with lighting systems. Nick didn't want his equipment going out with someone with no experience. John Cooper did not want to pay for a technician from Gaslight. An extra person on the tour would mean additional wages, hotel and transport costs. So it was arranged for Alan to go to Gaslight and convince Nick that he was capable of looking after the equipment.
"It was a lovely sunny morning as I strolled down Finborough Road on my way to Lillie Yard to find Gaslight. I was slightly nervous as I had no idea what to expect when I got there. I eventually found Gaslight tucked away off the main road and was met by John Cooper and Nick.
Nick cut a very imposing figure. He was tall with the physique to match. He was more like a wrestler. After brief introductions and a couple of questions about lights which I confidently nodded my head and answered 'yes' and 'okay' to, Nick proceeded to set up and demonstrate the lighting rig. I watched intensely, everything he did. He set up the gear effortlessly within a few minutes, explaining as he worked. He then powered up the system, brought up a couple of faders on the lighting desk and the small demo room was transformed with deep rich colours. Ooooh! It looked great.
Just as I was admiring how pretty it all looked, he powered down and started dismantling everything. With cables and lights now on the floor all around me, Nick then invited me to set it all up again".
......and so Alans' career in the music industry began after confidently re-assembling the Gaslight lighting rig and showing Nick Fisher that he was more than able to take the system on tour.
Roy Hill and his band performed a three month tour in clubs and colleges around England & Wales.
The lighting equipment supplied by Gaslight consisted of :
6 bars of 4 Par 64 lanterns, 2 Powerdrive stands, 12 x 2kw Alderham dimmer pack, 12 way 2 preset desk with flash buttons
Fischer-Z were a British rock band, who released three albums between 1979 and 1981.
The original line-up consisted of John Watts (vocals, guitar), David Graham (bass), Steve Skolnik (keyboards) and Steve Liddle (drums).
Fischer-Z's biggest hit was "The Worker", one of the few records to go down the chart, after being featured on BBC Television's Top Of The Pops. Watts later put this down to the remix of the song from the album version which put the emphasis on the keyboards rather than his guitar.
Watts's lyrics drew heavily on his experiences as a mental health care worker.
They were more popular in mainland Europe than their native UK - particularly Portugal, Belgium and Germany, where Watts continued to have hits as a solo artist after the band broke up.
They were most successful of all in Australia, where they achieved two Top 20 hits with "So Long" and "The Perfect Day".
Watts founded a new band with the same name in 1987, with him being the only original member, although Skolnik made a minor contribution to one track on their first album. The albums released with the new line-up were less successful than those recorded earlier.
In 2007, Watts scored a radio hit with the song, "Sister Sue".
David Graham, John Watts, Steve Skolnik, Steve Liddle.
Fischer Z were Alan's main band in the early Gaslight days. Nick Fisher, Alan's boss at Gaslight, would give his young lighting designers the opportunity to develope with 'new' bands in the hope that the band would get bigger, more famous and in turn hire more lights.
Alan would make a number of tours throughout Europe with Fisher Z who were hugely popular in Holland, Belgium,and Germany to name a few but struggled to gain audiences in the UK.
They were successful in Europe partly due to a non nuclear image, very popular at the time due to the Cold War.
"Fisher Z were 'my band'. We did lots of tours and lots of shows, in clubs and colleges in small provincial towns and cities and always the gigs were well received.
We supported The Police one night in Dusseldorf to 5000 people who were mainly there to see Fischer Z, it was a great night.
We were like a close knit family on tour and enjoyed many nights of socialising in bars and clubs after the shows. We made lots of friends wherever we went".
Alan's lighting rig would consist of bars of Par 64s' on Powerdrive stands, some floor cans and a 12 channel lighting desk. As each tour progressed then the lighting rig would get bigger.
Many years later, when Alan was committed to lighting an other band, he designed a stage set which incorporated album artwork on roller blinds and chrome trussing 'goalposts' which held low voltage lights.
In the late Seventies, GARY NUMAN made his debut into the music business. "At the time I was working the clubs and colleges with Roy Hill & his band". Roy Hill was managed by Beggars' Banquet Financial adviser John Cooper. Gary Numan was signed to Beggars' Banquet records as TUBEWAY ARMY.
"I had been doing lights for Roy and some other bands that were signed to Beggars'. John Cooper wanted me to do the lights for another Beggars' act called TUBEWAY ARMY. Tubeway Army were lined up to do about a dozen gigs in clubs and colleges, so I said yes initially".
Through working with Roy Hill, John Cooper & Beggars' Banquet, Nick Fisher of GASLIGHT LIGHTING SYSTEMS eventually offered Alan full time work with Gaslight.
Alan continued to work with small bands such as FISCHER Z, THE STARJETS, WAYNE COUNTY & THE ELECTRIC CHAIRS. Taking out small lighting rigs and operating them on tour. When he was not touring, he would service equipment or assist in general improvements to the Gaslight warehouse.
"I returned to Gaslight one day from a Fisher Z tour to find out that the Tubeway Army tour was going to be happening in a couple of months and that I was booked to do it".
It was not long after that TUBEWAY ARMY became GARY NUMAN and he was Number 1 in the pop charts with 'Are Friends Electric'.
CONSTRUCTION OF THE GARY NUMAN LIGHTING RIG & SPECIAL EFFECTS
Everything then moved at a dramatic pace. People were building custom made lighting effects all hours of the day and night in a railway arch in Vauxhall, South London. Not only was an entire stage lighting rig constructed for a major UK tour at such short notice and with limited resources but it also seemed that a new improved lighting company had evolved.
"It was an incredible period. All the time we were building the set, Numan was playing on our radios. He was the hottest thing in town!! It was crazy. Everyday the concept was growing to a fever pitch".
Somehow the music press had got wind of Numan's secret stage set plans.....
"I was living in a flat in Earls' Court at the time. There were six people living there who all had something to do with the music business. My friend from Scotland, Ronnie Gurr, a journalist with the Record Mirror was staying at the flat. I probably gave him a 'scoop' about the technical details of the stage set and some of the special effects, which were then printed first opportunity. Gary and Nick Fisher went bonkers to say the least".
The Record Mirror scoop only encouraged the media hype and demand for tickets to the show.
"Before we knew it, the entire UK tour was sold out before the set was even completed".
THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE HAD ARRIVED!!
The whole stage set was spectacular with huge Perspex lighting towers that housed the keyboard players and drummer.
Onstage were remote controlled Perspex pyramid shaped robots, moving through pools of smoke and dry ice.
With neon and ultra violet lights, strobes, pin spots and of course the lighting panels........make up and costumes....GARY NUMAN had clearly stamped his mark on the music scene with his new brand of fashion and electronic music.
GARY NUMAN and his brand new entourage toured the major venues in the UK to sold out houses everywhere.
YOU CAN READ A GARY NUMAN ARTICLE IF YOU CLICK HERE