INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Record Mirror FEBRUARY 23, 1974 - by Roger Greenaway
NON-MUSICIAN OF THE CENTURY
Roger Greenaway meets the amazing Eno
Brian Eno, he of the laughing eyes which tantalise, resides in one of the least fashionable areas of Maida Vale in north London. At least, some of the time he resides in one of the least... There are days when he has been known to live elsewhere as any branch secretary of the G. U. (Groupies Union) will tell you.
He likes the ladies does Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno.
"Last summer when I had nowhere to live I carried a small bag with a few things in it and stayed with a different girl each night. Not just to sleep with a different one each night but you'd be amazed how productive a serious conversation with a different mind each twenty-four hours can be."
Indeed I would, Brian, indeed I would.
Apart from his sexual adventures, there's much that sets Brian Peter George... apart from the rest of the pop world. To start with he's a non-musician.
I fully realise that especially these days there's nothing unusual in that. Many of our so-called superstars don't have one iota of musical skill. But here's the difference - Eno not only knows that he's a non-musician, he's positively proud of it.
"I can't play anything well. I can manage one string at a time on the guitar, usually the A string and I can churn out a sound or two on simplified keyboards but that really is the extent of my musical knowledge."
But before all you real musicians reading this get too uptight, perhaps I should point out that despite this inability, or perhaps because of it, the sounds that Mr. Eno produces from his batteries of tape recorders, synthesisers and the eight quid guitar he picked up in Notting Hill six years ago, do quite wondrous things to the senses. He may not understand it, but he sure does it good.
Eno, of course, sprang into the limelight in '72 with Roxy Music but the lad's career as an electronics freak/wizard/idiot (pick any two from any two from three) goes back far earlier.
Despite his name, he was born the son of postman in groovy Woodbridge, Suffolk and (get this) spent the early part of his educational career in a covent school - where, presumably, he developed his penchant for make-up. Crazy ladies these nuns, even making hit singles these days.
He seemed set for a scientist's lot but when it came to the test he proved much too fast end chose instead art college.
Eventually he came to London and freaked around on the scene for couple of years making a living from wheeler dealing and using the cash on yet more tape recorders.
Then in January 1971, Bryan Ferry invited him to join Roxy as mixer and sound engineer and it wasn't long before he developed from this role into a fully fledged member of the band. The rise of Roxy saw the rise of Eno too. Even now the names of Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay (the other two Roxy regulars) are not guaranteed to produce instant recognition except from Roxy addicts but the band certainly created a monster image for the two Bri(y)ans - Ferry and Eno.
"It didn't matter. There were many other things I had in my mind and the split gave me a chance to get them together. A successful band on the road is a time consumer," Brian told me as he reclined in bed.
He doesn't spend all his time in bed, but when we met at his flat he was suffering from food poisoning. At least he thought it was food poisoning. I took sadistic delight in pointing out that his symptoms were the classic ones for an ulcer. And I should know, this wretched rock 'n' rool business gave me one last year.
He was hoping to be fully recovered (ha ha) in time for his new tour with The Winkles which has kicked off in Derby this week.
And who are The Winkles?
"They're a bunch of lads who've been playing the London pub circuit. I've been looking for a back-up band for a tour for quite a while and a friend recommended I give them a listen."
So down to the Lord Nelson in Holloway Road went our hero end to his surprise the four piece band (two guitars, bass and drums) proved just right.
"They play very fast and with a lot of drive end there's a lot of personality in the band too."
Having seen the four lads in question, I can vouch for their speed and their personality - they also - musically - rather boring. But no doubt, Eno's material will cure that complaint.
"They're great to work with. We've been doing six hours at a stretch in rehearsals and that's a long time but their energy is tremendous."
And so Brian and his bunch of Winkies are all set for bout of feverish activity up and down the country culminating in a night designed for the glam sensationalists at London's Drury Lane theatre.