How it all began and how it all ended
1. On psychedelic tour in the German provinces
Well, back then I was in a band called, "Missus Beastly". The name probably doesn't ring any bells with most of you. "Missus Beastly" was a very odd bunch, hour after hour we used to improvise psychedelic rock, if there was enough of the right stuff in our medicine cabinet. And we weren't just famous in Westphalia! We gave our fans virgin creations every night - we didn't know what would happen ourselves nor did we suspect that one of our friends would jump out of the window because he thought he could fly. But that's a different film.
So, then I found myself in some dreary town hall with just the lighting and sound crews for company and an acne-ridden (thin as a rake) drummer from England, who set up his drum kit with devotion. He was in "Amon Düül II", who had been headlining this mini-tour of southern-German villages for over a week. Don't ask me which village, what time or what season it was. I think it was Spring 1970.
In the dressing rooms, my mates had just gulped down their tabs, so it was time for me, the 'pansy who was shit-scared of acid', to do my own private sound check. I rammed my Gibson in the Fender Showman and let it whine to mark the occasion, then I elegantly went over into Jeff Beck's, "Rock My Plimsoul". At that point, Keith Forsey, the English drummer on loan from "Amon Düül", pricked up his ears and joined in. Even the other Englishman on loan picked up his bass and didn't disappoint. An outsider would certainly have had the feeling that we were beginning to enjoy music again for the first time in three weeks. And we were.
Eventually we, Keith Forsey and me, Paul Vincent, both decided to give up the whole German, psychedelic rock shit and do our own British thing. A mix of The Jeff Beck Group, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Cream and whatever… this was our world.
2. From Lippe-Detmold to Munich
At the time, I was living in Munich in an old rust bucket, a VW Bully with a 'Star Club' sticker on it, somewhere near a gravel pit. In any event, not far from Klara, Keith's Munich girlfriend from Hasenbergl. We - my mate, Woldy Fette, who had accompanied me from Lippe-Detmold to Munich, Keith, who had become very attached to Klara and me - always used to secretly go and shower at Klara's place.
I had my first studio gigs and, whilst recording an advertising jingle for Lord Extra, met up with a crazy singer again, whom I'd got to know quite intimately many moons ago on a flying visit. Her name was Mono and she still had the same four-bedroom flat in the infamous Hildegardstraße 11, where all kinds of musicians used to hang out, like Improved Sound Limited, Drosselbart, Udo Lindenberg, to name but a few - and who would constantly raid Mono's fridge while she was at the opera earning her daily bread.
At the outset, I stayed in the kid's room which turned out to be a blessing for me and little Oli. We were both safe in there when the German rock and underground cacophony emanating from the decks in the living room got too much. Oli and I would listen to kid's stories together.
It was a real piece of luck that Mono had a lot of room and a well-tuned piano in the living room. Keith and I were able to relax - with all the comforts of home - and put together our first album concept. When it was finished, I told Mono I had to go to England immediately because, thanks to Keith's contacts, we might have contract with Ambassador Music in Soho and if the album was good we would get to record at their London studios. Wow!
Need I say more? My dream was coming true, me, the spotty teenager from Lippe-Detmold was being allowed to piss with the big boys. Keith and I left Mono, Oli and the pregnant Klara behind. Of course, we would return soon. Well, I left a pair of socks and T-shirt behind. That was a kind of promise.
3. Swingin' London, here we come!
Ambassador Music, our London producers, laid on two quite excellent musicians to cut our tracks, keyboard player, Pete Wood and bass guitarist, Rick Kemp, with Keith on drums and me on lead guitar.
Incidentally, Pete Wood had somewhat of a global career in subsequent years with Al Stewart ('Year Of The Cat'). And good, old Rick Kemp had heads turning, at least in the British Isles with his group, "Steeleye Span".
The sound engineer, who recorded our outpourings in a small, congenial studio in London's Dalston area, was one Robin Sylvester. I later found his name on a number of "Jethro Tull" records, it's a small world...
Our album was mixed in one of the finest of London's establishments, Trident Studios, which, at the time, was often frequented by such illustrious people as George Harrison. Imagine opening a door in the studio and accidentally tripping over Marc Bolan, a guitar God, whom you always wanted to meet. "Oh sorry, wrong door!", "No problem!" And it's all completely normal. At the bar, you drink cola with top-class musicians as if they were just ordinary blokes. And your English is so good that no-one thinks you're a kraut, thank God, they think you're from Australia or South Africa. Bingo. No stupid Nazi jokes, the cigars go round and it's all 'peace and power to the monkeys'. And then, a few weeks later, the tapes had all been mixed and we had to head back to Germania.
4. Back to reality
The record company, Metronome, in Hamburg liked our tape. They turned out to be a generous benefactor and promised to support our live band promos, that is our band gigs. First of all they had to transfer a whole lotta cash to Ambassador Music in London, because they were the official contract partners.
This is how it went: when we called them to get the agreed cash for a bus and a new PA system, the person we needed to speak to in London was always in a meeting, then he was on holiday, but would definitely call us back on Monday morning - and then suddenly he ceased to exist. And then the girl at reception no longer knew our names and had certainly never heard of our album, "So sorry!".
We tried, in vain, to find a band in Munich so that we could at least get the live gigs going again but it just didn't work. All the half-decent musicians wanted money up front. Money, we didn't have. In desperation, we played a half-hour set for two nights in one of the hippest underground clubs, the Crash. The audience was interested, a lonely guitar and an angry drum sound, for two parts. A swan song and very underground. It should never have been. Hallelujah Babe died a slow, unspectacular death.
5. Saturday Night and other fevers
In the meantime, Klara had had twins and Keith was tinkering with idea of marrying her. But Klara didn't take that too seriously, which was a good idea. Keith and I continued to play a significant role in the Munich studio scene for a few more years, where we earned decent money as a popular rhythm group. Nevertheless, it was a crying shame. We played other people's music. But we were often a lot more talented.
During the disco period, when we were offered the chance as Munich musicians to go to LA, on the heels of Giorgio Moroder, Keith headed off to America and things really happened for him. He stopped playing the drums, which was a crime, and wrote the lyrics for "Flashdance/What a feeling" with Irene Cara, produced Billy Idol, Icehouse and made a few songs with the lads from Simple Minds. But, at some point, his tracks got lost in the snow between Los Angeles and New York.
6. Stay at home and earn an honest crust!
I didn't like disco very much and preferred to stay in Munich with my wife and child. I began to write chamber music on the side and recorded a few good albums as a soloist, including one with German lyrics.
1973 "Makin' Our Own Sweet Music"
1975 "Vincents Fliegender Rock & Roll Zirkus"
And the revenge of the Gods: from 1975 to 1980 I played, arranged and co-produced several albums for Udo Lindenberg, which was great at the beginning, huge venues, long tours, never-ending recording sessions, but towards the end I couldn't handle it anymore.
For 28 long years (from 1975 to 2003) I composed, produced and played for and with the Swabian Blues Bard, Wolle Kriwanek. I got him a band together and we toured all over Germany. Unfortunately my friend, Wolle, died unexpectedly in April 2003.
Since 1979 I've been writing film music and I've had quite a bit of success. In 2001, I was awarded the German Film Prize in the category of film music!
Now, at fifty-something, things are taking off again. This time it's gonna be loud, "Vincent Rocks" is the name of my newest creation, and this one's going all the way up to twelve. That's a promise.
The kids are grown up and the wife got wise, so I'm going to polish up the sun again. See you
Paul Vincent, Mai 2003
Translation: Martin Haynes
Signs Of Strange
Z. i. p.
The Winter Song
Ode To A Little Knight
Bonus Track Jam & Toast