Scratches of
                      Spain See also Richard Russell's review

Manuel Gearbox writes:

Ignorance can be a terrible thing.  The hospitality of the Basques in Bilbao had been overwhelming. The gig - their gig -  was going great. They'd beaten the weather, the band had been wined and dined and were now rocking away on stage making them feel good. Heads were nodding, hips shaking, hair sweating, room buzzing.

It was a magnificent climax to a twelve day tour of almost historical proportions. No English rock band had really toured Spain before - sure there had been the big one off festivals like they'd had in the bullrings of   Seville, Barcelona or Madrid. But for a band - and one led by a rock legend like Ginger Baker  - to play eight concerts, some in smaller towns, was an exciting and new development.  

At the climax of the last number, this excitement and goodwill propelled Billy towards the microphones. Waving his fist in the air  and waiting for the last chords to dwindle he shouted "Viva Espana!!"   The whole place went silent. Slowly a small trickle of muted applause swept the musicians offstage. Baker advanced menacingly calling the na´ve   and blissfully innocent guitarist an item of female anatomy.  "You shouldn't have said that," he said sternly. "They fucking hate Spain!!".  

Billy  remembers this well and remains truly ashamed.  From that day on, he has made sure to be briefed on the politics, not just on the country he might play in, but of the region.   A good time to make such a resolution, for at 3pm the next day they  set off, collective tails between legs, away from the Basque capital towards a nine day tour of that hotbed of regional rivalry - Italy.


And what about the Battle of Glastonbury 1981 when Ginger, Billy and the band attacked Roy Harper and threw him offstage, only to be met by a barrage of rocks from the incensed crowd...?

Dick Ward writes:

Jenkins (with Trimmer) spent some of 1981 working with this Scrabble Meister.   Ginger taught Billy many things about all things, for behind the facade Ginger is a highly intelligent individual. The most valuable piece of knowledge Billy treasures is that an 'ai' is a three toed sloth - very useful for that tight Scrabble board when all you're holding is vowels.  

Why all this talk about a board game?   Well during a twenty nine day tour running from 30th September to 27th October of the year in question, over seventy games were played.   Keith Hale, a personal friend and keyboard player with the band was a past National Scrabble Finalist. He knew all the ruses, all the two letter words and all the daft words with Q, X and Z.  

And who was the tour champion?   Why, that presumed demonic, unintelligent, foul mouthed ginger drummer - even though he averaged less games than the rest of us, being such a good driver.   And a great drummer too.


1988 - the VOGC arrive for a performance at the  Queens Hall, Bradford to be welcomed at the stage door by the booker. "I'm Jerry the onstage monitor mixer. Spent twenty nine days on the road with you in '81 with Ginger Baker. Played dozens of Scrabble games with you in the tour bus...." 

Scratches of Spain See also Richard Russell's review

Ginger Baker's Nutters in Italy 1981. L to R -  Ginger, Trimmer, Ricky LeGair, Jenkins, Keith Hale.

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