At school I had some of the greatest teachers who taught beyond their subject. Mr Hutchinson didn’t just teach history he told us how everything was interconnected, biology, physics, chemistry, art, the whole shooting match.
Then there was Mrs. Haigh, she taught biology but she also taught us how to remember complicated parts of it with little memory tricks. To this day I remember the digestive enzymes of the stomach with her little ditty: Peter Likes My Sugar Lumps.
Mr. Essex, didn’t just teach maths, he taught me how to play the blues on guitar and introduced me to the music of Be-Bop Deluxe – far more rewarding than the use of simultaneous equations in everyday life.
At Sixth Form the teachers were a bunch of uninspiring worn out has-beens who were just working their way through their notes with no enthusiasm.
Then I went on the Foundation Course at Barnsley Art College: there I met John McPake, Steve West and Derek Rodgers and a host of wonderfully talented like-minded pupils. They made my last year in Barnsley one of the best ever.
I take you on this little jaunt down Memory Lane because on 4th June 2016, Steve West died. He was an artist and sculptor and on one strange trip down to London Robbie Laughton christened him the ‘main man’ – we were drunk.
Steve had a passion for art, music, and running. A strange mixture perhaps but it kept him out of trouble.
It was in 1984 that he introduced us all to his newly-born daughter and Robbie Laughton again caused trouble by saying ‘Just think Steve, one day she’ll be dating somebody like me.’ Nothing could compare to the man’s look of horror.
In my year at Art School Steve introduced me to the music of Frank Zappa, John McLaughlin and Miles Davis. He taught sculpture but his influence on my musical development was profound. While everyone was listening to the Joshua Tree and Richard Nicholson was wallowing in the Smiths, Steve introduced previously unexplored paths of music to me.
It is this for which I am most grateful. Today my musical tastes can only be described as ‘eclectic’. If it wasn’t for Steve, I’d still be listening to Tygers of Pan Tang, Tank and Demon, well I am but there are is so much more music in my arsenal, these days.
Don’t Rest In Peace, Steve. Put a record on. I want to hear what you’re listening to these days.