Back on the Streets of London The Invisible Band! History Music Zone

     Playing at Camden lock in 1990. Here I was, back out on the street using the same little Vox battery amp that I'd used years ago before I'd met Julia, got myself together and started The Invisible Band! When I first came to London in 1976 I did alot of busking in the West End and on the underground. I started out with an acoustic guitar, but soon got an electric guitar and built myself a small portable amplifier. The pitch at Camden Lock turned out to be a fun location! We'd get a group of acts together on the central island and take turns entertaining the audience. One day we had a guy who did a way-out juggling act with a hatchet, a broken bottle and an apple, during which he sliced and ate the apple! This picture appeared in a Japanese magazine and was sent to me by Junko Nitta.

     Camden Town, March 1990. Yes, that's me again looking silly on Camden Bridge. By this time, I busking regularly in Camden, Portobello or the West End as a way of taking a break from writing material at home. This and other photos dated March 1990 by Kathy Dewhirst.

     It's the buskers' occupational hazard, the police, again. The audience, unable to do anything, look on as the fuzz move in to shut me down. It's an annoyance, but all you do is just move on to another pitch, set up again and carry on playing. A tiresome game of cat and mouse. Sometimes they leave you alone, other days they'll come down on you like a ton of bricks. Busking can be very random and chaotic as well as a lot of fun when they leave you alone.

     Camden Lock some time in 1990 or 1991. By this time I built up my portable busking rig using a car battery (which I charged up at home!) to power my amplifier, beatbox, effects unit, synth and mixer. By using the beatbox and synth I was able to give my extended solos more of a rhythmic and harmonic context which would otherwise be lost to casual passers-by. I also played a fair bit on the synth whenever I got bored with playing the guitar, except I haven't got any photos of me playing it.
In the lower left corner you can see a small bag of tapes which were cassettes of material I'd written and recorded in my home studio. This was a nice location to play (no traffic fumes!), but the money wasn't as good as playing on the central island or outside the tube station. The Water Board put an end to all busking at this location (they really are miserable bastards) and it's never been the same since.

     This appeared in Sounds, 22nd December 1990. I haven't the slightest idea who Vic Beer or Flare was, but that's certainly me busking outside a Motorhead gig at the Hammersmith Odeon.

     A couple of photos of myself in the old home studio in March 1990. By this time, I'd got well into computer-assisted composition and was writing material daily. The material I was writing was fairly complex, a world apart from the simplistic riffing and solos I was playing when I was busking.

     Playing at Club Dog at the George Robey, Finsbury Park, London. Haven't got an exact date fot this gig. Any time between 1990 and 1992. This was when I'd get a chance to play the material I'd been working on at home.

     Busking outside Camden Town tube station some time in 1991. By this time, I had a regular pitch outside the station on most weekends. This was a good pitch as it had a large, constantly changing audience with plenty of room for people to hang around and listen. The only downside was the police and the alcoholics who'd hustle me for money for cans of Special Brew.

     Busking at Strawberry Fayre in 1991, a genteel respite from the harsh life on the streets of London.

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