Official website the ex Nazareth guitarist and Rock Radio host

Rock Radio RIP… or, That’s What Happens When Ye Let Someone’s Faither Dae Yer Sound

For four years it was my pleasure (and job) to bring rock music to Scotland. I had a blast and so did some of you, hopefully. To wrap it all up we had the Rock Radio: A Night Oot Before Christmas gig at the Cathouse on December 16 – here’s my review of the event.

Me, finally getting to gie it laldy – thanks to Iain Freeman for the pic

Some would say it was a gig too far.

We’d had the Rock Radio Farewell Tour show at the same venue a few months ago, so when Ted Rock and Donald McLeod arranged this, I was slightly wary.

In the end, my involvement was to introduce opening act The Coffins, mingle with Rock Radio listeners (still nursing a semi for the sadly defunct station) and most importantly arranging a rendition of SAHB’s Big Louie to bring the night to a close.

This proved more difficult when headliners The Constellations (or whatever) refused my request to commandeer their guitar, bass player and drummer. Apparently their guitar used ‘Drop B tuning’ and, I quote, ‘we don’t have time to learn any new material.’

Now, I have little knowledge of ‘Drop B tuning’ but I do know how to operate things called ‘tuning pegs’ – and learning Big Louie? Gimme a break!

As luck would have it, second on the bill Estrella (Spanish for ‘Star’) were up for it and not only lent me a guitar, their bass player and drummer but also introduced me to their personal sound man who looked older than me. (No, really.)

Now it’s common knowledge to anyone who’s been to a gig with me, the bane of my life is a sound guy who doesn’t have enough guitars in the mix. From Buckcherry at the Garage, Ted Nugent at the ABC to the band at my son’s wedding, I just have to say, ‘Haw, Baws for Brains! There’s a guy smashing fuck out of that plank of wood and ah canny hear him! Turn it up or I’ll break yer fuckin’ nose!’

It worked for The Coffins. My advice resulted in Joe and the boys sounding pretty damn good. But when Estrella hit the stage, I couldn’t believe my ears.

There was no guitar in the mix. Not a sausage. Bugger all.

This was reported by me to the Cathouse sound guy who nodded sagely before adding, ‘That’s what happens when ye let someone’s faither dae yer sound.’


Up I goes to the auld bloke in a Val Doonican cardigan at the desk, who agrees there’s no guitar in the mix.

‘I can’t find the correct fader,’ says Father Time.

I look at the desk and suggest we try the one marked ‘Guitar’.

‘Tried it,’ say’s Granddad. ‘It’s not there.’

He was right. My ramming of the fader produced not a bit of difference.

Eventually the problem was fixed by the sound guy – who’d put the wrong mic in the wrong channel. Young upstart. Estrella rocked, finally.

After their set, I took the youthfully challenged bloke outside for a much needed cigarette… and guess what?

His name is Ashley Howe and he’s a world famous record producer. Uriah Heep, Billy Squier, Ted fuckin’ Nugent! He’s done the lot.

And I’d suggested he try the fader marked ‘Guitar’? Another ‘Rankin Moment’.

We finally managed Big Louie with Chris Glen on bass and then I had to run for my train.

In reflection, we probably should’ve left the Rock Radio farewell thing alone. But it was great to meet up again with the listeners who’d spent all night telling Tom Russell how ‘shite Real XS is’ and he’d spent all night reluctantly agreeing.

Move on, me-thinks…Or not? Let me know what you think.


14 responses

  1. Kaye Strange

    Here Big Nose you still bangin on aboot that Guitar sound thing? And what….. no mention of me??? hee hee

    January 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    • billyrankin01

      You were there Kaye, you know I was right! How’s my favourite stalker? xx

      February 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm

  2. Not impossible to move on while still acknowledging and celebrating the past.

    And as for poor Grampa Tom Russell – they are really getting their pond of flesh out of him aren’t they? Every morning on the breakfast show, Friday nights and on Saturdays too I think. Surely there are employment laws about exploiting the old and infirm?

    January 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    • billyrankin01

      Hey David, only you could measure a ‘Pond of Flesh.’
      Here, that would make a great title for a Rush album!

      February 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm

  3. Hi Billy it’s your stalker caught up with you once again.
    I was gutted at missing 90% of the farewell gig especially if that almost famous string plucker Biwwy Wankin was plucking his G strings in pubic… Sorry,public.
    I’m glad things are still happening for you mate and only wish you all the best for 2012.
    I really miss the birthday bash as well as the interaction that became so much a part of our everyday life. It gave us something to look forward to each morning… Besides pishin rain.
    Keep Rockin mate.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    • billyrankin01

      Missin you too Dan, all of a sudden the pishin’ rain isn’t so bad!

      February 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      • Dan livingston

        A voice from beyond…. I just knew if I kept my hand on the tumbler it would start to move eventually. Great to hear your still out there mate… Any plans for some music output? Was your book a success? Do you go to any gigs???? Now yes is to the left.. No is to the right… All the other letters are across the top between them… Talk to meeee…. Is there anybody therrrrrre.

        February 29, 2012 at 9:32 am

  4. Andre spangberg

    Yea, move on, Planet Rock sounds better every day

    January 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    • billyrankin01

      No it doesn’t Andre…just not as bad as RealXS!

      February 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm

  5. billyrankin01

    Aw peeps, I’ve just figured out how to work this blog thingy so, err, hello!

    February 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm

  6. rock radio was a blast billy,good times had by all,correct decision by you,ted and donald to call it a day,i would say. I really couldnt bring myself to listening to tom on the breakfast show,it just didnt have the same insane appeal. Its maybe been a good thing as i now tend to listen to various shite in the mornings now on the radio.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm

  7. Pauline Sykes

    Hey Billy! U should keep on rockin! Good luck with whatever u decide to do! A girl at my work is defo missing u and asked me to find out ur plans! Say hi to Mary for me! Pauline( Janet’s pal lol) 🙂 xox

    February 23, 2012 at 9:45 pm

  8. West macdonald

    It’s a shame but it definatley was a bit of a wash out. On reflection it probably wouldve been better to leave it on the high of the farewell bash. That said I still had a great night with some familiar faces and got smashed so it wasn’t all bad haha

    February 23, 2012 at 9:48 pm

  9. Scott Riddell

    Hey Billy…. I’m the guilty sound guy…. :-/ to be fair though the mic was plugged in before they went onstage but was un-plugged buy the guitarist for the purpose of plugging in a DI for his acoustic…. I still should have noticed i suppose…. I was at the desk beside him too and I like you suggested turning up the stage right guitar he agreed and said no more about it till you came in a short while later and also suggested turning the guitars up……

    March 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm

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