JUST as everyone was beginning to think that the day of the teenage idol was over, another young ‘god’ has come quietly and modestly upon the pop scene.
If you happen to be over 21-years-of age you might not immediately recognise him, but if you still breathe teenage air and buy hit singles you will have no trouble in recognising Andy Fairweather-Low, as he walks his world in a “striped pair of pants” (There is no truth in the rumour that the Amen Corner are starting a “Buy Andy Low a new pair of trousers fund”) and what appears to be a Chelsea football shirt.
“I don’t feel comfortable in brand new clothes,” admits Andy. “I’ve got these black trousers with the red stripe and an old leather jacket which cost me two pounds ten shillings in Scotland. I feel relaxed in them.
“You have to dress up on stage and I think if you think you look good then it gives you that extra confidence when you walk out there.”
Run for it
The Amen Corner have now reached that not absolutely enviable position of having to make a run for it after every performance – the main target of the fans affection is Andy who they want to mother and smother in one fell swoop.
“We’ve got the escape route down to a fine art now,” says Andy. “For example, ‘Pop North’ is one of the most difficult places to get out of. We’ve got a special system of taxis for that.
“Generally we bring the van right up to the back door with its doors wide open and our roadies standing to one side. We just run straight into the back of it.”
From the attention that I have seen Andy bestow upon his fans at recent charity football matches with the All Stars XI in which we both play, it is obvious he thinks a lot of them. The smaller and tinier they are – the more time Andy has for them. At Swadlingcote recently he signed autographs on arms, bus tickets and cigarette packets for an hour and a half before the management humanely shut him in an outer office to recover.
We had to make a run for it from that ground to his sports car, which he parks some distance away from the pitch. He has already lost a wing mirror, windscreen wipers and his registration plate (several times) to souvenir hunters. As we legged it down the driveway from the dance with a number of young ladies in pursuit a black saloon with three young men roared up alongside and offered us a lift. Andy dived in the back.
About 800 yards further on we tumbled out of the saloon and made for Andy’s sports car just as two “Mary Rand” types sprinted round the corner shrieking “Andy! Andy!” Mr. Low was compelled to distribute kisses and cuddles (he didn’t struggle much) before making off in his car.
“You know that’s what knocks me out about our fans,” panted Andy (I think it was from running). “They are so nice. I’ve got a little five-year-old girl who prays for me every night.”
Apart from his music the greatest love of his life is his car and at the slightest sound of a scrape as he passes other vehicles he will leap from his sunken seat and examine the chassis in minute detail.
“I’m having a cocktail cabinet, tape recorder, stereo and a Japanese TV set installed in it by the firm who built it for me,” he says. I have news for him – his manager has some distinct reservation about Andy with one eye on Top of the Pops and the other on the M.1, but that is another fight.
The other interest which I have already mentioned is his football which stems from school days.
“I can remember waiting to hear at Assembly whether I had been picked for the school team or not,” recalls Andy, “I was always terribly brought down if I was not in.”
He plays the game with great enthusiasm and hurls himself into every tackle – sometimes with a little too much enthusiasm like the occasion when he collided with team-mate Leapy Lee (our new chart entry this week) recently and turned his ankle badly. The following week he turned up for the next match but intended not to play. One look at the posts and the nets was enough and he was out there turning his ankle again.
Andy seldom seems to loose his temper or become despondent although a recent trip to North Wales considerably irked him when he found he could not get a hotel in his homeland.
“It’s the hair,” he said. “They still seem to think you’re a ruffian if you have long hair. I drove all the way up to Manchester from Wales and the same thing happened there – no room if your not bald. I had to drive all the way back to our house in London. When I got out the car my hands were curled rigid round the shape of the steering wheel.”
Among the group’s current assets is their “star” road manager, Michael de Minter, known to his intimates as “Minto.”
“He’s really stage struck,” Andy grinned. “We can’t keep him off the stage – someone asked me recently where we’d got our new member from because he was on stage the whole act. At one point I was going into my moody version of ‘Love Me Tender’ and suddenly I noticed that it’s not going down quite as seriously with the audience. When I look down there’s Minto crawling about my feet.
“He came up to me after one performance and informed me that the trouble with my voice was that I’d got no vibrato. ‘I have – I’ve got viiiiiiiiiibratttttttttoooooo!’ he says and does the whole bit.”
Finally someone suggested to me that the strange distinctive quality in Andy’s husky tones might be the result of his voice not having broken completely yet.
“What happens when your voice breaks?” enquired Andy.
“It usually gets lower,” I replied.
“I think mine’s getting higher,” said Andy.
© Keith Altham, New Musical Express, 14 September 1968