Amen Corner’s Shopping List: 14 steaks, 28 Cokes, 10 bottles of Squeezy and 14 of orange juice

AFTER TWO glasses of orange juice, Mr Andrew Fairweather-Low, of the Amen Corner, was observed staggering, shuffling and reeling in a dingy London alleyway this week.

On several occasions he was kept upright only by the helping hand of your MM reporter, and once nearly described a backward somersault.

But this had nothing to do with any alcoholic content in the recently consumed beverage.

Andy was merely trying to walk on a wet pavement while wearing a pair of smooth-soled moccasins.

“Excuse me if I walk funny,” apologised Andy, keeping his temper and hiding embarrassment, while passers by watched his performance aghast.

Eventually the nine-stone weakling, buried inside a huge white pullover, was steered into a restaurant, and was able to talk about the success after several anxious weeks of ‘High In The Sky’.

He also talked about the problems and fun of living with his seven-piece group, and the disillusionment that comes with “The Moment Of Truth” when every group discovers business facts of pop life.

SHOCK

“Up until now being in a group was just happiness, and I didn’t think about anything. But I’ve had a shock — which I can’t talk about — that makes everything and everybody I look at different. Whereas before it was enjoyment, now it’s business.

“When I woke up to reality, I was completely disillusioned and it was such a blow.”

But Andy keeps smiling and he is far from becoming morbid.

“We’ve just moved into a new house. We’ve got a bedroom each, two bathrooms and a big hall. It’s in a nice area, but the fans have found us already.

“I hate to say it but we don’t sign autographs for any of them for the simple reason that on a school holiday you can get twenty kids round. At the last house they ruined the front door, and although it’s their right to ruin it as they give us our money, it upsets the neighbours and that’s why we had to leave.

SCOUTS

“It’s funny at the supermarket when we go shopping. We order 14 steaks, 28 cans of Coke, ten bottles of Squeezy, and 14 bottles of orange juice. We told them one day we were boy scouts on a hike.

“Next day we said we were a group called the Beach Combers, but we were retired and not working. The man in the shop: ‘Oh yes, I’ve seen you before.’

“Then, when the guy came to bring some new carpets, he kept asking who we were, and we told him we were a bunch of millionaires and didn’t do any work. I think he believed us because we had seven cars parked on the lawn outside!”

Amen Dennis Bryon does the cooking. “He managed to cook for all of us on one gas ring, and kept it hot as well. I think boys take more pride in cooking than women because they regard it as a challenge.”

SHAME

Conversation inevitably moved on to the Beatles. “I’m trying to figure out what is going on. Why do Yellow Submarine? Then there is Apple. Perhaps they just don’t care anymore. You can only take so much of fame. It’s a shame their private lives are brought to such public notice.”

“If I was a Beatle, I don’t think I could take it. I haven’t got their strong character or temperament. If the press followed me all round the world, the front pages would be full of long swear words.

“But even so, what was all that meditation about? Did they just see the adverts on the tube cards, or did they really want to find themselves?”

Has Andy found HIMSELF?

“Never! I’d be too afraid to analyse myself. It’s nice to think you are secretly better than everybody else and really you’re a genius. If you went to a psychiatrist and he told you you were NOT a genius, it would destroy you.

“You’ve got to have a bit of mystery even to yourself. When I was small I used to look up to all sorts of people and say: ‘Gosh, he’s a good drummer, or singer.’ When I was 15 I decided I was going to be better than them, and it’s so good to try and get out of a rut and become someone.”

Who were Andy’s idols?

“Mick Jagger knocks me out. I used to think he couldn’t sing, but he instils the same kind of excitement that Steve Marriott does with the Small Faces.”

“We don’t create as much excitement as the Rolling Stones or Small Faces, which is a shame, but I just can’t be an outrageous singer on stage. If you are a natural mover it’s okay, but you can make an idiot of yourself. Some people move about and move about and make themselves look hideous.

“Gene Pitney once told me to be myself. He looks poised in one spotlight, which is better than jitterbugging around like an idiot in ten spotlights! “

ULCERS

Was Andy worried about ‘High In The Sky’?

“Ulcers! It’s been out four weeks, and until it started to sell last week we were really worried. I always have bouts of eating when I’m worried.

“We’ll be doing the next one soon. It’s from Europe and sounds a bit like a contest song. There is a big discussion in the group at the moment whether we should do a fast or slow one.

“I want to do a Janis Ian song, but I suppose we should do something commercial. I used to think if a song was beautiful it would be a hit, but not after we did ‘World Of Broken Hearts’.”

© Chris WelchMelody Maker, 17 August 1968

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