Charlie Harper is not just a well-respected figure in the Punk music scene, he is thee figure in Punk music. Elevated to the legendary status by his peers as well as his audience he is the living blueprint for the movement, surviving for over 40 years in a touring band his reputation is unquestionable. The origins and inspirations of this musical career may not be as we would expect, but every idol who takes centre stage has their own idols hidden away in their memories. Here are some of Charlie’s memories growing up and the music that surrounded him before he swapped his scissors for a guitar.
At a very early age 2 to 5, it was our Gracie and our Vera white Cliffs of Dover, I think I was aware of Ella and a song called Laura.
Play: Vera Lynn – We’ll Meet Again
At 6 I was schooled in a nunnery and exposed to classics but the only one I loved was Brahms Lullaby. There was a marching tune or two.
Play: Johannes Brahms – Lullaby
At age 7, I went to all the Saturday morning picture shows ( before TV ) and loved all the songs from those old Walt Disney movies, Pinocchio, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty but my big love was Judy Garland in Over the Rainbow. I still have all her movies plus Ruby Slippers.
Play: Judy Garland –Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Its now in the age of TV and I have got my first single, Hound Dog backed by Don’t be Cruel if my memory serves. Elvis was my idol, then it was Jerry Lee, Buddy Holly, the Everly’s Big Bopper, Marty wild and I loved Brenda Lee, I still try to sing like her.
Play: Elvis Presley – Hound Dog
At 12 I became the social sec at school and had £5 per month to spend on records, LPs being £1.50 and singles 60 to 70 pence.
Play: Brenda Lee – The end of the world
This was the time of the Notting Hill riots and a couple of boys sold all their black singles, I was first in line and got Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, these guys never made a bad record and I got them for pennies. A school mate had a guitar and we’ll all stomp and clap and one of the nutters would get on a bench and sing a crazed Ginny Ginny, we’d all seen the movie Jailhouse Rock.
Play: Little Richard – Lucille
The 50s were over and Jazz was king, there were the Tradist and the Modernist, although there were a few trad hits like Aka Bilk and others, I was in with the Modern Jazz Quartet. I still say ” take five ” I had Mingus Oh Yeh, We three Kings by Ornett Coleman and Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, hence Another Kind of Blues but don’t tell Miles. Later Nicky Garratt turned me on to many more.
Play: Miles Davis – So What
Although I did have all the early Beatles records, I was well in the Stones camp, for all my mates in the 60s, the Beatles were pop and the Stones were real and I went and saw them play all around London, sometimes three times a week. 40p to see the Stones.
Play: Rolling Stones – Around & Around
Somewhere in the 60s, I became a street singer a busker, I became good and employed a bottler, in 67 I did my first solo gig.
Play: Charlie Harper – Tomorrows Girls
I became a reader/player of the Woody Guthrie songbook, a girlfriend once told me that a guy called Dylan was singing all my songs, she was very shocked when I told her that I was singing a few of his.
Play: Woody Guthrie- This Land Is Your Land
Favourite all time song: as you may gather, my taste is far and wide and to pick an out and out fave seems an impossible question but today I played my fave Aretha tracks on youtube, Angel and Till you come back to me, with tears streaming and grabbing tissues. OK if I have an all-time fave, it would be Iggy Pop Search and Destroy or maybe Ramones Pet Cemetery no MC5 Kick out the Jams.
Play: Ramones – Pet Cemetery
Favourite song you have been musically involved in: Warhead. music by Paul Slack. lyric C Harper.