Just recently, Stan Batcow (Howl In The Typewriter, Pumf) popped over for
the evening. As good as it was to see my old friend again, he left me with a
real feeling of sadness, having conveyed the news that Stephen had
lost his battle with cancer, on Christmas Eve of all days. Didn't even make
the half century. God, that's no age to die. And it touches you all the more
when that person is someone who you've met, flesh and blood, and someone who
played a pivotal role in your life, because it was Stephen's passion that
provided my initial inspiration to do all this underground networking stuff.
was just a flyer that started it all. Back in 1991, my old Magic Moments At
Twilight Time band got a second lease of life and were starting to become
better known. We'd had a love letter of a review in The Organ, the
underground bible of the day, and we were starting to get mail from all
over. In one such piece of mail, I believe from Nik Nimbus's old band,
Paradox, there was a flyer for BBP Records &
Tapes... and KFR
Distribution. I made first contact with Stephen soon after and was
immediately struck by his enthusiasm and passion for all things subterranean
and anarchic! It was thanks to his infusing me with that enthusiasm and
passion that I contacted the further flung wings of KFR, in the shapes of
Lord Litter and Don Campau, which lead to the Music & Elsewhere label being
born and the United World Underground project that followed. So he really
did change my life, not a word of exaggeration.
and I met him just the once, he invited us to visit him in Swindon, must
have been late '91, I think, Don's photo (top right) is just how I remember
him looking from the time, "the long haired wild man of rock and roll" as I
put it in the January '92 issue of The Mmattrix. Though hardly wild, he was
a pleasant and thoughtful host and we spent the afternoon swapping ideas on
the global underground scene. Seem to recall we spend some time sympathising
on his broken foot too. We left warmed by a nice cup of coffee and with a
refreshing attitude to music distribution and a viable alternative plan to
the awful business models that existed at the time. Suddenly, there
were a growing number of people, all over the planet, working together,
relationships based on what we had in common, rather than fretting about how
we differed. People like Stephen helped kick-start that world, the world
where a stranger in the mailbox was a friend, the second they arrived on
your doorstep. I like that world. Thanks, Stephen, say hi to Kate Twilight
When I met Stephen, we were so young ... so very young ... death was so very
far away .. Stephen so friendly .. so enthusiastic ... so alive .. Stephen
changed my life .. we were dreaming a dream .. the dream of a different
world .. more than 20 years ago .. we did change the world, even though this
never will be documented in the books of the rulers of this world .. but
then there is a basic truth .. I watched a wonderful movie inspired by a
Jules Verne book .. when the movie was over, these words stood on the screen
..:"I take the dream with me, but it will be not lost to humanity. It will
belong to you the day the world is educated enough to profit by it and wise
enough not to abuse it." (from "Master of the world") ... and made me think
of Stephen ...
Vive La Difference!
I donít really recall how I first met Stephen.
All I know is that we somehow starting trading tapes and underground music
information. He may have been pointed my way by Steve Andrews whom I had a
lot of contact back in the early 90s, maybe even late 80s.
Stephen ran the BBP tape label and had already been a champion of
independent , underground and punk music long before I ever knew him. His
tireless commitment to this firebrand style was always inspirational to me.
Iím sure he sent me a lot of music that opened the door to new associates
When Kevyn Dymond and I travelled to Britain and Europe in 1991, we visited
many home tapers and underground music enthusiasts. Stephen was one of them.
We took a bus from London, as I recall, and headed toward Swindon, a rather
quiet suburban town perhaps 50 miles to the west. I had heard Andy Partridge
of XTC lived in Swindon and I even had XTC tapes playing in my Walkman as we
Stephen lived with his parents then, wonderful, inviting people, who were
gracious and generous. We spent most of the time up in Stephenís bedroom
talking and laughing about the many characters we had encountered in the
strange world of Cassette Culture. He showed us various tapes, magazines and
pertinent BBP label information. He was excited and inspired by the music
and his efforts were sincere and non stop.
We kept in touch when I returned and Stephen ran the British arm of KFR,
Kentucky Fried Royalty, a sort of decentralized tape distributorship located
in the UK, the USA, Germany and South America. Even though I was one of the
ďarms,Ē I donít remember very much about it. It was never really wildly
successful although it did bring a few people together as music contacts.
Every so often Stephen would send me some new music and a letter detailing
his projects. The periods of time started to get much longer and I didnít
know if he was slowing down in his efforts or had other concerns. Now, I
find out that he was sick for a protracted period and probably felt like
hell for much of the last part of his life. This saddens me because he
seemed to be a peaceful and affable chap in every way I could discern.
Iíll miss you Stephen. You were part of my community and I am happy to have
had you as a friend.
26 January 2013
Above: Stephen plays host to
Don Campau and Kevyn Dymond (Guaranteed Cleveland Records) when their
European tour of Autumn '91 hit Swindon, after spending six hours on The
Left: Lord Litter being
entertained by a gurning Mr. Dymond when the tour got as far as Berlin. He's
lucky the wind didn't change.