During the 80s, a band emerged on the Worthing music scene who were destined to play an important role in shaping my attitude towards entertainment in a pub environment - Dirty Shoes.
I first became aware of them during 1989, when Dave Haskell suggested we should visit The Thieves Kitchen to see them. This was the first of what became many drunken nights watching the band, before staggering off for a kebab, ears ringing.
It was at one of these evenings when Terry, singer with the band, announced that their bassist, "Bon Jovi Features," was quitting. "If anyone knows any bassists, please let us know!" he yelled, before they kicked into another song.
Afterwards, egged on by my mates, I approached Terry to explain that I was a bassist into exactly the kind of music they played. Basically, the description of "Worthing's answer to AC/DC" is probably the best way to picture their style - uncompromising hard rock.
Although I was clearly a lot younger than the band (18, compared to these old guys in their 30s!), my confidence meant they gave me a try. A couple of weeks later I was bundled into the back of their van to see their previous player dep with them - I was to guest on a couple of tracks. I obviously impressed as I was asked to join and learn the set before the next gig, a couple of weeks further away.
My career with the band didn't last long, half a dozen gigs at most. An argument between two members saw the band split and off I went to figure out my next move. After spending the summer performing in West Side Story at the Edinburgh Festival I returned home to see the band advertised to play. A few of us went down to see the band put in a storming set with their new bassist (Ian, who was set to stay with them for the next 20 years). It turned out that the two members involved in the argument had a famously explosive relationship, fighting and making up on a regular basis, and had got back together pulling Ian into the fold.
With hindsight, I was too young for the band, but my short tenure with them set me up for everything I've done since - musically, performance-wise and in relation to learning a set in no time flat.
Dirty Shoes still perform in and around Worthing and gig dates are available at their MySpace page. I last saw them a couple of years ago, still rocking as they always did. I said hello to Terry, but he couldn't remember where he knew me from. "Do I owe you money?" he asked nervously.
"Nah" I replied, "I played with you a few times 20 years ago. You were old even then!"