Monday, June 09, 2014

Obituary - Colin Grigson

Colin Grigson, widely regarded as the 4th most talented member of the heavy metal overlords Bad News and routinely voted as the worst bass player in the world, has died at his home. He was 56.

News of Grigson's passing has come as a shock to the small, limited fanbase Bad News - by some miracle - retained. It has also been a shock to the many millions of fans who took a shine to any one of his alter egos, most notably "The" Rik Mayall; a persona which allowed Grigson to gain the adulation, the praise and, mostly, the groupies he craved, only without needing to know the difference bewteen a G note and a D one. Which, as former bandmates will testify, he didn't.

That a significant percentage of the other members of Bad News, rhythm guitarist Den Dennis in particular, were unaware of the fact that there was even a G note, let alone that it was different from a D, was mostly irrelevant to the disdain and contempt shown to their much admired band member, whose ability to pay for any PA rentals or van repairs underlined his sole value to the group.

The road to heavy metal medicority for Grigson was an unusual, difficult and for the most part easy one. The devil may care, king of the road but ensure that library books were returned on time lifestyle he did not really get to live were probably, in some capacity, inspired by his younger years - true in particular as it would have been impossible, after all, for him to be inspired by the future.

Grigson's University days were perhaps the biggest key to understanding the incredible lack of talent he was to show throughout his life. His obsessions with the two pillars of modern society - Leon Trotsky and Cliff Richard - led to countless volumes of dull, boring and impenetrable poetry being published. None of it helped him attain any of his ambitions, be they of having sex, getting an ounce of respect from his patience-tested roommates or any credit from any of his lecturers.

Grigson's student days were not a total failure, of course - just exceptionally close to it. Of all his ambitions, he did get to fulfil one; an appearance on University Challenge. His performance, however, turned out to be notable only for his expected poor knowledge on subjects he was was supposedly partially aware of being displayed to the 15 or so viewers who continued watching after the sensational opening credits.

Not long after Grigson "left" University, with it being entirely inappropriate to suggest that he in any way graduated, he was lured into the sordid world of heavy metal by notorious painter & decorator Alan Metcalf. Metcalf, using the stage name Vim Fuego, saw Grigson at an early Mary Hopkin based set he was performing "by accident", and immediately identified him as a potential cash cow, owing to the lavish way he was buying Malibu & Coke drinks for ladies in the hope that one of them would so much as let him look at their foo-foo; if he was lucky perhaps more. Whereas Grigson remained unlucky in love, he was fortunate to be embraced by Fuego. He was given the opportunity to express his gratitude by not only partially furnishing Fuego's home recording studio, but also by paying for a new clutch for the bands van and by advancing the money required to obtain a PA system.

Fuego and Grigson were soon joined by Den Dennis, a half-arsed painter in the employ of Mr Metcalf/Fuego for unspecified wages, and Spider Webb, a drummer who seemed on the club circuit to have the lowest level of drug dependency of any auditioned. Which, in retrospect, is quite a thing to say.

The band soon adopted the name Bad News to perform under, as these two words were the most frequent ways conversations started with the group in relation to bookings, ticket sales, clutch repairs and checking on the status of library fines.

Mixed fortunes tended to follow Bad News, so long as you accept that the mix was of "worse" and "awful" fortune. Even the opportunity of a TV documentary failed to lift the band to any significant status, with the recording of the ill-fated gig in Grantham serving only to ensure that it would be five years before they were ever allowed near a stage again.

In the intervening five years, with Metcalf/Fuego not requiring any new furniture or van repairs, Grigson drifted away from Bad News and sank to the depraved, dangerous and dark world of corporate banking. In an attempt to deflect away from his fame as a member of Bad News he informed his fellow junkies in the world of corporate banking that he was in fact the "less frightfully groovy" brother of Colin, Trevor. His efforts were successful, as no one at the bank ever associated him with the world of heavy metal. No matter how many hints he dropped.

Just as Grigson was drowning in an endless circle of corporate values, minor share manipulation and sensible accounting, the lure of heavy metal - and a substantial cheque from Channel 4 - saw him rejoin Bad News. A fifth year anniversary gig was planned for The Flying Horse, a pub celebrated for the fact that Bad News had never played there before.

The proposed gig fell apart after an ill-advised meal of 100 pints of lager and 4 poppadoms, but for a rare - possibly unique - change good news followed. The band, through the efforts of Vim Fuego, were able to secure a record contract with the homosexual specialist label Frilly Pink, and it was through that record contract that the band secured the ultimate dream - if you like Valhalla - of any metal band, a slot at the Monsters Of Rock Festival, Castle Donnington.

This opportunity, as you would expect, was pissed away with some considerable comfort. Their performance ended in a riot, with the fact that Grigson was able to place a few strategic kicks to the head of Vim Fuego being of some comfort to him. Exactly what comfort this gave him as his throat was slit by the rioters is something that he never revealed.

That was to be the last time that the original line-up of Bad News would feature in public. A version of the band without Grigson appeared on a BBC charity telethon. Critics who saw it agreed that the best part of the performance was the bass.

Little is known of what happened to Grigson after the band parted ways with him. It is believed that he briefly lived in Hammersmith, had a spell as a guest house manager, pursued a healthy interest in amateur gynaecology and took an interest in quad biking.

Reactings to the passing of Colin Grigson have been mixed to none from his former band mates. Den Dennis, for reasons best known to himself, took an unauthorized leave from a painting job in Hammersmith to take a taxi to Grantham to announce that he had no comment at this stage as he was busy with a painting job in Hammersmith. Spider Webb is currently orchestrating the global economic recovery and advising the NSA on what spying techniques are and are not "metal".

Vim Fuego was last seen sat on a mountain he had constructed from crates of Lager of Lamot, singing Those Were The Days.

Although given "just about" the amount of credit he deserved in life, it remains the case that many will miss his talent a very great deal indeed.

Hey, Mr Bassman.........

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