Friday, 5 June 2015

My speech to say goodbye to my friend Colin Masters aka Colin Dredd 1956-2015

This was my speech for Colin at his funeral on Wednesday 3rd June, shared so that those who could not make the funeral can get a taste of our goodbye to him.
Stand by me.
The early Eighties were a very divisive time politically, and in London there were a couple of right wing groups who were determined to make their Nazi ideology popular by targeting young people. The National Front and the British Movement started by recruiting muscle from outside football grounds and then they turned to music fans. They leafleted live gigs and then attempted to take out bands they deemed to be left wingers. They attacked audiences and performers alike, smashing up or disrupting gigs by the likes of Sham69, Redskins, Madness and many more.
Into this seething cauldron of hate came the Neurotics and being anti-racist and lefties in nature, were added to the list of rock bands that had to be stopped. There were some informers within these fascist groups who would warn us in advance of trouble and in May 1982, as we prepared, with Attila The Stockbroker, to play a club in Islington called Skunx, we got the message…
“They are coming for you”.
As was predicted, when we took the stage there was a wall of Nazi skinheads staring malevolently at us. We played like our lives depended on it, hoping beyond hope that the music alone would change their minds. We were left untouched that night, but that was because they were after the headliner Attila who, once he took the stage, they attacked and smashed his instrument over his head, whilst glasses, tables and chairs flew in an orgy of violence.
Subsequently, we were sent a ‘single’ of ours disfigured by race hate slogans, my publisher’s life was threatened over the phone and I had death threats left on my answering machine.
And whenever we did a gig in London, we would often get the message once more
“They are coming for you”
My point here is that Colin wasn’t a fighter, he was a very sensitive man and he wasn’t even able to defend himself if attacked. But never, did he say “do you really think we should do this gig? Never did he voice concerns about our safety in playing these concerts. He knew, like we all did in the band, that this was intimidation, and if they couldn’t physically stop us playing then psychological warfare may do the trick. It didn’t.
At these gigs, with Simon Lomond on drums behind us, Colin would take his place at the mike beside me, our legs shaking and our hearts gripped by an icy fear, standing in front of hostile audiences, high up on the stage like targets at a fairground at which pot shots of glasses, pool cues, bar stools and chairs could potentially be aimed at us.
And as I’d announce our first number, I would look down the neck of my guitar and just beyond would be Colin, as white as a sheet, but resolute, showing enormous courage, time and time again.
Gig after gig, he stood by me, he stood by his beliefs and like bothers in arms forged in the crucible of war, we too became brothers in that time.
I recently had the privilege of spending his final night with him and every now and then he would open his eyes to check if I was still there, I stood by him, like he did for me.
My friend, my bassist, my brother, Colin.

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