Tuesday 24 January 2023

Local Music Special - Kevin Black - Former Barnet Times Journalist RIP

If you are of a certain age, interested in music and you live in the London Borough of Barnet, a certain Mr Kevin Black is a mythical and iconic figure. If you are not, you will probably be asking 'what's he on about now'. 

Let me tell you the story. In the late 1970's the world of music was very different. No Facebook, YouTube or Spotify. The only real exposure for bands was the music press, NME, Sounds and Melody Maker. There were underground fanzines that sprung up, such as Mark Perrys Sniffing Glue, but you had to be in the clique to get these.

Then one Thursday morning, around 1979, I opened The Mill Hill and Edgware Times and to my delight and amazement,  it was announced that there was a new column, featuring local music and bands.  I didn't need a second invitation, I was straight on the bus to Hendon, where the times had their office, cassette in hand, demanding to see the writer, a certain Mr Kevin Black. 

I was a 16 year old skinny punk rocker, my diary records he was 'a bearded Jock'. It was clear he loved music. He promised to cover a gig I was arranging at The Harwood Hall and was good to his word. He also printed gig listings and interviewed local studio owners such as Alan Warner of The Foundations and Ray Randall of The Tornadoes. He collaborated with Rob Austin of Tape Copying Services to launch the Midland Arms (now The Claddagh Ring) as a venue. This hosted some great bands including Dolly Mixtures, The Purple Hearts and Way of The West (who my band The False Dots supported).

Kevin wrote his column with vigour and passion and gave many bands a first bit of exposure. For a while it seemed that out little bit of London was becoming a mini epicentre of London music. He plugged the local venues such as The Torrington and The Hogs Grunt in Prodiction village. 

Then as always happens with good local journalists, he moved on. After 35 years, I thought the story was long over, but I was listening to the Robert Elms show on 28th September 2016 and Kevin rang up the rang Robert Elms and was on Notes and Queries asking about The Remipeds, a band Rob Austin managed.  It was great to hear he was still interested in our local scene. 

I am in the process of writing and researching my autobiography and I happened tolearn that Kevin passed away in 2019. He is recalled IN THIS BLOG. It was sad news indeed to hear that Kevin had passed.  I spoke to him in 2016, just to catch up. We agreed to meet for a beer, which as often happens never came to pass. 

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