Subject: Fish 99 - Kevin Wilkinson
Dear Fishheads, Freaks, Fans and the Company,
It is with great sadness that I have to announce the death of Kevin Wilkinson, a good friend and outstanding drummer who became part of my history between '91 and '94 having joined for the Internal Exile tour and working on the "Songs From The Mirror" and "Suits" albums as well as the infamous Toile Tour. He left in December 93 after about 170 gigs together with the band to be replaced for the "Suits" tour by Dave Stewart.
I remember feeling angry and depressed by his decision which he dropped on me as I drove him to the airport after he'd finished the drum tracks with James Cassidy at the farm. The Proclaimers had offered him a gig he couldn't refuse, 12 months guaranteed work at top whack wages, enough to bail him out of an Inland Revenue problem. I couldn't argue and he was torn by the decision having established himself behind the kit as one of my all time main man drummers. In my life I have only had one other person whom I'd consider indispensable and he is still with me.
Kevin came in after Ted McKenna and Ethan Johns had wrapped up the Exile album and I was dreading the auditions for the live set. Kevin was one of about 12 drummers who came up to the farm (including Squeeky who only lost out to experience) and he immediately impressed.
I remembered him from China Crisis who were on the circuit same time as the Marillo's and as a Liverpool band we were aware of their rep as party animals. Since the CC's Kev had joined the Waterboys and had played on "Fisherman's Blues" one of my favourite albums. His expertise and wide range of styles were perfect for me and he introduced me to a whole new world , dragging me into the realm of groove but still holding the high standard of musicianship that I'd been associated with through the skills of Ian Mosley and Mark Brzezicki.
The "Sushi" live album still holds some of his best playing and that tour was memorable for many reasons. I still have video footage of the morning after our adventures in Lido De Jesolo where on a day off we proceeded to get very , very drunk on Sambucas having lost interest in solid food after spending 2 hours trying to find a restaurant in a holiday resort that hadn't yet opened for the season.
Kev and I were huddled behind an upturned rowing boat trying to skin up an Afghani dream stick in a Force 10 gale as Yatta and Foss Paterson tried to launch a catamaran (which was chained up) as they wanted to go to Albania for the day off.
We had no hotel as the day off was a "travel day" to Austria and the bus had to stop to allow the driver rest. We left the bus at 11am and got back at 6 PM totally out of our minds. Kevin and I spent 3 hours walking , stumbling , falling , crawling down a deserted and darkening beach in search of a bus that was parked up somewhere in town. I remember lying on the windswept beach laughing insanely as Kev threw up all over his good Crombie coat while giggling as he was trying to pee while horizontal. He fell over with a bottle of red wine under him as we exited an alley to discover Foss crawling down the bus lane toward a square where we shouted at a bus queue "Where's the bus?". As one they pointed at our luxury transport in the centre of the square. An edifice of Kubrickal 2001 proportions surrounded by drunken roadies and band members. We loaded Kev into his bunk and for the next 2 hours he lay there behind drawn curtains giggling away to himself still wearing his vomit stained and ruined Crombie.
He had money hassles and hated being away from his wife and three kids. That was the main dilemna in his life as is with all touring musicians. The juxtaposition of the family man and the provider. He was great company and one of my all time great drinking buddies. Always a laugh and able to find a laugh in the most miserable back stage areas . He stood behind me all through the Toile tour of 92 when we were fighting rough in an endless series of shit holes in search of "Raw Meat " and the "pennies on the road".
When he left, the hole was enormous as Kevin was as much a great character as he was a great drummer.
He joined the Proclaimers and when that tour fell short he played with Squeeze among others before joining Robin Boult on the Howard Jones tour where he's been for over a year. Robin had told me that he was still the same Kev from our days together and they had become firmer pals during Howard's endless touring .I missed them when they came up to Edinburgh recently but talked on the phone about the laughs on the road. I hadn't seen him for over two years as we continually criss crossed each other on the endless circuits.
He was always talking about getting out and quitting touring and in 93 he told me that the Proclaimers gig would set him up so that he could retire to spend more time with his 3 kids and wife Marilyn who recently had embarked on a career as a comedienne and was running a comedy club near Swindon where they lived.
On the way up to the "Suits" sessions he'd hired a car and close to Bonnyrigg in Midlothian and with Robin beside him he'd been trying to overtake a slow car for miles on a windy A7 road. Close to the town he'd finally managed it and laughing wildly as he left the snail in his wake he forgot to slow for a roundabout and plunged into a hedge on the other side. He phoned me to get a tow truck out and I couldn't not forgive him for landing me with a bill as he'd forgotten to take out insurance. A potential disaster became another funny story. He was happy go lucky and a sprite on the road. Nothing seemed to get him down. He was open , honest and vulnerable but at the same time hardened to the reality of touring and life in general.
Above all he loved his family and that most of all makes the fact that he committed suicide on Saturday night/ Sunday morning so hard to understand.
James Cassidy had been trying to book him for a session and had phoned on Sunday afternoon to discover the news that he had hung himself at home barely one week after returning with Robin from America. It was James who phoned today.
No one will ever know the reasons behind his motivation. Robin in particular is savaged by the news having talked to him only on Friday. I don't know what to feel at the moment. I'm angry and extremely sad. I've had to deal with suicides before but this is so close I can't find the perspective.
I'll miss him madly, hate him forever and love him longer,
My heart goes out to his family.
Currently playing "Raw Meat"
Subject: Fish 99 - Further Convention details, European Tour, Liz returns and the coyote is definitely smarter!!
Dear Fishheads, Freaks, Fans and the Company,
Well it's coming together nicely! There's a karmic flow we're surfing on at the moment and although life as always is hecticated and mucho stresso things are falling into place.
Elizabeth Antwi has rejoined the band after her Incognito gig fell through and is over the moon at being given another opportunity! She is our girl and everyone in the band is ecstatic at having Liz's company and voice on the tour! It was the biggest downer at rehearsals as we all knew that anyone who came in on backing vocals would always be second best to Elisabeth. She starts rehearsing on August 16th here at the farm and will be on both sets here in Haddington and the entire European tour.
Tickets arrived from the printers today and Steve Vantsis has designed a laminate which will give admittance to the Members only events. For those of you confused by the tickets. There will be two separate concerts, one an acoustic in St Mary's church on Saturday the 28th and the other an electric show in the Corn Exchange on Sunday the 29th. Tickets are available now and are priced at 15 pounds for each concert.
Saturday will be strictly Company members only with each Company member allowed one guest. Allowances will be made for families and as both gigs are unlicensed there are no age restrictions. You don't have to be a Company Scotland member just as long as you are in one of the other International Companies you qualify for members only events and can buy acoustic show tickets.
The Electric night is a mixed night open to the general public. Tickets will go on sale to the public in Early August but are available now to Company members. Should the Saturday night acoustic show sellout then we have the Friday night on hold to accommodate the demand and tickets will only be sold once the first show sells out. As tickets are only now available there should be no worries for any of you applying in the next week or so. Company members will have priority for the Friday night should it be put on line and as soon as Friday is opened up then you will be notified just in case some of you want a double dose of acoustic Fishyness!
You will be sent laminates for you and your guest if you are coming with someone. This laminate will be needed to gain entry to a vcouple of things besides the Saturday acoustic set at St Mary's. On Saturday at 12pm there will be a meet and greet at the Poldrate centre next to The Tyneside Tavern. In the gardens of the youth club we'll provide a free barbecue with a beer tent supplied by a local brewery who will also be running a bar - not free I'm sorry to say! Members only get into this event which will also have live music provided by some friends of ours as well as the customary Fish monologue of how he screwed up another year and at the end everyone looks open mouthed and says "How does he keep going with all that shit coming at him!!" :-))))))))) Then we get a bit drunk and for those of you football orientated we head to the Millfield; about half a mile from the Tyneside to indulge in the very first Company World Cup 7 a side competition. That'll sort out the men from the boys and everyone of the spectators can have a good laugh at people throwing up and launching neck high sliding tackles while under the influence of copious amounts of 80 shilling!! Football is between 2 and 5 pm after which Mark Wilkinson will be giving a talk in the Poldrate centre around the artwork exhibition which will also be laminate holders only.
For those not footy inclined there's a local cricket match on in Haddington as well however if you want the real stuff Glasgow Rangers are playing Hibs at Easter Road on Saturday. Anyone wanting to see the professional game in Edinburgh should get in contact with me and I'll see if I can arrange tickets. I won't be attending as I obviously will be otherwise engaged!! :-)))
Gig in the Church starts at 7.45 or so with doors at 7pm. Show ends around 10 or so after which there will be gigs and pubs open till late in town with a special night at the Victoria Inn where a jam session kicks off at about 11pm.
Sunday we have block booked the entire downstairs of the Waterside Bistro which is by the Tyne river and opposite St Marys.
The owner Jimmy Findlay has one of the two Vigil gold discs presented in Haddington (the other being in the Tyneside tavern) and his restaurant is one of the most famous in the Lothians. The Sunday bar lunches are brilliant for preparing for the finals of the footy later that afternoon. For those not interested in eating there is a fine pint of Belhaven best to be had and a quiet afternoon on the banks of the river in the old town is a moment to be treasured. If you want to book phone the Waterside on 0044 (0) 1620 825674 and remember to say that you are with the Fish Fanclub convention. As well as bar tables there is also an upstairs restaurant which is a must for the more romantically inclined and for those with good credit!!!:-) I suggest meeting at around 12pm for those of you interested.
Football is at 3 for the semi finals and final after which there will be bands in the Victoria and drinking outside the re-designed front of the Corn Exchange (it's a pedestrian zone with pubs along two sides). Doors will be at 7pm and the concert is expected to go on until after 11pm.
I tried to book a bar big enough to hold the members for an after show party which I've promised for years but I couldn't find a venue. After long talks with Tammi I've decided to have the party in the gardens of the Farm. Again a marquee and bar will be provided along with music and dancing until around 3am. I will be arranging buses to bring people up from Haddington and return to either the town or Monksmuir camp site later and throughout the morning until 3am. This will be strictly laminates only as there will be a security presence at the entrance and around the house to keep out uninvited guests.
For those looking for rooms or campsites I have other telephone numbers for you.
East Lothian Tourist Information - 0044 (0) 1620 892197 or fax 0044 (0) 1620 893667 North Berwick office or 0044 (0) 1368 863353 or fax 0044 (0)1368 864999 Dunbar Office (both are around 20 minutes drive from Haddington)The main Lothians Tourist service can be found at http://www.edinburgh.org or phone on 0044 (0) 131 473 3800
That ladies and gentleman is the fanclub weekend!!! Interested? Then get your ticket application in the post! I need to know as soon as possible the numbers who intend to come as I have to book buses, burgers and beer!! :-)))))
For those of you concerned about the weather............ Sorry can't promise anything but my powers seem to have dwindled in recent months and we will have umbrellas on the merchandise stall!! :-)I have a feeling all will be ok!!
The first confirmations are in and Holland will get the early shows -
Sept. 11th: GRONINGEN OOSTERPOORT
12th: UTRECHT MUSICCENTRUM
13th: TILBURG 013
14th: AMSTERDAM PARADISO
Thereafter it's up to Scandinavia before hitting Germany and other countries. I'll be out until the end of October. Other dates will be confirmed in the next week.
I am still waiting to hear from Estonia and Finland re shows on the 7th and 8th of September , the 8th being when Scotland play Estonia in the European Championship. I have been put forward to sing the National anthem at the game!! Confirmation hopefully this week.
I have also been put forward for a tour in Kosovo in early September but as you'll know the situation isn't stable there yet and we have to wait on clearance from the military authorities before they let us come down. It will be the same arrangement as in Bosnia in 96 and all the band are excited at the prospect of going down to entertain the troops again.
That's all for now..... more news coming in as another cunning plan unfolds!
lots of love
Onkel Fish x
Email 19th July 1999