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I came to London in 67. My first performance was about 3 months later,
opening for Al Stewart at the Marquee on their "Wednesday Folk Night".
I used to get paid a pound, Al probably got paid two or three times
that. I was in heaven. And a pound goes a lot further if you don't
squander it on shelter. Back then one could eat for 3 days on a pound.
My songs at this time were vaguely Donovany and probably around half of
them were about a girl who went out with me despite my sleeping on park
benches. Her name was Jane and we have remained friends for life.
About six months after I arrived I landed what I thought of as a
"really cushy number", regular employment; a bleat-while-they-eat job
in a restaurant called the "Borsch and Tears" on Beauchamp Place in
London. The proceeds of this paid for a bed-sit that was almost more
disturbing than the street.
By the spring of 1969 I had completed a new batch of songs and played
them to Vic Keary. Vic was just starting a new studio opposite the
Round House. He liked them, which I realized even back then, made him a
very unusual producer in the music world of that period. "Pass the
Distance", released on Mushroom Records, had commenced its rather long
journey. A year or so later, legal action connected to the cover forced
its withdrawal from the market making it a collector's dream come true.
A few weeks after my meeting with Vic I ran into David Toop and Paul
Burwell at The Round House, we jammed for an hour or so in the Cafe,
after which I asked if they'd like to do a gig with me in a pub that
Vic had organized for me for the following Saturday. They agreed to,
and a week after the gig we were in Chalk Farm Studios together.
In 1974 I moved to Canada where I taught Karate and tried my hand at
organic farming with my then wife Emily. (She has remained tilling the
soil ever since)
In 1980 I moved to Montreal where, other than a few stints in New York
& Toronto, I spent most of the next 20 years, writing books, songs,
and generally chancing my arm at this and that, sometimes successfully,
sometimes less so.
In 2003 I saw a review of Pass the Distance in a music magazine and got
in touch with David Toop who said,"Simon, yes, people are looking for
you, do you want to be found?"
I did. A few days later I heard from David Tibet and after exchanging
many delightful letters we arranged to meet in London. It was
extraordinarily good timing; I'd been intending to go into partnership
in a cafe & pool hall, which had fallen through. Thanks to
David's enthusiasm and the help of so many, I have been playing and
recording since that time.
In 2008 I moved back to the UK and about 3 weeks later the whole place
collapsed back to 1970 levels, so my re-entry has been almost seamless.