That Was So Much Fun, Let’s Do It Again

February 19, 2009, by Christie Healey

Ten Years After album cover (1972) "Rock & Roll Music to the World"

Ten Years After album cover (1972) "Rock & Roll Music to the World"

I recently joined Facebook at the urging of two friends. I am quite bemused by this social network, and the comments people post: E wants to know if B is awake, M has changed his profile photo, B confirms he is awake but that it’s not the world’s business. I have ceased striving to find meaning.

Recently former colleagues from Chrysalis Artists/Records/ Music have found me on Facebook. There’s a 40th reunion in the planning stages. We are trying to meet up sometime this year before we are all too gaga to remember why.

I joined Chrysalis when Swinging London was in full swing, although how a shy girl from the industrial Midlands came to be part of a white-hot music scene is still a bit of a mystery to me. What I remember is this: I was miserable in my job at a Mayfair real estate agency; the place was full of snotty public school boys and disappointed Sloane Rangers (upper middle class girls looking to get to the next social level) who thought it frightfully amusing to ask where my people were from. The man at the employment agency asked me one question before sending me out on the interview, “What do you know about rock music?” “Nothing,” I responded truthfully. “I’ve found one,” he yelled incredulously to co-workers.

About an hour later I was perched on a sagging velvet couch in the dimly lit office of one of the founders of Chrysalis. It was eleven o’clock in the morning and all the women looked like they were about to leave for a fab party or had just returned from one. I didn’t hold out much hope for my chances. In my Marks & Spencer navy blue matching skirt and top I looked like I was collecting for the Mothers of Perpetual Help. I remembered my mother’s advice for all situations, “Speak clearly when you’re spoken to and keep your knees together.”

Founder and his chain-smoking colleague barely nodded to me when I was shown in; they were engrossed in a transatlantic telephone contest to see who could use “f–k” most inventively—as a verb, adverb, adjective, noun. I tried to look unfazed, and keep my knees together. An hour passed, they were still on the phone and had moved onto Chaucer for source material. I had sunk so far into the couch by this time I was about to join loose change, lost pencils, pet-sized dust bunnies and maybe find the door to a parallel universe where people combed their hair and used electric lighting. Then it occurred to me; they weren’t ignoring me, they couldn’t see me. I was actually hidden in the couch like some Mata Hari of linguistics. I could be there for days. Some one might sit on me! I had to escape.

My knees were still together, but level with my chin. I had two choices, bring my legs up onto the couch, slither over the arm and crawl under cover of the smoky pall to the open doorway, or hurl myself forward using my handbag to cushion the impact and crawl out from under founder’s desk—which was where I would probably land. If they noticed, I could apologize for the interruption and leave on two feet. The slither seemed to have less potential for lasting injury. I prepared to become prone and had the uncomfortable feeling that I was probably not the first young woman to stretch out on this couch. Founder and pal suddenly noticed me. “What do you think D, should we hire her?” “Yeah.”

I spent a few years with Chrysalis and learned a lot about rock music, the business and myself. I soon dropped the novitiate outfit in favor of peasant blouses, mini skirts, torn jeans and no bra. Just like our Ranger sisters, our clothes defined the tribe and the goals. Bonking band members was somewhat frowned upon but a steady stream of secretaries strolled out the door and into the mansion of some snake-hipped Lothario who had just gone platinum.

I found my rock musician husband elsewhere, but that’s another story. I hope the Reunion happens… I’ll be sure to let you if it does.

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12 Responses to “That Was So Much Fun, Let’s Do It Again”

  1. dearpru Says:

    This blog is everything The Banger Sisters (that highly forgettable 2002 film with Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon) meant to be but wasn’t — an insightful, witty, sexy and funny-in-a-way-that-rings-true snapshot of the British R&R scene that will never, ever happen again. You are so lucky to have been there–and sober enough to have committed these colorful scenes to long-term memory status. Thanks for ushering us into a place that most only dream of going.

  2. mellimel Says:

    I worked in Rock n’Roll in the next era – not in London alas but in LA. I was an alien in that environment but I loved it, the energy of it, getting paid to listen to music even though a lot of it was bad, there was always something good that snuck through. Its so different now. I was at the crossroads where we were just starting to get rid of CD long boxes and MTV still played music and was cutting edge. We should do a memory timeline. I want to hear more.

    As for Facebook, I find when I list all my posts of what I am doing, on a page together its kind of interesting. All alone each post seems kind of silly and not all that interesting, but grouped together its a new kind of insight into my state. Scarey but true.

  3. Wendy Says:

    I remember the thrall of those spinning record labels, trying to keep track of who was on what label. I was lucky enough to spend summers in London in 69 and 71, my father had business there and we rented a flat for a few months each time, one of them was right across from Kensington Gardens/Hyde park. It was the first city where I was able to wander around by myself and I remember wandering the Kensington market starry-eyed, looking through records, the power that each one had over me. Such a special time.

  4. Christie Says:

    I love that others are sharing memories of the music biz days, London at a pivotal point. Thank you. Pru, you are so kind in your comments. When next the women gather, I promise to share more over a few bloggerinitinis.

  5. Carine Says:

    Enjoyed your post! I know nothing about the music business and it gave me a peak into a world I’ve only glimpsed in movies. However, your blog did remind me of a couple of better forgotten mortifying interviews…

  6. Conz Says:

    Can’t wait to hear about the reunion, Christie. But I really want to know if you ever bonked Billy Idol, or “tripped the light fandango” with Procul Harem? Hmmm? Do tell, dear girl….

  7. Cathy Says:

    When reading about the music business, it reminded me of the time I went to a Bruce Springstein concert with a friend who got us tickets in the industry section. Amazing seats, but out of the entire huge stadium, the Forum in L.A., the only people who were not up and dancing with the Boss’ infectious performance were the zombies seated in our section: the walking dead record executives. Many artists ask that these folks not be seated in front at their concerts, such a buzz kill. Knowing you Christie, I see that type of insecurity masking and too-hip-gotta-go attitude did not dampen your spirit for good music, pleasure and expression.

    Thanks for the very funny story with the British flavor of the times. The couch encounter reminded me of one of my strange job interviews, where I didn’t have to say more than two words, just nod my head, as the interviewer talked for at least 30 minutes, and yes, I did get the job.

  8. Christie Says:

    Conz, you minx!

  9. christie Says:

    Judging from the responses I think we should all write a blog called “My Most Memorable Interview.”

  10. Elizabeth Says:

    That was very funny and I want to hear more.

  11. Cindy La Ferle Says:

    Wow — how cool is that!? As for Facebook, I’ve enjoyed it a lot more than I’d ever imagined, too. For writers, it’s a wonderful way to post links to our new columns or articles, and/or to see what our colleagues are up to these days. Ditto any out-of-town friends with whom we’ve lost touch.

  12. Emily Says:

    Great piece! I love the interview story, your mom’s advice, and the whole vibe. I bet you were wearing M&S underwear too. Aren’t you glad you joined Facebook so you can go to the Reunion? I look forward to your follow-up post when that happens. And more stories about those days. Btw, B is awake, and he posts plenty that shouldn’t be the world’s business either.

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