Memory:Bill O'Reilly

From The Gentle Giant Home Page
This fan memory was written by Bill O'Reilly.

In 1981 a friend of mine started a fanzine called "Dog in Antwerp" because that's what you could do in those days. (I guess you just create a home page now.) It was actually a thinly veiled excuse to try to meet a lot of our then heros in the music biz. He interviewed Rory Gallagher one day (who I recently read sadly died), and because GG were my favourite band, and also because Ray Shulman was in walking distance of where I lived, I decided to pay him a call.

He was pretty gracious all things considered. He lived in a top-floor flat (apartment) just near Earl's Court with his American wife (girlfriend?). The details are a bit hazy now because of my nervousness and the six pints of Double Diamond I drank before-hand to stave of the nervousness, but here's what I remember.

Ray was listening to "Crocadile" by Echo and the Bunny-persons, which I guess was a sign of things to come since he went on to produce Ian McCulloch. He was also actually interested in what I liked which was a compliment I unfortunately missed though being more interested in what he liked. Then, just like in a dream, who should knock at the door but none other than Gary Green! "Hi Gary". I told Gary that I was a computer programmer and he told me about how he used to do computer bookings for the trans-channel ferry as a day job before he joined GG. (don't scoff, it's this type of general chit-chat that you never normally hear about, wonder why...).

We talked a little bit a bit GG music and I remember Ray telling me about that organ fade-out at the end of Way Of Life was actually meant to segue into another song. I guess the album was meant to be longer than it was since I think Way Of Life finished side one on vinyl. I could also sense that they were disappointed but not particularly surprised that they had yet another non-English fan.

When Gary decided to go, so did I. He walked off to Earl's Court tube station and I continued on home in an incredibly up mood. What struck me most was Ray's acceptance of the music scene as it currently was. He could have been pretty bitter after ten or so years of hard work and never really hitting the big time. Instead he was more interested what was going on in music and looking toward the future.

It also seemed ironic that's the band's American success seemed to have a long-term effect on their lives. Ray had (and for all I know still has) an American girl-friend/wife. Gary Green obviously moved to the States (maybe that's not where he was going to when I left him at Earl's Court tube, but obviously did leave sometime after). And of course Derek became an A&R man in the States. And I don't know the demographics of the 210 On-Reflection subscribers but probably most have eagles on their passports.