“I started at Walthamstow during Ian’s third year, I think, 1962. In October 63 we started at Royal College of Art. I was into abstract but my work was reality based, car dumps, crashes, landscapes. There was a disused motorbike they had thrown out by the entrance. I lugged it in, cleaned it up and painted it. All the brown-coats lugged it back out and I lugged it back in. Ian was into the dolly birds, Laurel and Hardy, 6B black pencil drawings. I have one in the attic.”
“When we got to the Royal College we were a bit of a double act. We would operate. What we shared was the infinite thing, drumming. ‘Come and see these drums.’ That always was our bond, there was no competition, a double stroke roll was what he wanted to hear. Ian loved the social thing, but for me it was music. Anonymity didn’t exist for Ian. I didn’t want minders round me, but Ian needed one.”
“Ian only became a magnet when he set up the group [Kilburn and the High Roads], not before. He was a partial magnet or a provisional magnet at Canterbury when he was teaching. As soon as he started the second phase, he became a full magnet. Put it like this… Ian wouldn’t have had a lot of social visitors prior to the second phase of Kilburn and the High Roads. He would have friends but not a lot of people around him. Thereafter his social magnetism increased, from Wingrave onwards. With the Kilburns, as soon as Dave Robinson entered the game Ian became a magnet. He enjoyed being famous. He may have had a period where he had to get used to it, but he enjoyed it. He wanted it. But when you get to the top of the mountain it takes it out of you. From stepping out onto the street with anonymity – the musicians might know who you are – but the difference is, as soon as you’ve got a face, people are watching you.”
As told to Will Birch, March 2004. Photographs: Terry with Humphrey Ocean looking on by Terry Lott, Ian and Terry courtesy of Terry Day.
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