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Guy Stevens

Indiscreet Harlequin

Sam Cameron writes: the following words are the text of a monologue by Patrick-Campbell Lyons on the CD Secret Theatre by Nirvana on Edsel Records EDCD407, released in 1995. This has some quiet synth accompaniment from time to time but it is spoken in the manner of verse rather than sung. There is no word-sheet with the CD so this presentation is from a transcribed rendering. Although the title on the CD is Indiscreet Harlequin, Campbell-Lyons announces it as The Indiscreet Harlequin when he begins his recitation.

Indiscreet Harlequin

He jumped into the lights with fire in his hair
and danced the dance of the indiscreet harlequin
the first time I saw Guy Stevens was at the Middle Earth club
and then I saw him everywhere
the Marquee, the Ship Pub,
Portobello Road on a Saturday afternoon,
the Roundhouse on a Sunday
he was the original UF0, the 14 hour Technicolor dream,
Granny Takes a Trip, International Times and Oz
all in the same person and at the same time.

And then one day in 1968
I met him on the stairs of Island Records' office in Oxford Street
before I could ask him what was happening
he had given me the history of Hapshash and the Coloured Coat,
instructed me on the exceptional talents of the group Art
who were later to become Spooky Tooth
and then stuck a big joint in my hand
he told me I should be grateful because he and I are the people
our parents warned us against
and then he was gone
like a prehistoric bird he levitated out of the building
an amalgamation of mushroom hair, sheepskin coat
and rainbow scarf.

That's how it was over the next months
I saw him at Island records office
you could say that he was part of the scenery
a and r man, talent scout, art director, producer, image maker
and provider of joints
I also see him as a genius ideas man
with an originality that is desperately missing in today's music
he and I had something in common
because we both collected bluebeat Jamaican singles
I invited him one weekend to the Ace café in west Ealing
where they had a juke box full of Prince Buster singles
we got pilled up on black bombers
and I only remember that we ended up in the Limbo club in Soho
still dancing on Sunday morning at 8 o' clock
I floated back to my flat
and Guy went on to see Soft Machine at the Roundhouse
in the afternoon.

The music that we were writing and producing was too ethereal
for Guy's taste
he liked his sound to be bluesy, meaty and rhythmic
so on that front we had nothing in common
he spent most of his time with Spooky Tooth
and Steve Winwood's band Traffic and later with Mott the Hoople
every so often at a club or a happening
I saw him jumping into the light
but as our music began to take us away more and more to Europe,
I lost sight of him for a while
I began to hear a new word: itinerary
Nirvana was now much in demand in Germany, France and Scandinavia
where we had a hit with Rainbow Chaser
about a year later I heard through the Island grapevine
that Guy was taking an extended holiday ... courtesy of HMP

And then he went on the missing list for a few years
the next time I saw him was at a Chuck Berry concert
at the Speakeasy club, a musician's Mecca
in Marlborough Street, London W1
in appearance he had not changed
but in his eyes a kind of aggression had grown
where before light hearted innocence had lived
he looked sad.

For some time I did not see or hear of Guy
until one afternoon in a hotel in central London
I was invited to a launch party by CBS records
for the release of the Clash LP London Calling
and there he was jumping into the light again
he stormed in as the producer of the band
white silk bell bottoms, sequinned waistcoat and Cuban heel boots
but his smile had become a manic grin which frightened me
we spoke
but it was obvious to me that Guy did not know where he was,
what was happening, nor did he care.

The last time I saw Guy
it was a sad and shocking experience for me
it happened out of the blue about two years later
while I was recording at a studio near Swiss cottage
during the morning session I needed to get some fresh air
so I took a walk in a children's playground nearby
on a bench in the corner of the play area
I saw a dishevelled figure
who mumbled something indistinguishable to me as I passed
I recognised the person as Guy
I knew it was near the end of his story
there were some who saw the light and did not jump
and there were others who jumped into the light
and did not see it.

'HMP' at the end of stanza four means 'Her Majesty's Prison'
Incidentally, as well as his activities in Nirvana, Patrick Campbell-Lyons recorded a solo-album, Me and My Friend, in 1973 (Sovereign) with
Bobby Harrison – [RC]

More about Guy Stevens

Hoople history

The song, Harlequin, by Reid and Brooker

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