I have just written a "fan letter". It feels a bit strange. I was going to say that it was the first one I have ever written but I know that isn't true on at least one count. I can quite confidently say that it is the first one I have written for over 15 years, however.
My previous fan letter was to Sylvester McCoy, and I'm pretty sure it was to the actor Sylvester McCoy rather than the fictional Doctor Who- but I can't be certain. I also remember being quite surprised when a reply came back because I thought I had thrown the letter away and not sent it. I think it must have been rescued by the parents and sent. I'm glad they did because the signed photo I got in return has been treasured ever since, indeed I admired it only this afternoon, as it was pinned up on my kitchen notice board.
I have my parents to thank for so many things, and most of the autographs I have are down to their persuasive skills that I could approach Sam Torrance (Dunhill Cup 1987) or Johnathon Watson (St Andrews 1990) or Terence Stamp (Filmhouse 1987 - he even bought me some posters!) or Peter Davison (Aberdeen 1995) or Neil Innes (Aberdeen 1999 with stinking cold) and ask them for their name on a bit of paper and tell them I enjoyed whatever it was they did. It was this influence that means I now have a copy of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road signed by Richard "sleazy" Whiteley or Elvis Costello's Armed Forces signed by Jimmy Nail (both good stories, but not to concern us here).
Today's fan letter was to Chip Taylor. Who? I hear you ask. Well, put simply Chip Taylor is the man who wrote Wild Thing and Angel of the Morning. I first became aware of his particular brand of Americana (ok, country music) when my Dad bought a CD called "Chip Taylor's Last Chance" and played it one Sunday morning. It turned out this was one of the great long-lost albums, which he had encountered at University, but lost track of thereafter. We went to see Chip in Aberdeen in 2001, and after that he became one of the things that got me through the hell that was the pre-Apollo days with a certain large semi-public distribution company. In the years since I've seen him again in Edinburgh at the height of the Apollo deluge in 2002 and, remarkably and coincidentally, in Texas in 2004. And now Chip is coming to Edinburgh, to within five minutes of my front door, and the tickets are booked and the fan letter was written to let him know how much I'm looking forward to it, and how much I've enjoyed his music.
The truth is, though, that Chip is only one of many, many of my favourite musicians who I have been introduced to by my Dad, his list is the hipper end of my taste (The Beatles, The Band, early Rod Stewart, Dylan etc.) but he's never been too disparaging of the artists I like that her thinks are massively over-rated (Bryan Ferry, Steely Dan and, of course, Lord Paul of McCartney - First Duke of the Alofted-Thumb) and he's never berated me too much for buying music and enjoying it. I think in his own cynical and grumpy way he still enjoys music with the same wonder he did when he was younger, the same way I do.
So, thanks Chip, but most of all, thanks Dad.