As a young man I became accustomed to rock stars dying, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Ronnie Van Zandt ( the latter of whom I saw play live) most notably. It seemed distant, and there was always so much more coming to replace them. Like a teenage romance, they were quickly replaced. As old age beckons the conveyor belt of deaths amongst my musical peers increases. News of their demise tugging at my shirt tails. Now it is less about their musical greatness, more about the little patches they occupied in the tapestry of my youth.
Barrie Masters was not the greatest singer, or frontman. Eddie and the Hot Rods were not the greatest band. Indeed there was no “Eddie”. But as a teenager, the jingly jangly, Byrdsesque guitar on their hit record , “Do Anything You Wanna Do” was irresistible. News of his death, aged 63, stopped me for a few moments. The words, the sentiment, empowered me as a teenager, and now he is gone. It was no accident that their two other best songs were “Quit this Town” and a cover of “Get out of Denver”, great teenage records.
I saw them live in 78 at Leeds Uni. It was a difficult time for them. They had earned their spurs as a first division pub rock band, then had to weather the punk explosion, which they didn’t achieve. But headlining, that night, they were terrific. Masters was a consummate performer, prowling the stage, and eking every last ounce of energy out of “Do Anything…”, with the terrace style handclap for the chorus a visceral means of communication between fans and band.
Although they didn’t achieve much else, other than being a respected live act, no mean accolade itself, somehow they mattered, Masters mattered, their hits mattered. And now Barrie has quit this town for the final time.