Thanks very much to David Jackson for answering a few questions for us back in December 2000.

1] You were in a band called Heebalob in 1967 and sent a demo to Jon Anderson (from Yes); had he liked the demo do you think you might have ended up in YES?

DJ: I think he did actually like the Heebalob - but maybe he hadn't been thinking about working with a sax player - as Peter Hammill had.

2] Does a recording of the demo still exist?

DJ: Yes, I think I was once given a cassette tape of it - but I don't remember by whom - and I have completely lost track of it now.

3] Was there a Peter Hammill piece you rehearsed, that didn't work out?

DJ: Do you mean solo show - or solo on a recording? I can remember once trying to add something to a track that Peter said he would think about (it was playing an oboe part on soprano sax) - and he didn't use my track in the end. I wasn't bothered, as it was just reading his score - not my own ideas. Peter 99% knows what he wants and what he wants to try out. If I have reheared for a Concert or Tour, I've always done it.

4] How many times have you have been to the United States?

DJ: Once with VdGG 1976; once with my wife Nov 1999 to stay with friends: both times in New York (in '76 we drove down from Buffalo and Canada)

5] Was Nick Lowe a Van der Graaf Generator fan? How did that Brinsley Schwarz session 'in '74 come about? And is it coincideince that you play sax on a PH song 'Pushing Thirty' with a Nick Lowe reference?

DJ: VdGG - we were friends with BS - and we spent time (the 2 bands together) at their house in Northolt N London - we played alot of crazy football - and jammed all night long in different combinations - it was all the greatest fun! Nick must have liked us. 'Pushing 30' is unlikely to be just a coincidence as Peter is always 'on the case'
Peter's answer - "coincidence!"

6] Did you ever play in concert with Arthur Brown and other VDGG members [Early 70's].........

DJ: If the others did - I must have done. I do remember hanging out with Arthur in his room eating oranges (my wife Sue was there too.)

From Sean in Canada:

7] Would like to suggest a duo version of The Sleepwalkers with peter h - since they both seem to play the song solo infrequently! Or a release (of a Jaxon live show with vdgg pieces!

DJ: I have played Sleepwalkers with Peter at a few duo gigs - notably in Israel (86?) [note: probably '83 but will check]

We rehearsed this in the hotel - then at the gig. All good ideas but in no position at present to comply!

8] Any arguments over how you should play on certain songs especially with VdGG?

DJ: Discussions yes - I don't remember any arguments as such. It seemed that if I wrote something it could manage better without me - eg end of Lighthouse keepers

9]Are you going to release any new (or old ) music [your versions of vdgg songs, some of the great live stuff you have on tape? an outake from an individual piece left off H to He?

DJ: Not at the moment.

10] You're favorite 3 or 4 PH songs?

DJ: Not easy - not fair! But . . . Afterwards; My Room; Oasis; A Way Out;

11] Any PH songs you don't care for...

DJ: (One or two)

12]Can you tell us more about the jellybean tree and the echo mirrors etc... and your work in Wokingham (all referred to in the Southern Arts booklet).

DJ: Jellybean Tree is now Jellybean Eye - a switching system used with Soundbeam2 - used as a table or as 8 separate players - anywhere in the room.

Echo-Mirrors - 10 inch circular mirrors on stands - inside each is a mic - connected up to multiple SFX - used for voice or percussion (especiaslly effective with disabled/people with low self esteem)

Soundbeam - invisible elastic keyboard in the air

13] When and where was the first time you met pH?

DJ: At Judge Smith's flat during Heebalob period in London West Hampstead 1969; my son ended up nearby in the same road when he first went to London to work.

14] On or off stage....What's the most out of control you've seen ph?

DJ: I think he is always in control - of how out of conrol he is!

15] What pH song amazed you the most the first time you heard him play it....[guessing a demo...or just him playing]

DJ: Peter sang (and played gtr) - 'Afterwards' at Heebalob flat the day I met him. It was the most moving performance of any song in my life so far. Total commitment to the moment - and unforgetable!

16] How many live shows with Peter Gabriel [around '79] did you guest on?

DJ: Bath Pump Rooms; Aylesbury (Friars); Reading Festival - all in 1978/9 - I'm not sure if that's all - probably.

17] What's your favorite and least favorite VdGG gig? [Imagine Hemptsead '75 was the worst]-

DJ: Worst - was Hemel Hempstead at the time (after Italian heist of gear) - but having listened to a recording many years later - the playing was outrageously hot - so not sure!

Best - impossible. I remember a great moment in Basel when the rain stopped at a Festival and we played when no one else would risk it. It was very overcast - almost black in the afternoon - as I started my Tenor solo in 'Darkness' - a shaft of sunlight broke through the clouds catching me, the band and the centre of the crowd - everyone cried out!

from Sue in California:

18] How many train drivers hats do you own?

DJ: The famous one - there only was one. It was made in 1970 in black leather and suede by my then girlfriend 'Benny' - who wanted a hat like Guy's. She borrowed his to copy - and disgusted with the result - gave it to me. I did a bit of fiddling with it and ended up enjoying wearing it whilst playing - it kept back my waist length hair - and just felt like magic and very lucky for me

- I got on the front page of Melody Maker wearing it within days of adopting it! I became very superstitious about wearing it!!! It is now very old and frail - it's last outing being The Launch of The Box 3/12/00 - Incidentally it is actually lost as I write!!!!!

In 1990 on tour with Alice I found another good leather 'Dutchman' which only lasted 10 years; it's now split!. If I find the real one - it will be 30 this year!


19] Is there a "story" as to why PH`s first book Killers, Angels, Refugees is dedicated to you, Guy, Hugh, and Judge ?

DJ: I don't know. Perhaps we were Peter's close family at the time - and hopefully some of the inspiration to keep him writing.

20] Was it frustrating, driving trucks, knowing you're one of the better musicians on the planet?

DJ: I would seriously question - "one of the better musicians on the planet?" - but thanks. I needed money to feed my wife and babies and I had to pay the mortgage. It was quite a good period really - I was very fit (stopped smoking); I felt like I was my own boss; money and cheap company food was good; I worked 4am to 1pm so got home after lunch and played with my kids.

It was frustrating that my musical efforts (Long Hellos etc) came to very little attention during this period. Eventually I decided teaching would be a more worthwhile career as a follow up to my Psychology degree. I have always been fascinated by 'learning'.

21] Do you EVER think you`ll play in LA either with Peter or with another combo ?


Never played there - never been there!

22] When VdGG played in NYC, did you guys consciously know there would NEVER be another VdGG gig in the USA ? How did you particularly like or dislike the NYC show ? [it seems more out-of-control than the Toronto show 3 nights earlier.....


It was a great night with a big build up to it - it was very exciting and intimidating - we wanted to 'storm' NY - and in a way we did. It went very well - great reaction. We had no inckling it was going to be a one-off. We had big problems with the US Record Company which overshadowed everything in NY.

23] Were you a fan of the British scene that started with The Beatles? Were you a Beatles or Stones guy ? Kinks? Who ?


I was deeply impressed by Sgt Pepper (1964 University of St Andrews Dundee Scotland.) Up to then I always was aware of Pop and Rock, but I was crazy about Jazz first:- Sonny Rollins; John Coltrane etc

24] Was/Is there any albums/songs from The Beatles on that really did it for you ?

DJ: as above. I was grabbed by all of their hits. They were the most creative of any Pop group. Incidently, my son Jake Jackson now works as an assistant engineer at Air Studios in London (set up by and still under the directorship of George Martin)

25) I think The Long Hello projects as well as all of your "individual" works are great - ( hey, I`m a fan! ) - Had VdGG remained intact, is it conceivable that songs like "Dolphins" or "Brain Seizure" would have Hammill lyrics ? Did PH ever express ANY interest in any songs or albums that he had no part in?

DJ: Peter usually passed comments about things we did. He never suggested going backwards as there was always music/ideas to work on

26] Did VdGG ever cover any songs by other artists live ? Perhaps a Beatles tune or anyone?

DJ: Yes:- George Martin's Theme One (used to start BBC Radio One 1971) (see Q24) This was the only one we recorded. Other live stuff:- 'Dam Busters' (after a famous 2nd World War film); crazy Christmas music

27] What's the story behind the Pawn Hearts Inner Sleeve

DJ: Once while on tour in S. Germany, we woke up in a small town to find a statue of Storm Troopers outside our Hotel window. It looks much like this Inner sleave photo. The idea for the picture was 'Crowborough Tennis" a mad game we played on the table when we needed a break from rehearsing. We were bored silly - so jumped on the table for a silly opening of the games pose. This one only shot became the Inner sleave.

28] What VdGG song did you hope to play live- but never did ? If any.

DJ: We only played Lighthouse Keepers once for a TV Show; I loved the piece and would loved to have played it regularly to have got the 'meat' out of it.

29] Back in the VdGG heyday - mark I or II - when you`d go to a club where the "musicians" hung out - was VdGG a well-known entity amongst your peers? Were you a celebrity ?

DJ: Yes. It was very thrilling - although we took it for granted. In Italy in 1972 it was crazy. At 7am in the morning people would recognise you!

30] You guys were IT in Italy ? Did you ever meet and get to know Banco, Le Orme, or PFM? Were those bands interested in you? (I saw Banco and thought they were the "closest" I`d get to seeing VdGG). They were great - but they`re not English - and to me - that matters - a lot.

DJ: We were friendly with The Footprints (Le Orme) and some of the others. We particularly like Le Orme and played their music in the car a lot. I ended up working in Italy after VdGG - so yes we were well known , respected and even emulated.

31] And what do you think happened to ph's Italy audience--VdGG from thousands and now it's 400-600

DJ: They have grown old! - and found responsibilities and have forgotten their youth. Sometimes, parents introduce ther grown up kids to us. That is special.

From Noel Davis:

32]The trials of 'endurance touring' with VDGG were well documented at the time in song, interviews etc.... Are there any amusing memories David would like to share from the VDGG touring days ????

DJ: Far too many - I haven't the time: falling into a fountain in the Basle Hilton!; sitting under a bridge in Venice hearing fans sing my sax solos and backing - acapella;
playing death defying games with the band - frisbee, high-wall cricket.

33] Are you going to tour with Peter Hammill again; any chance of concerts in the USA-

DJ: Nothing planned at this time on either score - don't rule either out though.

From Steve in Missouri:

34] Have you ever played Soprano Saxophone, [Live?] and do you have any plans on any future recordings using it?

DJ: I have been playing soprano since 1974, when I bought one after an Italian Tour with Alan Sorrenti. I played it on World Record and all Generation II VdGG. I used it on all Solo projects since Long Hello (Vol 1). My Soprano is Yamaha Soprano Sax No 2 (a bit special! - a bit magic!)

35] Were your parts on "The Future Now" done at his house.. The one with no heat? How cold was it?

DJ: Cannot remember the temperature. We worked hard; there was a lot of humming equipment and we and it 'generated' a lot of heat. Who says it was freezing?

36] Any Ph solo songs that you wish you had played on?

DJ: There are PH songs I love and have played live versions of. That is enough. What happens in the studio for first and definitive versions is what happens. You can't change that!

37] How did the Play Away 'King Arthur' children show come about, and will an official studio version ever be released?

DJ: Just a TV thing. Ask PH, I know nothing about this - though I loved the music!

38] Did the PH duo shows in Greece and Israel have a different audience atmosphere than some of the other duo shows or concerts in Europe?

DJ: Isreal was the most moving ever! It was the first trip to Israel and every one had come from all over the Middle East for all 3 Concerts - and they knew all the words. At times, we just let them sing and sway away. We were determined to find new stuff every night and they still knew it all. Great atmosphere also in Greece - but Israel was amazing!

39] What were the biggest differences between recording in Maida Vale/Rockfield and Sofa Sound?

DJ: Maida Vale was BBC - and their very strick rules; all live, no overdubs!

Rockfield was a groove in the country with great studios and accommodation - real band As a family atmosphere. + a lot of interesting visitors: other Rock legend etc eg:- Motorhead.

40] On the pH solo albums, are the songs nearly finished when you record your parts?

DJ: It varies. Sometimes I'm there at the very beginning; sometimes "I'm the icing on the cake!" A lot is luck and when we are both free.

Sometimes Peter wants me first. Sometimes he hides everything else, so I cannot be influenced by other musicians. He is cunning - and never predictable!

DJ: end of answers

PS. I did find the hat after a long search - hidden in a secret compartment of a gig bag!

As Sue (my wife) & Peter who was here overnight said - "You haven't lost it - that's just impossible!" - And so many tried to steal grab it from me as I ran off stage - or offered me silly money in Italy so they could display it in their Ristorante!

Another story for you:-

About "Anvil Rings" my forthcoming Concert I was asked by The Anvil Basingstoke to work last year at Lord Mayor Treloars School near Alton. That day, someone delivered 4 enormous boxes full of incredible bells - a gift from an unknown benefactor.

A seemingly wonderful idea - but hardly any of these children, though very clever, would ever really control handbells. To avoid a possible sale, I came up with a plan to write something for the bells and my Soundbeam Rig - to be played by another school in a collaborative project.

We called the bells "The Stockham 86" There were 86 and they were dated 1876 and in amazing condition and in pairs! The Anvil decided to commission the music and a grand Concert in the Colluseum format!

Feeling grateful, I decided to research anvils, and whilst on the North Yorks Moor, I got excited about the Yorkshire tradition of "firing the stiddy" - setting explosives inside an anvil and igniting with 20 foot red hot pole. This is done - typically when the squire has a first born! This could even rival Arthur Brown!

So we had to have an anvil! - but The Anvil had lent theirs years ago - and now it was lost. I set about buying my own. Whilst at The Maltings in Snape (Suffolk!) on New Years Eve, the antiques lady, Caroline, said a man had just phoned saying he had just come back from Florida to sell his business - and it included an anvil. She said she didn't do heavy stuff, so he rang off - without leaving a number. Frustrating or what!

Well I disappeared into the site. Some time later Caroline tracked me down and said - he had rung back, was on the line - and did I want it - £50 - Done.

At 11 o'clock on 1/1/01 - I met the anvil. Caroline had told the would be Florida man that it was for disabled children to whack in a Concert. The retired blacksmith had spent New Years Eve making a stand for it so they could saftly do this at the right height! It is stunning - and plays an A440 - which is useful in music!

With just a few weeks to go to the Concert, we decided to invite the mystery Bell benefactor to the Show - and told him all about the kids from Treloar's and Vyne Community School and The Anvil Basingstoke, my Suffolk anvil and how they were all loving the project - all inspired by his fantastic gift.

Well Clifford Riley, of very senior but unknown years, has just written back saying - he is so disappointed he is now so frail that he cannot manage the trip from near Huddersfield. He explained how the bells had been originally found in a "clapped out state" and were given to him because of his special skills. He spent 5 years of his retirement refurbishing bells - and used them extensively - and now could no longer manage them.

It turns out that Clifford Riley - like his father before him - was a Blacksmith!

We shall not be "firing the stiddy" after all - unless Clifford Riley can come and show us how!

David Jackson 14/2/2001

Anyway guys, Jim (in Arizona) & Sean (in Canada) & Scott (in LA)
and Noel Davis (in hiding!)

Best Wishes,

David Jackson

Thanks also to Sue in California, Steve in Missouri, Jens In Europe

Some of the questions.