Sunday Mail Scotland (7.17.05)


John was my guitar hero..I miss him so much

By Billy Sloan

PUNK icon Siouxsie Sioux has revealed the secret sadness behind the biggest concert of her 29-year rock career.

She releases a new DVD on August 15 called Dreamshow, filmed at her first solo gig at the Royal Festival Hall, London, in October.

The ex-lead singer of the Banshees was joined on stage by her husband Budgie, one-time drummer with the now legendary punk band.

But another important group member was missing- Scots guitarist John McGeoch.

When Siouxsie, 48, was putting the concert together she planned to invite the talented Greenock-born musician to make a guest appearance.

But McGeoch died in his sleep on March 4, 2004, after a long illness, aged just 48. He is survived by partner Sophie and their daughter Emily.

Siouxsie told me: "When I was in the planning stages for the Festival Hall I thought of inviting John to play. The news of his death was very upsetting. I still have a great deal of affection for John. I really miss him. John was my favourite guitarist of all time."

In 1977, McGeoch became a founder member of hit punk band Magazine.

Three years later, he joined The Banshees and his unique guitar style defined their style.

The Scot also performed on hit records with Midge Ure in Visage, John Lydon in Public Image Limited and Richard Jobson in The Armoury Show.

In 1996, he was named by rock magazine Mojo as one of the 100 best guitarists. Siouxsie said : "John was easily, without a shadow of a doubt, the most creative guitarist the Banshees ever had. The work he did with the band was the best. He was an amazingly natural musician. John brought real inventiveness to our songs. He was able to interpret the undisciplined ideas I had and wasn't fazed by them at all. It's really sad he not around."

Siouxsie's Dreamshow DVD features new versions of classic hits Happy House, Christine, Spellbound and Dear Prudence. The singer is backed by an orchestra and Japanese drummers.

She said: "To reinterpret songs which didn't have orchestral arrangements in the first place made is so exciting and was an ambition fufilled."

It comes nearly three decades after Siouxsie- who was born plain Susan Dallion (argh) in London on May 27, 1957- participated in two of the most pivotal moments in punk rock history.

She was a member of the Bromley Contingent- a group of fans who followed the Sex Pistols from gig to gig. Her mates included Billy Idol and Banshees' bass player Steve Severin.

On September 20, 1976, Siouxsie made her debut as a performer at a punk festival at the 100 Club in London.

The Banshees performed an improvised 20-minute version of The Lord's Prayer. Siouxsie recalled: "I'd never sung in front of an audience in my life. It was thrilling and very frightening at the same time. As it was happening I forgot what I was doing and just got pulled along with the momentum of it all."

"In those 20 minutes, performing became totally addictive. I didn't have any songs of my own, so chose The Lord's Prayer as something to springboard from. I had three microphones. That's how sweetly na´ve I was. I wanted to be louder than anyone else."

The Banshees were invited to record a John Peel session for BBC and a buzz in the music press led to the group being offered a record deal by Polydor. Siouxsie first single Hong Kong Garden hit No. 3 in 1978. It launched her on an incredible 29-year career.

Last month, Siouxsie was given a Icon Award by Mojo magazine, beating fellow nominees David Bowie, John Lydon, The Ramones and Marc Bolan.

"The award was very flattering but I wasn't quite sure how to take it," admitted Siouxsie.

"I think once I start to get accepted I must be doing something wrong. I was in great company."

She's become a role model for female stars such as Shirley Manson, of Garbage, and Christine Aguilera.

Siouxsie said: "I also like the fact that more females are getting involved in music. I love Shirley Manson. I think she's incredibly intelligent, creative, and fantastic looking."

Mailfile- Life and times of Scots axe hero John McGeoch

IT came as no surprise when John McGeoch was named one of rock's greatest guitarists in a poll.

The Greenock-born musician influenced leading guitartists such as The Edge of U2 and John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers.

In 1977, McGeoch founded punk band Magazine with singer Howard Devoto. In 1980, he joined Siouxsie and the Banshees and his spiky guitar style proved perfect for the band.

"I was surprised to get the call," recalled McGeoch at the time. "We routined Happy House and they really liked my guitar line. That was the clincher."

But McGeoch fell foul of the rock lifestyle and his love of fine wines led him to quit the band. He said: "I was definitely out of control. I had a bit of burn out."

McGeoch later played with The Armoury Show, Public Image Limited and Visage.

When music magazine Mojo named him one of their 100 greatest guitarists of all time he was dubbed "the new wave Jimmy Page."

Anarchy on the TV-

On December 1, 1976 it was Siouxsie who sparked off a now infamous TV incident which caused outrage across the UK.

Supergroup Queen dropped out of a planned appearance on the London TV news programme Today, hosted by Billy Grundy.

When the show's producers asked EMI Records if they had a replacement act the label suggested a new punk band, The Sex Pistols.


Siouxsie lined up alongside singer Johnny Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones, bass player Glen Matlock and drummer Paul Cook in the Today studio.

The show was broadcast live and when Grundy- who made it plain he detested the group-asked Siouxsie for a date on air all hell broke loose.

The singer recalled: "Bill Grundy thought he would take the p*** out of the groupSand it seriously backfired. If you look back, Johnny Rotten was being a little bit coy. There was a point where he muttered the word s*** under his breath and Grundy said: 'What did you say?'

"When I said to him: I've always wanted to meet you', he actually took me seriously. Grundy replied: 'We'll meet afterwards, shall we?' Steve Jones took the p*** out of him and called him 'a dirty old f****r.' He sounded like Albert Steptoe."

Siouxsie added: "When Steve said that I thought 'bloody well right. Tell Grundy he won't see me later. He is a dirty old f****r'.

"The response to our appearance was totally insane. At the time it didn't seem any big dealS for us it was just free booze and sandwiches."

Within seconds, the switchboard at Thames Television went into meltdown as angry viewers called to complain.

Headlines screaming "The Filth And The Fury" were splashed across newspapers. Overnight, the Pistols became one of the biggest bands in UK rock history.

"The Pistols' manager Malcolm McLaren was nervously flapping around saying, 'Oh f*****g hell, what have we done? We've been stitched up'," said Siouxsie, laughing.

"We went back to the Green Room and every phone was ringing off the hook with angry complaints. We began manning the phones saying, 'F*** off, you stupid old gits'. It was hilarious."

Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.

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