Back in the late seventeenth century prior to the beginning of my career as a fat old man with all sorts of fascinating stories about the good old days when industrial music meant a gentleman in a wig reciting an amusing ode about serial murder whilst his accompanist rummaged around inside a harpsichord, I involved myself with the independent cassette scene. It began with an advert in Sounds music paper, and took me to all sorts of strange and wonderful if not particularly tuneful places. Still at school, every other day would see the letter box bulging anew with tapes, letters, and fanzines from all sorts of people all across the globe, and even the worst of them had more integrity in a single crappy C30 of some bloke moaning about Thatcher than in the entire run of America's Got the X-Factor in Their Eyes; and about half of those envelopes, once open, would invariably loose a pile of flyers for other tapes and fanzines onto my living room carpet, amongst them adverts run off on an old spirit duplicator for Big Banana Productions.
I met Steven Parsons, the man behind Big Banana Productions about a decade later. By then his tape distribution label had simplified to the less conspicuously wacky BBP Productions, and had expanded to the emission of vinyl records. I was playing guitar and keyboards in UNIT with Andy Martin, Dave Fanning, Nathan Coles, and Pete Williams, of whom the first two I initially encountered through that previously mentioned network of people like ourselves making and sending tapes, letters and fanzines to each other. We spent about a week in a studio in Brixton recording a pile of songs which BBP released on 7" vinyl as Richard Dawkins is Together With Us. That record still sounds good to me, and it was a very enjoyable week hanging out with Ian McKay - who had produced Skullflower and Ramleh amongst others; and Steve Parsons, or Gogs as he was known due to the glasses - who was there because he was paying for it; playing pool upstairs in the studio whilst Pete battered his drum kit into fragments; and finding myself ridiculously starstruck by a random encounter with Mark Perry of Alternative TV.
Anyway, I've just heard from Andy that Gogs died on Christmas Eve after the sadly typical lengthy battle with cancer. He wasn't my best buddy, anyone I knew particularly well, or even someone I've actually seen since about 1995, but that doesn't make his passing seem any less sad. He was one of those people who did stuff in an era when it actually required work to do stuff rather than just sitting there clicking on a mouse. He made the world a better place than he found it in some small way, and certainly made mine briefly exciting when the first copies of the UNIT EP turned up.
Rest in peace, matey.