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GONZO WEEKLY #145: Jon meets Twink

I like the way that if you go to Twink’s website www.tweinktwink.com you are greeted by the message: “Having played with Tomorrow, The Pretty Things and The Pink Fairies, John ‘Twink’ Alder requires no introduction to fans of underground rock.”

But for those of you who are not aware of the career of this legendary man: John Charles Edward Alder (born 29 November 1944), better known as Twink, is an English drummer, singer and songwriter who was a central figure in the English psychedelic movement, and an actor. Recently, while still recording as Twink, Alder has converted to Islam and changed his name to Mohammed Abdullah.

Alder was born in Colchester, Essex, England, into a musical family. His father's mother was a concert pianist and soloist. Alder has said he was always interested in music as a child.

Alder's career began in 1963 as a member of a rhythm and blues band from Colchester called Dane Stephens and the Deep Beats. After a year, the band evolved into The Fairies – Dane Stephens (vocals/blues harp), John 'Akky' Acutt (lead guitar), Mick 'Wimps' Weaver (rhythm guitar/fiddle – NOT the same-named organ player also known as Wynder K Frog), John 'Freddy' Gandy (bass) and John 'Twink' Alder (drums). In 1964 The Fairies recorded the single "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" for the Decca Records label. The Fairies were sometimes sent gifts and Alder, having long curly hair, regularly received bottles of Twink brand home perm lotion. It was at this time that he adopted 'Twink' as his stage name.

In 1965 Twink moved to London and lived in Chelsea. When The Fairies came to a halt, he joined a rhythm and blues/soul music band called The In-Crowd in August 1966, after its previous drummer had left the band. Other members were Steve Howe (guitar; later of 'Yes' fame), singer Keith West & John 'Junior' Wood (bass).

A few months later the band was renamed Tomorrow. The success of West's solo recording Excerpt From A Teenage Opera resulted in the band breaking up, leading to a one-off single by the short-lived 'Aquarian Age' (Twink & Junior).

In Joe Boyd's book White Bicycles he cites a Tomorrow show at UFO Club and, in particular, Twink's performance, as the zenith of 60's pop culture. Also, at UFO Club Tomorrow jammed with Jimi Hendrix.

At some point around early 1967, Twink completed a recording session with a group called Santa Barbera Machine Head, featuring two former members of Beat group 'The Birds' – Ron Wood and Kim Gardner (both later of 'The Creation', and also of The Rolling Stones and Ashton, Gardner & Dyke respectively) – and keyboardist Jon Lord (later of Deep Purple).

Twink replaced Skip Allen in The Pretty Things (alongside Phil May, Dick Taylor, Wally Allen & John Povey) and participated in the making of their classic album S.F. Sorrow. He was also a member of this group when they appeared in the Norman Wisdom film, What's Good for the Goose. He became noted for outrageous behaviour, such as climbing the speaker stacks and diving into the audience when the band performed at a free open-air concert in London's Hyde Park.

He recorded his first solo album, Think Pink, towards the end of his tenure with The Pretty Things. Supporting musicians were The Deviants, including Mick Farren (who produced the album), Paul Rudolph (who played guitar), Russell Hunter and Duncan 'Sandy' Sanderson; as well as Steve Peregrin Took (of Tyrannosaurus Rex); The Pretty Things' May, Povey, Waller and Victor Unitt; Viv Prince (ex-Pretty Things); John 'The Honk' Lodge (Junior's Eyes, Quiver); 'Junior' Wood and the enigmatic 'Pink Fairies Motorcycle Club and All-Star Rock and Roll Band' (the name taken from a story by Deviants manager Jamie Mandelkau, who may not have been aware of Twink's former band).

Now, forty plus years later, he has recorded a sequel. Now, I am afraid that it has to be said that most rock music sequels are mere shadows of their former selves (much like most long-awaited literary sequels). I was not particularly impressed by Tubular Bells II or Neil Young’s Harvest Moon for example, although the latter did have some nice moments. When I spoke to Twink eighteen months or so ago he told me that a sequel to Think Pink was in the offing, but I am afraid that I had forgotten all about it. So it came as a fantastic surprise the week before last, when I was still suffering from post Weird Weekend ennui, to find that the album was up and being streamed on Bandcamp.


And bloody hell, what a fantastic record it is.

So I contacted Twink on Facebook and asked whether he would like to have a chat about it...


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