A young Jonny Cragg on the drums.
A young Jonny Cragg on the drums.

Flowers for Agatha

SEATTLE – It is September 1979. I am in high school in Horsforth, a suburb of Leeds, England. My friend Pete had the kind of drum kit every young rocker dreams about – a black Premier Elite with a full battery of single headed concert toms (very Phil Collins).

He was already playing gigs at parties around town with his band and at one of them, I got horribly drunk, staggered home and threw up everywhere. My dad promptly called up Pete to chastise him for my behavior; something we still laugh about now. I guess my parents clocked him as a bad influence, and they were right in a way.

At the time we were both listening to a lot of Rush, Black Sabbath, Led Zep, Thin Lizzy and other hard/prog rock groups.

With money saved from a paper round I bought a battered chrome Tama Swing Star kit. I liked it because Stewart Copeland played Swing Stars. Once it was installed in my bedroom, I decided it was time to join a band. Sometime in 1982 I answered an ad placed on the notice board at Jumbo Records.

I met the singer, Jon, shortly afterwards. He described himself as an anarchist and was studying politics at Liverpool University. I had never met an anarchist before, and I was intrigued. Jon instructed me to stop listening to Rush because of their admiration of Ayn Rand, who was a fascist. Jon then made me a cassette sampler of Joy Division, The Cure, The Monochrome Set and Echo and The Bunnymen. This cassette became my template for the musical journey I was about to go on with Jon.

I was now in the sixth form studying A levels and we had just read a short story about a dying man called "Flowers For Algernon." I adapted the title to name the band Flowers For Agatha. I was starting to sneak out to the clubs and something else was happening in the city: Goth.

My first ever gig was in a pub called The Packhorse on the edge of a park where the Yorkshire Ripper would take his victims. I was nervous as hell, (not because of the Ripper) but because my parents showed up to chee…

Read more...