Jones : 1964 to 31.07.1993
It would be wrong
of me to even attempt a tribute to Rob having never
met or spoken to him. My following of the group
didn't start until the early 90's by which time
he had already left the group and although, over
the course of time of doing the website, I have
come to hear lots more about him I feel it would
be better is this
page were left to two people in a far
better position to comment than myself.
The first tribute
has been compiled from excerpts of an article originally
written by Stuart Bailie for the September 11th
1993 issue of New Musical Express...
As memorial services
went, it was a strange one. Bob Jones' body was
still in New York, or maybe his second wife Jessica
had already cremated him, nobody was actually sure.
But Mary, Bob's mother, had done her best, and she'd
placed some flowers on the altar in the Kings Winford
parish church. Beside it she'd set up one of his
old acoustic guitars. Miles remembers that guitar
- Bass Thing had brought it around to his flat in
'86 and they'd written some of the early Wonder
Stuff songs on it. He must have left it at home
when he moved to America, and Miles could see other
people looking at the guitar too - members of the
Poppies and the Ned's - many of them choked up,
not sure whether to be happy or to cry.
But at least the
music was cheerful, anyway. There were a few hymns
during the service, for the sake of the family,
but Bob's old schoolmates had also arranged with
the vicar to play a cassette of the songs Bob used
to love. So when Miles walked into the church, he
heard The Pogues' 'Dirty Old Town'. And that was
followed by 'Sally MacLennane' and Miles thought,
hey, this is a bit up-tempo. Then the bassline for
'Ace Of Spades', the Motorhead tune, started up
and it was great. Everybody was looking around at
each other, thinking, 'This is fantastic'. It was
a classic Bob moment. When some people talk about
their deaths and they say 'Oh I don't want anyone
to mourn me, just be happy' - you know they really
don't mean it. But knowing what he was like, you
felt that Bob would have approved of this kind of
service. Which made it harder to take in a way,
because it was so personal.
Some people stood
up and spoke about Bob at the memorial service.
Les, The Wonder Stuff's manager, said a few words.
Bob's father died on Christmas Eve when he was five,
but his uncle stepped up to tell the story of how,
as a four-year-old, Bob had sprayed his wellington
boots gold - the first of many bizarre fashion statements.
As the congregation filed out of the church, they
played The Wonder Stuff's version of The Youngblood's
'Get Together'. Trevor, Bob's brother, had suggested
playing the song. Barring some demos for 'Never
Loved Elvis', it was the last time Bob had recorded
with The Wonder Stuff and it was also special since
the track starts off with his bass playing. Miles
was left sitting there in church reflecting on how
the group had picked out that song in '89 as a cover
version, mainly because they wanted a rousing hippy
anthem to play at Glastonbury and Reading that Summer.
And suddenly Miles was listening to the lyrics:
"Love is but a song to sing, and fear's the way
we die," and feeling the extra significance of it
After the service,
people were coming up to Miles saying "when you
do the fan club gig next, you've got to do 'A Wish
Away' and 'Piece Of Sky'." "Why?" he asked and they
said, "well 'cause of the words." And Miles said,
"Well the songs weren't written with that in mind,
you know." But a couple of days later, when the
group started to rehearse 'Piece Of Sky', which
they hadn't played in two-and-a-half years, Miles
found he was getting a bit choked with the words.
He was thinking, 'God, this is probably about him.
It was Bob's lifestyle that probably killed him.'
It used to be a
bit of a joke when the group toured, how the rest
of them would watch 'Nuts In May' incessantly on
video, and all Bob wanted to see was 'Sid And Nancy'.
They all thought it was the most depressing thing
ever, but Bob would say, "Oh, it's fucking brilliant!"
And then Bob even moved to New York, married the
girl who'd been Sid Vicious' closest friend after
Nancy died, who'd been with Sid during his last
The fact about
Bass Thing was that nobody could ever forget him;
every time he got involved with something, he'd
leave scores of Bob Jones anecdotes in his wake.
So after the memorial service, everybody went down
to his old local and started swapping their favourite
Bass Thing stories. The pub staff had put money
behind the bar, so they all got a bit tight. And
they heard that four days before his death, Tank
(Martin's brother and the Ned's manager) saw him
and he was brilliant - he had a foot high mohawk
and his group, The Bridge And Tunnel Crew, were
finally getting their dirty folk sound together.
Bob called it "Simon And Garfunkel with distortion
and attitude". He'd even been on holiday, lying
by a pool for a few days - the first conventional
holiday he'd had since his dad died.
Bob had also left
a message on Tank's answer machine in England so
they all had a chance to hear him in good spirits.
Bob was asking Tank to try and get some A&R men
along to see his group at CBGB's. Bob still had
that classic Black Country accent, even though a
few New York-isms had slipped in there, but what
was really amazing was that in the course of the
four minute message, there wasn't a single swear
word from the old hellraiser.
Adam from the Poppies
was howling with laughter. "What was so funny?"
the rest of them asked. "Well it was that guitar
in the church," Adam said. "Sure," they said, they
recognised it - "it was the one Bob had used back
in '86." "Well you know what the joke is?" said
Adam. "It wasn't even his - he'd borrowed it off
Chris Fradgeley, the original Stuffies bass player,
and never given it back."
second part of this tribute was originally written
by Charlie McCartan, long-time friend and occasional
sleeve-note writer. The article first appeared
in the December 1993 issue of Lambast, the group's
fanclub magazine. Charlie has since revised the
A Man You Don't Meet Everyday
Milo's asked me to do this appreciation
thing and I've not known where to start or finish.
So it's what it is, as it always will be and as
it is in the end. If you enjoy it, get me a beer
at the next gig. I'm the bloke at the back with
the short hair.
Dedicated to Mary. May your God shine upon you.
Rob and me lived
in the same street in Kingswinford, fuckin not Kings
Wynford, which makes it sound like some suburb of
Brum, all mock Tudor houses and beer boys on every
corner. Mind you, it is a bit like that these days.
Where Rob grew up was a 50's semi. Their house was
fairly standard, but it wasn't an estate where all
the houses were the same. To the left were bungalows
and what went on in them I never knew. Opposite
said bungalows was The Spinney. A hole in the ground
200-foot deep and at least 150 years old, though
we used to think it was something to do with the
Germans when we were kids. It was our play area
with tall trees and swings and banks you could scramble
down. Kingswinford, K'ford (pronounced kay-fud)
as all the locals call it, was right on the edge
of industrialisation and the Black Country. At the
top of our road was the woods and after that green
belt for miles. Our estate had been poppy fields
till someone got around to building on it, but further
out was an old community of wood-cutting, sand-digging
turnip eaters. Top place tho'.
If you make a pilgrimage,
drive about, not thru. Pull up the car and walk
up Cot Lane, see the park, The Mount Pleasant Tavern,
The Park Tavern - where the gaffer done a runner
with £6,000 and was caught in Tayside somewhere.
Bizarre. But then everywhere's got its stories if
you look for them.
pool all night, smoking menthol"
Our local was The Leopard down Summer Street and
I don't know why except that it was the pub your
mum told you not to go to. So that was us in there
then. The backroom, which doesn't exist anymore,
was our bit of The Leopard. Everybody was either
someone who went in the front or someone who went
in the back. If you went in the front you probably
owned a greatcoat and thought the lyrics on Yes
albums were really deep. If you went in the back
you probably owned a great fashion sense and had
made a mate's Yes album into an ashtray. Rob and
Alex, his best mate, followed their older compadres
into the back.
If you can imagine
a room with an 8ft bar, about 6ft space back from
that, then a pool table with benches 2ft away and
packed every weekend and no ventilation except when
the door opened then you get the idea. It was the
greatest atmosphere you can imagine. It was everything
that you could want when you're young - intimacy,
exclusiveness and that certain knowledge that no-one
was having a better time than you.
Rob was always
in the thick of things there, along with Malc (yes,
that Malc), Gray (and his burgundy piece), Chris,
Alex, the Peake brothers, Big and Little Newt (no
relation), Dave, Mark, Gray the Gas Board Man, Dave
Oakley, Joy, Allison, Ridgeway, Carl, Glen, Nick,
Jason and the many I've forgotten, including someone
called Bones. And belated sympathy to those people
who stuck their heads round the door of the back
room, in search of a quiet drink, as you do, took
one look and quickly disappeared to our delight
I remember side-burning
stares from the Newtmeister when you sunk the black
ball, 'Auntie' Sue (the landlady) telling you you
couldn't have another snakebite - Bulmers No 7 and
Pils, don't try it much at home kids. The drinking
days and walking down Summer Street at twelve on
a Saturday, cigs from Preedys, a coffee later in
the Townsend Precinct, looking thru records at Goulds,
a couple cans while sitting by the MEB's spaceship,
back in The Leopard drinking lager till the law
says stop, curry sauce and chips from the
every night and feeling that you could do this for
in love with Rock 'n' Roll, woah
He don't like his boring job, no"
Rob was in love with music. Punk rock was his first
love, as was natural to a right-thinking teenager
in the late 1970s. But if you love music you listen
and you hear other sounds. Rob dug stuff as far
apart as Motorhead blasting out Ace of Spades and
The Style Council's homage to continental style,
You listen to pop
music and it's all that black beat stuff at the
end of the day. Where will the bassist put in the
line that'll take the A-D-E song above the rest
and how did you do it, Bob? Oh sod it, you did it
and you did it good. And so the 'Stourbridge Scene'
came to exist in a few fevered imaginations and
things really took off. You know the story after
that. Rob could have had a career at Fry's Diecasting,
but then who was it who told Elvis to stick to truck
driving? Actually I think it was the boss of the
Grand Ole Opry, but you know what I mean.
Rob walked into
a pub and if you can imagine, it doesn't have to
be a pub, an office, a factory, just into your life
and it'd be a spark, sometimes just another, but
still a spark. If you have a friend like that treasure
them. And never be afraid of what you can't do,
cause there's so much that you can do. You can bring
a sparkle into people's lives. And when you do that
you're someone you don't meet every day.
If there is a Heaven
17, and I don't believe there still is, Bob's strumming
a Spanish guitar and being happy and working on
some lyrics. He lives in our memories. Live your
life, never shut your eyes, be free.