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In Memoriam
Rob Jones
Martin Gilks

Rob 'The Bass Thing' Jones, 1989Rob 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 all.

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 days.

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."



The 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 article...

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.

                                                                        "Picture this.."
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.

                                                 "Playing 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 and derision.

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 Chinese every night and feeling that you could do this for ever.

                                                        "He's 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, Paris Match.

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.