True Stories

Just recently I received a phone call from a Pregnant Lady who informed me that very soon she was going to give
Birth and would like to purchase my CD THE INNER UNIVERSE 1 and for it to reach her before the event occured, so within half an hour I shipped the CD by Express Post.
But have not yet heard what arrived first - the CD or the Baby.

A few years ago on hearing the Theme music to a German News TV programme
I wrote these words: "Hello .. BOOM BOOM who's killing who?"
But I have not submitted the text to the TV Station
as I have the feeling they would decline from using it.
(Incidentally for some time now I do not look or listen any News Programme,
and since the mid 70's have not read any Newspapers or Magazines and
strangely enough I seem to be surviving)

During a recent conversation, Tina (Bob's wife) mentioned that they had been together for 32 years.
Bob replied "Some murderers only get 15 years"

In 1969 Bob began forming various music ensembles but finding a name for his
music proved to be difficult.
His friend and drummer Denis Smith came up with "Bob Downes Open Music"
as he was well aware of Bob being influenced by various styles of music and cultures
and also taking the freedom of searching spontaneously into any musical direction.
In the 80's Bob moved to the South of Germany.
There he dropped the term "Open Music"
as it only seemed to confuse the people there and stir up a fear in them of the "unknown"
(Possibly the same reaction has occured with others in the world)

Bob has neither read any newspaper or magazines for the last 38 years,
nor has he listened to the radio for at least 15 years, but from Jan 2007 he even decided to
quit watching the "News" on T.V., finding the sensational entertaining on account of
peoples misfortune unbearable.

After eating a wonderful meal in a Chinese restaurant in Glasgow, I beckoned the waitress to my table
and asked her if she accepted "American Express"?
She replied "No, but we have "Canada Dry"

Twice I've eaten Chinese food in Germany ... NEVER AGAIN !

Whilst waiting for a meal to be set before me in a Chinese restaurant in
Edinburgh, a great argument between 2 cooks
>from the kitchen played havoc on my ears. After 5 minutes of this I took to my lips
my Chinese bamboo flute that I happened to have with me and played a
traditional Chinese melody. The next moment there was two smiling faces at the kitchen doorway.
When I finished playing, they went back to work and began talking amiably to each other.
The food was delicious!

On the way to a gig I suddenly realised I had forgotten my microphone stand,
so I quickly popped into my Chinese friend's music shop.
"Ray" I said "Do you have a mike stand?"
Ray looked thoughtful for a moment and then said
"Mike Stand? don't know him!"
Incidentally if you're ever in London you must visit his amazing shop.
RAY MAN, Eastern Musical Instruments
54 Chalk Farm Road
London NW1
Tel. 20 7692 6261 (about 300 meters from Chalk Farm Tube station)

In the mid 60's Bob was in a Royal Air Force band (worst experience he's ever entailed)
On one occasion the band was returning on a ferry from Belfast to Liverpool and they
were all sitting in one of the rest rooms attired in a dreadful uniform, when an Irish woman
approached Bob and said that she would like to "read his hand".
The outcome of the reading was that Bob would become successful and well known.
The rest of the band clamoured around her wishing to have their hands read also,
but she refused them all, and went out on to the ship's deck.
A short time later Bob seeked her out and found the woman staring over the sea.
Not wishing to disturb her, Bob returned to the rest room.

Here is an example of English snobery:
In the early 70's a magazine called "Music and Musicians" (predominantly classical music)
was approached to make an interview with Bob, only to be told:
"How can a person with a name like "Bob" be a serious musician"
Not long afterwards the flautist James Galway (known as Jimmy to his friends) had an article published by them where he stated Bob Downes was one of his favourite flautists,
how annoying it must have been for them to print such a disgusting name!
The "London Contemporary Dance Theater" must have been aware of this attitude of
some people as their Artistic Director and principal choreographer was always listed
as Robert Cohan (known as Bob to his friends) Bob Downes composed and
played "Live" with the company for 10 years.
But the "London Jazz Society" did not approve of this.
Hence Engagements from them were shortcoming!
Incidentally the Jazz musician Johnny Dankworth changed his name to John Dankworth.

In the summer of 1979 Bob was booked to give a solo concert in Vienna.
When he arrived, there were Punks smashing things up outside, just missing him and
his wife driving around with an oldtimer Mercedes to find the place of venue.
A Punk band had moments before finished and left the theater in which Bob's performance was going to be. Bob went on stage and began playing the flute for the people who had come to hear him, but some punks had remained and were throwing unsavoury comments at him. He went down to them and asked "would you like to hear some punk flute?"
They nodded their heads in bewilderment, Bob put the flute to his lips and began ferociously spitting over the mouthpiece into their faces and in close pursuit of Bob still spitting, they hurriedly left the building. A short while after, a youth who had been sitting on the floor came to the stage and threw a long thick branch of a pine tree at Bob and then returned to his place. Bob took a bag of confetti out of his sax case, went to the culprit and emptied the entire contents on top of his head. As the guy was too much "out of it" to realize that it had stayed there in a pyramid shape, the audience of course broke up in laughter. The youth, who incidentally was not a punk, sat there defiantly for several minutes, looking even more stupid as time passed by. But suddenly he decided to leave, still not aware of the confetti on his head which as he walked fluttered about him. Bob back to normal, continued with his programme but to the surprise of the audience a young man hopped on stage and sat in front of Bob facing the audience. He began swinging from side to side with a mild smile on his face for a full ten minutes while Bob to the excitement of the audience played two saxophones simultaneously direct into his left and right ear. What a fan!
To crown it all another young man came upon stage and sat motionless behind a drum kit which was obviously forgotten by the punk band. Bob checking from time to time, whether he was still there, had the idea to give him two spare sax slings of which he flayed at the cymbals with. (Actually, Bob said it sounded quite interesting)
Ironically the very next day at the Munich Opera House, Bob celebrated, elegantly dressed in a dark blue velvet suit, together with the cream of Munich culture the Premiere of a Ballet of which he was the composer.. Sipping on a glass of champagne, the swooning crowd around him stared and whispered "That's the British composer". To fulfil their phantasies he strode around the foyer acting out the part of a Gentleman, which could easily have been a character in a novel of Charles Dickens, but thinking to himself "they should have seen me yesterday!"

In the 80's Bob held flute workshops in Munich, Berlin, Amsterdam etc.
One time a lady pupil of his had fixed him up with a Workshop in Vienna and when he turned up at her flat he was greeted with a customary glass of wine.
After a while he asked her where he was to stay for the next 3 days.
"You'll be staying in a flat with 5 young women" she replied.
Bob attempted to no avail to get his now wide open eyes back to normal and to lick away the saliva that was drooling from the corners of his mouth by the sheer thought of it.
But when he arrived, he soon discovered that the occupants of the flat were Lesbians.
But never mind, they made him really welcome and turned out to be some of the nicest people that he's ever met.

"In the summer of 1968 I was on Brighton Pier (England) and out of nowhere
I felt from head to foot a mesmerising sound as if sung by a great choir.
Looking up into the clear blue sky I spotted a small white cloud and projecting from
the left side of it was a silver, cigar-shaped object.
On looking to the right of the cloud I expected to see the tail, but there wasn't one.
I said to my wife Carol "There's an UFO up there! "Whereabouts?" she asked.
As there were so many people wandering about with "Kiss me quick-hats"
on and eating candy floss, I suggested we should walk another few yards
to the end of the pier where there was less human activity taking place.
There we looked up together, but the UFO and the white cloud was no longer to be seen.
I checked the beach where people were sunbathing, expecting to see wild excitement, but nothing!
Several months later I began to live by my music only."

"The worse coffee I've ever drunk was in Brasil and the worse steak that I ever ate was in Argentina."

After I had taken a sax solo on a recording session of some Reggae music (London 1970's) ,
I was called to the control room.
I sensed that something was amiss and asked "What's up?"
"Bob, your solo was too good" the producer replied.
"Too good!" I thought, "what shall I do about that?"
... got my thick woolly gloves, put them on in the front of the
stunned producers eyes, went back to the studio and played my solo again with them on.
After the "Take" his voice was heard over the loudspeaker system saying "That was perfect!"

In the late 60's Bob played with an all black Band ,
one of their Gigs was in a West Indian Club in Brixton,
relationships between white's and black's was a bit unstable at this time
(Bob was the only white man in the club)
in the pause Bob went to the toilet and whilst there a huge Jamaican walked in,
Bob thought to himself "This looks like curtains for me"
The giant looked at Bob with a great toothy smile and said "hi" (not high),
Bob greeted him likewise but still made a dash for the exit!

Bob composed a song for Gregory Corso (Beat poet) and sang and played it on
Alto-Saxophone on a poet-festival in Amsterdam.

                                                                GREGORY CORSO
Words and Music
                                                                    ©Bob Downes 1982

“Gregory Corso wouldn’t twist his torso for a can of coke, he's that kind of bloke,
is Gregory Corso but give him a toke and that will make him feel ok.
Give him a Brandy that will make him feel dandy, would Gregory Corso…”

When Bob came of stage Gregory came towards him raving away,
reached out to shake hands with Bob... and missed.

When Bob went on gigs with the John Barry 7 they travelled in a 50 seater coach
(or thereabout’s) which meant no fear of having to sit on the wheels,
plenty of space to walk about, and lots of different seats to lounge about in.
But Bob did consider it a bit extravagent though.

Bob used to take out a gun and shoot the Bass player
who would fall to the ground and carry on playing
(but the audience weren't convinced that he was dead)

The Gig the Manfred Mann’s Earth Band did,
Bob was on Tenor-Sax there was also Trumpet and Barritone Sax in the “Front Line Up”.

15 minutes before the gig was to begin Bob asked Manfred
if he could have a glance at the Band Parts.
Manfred said that there weren’t any!
When the Band began to play, Bob created Riffs for each song, the Trumpet and Bari followed him.

In the 80`s Bob gave Flute Workshops and at one of them asked his customary question of
"have any of you had any musical experience"
One young Lady said that she had played with an all male Band but that they only wanted her for her organ, to Bob's relief it came to light later that she meant her Keyboards

Bob took up playing Sax around the age of 19 (with no prior knowledge of music)
he started to improvise and compose the moment he played and had to make up his own music notation.
6 months later he played in a Dance Band and took a Solo on "Tequilla! which went down a storm
with the audience. (Bob was fired after the gig!)

Bob's Tenor Sax mouthpiece has been almost eaten through (from playing Rock Music in the mid-60`s)

"A little bit of madness helps to keep me sane"
                                              Bob Downes 1995

"Dawn was breaking as Pop singer Chris Andrews ("I'm your yesterday Man" Fame)
and I approached the outskirts of London in his car after a gig that had taken place
somewehere in the Midlands.
I said to Chris: "What's next with you"?
He replied "I'm in the studios at 10 am with Sandy Shaw, with a new song.
"How's it go Chris?"
"I haven't written it yet"
So I said "I guess that'll be the first thing you'll get down to when you get home"?
"No, he said, I'll get 2 or 3 hours sleep first"!
(Incidentally, Chris sings the Blues extremly well)

Another time Chris and I were together in an Indian Restaurant in Notting Hill,
when we saw a waiter trip and empty a large dish of chicken vindaloo over a customer
as he was on his way to the loo.
In one second the whole surface on his back was transformed from white to brown.
(Stifling our laughter was painful)

This is also Bob Downes!