Rod Jones

Born in post-war Derby, I had no special talents or inclinations apart from a bit of an aptitude at drawing and painting, a bit of an interest in electronics, and the ability to do a fair imitation of Eccles in the Goons. I had piano lessons for two years but didn't have the patience.

I'd known Tony since we were small kids, but we lost touch in my early teens. Then around 14 years later, and now married to Lin, we were on a visit to my family in Derby, and I decided we should drive over to Tony's parent's house in Derby and see if anyone remembered me from half a lifetime ago (mine at least). His mum, dad and sister were surprised and pleased to see me after all those years, and explained that Tony was in London studying for a PhD in geology. Since we were on our way back to Sussex, we decided to pop in on Tony at his pad in Fulham. We were greeted by this bearded hippy, who said something like "bloody hell" when I introduced myself, and invited us in. We met Caroline and John and spent the evening, not so much reminiscing but catching up, and finding to our mutual surprise that we still had loads in common. A very pleasant evening even though our cat crapped under a table (did I mention the cat?). The fact that we were able to rekindle a childhood friendship goes to prove that at least sometimes, you can go back.

Tony, Caro and John had of course made the "All on the First Day" album about the time we re-established contact. By 1973 they were keen to get the band (by this time, augmented by Simon Burrett and Jonny Owen) on the road. Coincidentally, Lin and I were returning to London about this time, and so I was asked to become their mixer man. I prided myself on being able to recognize talent when I saw it, but nevertheless still joined Forever and Ever. There followed several months of draughty band practices in various rooms around University College London where Tony was studying. Eventually FEE went on the road, and had a number of successful gigs at UCL and other college venues.

But then came the alleged electrocution attempt. We were half way through a May Ball in a large auditorium, when for no readily apparent reason, Tony somersaulted off the stage and into the front row of the audience. "Bloody prima-donna" was my initial reaction, but what had apparently happened is that the earth on Tony's amp had gone live. Simon's amp, connected to Tony's through the mixing desk, suddenly started buzzing, so I disconnected it little realising that it was providing the best earth to Tony's amp. A well-grounded Tony (holding the microphone) suddenly found himself holding on to a 240 volt supply (his guitar strings) with his other hand. The fall broke the contact, but fortunately nothing else.

I continued to pursue things electrical, and in 1976 built myself a monophonic (only needs one finger) synthesizer, which I felt would be great for simulating the sound of the explosions at the end of the Dambusters March, in case FEE decided they wanted to add this one to their repertoire. It's some measure of their approach to music that they did indeed decide to do a rendition of the Dambusters March, and so I was invited to join FEE in a musical capacity. I was also less likely to kill Tony this way.

This line-up continued until around 1978 and then careers intervened. Tony found himself in Scotland, Norway and Texas, I found myself in Minneapolis and California, and the band went into a bit of a hiatus. Then we all found ourselves with families and other distractions, and it turned out that Forever and Ever was no longer a gigging band. Over the next 30-odd years and until John's untimely death in 2005, we continued to record Tony's new tracks. And of course Tony, John, Simon and myself (and sometimes Jonny) would get together about four or five times a year for an evening's jamming and general over indulgence (as described in our eponymous track, "Ageing Hippies" on the Retrospect album).

In 2007, and now retired, Lin and I moved to France. In 2013 we moved southward again, this time to Andalucia in Spain, where I'm playing keyboards in a band called Jukebox Bandits.  Our multi-genre repertoire spans everything from folk to mainstream to indie. Gigging in the sunshine fantastic!