There is nothing left in this world that will surprise me any more. Nothing. How do I know this? Well, my football team Manchester City has become the richest club in the world overnight. That dishevelled donut Boris Johnson is the most powerful man in London. And Steve Kudlow is a superstar.
No, honestly, he is. Just because his name might not be immediately familiar to you makes no odds. So if Steve Kudlow isn’t ringing any bells, try Lips. Or Canadian heavy metal band Anvil. Or the film ‘Anvil, The Story Of Anvil’. There you go. You got it now. Steve Kudlow is the star of the cult film of the last 12 months, the tale of unbreakable friendship between two guys whose love of rock and roll is only matched by their love for each other – and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
I haven’t seen the movie yet. Give me a break! It’s only released in the UK on February 20. But I’ve seen plenty of clips on t’Internet and have read enough reviews to know that the buzz on the movie is immense.
I’ve been asking myself where I went wrong on this one. After all, the film’s director Sacha Gervasi was a young gumby in England just like me back in the early ‘80s. Just like me, Sacha hung with Anvil, though in his defence it sounds like he did a lot more humping of cabs than I did. And just like me he became friendly with Lips. Dammit, why the frak couldn’t I have become the award-winning director of a film about Anvil?!
Possibly, just possibly where I went wrong was in failing to write the blockbuster movie ‘The Terminal’ for director Steven Spielberg and star Tom Hanks. Sacha did that, which doubtless opened a few doors for him to make a brilliant film about Anvil. I guess I was just too busy headbanging…
But never mind. I can easily forgive Gervasi his stroke of good fortune for one particularly good reason. His success means that Lips can finally get his just desserts after a life spent pounding the outer perimeters of metal.
Anyone with half a brain can see that Lips is truly, madly and deeply for real. The loveable old fool never gave up and never laid down his guitar – though I do think the codpiece he used to wear back in ’83 might have rusted up by now. But I also know that Lips is for real simply because of the immense kindness he showed me when I visited North America for the very first time back in 1983.
I was 19, at the outset of my career as a rock writer, and desperately wanted to visit the continent where most all of my heroes hung out. So much so that I forked out whatever the cost of the flight was myself from my meagre Kerrang! freelance wages and plotted a trip with a pal to New York (where I stayed with Riot manager Billy Arnell), then up to Toronto to see rock and roll’s homeland first hand. Lips had promised we could stay at his flat up there in Canada – and he was absolutely as good as his word. His hospitality was first class, he couldn’t do enough for the two of us Limey fools, he never got the ache when we’d drunk or smoked too much of his stuff and then turned green in his living room and he even saved me from getting banged up the slammer, frankly a painful experience at any age.
While staying chez Kudlow and in a fit of extreme rock and roll behaviour I’d just been out to the shops. Well OK, that wasn’t very rock and roll at all. So in a desperate attempt to claw back some cred I decided to grab a cool one to swig back direct from the can on the way back to Lips’ place.
I might have thought I was worldly-wise. In fact, I was as spiritually green as I’d been physically green up there in the apartment. Just as I stepped back into the yard outside Lips’ apartment the air was filled with the sound of sirens wailing as two cop cars screeched into view. Police officers spewed out of both vehicles and, like some low-rent version of Starsky And Hutch, I suddenly found myself pinned to the wall by two of Toronto’s finest. Frankly, I nearly pooped my pants. What the hell was happening? What in God’s name had I done?
Fortunately Lips was quick to take charge, calmly apologising to the officers and telling them that I no menace to society, but rather his dumb English friend who honestly and truly didn’t know that drinking on the streets of Toronto was an offence. “Next time I’ll make sure he bags it up, sir,” said Lips. Given his ‘good citizen’ demeanour, is it any wonder the police were immediately pacified and beat the retreat. I, meanwhile, suspect I beat a retreat of my own – to the bathroom and a quick change of pants!
Do you think it’s because Lips played the Good Samaritan that day that he now bestrides the world like a celluloid Colossus of heavy metal? Nah, I doubt it too. But to me Lips will forever be the guy who saved my ass in Canada all those years ago. And there’s nobody in the world happier than me watching him enjoying his day in the sun!
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HoJo rocked as a top journalist on legendary UK metal magazine
Kerrang! and now runs a way-cool rock T-shirt site at www.saltyrockz.com.