Tag Archives: Electric Babyland
Today I want to celebrate, if I can, the extraordinary secret life of my fellow librarian and baby rhymetime lead guitarist, Reggie ‘Dewie’ Watkins, pictured here in his objet emporium in Pimlico in the 1970s.
Watkins is a mild, unassuming type, often seen sucking on a peppermint or refilling cups at Grey Gables coffee mornings, thrusting herbal tea bags into the top pockets of the homeless, ‘have a drink on me,’ he says. Sitting dutifully with head in hands, while some old bore bangs on about the correct way to stew prunes in a Moroccan tagine, he zones out to the white noise between his ears.
In 1975 Watkins almost made it big with The Handjobs and their rifftastic single Manual Worker. Banned on every terrestial radio station for the explicit lyrics about minimum wage slavery and masturbation, the few copies pressed by the independent label Fetid Chinos rapidly became collectors items.
And yet here’s Watkins in the coffee morning advising on the best way to bake a potato or collecting funds for Blitzen the retired reindeer hoofing it up in the Totness d0nkey sanctuary. What turned the brilliant young guitarist into the mild mannered cataloguer of stock? Why does some one who loves noise (and often reports buskers to the local police) end up craving such deep-seated silence? And how the motherflippin’ heck did he get that guitar sound?
Christmas at Grey Gables and Baby Rhymetime was hanging in the balance. Brutal management decisions to forcefully sign up mothers with Starter Bear kits when they just want to boogie to our souped up version of Wheels on the Bus almost cost us our audience. Coupled to that the stock librarian and lead guitarist, Reggie ‘Dewey’ Watkins, was having a crisis of confidence.
We call ourselves Electric Babyland and today the children’s library was buzzing with Marshall amps and vintage Danelectro guitars. We built some Marshall stacks out of old cardboard boxes painted black with a tolex grill cloth and the familiar logo, ideal for ploughing into after a rousing version of The Grand Old Duke of York. Babies love to rock n’ roll, tottering until they fall over– it is only later in adolescence that they forget how to dance.