By Pete Chambers
Farewell Doc Mustard
We said goodbye to one of Coventry’s most colourful musical character of the 80s and 90s last week, the enigmatic Doc Mustard, who regularly busked in the city centre with penny whistle in hand dressed in bizarre glasses and outfits with his dog Paxo by his side.
He would drive the local shopkeepers to distraction having been forced to hear the same carol for the umpteenth time!
Doc Mustard or (Roland Oliver or ‘Ollie’) was born in Two Dales, near Matlock in Derbyshire on 23rd March 1954. He was packed off to boarding School in Gt Crosby, Liverpool. The boarding school was an environment of fear and longing. During the first years, TV was denied and so music was the only escape.
On leaving school, bands like Cream, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and Jimi Hendrix were influencing Ollie enough to make him pick up an instrument and do the same.
In 1973 he joined the Matlock group The Doughnut Band on bass, then moved to Coventry to join the band Smack.
From there, he joined the very forward-thinking band The Machine who featured on the Sent From Coventry Compilation album with the song Character Change.
By 1982, they had become Hot Snax (band members included Michael Collins, Julian Bell, Jim Pryal and Tony Clarke).
Here was a unit that were focused enough to be able to add some interesting touches to their music. Sometimes it worked, other times it flew past the mark, but watching The ‘Snax’ was always a learning experience, and I don’t recall them ever playing to an empty room!
They even secured a support slot with Bad Manners and came first (along with three others) in a Mercia Sound Music Competition. It looked for a while like they would be the next big thing to emerge from the city, but fate had other ideas, and depressingly the band left the scene with a whimper rather than a bang.
He emerged from Hot Snacks and concentrated on writing songs in a vein, which can now clearly be construed as Eco-Rock.
He teamed up with Jerry Richards and became Doc Mustard and the Colbart Kid and released the single Nuclear Boogie and later became a part of another great Cov band, reggae rockers The Ring, as well as part of The Stoker setup with Steve Ashwell.
He said a few years ago: “I didn’t want to end my days in Coventry so in September 1991 I moved to West Cornwall as Chilli Dog Slim. As technology marches on I’m fortunate enough, thanks to wicked computer music creation software, to be able now to record again the songs I first wrote as a streetwise Cov cruiser back in the eighties.”
RIP Ollie, we shall never see his like again.
All The Car’s A Stage
All The Car’s A Stage continues next Saturday at the Coventry Music Museum with Chris Sidwell of Crokodile Tears fame at 12 noon. Thanks to Morocco Dave whose piece last week ‘Ghost Town Variations’ was as spine-tingling as it was atmospheric.