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Why I Fell Out Of Love With Twitter

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Why I Fell Out Of Love With Twitter


Twitter is a phenomenal force, a great power that unites, divides, angers, pleases and does so much more. And I have to be honest, since I discovered it a few years ago, I have been totally obsessed.

Strangely, it was my former ‘producer’ at Absolute radio, Davis, who first introduced me to Twitter. This was in the VERY early days. He showed it to me thinking we could somehow tie it in with the show. I looked at it, didn’t get it and did what I often do, dismissed it almost immediately.

A little while later, I saw that it had caught on a bit and tried to set up an Iain Lee account. Some cheeky little monkey had already set one up under my name and was using it as a bot, sending out tweets with anything that appeared on the internet with my name. I asked for the account back, and after some gentle persuasion, I got it.

Since then I have been tweeting constantly. I’ve found it hilarious at times to tweet my nonsense, and got excited as the number of my followers grew. I’m at nearly 31,000 followers. And for a long time, those numbers excited me perhaps more than they should.

But recently, some of you may have noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet on there. This didn’t start out as a conscious thing, it wasn’t planned, I just stopped having anything I wanted to say in 140 characters or less. Perhaps I was giving too much of myself, telling you stuff that I was doing because I was bored, or lonely, or for whatever reason. I don’t feel the need to examine it too much, I just know that the desire to tweet that much has gone for the moment.

Some of you will know that I get a lot of abuse on there. For a while it upset me, some of it has even landed people in court, but it hasn’t bothered me for a long time. I even retweet a lot of it to take the power out of the hands of the bullies. I’ll be honest, it isn’t nice having people call you a c word or whatever, but in the great scheme of things, it’s powerless over me. But I do choose now to not have that abuse delivered straight to my phone.

Yesterday, I tried an experiment. Everything I would normally tweet, I texted to my wife. So she was the only one to know that Samantha Brick held a door open for me, that I think I walked past Starburns from Community and that Vince Vaughn talks way too fast in The Wedding Crashers. Every time she complained, I retexted the comment back to her with a pithy comment ‘Who is THIS loser” type things. It was a lot of fun and I realised that a lot of the stuff I would have shared with her a couple of years ago, I was now sharing with a group of strangers. I am friends with about 3 of my followers on Twitter, real friends. I’ve had the pleasure to meet maybe 100 more of them, but the rest, I have no idea who they are. Why would they follow me? Because I used to be on the telly? Because I’ve been on the radio? Because my tweets are funny? Because sometimes I expose myself a bit too much on there? Who knows. I’m humbled that many people feel the need to follow me, but there is no real relationship. I follow some people because it’s polite for me to do so, others because it could be beneficial for my career. I am very rarely interested in what they have to say. Except for @adamhess1 who is a genius, and the only person who really knows how to use Twitter. I may unfollow everyone except him, that would make my timeline a real joy.

The kind of radio I have been doing for the last 7 years at Absolute and LBC, and before that for god knows how long, XFM, has quite likely come to an end. 7 years is a long time to be doing what is essentially the same style of show. I loved most of it and really feel that I, along with my callers. Took the baton from the likes of Tommy Boyd, Clive Bull, Danny Baker and Nick Abbott and ran with it quite some distance. In the end, we ran out of puff and I think I may have dropped the stick about 18 months ago. Don’t panic. Someone new will find it, pick it up and when they realise what it is, start running again. I don’t think anyone has found the baton yet, but they will, I’m confident of that.

The odds of me doing another ‘manic phone in’ as the Radio Times called it? Slim at the moment. The Pocket Radio Show came close, and series one was an absolute joy. I am really proud of what I achieved using my Mac and my spare room. Nothing groundbreaking, not pushing the boundaries much, but a lot of fun. And thank you for your help with that.

There are whispers and mumbles in my right ear that I may end up doing a completely different kind of radio show. A straight show. A serious show. One that doesn’t require comedy phone ins. If this happens, Vinny and Barry will have to find a new home. Don’t worry. They will. Andre moved on successfully, and came back reincarnated as Mark and often pops up on Five Live. It’s a joy to hear him sounding sober. 4 years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of doing a magazine style show, talking about ‘issues’ and having serious guests. In fact, I successfully spoofed this style of radio on LBC a couple of times. They’re fun shows, try and check them out. But now, as I approach 40, with 2 kids, a mortgage and a blank future in front of me, the thought of doing something different, of growing up actually excites me. Could I do a straight show? I’ve always said I could, and if the challenge presents itself, which it may very soon, then I am going to grab it with both hands and try my best. I might not manage it, in which case, I will restart the PRS and try and get a job ‘dicking about’ as I like to call it.

When this new direction does emerge, I hope you will join me for the journey. I know most of you will at the start, but when you realise there is no punchline, no sly wink to camera, that my tongue is nowhere near my cheek, I suspect most of you will fall by the wayside and yearn for the ‘good old days’. I’ve seen it happen with Boyd and Abbot, and it will happen with me. And that’s fine. Keep an eye out for that new relay runner. He’s coming soon.

What’s this got to do with Twitter? Well, this new incarnation won’t sit comfortably with Twitter. Certainly not in the way I have been using it, if at all. I’ll have to see if the new me will have a voice that fits the restrictive format of Twitter. I don’t know. And please don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a complete abstinence of it. If I think of a funny that I know you will like, I’ll probably share it with you. If I write something that I’d like to share with you (like this) then I’ll post a link. Twitter is a great way of getting a quick message out, so yes, I will be promoting the June Set The Agenda on there. Hell, I may be back on there tomorrow and this will all seem like pretentious twoddle. But today, I’m going to stay way.


Thanks for reading.


Iain Lee

Davy Jones 1945-2012

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Ah man, I feel terrible. One of The Monkees has died.

In the great scheme of things, I realise that this isn’t the biggest tragedy that could occur, but I am devastated. Absolutely gutted. I love The Monkees and always have done. They were my specialist subject on Mastermind. I grew up watching them and have been obsessed with them since I was a kid. I own everything they put out, most of the stuff they didn’t put out and everything in between.

I found out as I was putting my little boy to bed. As always, to try and get him to sleep, I was singing one of his favourite songs, Daydream Believer. I got a text and did a sneaky daddy look at my phone, while pretending my full attention was on the singing (the boy was half asleep, he didn’t notice).

‘Sad news about Davy Jones’

Oh shit. That generally only means one thing, but it came from so out of the blue that maybe it meant something else.

Another text.

‘Really sorry to hear about Davy Jones. How are you feeling?’

Shit. This couldn’t be what I thought?

Twitter confirmed the news. Davy Jones from The Monkees had died of a heart attack. The first Monkee to pass. I’m there, in my boys bedroom, trying to stifle my tears and sing him to sleep.

I’m not going to go into great detail about his life. You can read that elsewhere. Suffice to say he was a jockey, he popped up in Coronation Street, went to Broadway and became a Monkee. By the way Monkee haters, in 1967 they sold twice as many records as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones PUT TOGETHER? Now how’s about them apples?

I saw the Monkees live 4 times. The last time was the 45th anniversary concert last year. I turned to my wife half way through and said ‘this is the BEST concert I have ever been to’. And it was. They were all pushing 70, but had more energy and enthusiasm than I had seem in any rock concert before. This was proper showbiz.

I don’t know what else to say so here are some clips from Davy’s career.


Davy on the same Ed Sullivan show as The Beatles 1964|

On The Brady Bunch singing Girl|

Daydream Believer|

Singing Daddy’s Song from the film Head. Possibly my favoruite Davy clip|

Valleri. This was the song that made me buy my first Monkees record. Look at Mike struggling to mime the solo|

Macca sings The Monkees|


Also, here is a Spotify playlist of the 10 Essential Davy Jones Songs. Its a nice mix of the obvious and the not so famous. I hoe you enjoy. You can listen to it here. (I’m having trouble uploading this for some reason. I shall keep persevering.)




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I am a huge fan of Andrew Stone. He first popped up on the Sky One ‘documentary’ series Pineapple Dance Studios. It was a vehicle designed to launch Louis Spence into the mainstream, and in that respect it was successful. But for me, Stone was the real star. At first I was laughing at him, but as the show progressed, I began to see there was more to this man, a kind of sadness. He was desperate to make it, maybe too desperate, and I felt for him. I could see how important being a ‘star’ meant to him, and it was quite apparent he was never going to make it on his terms.

But, he has made it in some sense. He was recently on Celebrity Big Brother. Sure, he got kicked out first, but the fact he was asked means he has earned his place in British popular culture.

I’ve met him a few times, and while his eyes are constantly darting over your shoulder to see if there is someone behind you who can help further his career, I liked him. In fact, there is nothing wrong with that. If I’d had that attitude, maybe I wouldn’t be sat in my spare room now writing a ‘blog about Andrew Stone. Maybe I’d actually be working. How’s about them apples?

Yesterday, after being in the This Morning green room, and splicing a conversation I was having with someone (it was about Andrew) and overhearing a chance comment (‘I watched Romancing the Stone last night’) I came up with a fun game for Twitter. Let’s make up shows for Andrew Stone. My first one was of course, Romancing the Stone, where several girls take Andrew Stone out for dinner. The winner DOESN’T get to sleep with him.

I thought that would be that, but it turns out you were all up for a laugh as well and I had hundreds of replies. Some f them were absolutely hilarious and had me laughing out loud. I thought it only fair to share them with you as some of you eejots aren’t on Twitter! WTF! LOL. If you are, you can follow me on @iainlee

But I digress. Here are my favourite shows for Andrew Stone.



rop86 Geoff Crepes

@Iainlee “stone the crows” Andrew stone just hangs around with some crows innit #andrewstone



EllieJaneTaylor Ellie Taylor

@iainlee Stone Age. People guess Andrew Stone’s non-showbiz age #AndrewStone



MrAdamDolan Adam Dolan

@iainlee ‘Stoned’ – people throw stones at Andrew Stone. (Probably not much potential for a second season…or episode even). #Andrewstone



iainlee Iain Lee

Stone Alone – Andrews parents go away for Christmas and leave him at home to fight tiny burglars #andrewstone




glitterkitty70 Mrs A

@iainlee I’m a latecomer to this but have we done Stone Roses? Andrew Stone scoffs Christmas chocs until he’s sick #AndrewStone




Leppmix Andy Given

@iainlee Andrew’s Stone deaf. Andrew Stone runs a school for deaf kids and teaches them to sing. so many schananagans #andrewstone



paulclare Paul Clare


@iainlee Skipping Stone – Andrew is routinely overlooked for a multitude of roles and jobs #AndrewStone



stuartheron Stuart Heron

@iainlee (a retro one) Stone Mill – The new, bigger replacement for BBCs ‘Pebble Mill At One’ chat show with #andrewstone



mikeynma Michael Law

@iainlee Sly and the Family Stone – Sylvester Stallone stays with Andrew Stone’s family with hilarious results #andrewstone



EllisD666 Damien Ellis

@iainlee Harder than Stone- contestants take turns in proving they’re tougher than Stone by taking it in turns to beat him. #andrewstone



clairefarmer Claire Farmer

@iainlee Stone walling – #andrewstone is attached to a crane and contestants have to swing him into Walls, as if he were a wrecking ball



berkneemooler berkneemooler

@iainlee Stone cold sober: he’s wearing a variety of knitted garments swigging lemonade on a park bench?! #AndrewStone



mikeynma Michael Law

@iainlee Stone’s Moan – people kick him in the crotch and watch the results: running time 6 weeks #andrewstone



HillyFoz Hilly

. @iainlee St’one: Andrew is canonised. #andrewstone



missmagik claire

@iainlee ‘theres no place like stone’ #andrewstone stays in various peoples homes but always returns to his actual home



kdjukes Keith Jukes

@iainlee Sticks and Stone. #andrewstone is forced to live alone in the Australian Outback. Please let this happen.



redjamietaylor jamie edwards-taylor

@iainlee paper, scissors, stone, Andrew Has to play the iconic game against various warlords and if he loses he dies! #AndrewStone



MrAdamDolan Adam Dolan

@iainlee Glass Houses.Andrew Stone lives in a glass house,and we all watch through the wall as two large men shove him around. #Andrewstone


jayde1983 John Davies

@iainlee Stone, Stone and Stone. Oliver, Sharon and Andrew Stone take a walk round the Norfolk Broads. #andrewstone



dammydodger Damon Gray

@iainlee “Stoned to Death” – Live or die game, #andrewstone throws himself into people with the intent to harm.




rop86 Geoff Crepes

@iainlee ‘blood out of a stone’ #andrewstone gives blood with hilarious consequences



linopolis Lino

@iainlee Stonely the Lonely. We put Andrew Stone on a deserted island. That’s it, no cameras, we just get rid of him. #AndrewStone


teemccarron Tom

@iainlee ‘Cast the First Stone’- Andrew Stone attempts to find the perfect baby to play himself in his own upcoming biopic #AndrewStone



DaveDogFacedBoy AKA funkygibbon

@iainlee ‘A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss’ #andrewstone disguised as Mick Jagger for a month and tries to ensnare stick thin models



mikeynma Michael Law

@iainlee Stone Faced – Members of the public have plastic surgery to look like Andrew to win free counseling afterwards #andrewstone



NickJSav Nick S

AStonement – A romantic wartime drama #andrewstone




@iainlee Stoned Stone Stoned. Reality show to see how long Andrew Stone can openly smoke cannabis in an Irani market place. #andrewstone



jallford Jonathan Allford

@iainlee ‘The Rock and the Stone’ Andrew Stone is tutored by Dwayne Johnson in the art of wrestling. #andrewstone



Woodseh2003 Stuart Wood

@iainlee Stoned – the public vote from a choice of ‘mystery’ drugs to be tested on #andrewstone. Some of the drugs being lethal.


RubbishUsrname harvey colvey

@iainlee paper mache pigs can be used if cleared with angry birds developers.Crows used if done on a low budget & shown on ch 5 #andrewstone


lowster1985 Robin Low

@iainlee Steppingstone. #andrewstone goes around the country stepping on young children’s sandcastles.



stuartheron Stuart Heron

@iainlee Stone The Crows – #AndrewStone in a room with some hungry crows, what happens next will have you laughing for weeks!


dammydodger Damon Gray

@iainlee “Stone Henge” #andrewstone is put into positions by contestants, the winner gets to leave him in a field next to a random motorway.



Tigermilk20 Pug Jordan

The Stone Roses – #andrewstone replaces Ian Brown for the Heaton Park gigs so he can belt out ‘I wanna be adored’



adinho85 The Adam Painter

@IainLee – Queens of the Stone age. Need I say any more?


GuyHerbert Guy Herbert

@iainlee Getting Blood From A Stone. #doeswhatitsaysonthetin No, honestly, this is my last one. #andrewstone



karnegie karnegie

@amandahbowen: @iainlee laugh at him, not with him. #andrewstone”< harsh but fair Amanda!!


ricardoyorks Richard Anderson

@iainlee ‘No Stone Unturned’ Andrew Stone re-opens investigations into unsolved murders from the 19th century #andrewstone



amandahbowen amanda bowen

@iainlee laugh at him, not with him. #andrewstone



mikeynma Michael Law

@iainlee iStone – Andrew invests in an app that shows levels of self delusion #andrewstone



HillyFoz Hilly

.@iainlee ‘Heart Like A Stone’: Andrew walks around town centres wearing an appropriate ‘I❤[insert name of town here]’ t-shirt #andrewstone



DoeyLadd Anthony Doe

@MutedPenguin @iainlee surely whoever stuck the sword in Andrew has a greater claim the the realm? #andrewstone



jayde1983 John Davies

@iainlee Stepping Stone. Andrew Stone walks further and further away from people until he far, far away. #andrewstone



RubbishUsrname harvey colven

@iainlee stone the crows. Combining uks fave celeb and fave iphone game. Fire andrew from a cannon at paper mache crows #andrewstone



sman3d Steven Manfredi

@iainlee Stone Cold Sober – Andrew Stone spends January sleeping rough in the doorway of an abandoned pub #AndrewStone



Jimbold James Driver

@iainlee Sly & The Family Stone – Andrew and parents spend time with Stallone learning how to shoot & box #andrewstone



stuartheron Stuart Heron

@iainlee Stone Cold – We send #andrewstone off to the North Pole… and leave him there.


johnfromsoho John Hamilton

@iainlee Rolling Stone – Andrew Stone is put in sleeping bag & pushed down a hill #andrewstone


mikeynma Michael Law

@ianlee A Stone’s Throw Away – Andrew has a bit of a tidy up with special guest Bobby Ball #andrewstone



MutedPenguin MutedPenguin

@iainlee “Sword in the Stone”- #andrewstone is killed. Whoever finds his body & removes the sword…becomes the King of England.



Dan__Kelly Dan Kelly

@iainlee #AndrewStone StoneCone: put traffic cones over 100 peoples heads. Person who finds Andrew Stone wins a curly wurly



porcpuff Andy

@iainlee “Stone-the-crows”. Using the old saying as a starter, people bet on how many crows Andrew can stone in a minute. #andrewstone



jallford Jonathan Allford

@iainlee ‘Sword in the Stone’ Andrew Stone attends and is forcefully ejected from a renaissance fair. #andrewstone



Nut_E1 Kevin Duke

@iainlee Andy Pandy, everyone has to pander to Andrew Stone’s needs #andrewstone



GuyHerbert Guy Herbert

@iainlee Bill Two Kurds With One Stone – Andrew Stone travels to the Middle East with descendants of Rev. Spooner and ermmm… #andrewstone



stuartheron Stuart Heron

@iainlee Stone Deaf – A show watched entirtely on mute so we dont have to listen to #andrewstone



iainlee Iain Lee

Stone Tossing – contestants try to skim Andrew Stone across the sea as many times as they can while he masturbates #andrewstone


linopolis Lino

@iainlee “Stony Broke” Kidnap Stone, strip him of all his money and leave him on the Isle of Wight. No-one sleeps with him. #AndrewStone



HillyFoz Hilly

@iainlee ‘Stonehenge’: Andrew builds a henge. #andrewstone



The_Gary_Show Gary Gatford Redrup

@iainlee Stone Walled – Andrew visits famous Walls around the world and performs on them to end the show #andrewstone



GapYah Orland0

@iainlee Give the dog a Stone. Andrew Stone learns to survive being caged with a series of dangerous canines. #AndrewStone



GuyHerbert Guy Herbert

@iainlee Kill Two Birds With One…oh no. Hang on. Maybe not. #andrewstone


maplintweet Maplin Electronics

@iainlee Stone the Crows – Andrew looks into the history of scarecrow making #andrewstone



bruceleckenby Bruce Leckenby

@iainlee “Written in Stone” – people write abuse on Andrew Stone. Audience watches. #andrewstone



rop86 Geoff Crepes

@iainlee ‘stone on the phone’ Andrew hosts a babestation style show with him as the only option to talk to #AndrewStone



HillyFoz Hilly

.@iainlee ‘Stone the Crows’: Andrew throws rocks at members of the corvus family. #andrewstone



GuyHerbert Guy Herbert

@iainlee Rosetta Stone – cookery show. A woman called Rose munches her way through The Stone Family (also see Sly & The…) #andrewstone



mikeynma Michael Law

Stars in the Wars: Attack of the Stones – Andrew goes into hospital in this Fly on the wall documentary about Gallstones #andrewstone


vickybrown_ Vicky brown

@iainlee andrew stoned- Andrew gets stones lashed at him #andrewstone



AllDesignPrint Simon Hall

@iainlee “Sword In The Stone” Surgeons try to remove a large sword from his abdomen, on live TV. #andrewstone



Pondelicious Sarah Ponder

@iainlee Stone Baked. Andrew Stone does 48 hours on a sun bed for charity. #andrewstone


EllieJaneTaylor Ellie Taylor

@iainlee Sword in the Stone. A documentary where Andrew learns about different medieval pastimes #AndrewStone


vickybrown_ Vicky brown

@iainlee romancing the stone- members of the public try to romance Andrew #andrewstone


linopolis Lino

@iainlee “Stone’s Ginger Whine” Andrew Stone taunts ginger people till they can take no more. None of them sleep with him. #AndrewStone



rop86 Geoff Crepes

@iainlee ‘Andrew (wears) Stone Island’ Andrew wears the clothing brand and talks to other wearers who are mostly football thugs #andrewstone



GuyHerbert Guy Herbert

@iainlee Stone: The Crow – Andrew Stone stars in the remake of the 90s gothic classic. #andrewstone


linopolis Lino

@iainlee “Stone Me!”, Andrew Stone goes to Iran to commit crimes that carry a punishment of stoning, might not run as a series. #AndrewStone



wildfruit2 wildfruit

@iainlee every little stone helps …. Andrew stone realises he has no talent and goes to work at tescos #andrewstone



mark_random Mark Random


@iainlee No Stone Unturned. Andrew Stone is a hard-nosed private detective. Louis Spence is the comic relief sidekick. #andrewstone


mikeynma Michael Law

@iainlee – Give a Dog a Stone – Andrew is put through his paces by a dog handling team #andrewstone



evilnoodle Jenni Block

@iainlee Stone the Crows. Andrew Stone has to create interpretive dance to the entire Counting Crows back catalogue #AndrewStone


nonymouse G_Austen

@iainlee Sticks and Stones – A nature documentary of #AndrewStone walking us through and arboretum



ComedyBint ComedyBint

@iainlee The Rolling Stone: We roll a massive boulder over Andrew for a week until he resembles a flat cartoon character… #andrewstone


robinpeyton Robin Peyton

@iainlee ‘no stone unturned’ – Andrew travels the UK trying to turn all men with the surname ‘Stone’ gay. #AndrewStone



Jenny_Tillwart Dr Lukes

@iainlee Stoneaway. Andy befriends a Yank playboy and falls asleep in his car which winds up on a ship headed for the States. #AndrewStone



manwithstick Mark Denton

@iainlee Stone the Crows. Andrew spends time with Sheryl and Russell. Fun ensues. #andrewstone


DanInLeeds Dan Earney

@iainlee ‘Stone Deaf’. After being resigned to a minor record label,Andrew requires singing lessons. Follow him on his journey. #AndrewStone


robinpeyton Robin Peyton

@iainlee ‘Sink like a Stone’- Andrew runs a kitchen shop where every sink is shaped like him, mentored by Mary Portas #AndrewStone


linopolis Lino

@iainlee “Stonly Ewe” female sheep are paraded in front of a gloating Stone, he can choose only one, it doesn’t sleep with him. #AndrewStone


j0annepsi Jo

@iainlee “Stone the crows” – Andrew Stone becomes the new frontman of US band Counting Crows #AndrewStone


HillyFoz Hilly

.@iainlee ‘Glass Houses’: People who live in greenhouses have to throw Andrew through them. #andrewstone


mikeynma Michael Law

@iainlee Between a Stone and a Hard Place – Andrew goes all Ross Kemp and visits war torn places and talks to people #andrewstone


robinpeyton Robin Peyton

@iainlee ‘Heart of Stone’ – the entire Heart FM radio network has to be creatively controlled by Andrew Stone #AndrewStone

robinpeyton Robin Peyton

@iainlee ‘Blood out of a Stone’ – Andrew has to continuously give blood with contestants guessing how long till he dies #AndrewStone



mikeynma Michael Law

@iainlee Sink Like a Stone – Andrew gives career advice to youngsters wanting to enter showbiz #andrewstone


Robinpeyton Robin Peyton

@iainlee ‘Stone Cold’ – Andrew takes contestants on to see how long they can stand naked in a meat freezer without shivering #AndrewStone


Frank’s Gone, You know He Is, He Really Is

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Frank Sidebottom wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But even those who ‘didn’t get him’ have been moved by his passing on Monday 21st June 2010.

Frank was a huge part of my life. Huge. I was introduced to him when I was 14 years old by my friend Malcolm Richmond. He played me one of his Christmas e.p.’s and I was hooked. Here was this weird guy, with a huge head, who sang bad pastiches of songs played on a crappy Casio, whilst arguing with his ventriloquist puppet. When you put it like that, it doesn’t sound like much of an act. But Frank made it work.

He was created to promote the ZX Spectrum game, The Biz, where you are in a struggling band, trying to make it in showbiz. It’s a fun little game, complete with spelling mistakes and bugs. Frank was also the soundtrack to my gaming days. It was either him or The Monkees on in the background as I struggled to get anywhere in Twin Kingdom Valley.

My first ever gig was seeing Frank hosting a show at, what was then, London Central Poly. Also on the bill were underrated indie band The Man From Del Monte, Buzzcock Pete Shelley and Ed Tudor- Pole. Some line up for a 16 year old. But it was Frank who stole the show. He was just the most mental act I had ever seen.

I followed Frank for years and then he just kind of drifted out of my consciousness as things that you like as a kid often do. I didn’t grow out of him, I just moved on. Until 5 years ago when I started playing some of his stuff to my wife. I realised that what he was doing was not childish nonsense, this guy was actually a genius. It was brilliant on so many levels.

I was presenting a radio show on LBC and hunted high and low for Frank to get him as a guest. To cut a long story short, we found him and he came in one day. He sat in my studio for an hour, big head on, just messing around and being hilarious. I was 14 years old again and couldn’t breathe for laughing. At the end of the show, Frank looked at me with those big eyes and said in that nasally voice ‘You’re going to hate me now’ as he slowly lifted his head off. I was horrified. I didn’t want to see what was under there.

But I’m glad I did. Because that was the day I became friends with Chris Sievey. The faceless genius behind my childhood hero. The man who had for years, allowed Frank to take the spotlight, never once ruining the magic by letting his own ego to take over.

Over the next 5 years I did several gigs with Frank, interviewed him a few times and was even owned by him on his TV show (YouTube it, it’s hilarious). I am proud to say Chris was a friend and I’m in tears now as I write this. His death is a great sadness and has hit me harder than I ever thought possible.


The Monkees Radio Documentary

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I totally love The Monkees. They are easily my favourite group ever. I am obsessed and spend far too much money on completing my collection of records and memorabilia.

Recently, I was asked to write a short documentary for Qatar airways inflight entertainment about the Pre-Fab Four. I was honoured and knocked most of it off in about 2 hours.

Here it is. I thoroughly recommend listening to the tracks via Spotify. Hopefully, my enthusiasm will rub off on you slightly. If it does, keep popping back, as I shall no doubt be banging on about The Monkees a lot more.

Living in a Box

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I feel it is my duty to inform you about one of the most awesome bands in the world that you probably haven’t ever heard of. Their songs are so catchy and uplifting, it amazes me that more people don’t know about them. They sound exactly how The Beatles would sound if they had been making records in the late 80s/early 90s. And if they were Japanese.

The band are/is (I’m never quite sure how the plural/singular thing works around band names. I know what it’s meant to be, but it never sounds right) called Box and they come all the way from Tokyo.

I should probably explain how I discovered them. I say discovered them, I don’t mean I found them playing in a club in Shibuya and said to my boss at the record company ‘these guys are gonna be HUGE!!!’ I am of course referring to how they came to be in my life.

A few years ago, I was in Japan digging the fact they still had a Tower Records. Does anywhere else have a Tower? It’s a shame they kind of  fizzled out. There’s nothing better than wandering into a record shop at 11.30pm, a little bit worse for wear and thinking ‘yeah, I have always wanted that Turtles box set, and NOW is the right time to buy it.’ Anyway, I was in Tokyo’s Tower at the time that The Beatles’ remasters were out. To celebrate/cash in on this, there was a whole wall of CD’s by groups that had been inspired by The Beatles. There were some obvious ones – Monkees, DC5, Klaatu – but there were also some groovy looking Japanese ones. They were all available to sample via the magic of listening posts. As I reached for the headphones, my long suffering wife got that look in her eye that said ‘I’ve lost him for an hour’ and she disappeared from my mind.

Totally lost in a world of possibility, I slipped on the headphones and tried a few of the CD’s. For the most part, they were OK and I grabbed a handful. Then I tried Box.


The first chords of what I would later learn was a song called Temptation Girl blasted through my ears. I got that electric shock and tingle that I get less and less often these days, but means I have stumbled onto my new favourite band for at least the next 6 months. I remember getting the same buzz when I heard the opening to Alone Again Or from Forever Changes by Love.

Temptation Girl blew me away.

It WAS The Beatles. But it was no Beatles song I’d ever heard. Then the singing came in. Man, how could this be happening? This band were TOO good. The harmonies, the melodies, the guitars, all weaving into each other and blowing my mind.

What makes Japanese pop work for me is the fact that most of it is in Japanese. I don’t really understand the language beyond a few basic  phrases, so the words become irrelevant to me. The voice becomes a new instrument that has little meaning and doesn’t get in the way of  anything. You can’t wince if there’s a bad rhyming couplet. You can’t feel uncomfortable if you like the tune but the sentiment doesn’t sit comfortably with you. Of course, the odd word does pop up in English, but that just adds a certain charm and naivety to the whole thing.

I bought the CD, along with about 20 others, and then went off into the Tokyo night. Probably to eat ice-cream and play Mario Kart in an

When I finally got home, I could not stop playing that Box CD. It was awesome, in the true sense of the word. It unashamedly borrowed/stole/lifted so much from so many people. You can hear Beatles, Monkees, Beach Boys, DC5, Small Faces. But it’s not calculating or cold or plastic. You can tell these guys are doing it because they LOVE these bands. Their sound comes from a real affection for this music.

Trying to get info about Box was hard. They had only made 2 albums and they came out about 20 years ago. There was very little on the web and what there was happened to be in Japanese. Nuts. I was desperate to know more and this wasn’t going to be easy. The only leads I had were a couple of videos on YouTube and a small website. In Japanese. I posted on the YouTube channel. And sent an email to the address on the site and left it at that.

A few months later, I got an email. Subject heading – Box.  This was most unexpected. It was from a Japanese girl called Saeko who worked with members of Box and was the only person on the team that spoke English. She told me that Box split up a long time ago, but occasionally get back together to play gigs. They have various solo and spin off projects (including the wonderful Piccadilly Circus. If Box are The Beatles, then PC are Wings. But the good bits of Wings) and were all terribly excited that a DJ in England had found their music and was playing it on UK radio.

Saeko and I emailed each other for a while, talking about Box, Japan and English music. I asked if they would come on the show I was then  presenting on Absolute Radio. They were keen, Saeko said, but their English wasn’t very good and they weren’t confident about doing it live. We came up with the brilliant plan of me sending questions over, Saeko translating into Japanese, the band answering in Nihon-go, Sakeo translating back into English, and then me getting Barry from Watford and myself to voice the answers. Sweet.

It took bloody ages to pull this bi-continental feat of interviewing off and I was beginning to think it wouldn’t happen. But it did. And it was great. It was such a joyous and creative thing to be a part of, really inspiring. Thanks Saeko for making it happen.


My ambition is to see Box play one of their infrequent gigs. They perform in Tokyo about once every year, usually around Christmas time. I’m  definitely going one year. Just don’t tell my wife!

While Box may not be releasing new material (they have new songs, I’m told, but haven’t got round to recording it) their off shoot projects do. They’re never quite as good as Box, but there are some great songs coming out of these guys. Kiyonori Matsuo has a new album, ‘One More Smile’ and it’s a real treat. Definitely worth checking out.

[youtubegallery] Box live|
Box ‘Train To Heaven’ Japanese TV|

Kiyoniri Matsuo web page –

Masimichi Sugi web page –