Jeffrey Hammond in his own words.
REFLECTIONS ON THE START OF A JOURNEY:
This journey begins on July 30th,1946, in the holiday seaside town of Blackpool, England.
My first feelings are those of happiness and security: of uneventful and untroubled early years, remarkably unaffected by the fact that a world war had just ended.
Street games, beach games, setting up a puppet theatre for other children in the neighbourhood, writing a murder mystery play and recording it on an ancient, but then state of the art Grundig reel to reel tape recorder. Falling in love for the first time with beautiful, freckled, red-haired Karen. An awakening to beauty: the sensuous innocence of Doris Day's voice, the power and expression of David Oistrakh playing the Brahms Violin Concerto, the cleavage of Jane Russell writ large on the cinema screen, the anarchic humour of Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, the phrasing of Frank Sinatra, the salt air and stormy seas of Blackpool's promenade in winter and the endless, warm summer days during haymaking on a relative's farm in county Durham.
Then on to Grammar school and three or four years of being semi-studious before the inevitable mid-teens intrusion of sarcasm, cynicism and dubious wit reared their ugly but amusing heads. A loss of some innocence, compensated for by the discovery of things artistic and in particular the diversity of music. This, accompanied by the self-awareness of a strong personal vision, tempered by the frustration of having no apparent way to realise its expression.
Meeting Ian Anderson in the opening term days of 6th Modern I, in September 1963, at Blackpool Grammar which lead to the prospect of first crossing that line which divides the entertained from the entertainer: the first stumbling steps along the creative path. Us, both, joining John Evans and Barrie Barlow in the inception of our first pop-music group, The Blades, together with many warm memories of friendships, Youth Clubs, utility vans, girlfriends, John's mother's home, the Top Ten Coffee Bar, and innumerable gigs in dark, Satanic, northern mill towns.
Studying Art at grammar school had become a serious option leading to the dilemma of confronting the signpost which asked: Art or Music? The apprenticeship for Art held the stronger pull and, somehow, seemed more adventurous. And so, to a Pre-Diploma Foundation course at the Blackpool College of Art, followed by three years of studying Painting at the Central School Of Art, London.
There, the renewal of old friendships with Ian and John, both of whom had moved south and, soon after, to meet a Persian princess, Mahnaz, my future wife. The chance to see the embryonic Jethro Tull at the Marquee Club and other venues around London. More utility vans: art student by day, number one groupie by night.
Another signpost loomed: a post-graduate course at the Royal Academy Schools, but strange powers-that-be decided on another direction. Flashing lights around a Christmas tree illuminated the poorly-wrapped Framus bass guitar and Vox AC 30 bass amplifier, which announced the vacant post of bassist with the increasingly successful Tull.
Wide-eyed but technically ignorant as far as music was concerned, I took, not the considered turn, but the fateful plunge into five years of musical diversion. All of this period is well documented elsewhere, from the recording of "Aqualung" through to 1975's "Minstrel in the Gallery", when the unavoidable road signs seemed to read, "Remember your personal vision".
A move to the rural solitude of Gloucestershire followed, leaving behind the world of huge and usually adoring audiences, thrills, spills, and temporarily, the friendships forged in those heady days. This was a change of lifestyle to one much slower and contemplative, and one which offered the time and space for the beginnings of inner search. Work on myself, the house, the garden and family life were soon graced by the arrival of an extraordinary son, Edward.
Amidst much soul-searching and struggling, the solid foundations of the next years were built. Paintings were produced, the pace quickened and a sense of direction was fixed and understood. Years of relative solitude gave way to the re-establishment of many old friendships and acquaintances, together with the opening up to the breadth of other cultural influences.
After all this time, I have still that deep sense of personal vision which has led to the accumulation of well over a hundred paintings, produced over twenty years of working life ----- the humble beginnings of a real spiritual journey ----- indeed, THE START OF A JOURNEY which, hopefully, will quite soon be brought to a wider audience.