Remembering Al Hodge Cornwall’s personal rock celebrity who became down Tina Turner to stick right here

‘Big’ Al Hodge used to be Cornwall’s personal rock celebrity – the Bodmin boy with a voice like heat gravel, who may make the guitar sing and used to be an ordinary on TV, backing one of the most greatest stars of the day. He died some distance too early, at simply 55, however will at all times be remembered with nice affection within the county he liked.

In truth, Al liked Cornwall such a lot he as soon as became down traveling with Tina Turner on the top of her popularity, so he may keep at house in Bodmin, watch his youngsters develop up and go online. His legend lives on with the once a year Alstock competition, which returns subsequent month with a really perfect line-up.

It’s simple to overlook now however there used to be a time when Al flew the flag for Cornwall musically – his songs was world hits for artists as various as Meat Loaf and Rick Astley, his band the Mechanics have been regulars on TV as Leo Sayer’s backing crew, and Al labored as a consultation musician for everybody from Randy Crawford and Linda Ronstadt to Elkie Brooks and Suzi Quatro. He additionally was one of the crucial first musicians to play solo with backing tracks, proving he used to be an innovator too.

Read extra: When the Sex Pistols performed a secret £1 gig in Cornwall

It nearly by no means took place regardless that because the younger Al used to be set on turning into a painter and decorator … however then he heard Hank Marvin and The Shadows and rock’n’roll future beckoned.

Al’s son Luke advised CornwallReside: “Once he heard them that used to be his resolution made. He begged his dad to get him a guitar, in order that they went as much as Plymouth, were given a guitar and he by no means appeared again truly. When he used to be 13 his band received a Cornish tune faculty festival – you needed to be 16 to participate however he used to be 13 so he needed to keep at the back of the curtain when he received! That used to be the beginning of it.”

Al left faculty in Bodmin at 16 and became skilled, becoming a member of Cornish band The Jaguars on guitar, taking a step nearer to popularity with Wadebridge’s Onyx in 1965. They launched various singles and featured on a lot of Radio 1 classes, transferring out of Cornwall, however Big Al neglected his fatherland and left the band in overdue 1970 to get married to Pam and go back to Bodmin.

The Mechanics pictured within the overdue Nineteen Seventies – from left, Alan Eden, Big Al (with spectacular hair) and Dave Quinn

However, the itch returned and he joined the much-respected British cushy rock band Rogue, who have been lively between 1975 and 1979. They have been led by way of Guy Fletcher, who penned hits for Elvis and Frankie Valli (and whose son Justin is understood to kids in every single place the United Kingdom as Mr Tumble). After 3 albums and a large hit within the Netherlands, Al used to be again in Cornwall.

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It used to be then that he shaped the band which might make his identify – the Mechanics, with drummer Alan Eden and bassist Dave Quinn. As neatly as recording and traveling themselves, the Mechanics was the home band at Sawmills Studio at Golant, close to Fowey, backing all approach of artists who travelled to what used to be one of the crucial first residential studios in Britain. It used to be right here that destiny stepped in.

Luke mentioned: “A man referred to as Bill Livsey, who used to be Leo Sayer’s MD, took place to be running at Sawmills. Leo used to be on the lookout for a backing band for his excursion and Bill mentioned ‘take a look at those guys in Cornwall’ and that is the reason when the Mechanics ended up being the band for Leo for roughly 5 years. They have been in the appropriate position on the proper time.”

Big Al Hodge with Leo Sayer
Big Al Hodge with Leo Sayer

The Mechanics sponsored Leo on two international excursions and on various albums within the first part of the Nineteen Eighties, and Al was a well known face following common appearances at the long-running TV collection, This Is Leo. Luke has a liked picture of Leo Sayer sitting within the Hodge circle of relatives’s hedge at their house in St Mary’s Road, Bodmin, when the excursion bus got here to select his dad up.

“Leo sought after dad to stick within the band however he neglected Cornwall and me and my sister Jodi have been about 5 and 7 on the time, so he used to be lacking out on either one of our lives and our mum Pam, and he sought after to knock it at the head for a little. He used to be presented to head on excursion with Tina Turner, who used to be as large as you want to get on the time. He became her down, however he simply did not wish to move out on excursion anymore. He sought after to spend a few years in Cornwall and watch us develop up,” mentioned Luke. “He used to be a correct Cornish Bodmin boy – he liked his browsing. He lived and breathed it. When he used to be running at Sawmills, he would move in and do a consultation and get immediately again within the water.”

Luke added: “After his luck with Leo, Al began doing his one-man pub display, which used to be remarkable on the time. He put backing tracks in combination and began traveling round Cornwall and Devon from the mid ’80s. He were given larger and larger with higher backing tracks and PAs. It’s grow to be the norm for musicians and pubs now, however he will have to were one of the crucial first to do it.”

Indeed, I have in mind frequently staring at Al carry out at pubs in Truro within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties. Not handiest used to be he an excellent musician, singer and songwriter, he used to be a gorgeous guy who used to be at all times in a position to have chat and amusing on the bar. “People know him for his tune but additionally folks liked him as an individual,” added Luke.

Big Al messing about on tour
Big Al messing about on excursion

As neatly as his solo presentations, Al endured doing consultation paintings for the celebs, together with Randy Crawford and Elkie Brooks, Linda Ronstadt, Toyah, Sad Café, Clifford T Ward and Suzi Quatro. Meat Loaf and John Parr recorded Rock ‘n’ Roll Mercenaries in 1986, a music Al co-wrote with American songwriter Michael Ehmig. It went platinum and Al’s circle of relatives nonetheless have the disc at the wall to end up it. Rick Astley recorded Al’s music Some Kind of Love, which used to be a large hit in Japan.

Then got here an sudden flip for the Hodge circle of relatives. Luke mentioned: “In the overdue ’80s we moved to the Caribbean. One of father’s absolute best buddies – Derek Fitzpatrick, who he had labored with – constructed a lodge in Tortola within the British Virgin Islands. He rang dad someday and mentioned, how do you fancy coming over with the circle of relatives, lend a hand me construct some homes and gig within the lodge? So all of us went for 3 or 4 years – we might move there for the iciness and are available again to Cornwall for the summer time months. Me and my sister went to college available in the market – it used to be a great time. Dad liked his browsing – he ended up being within the surf many of the day and gigging within the night.”

On returning to Cornwall, Al’s solo, consultation and Mechanics careers endured and he used to be even in a position to lend a hand out when Luke used to be taking part in soccer for Falmouth Town FC.

“We needed to play Bedlington Terriers within the FA Vase – the longest ever adventure in a FA festival as they are within the North East. We have been on the lookout for a bus and pa used to be running with Elkie Brooks on the time, who had a double decker traveling bus. He mentioned to her, any probability we will borrow it for the weekend? No downside, so the gamers and one of the most supporters ended up going from Falmouth to Newcastle on it. Their faces after we became up in this all-blacked-out bus used to be good.”

Big Al Hodge on stage with Leo Sayer
Big Al Hodge on degree with Leo Sayer

Big Al used to be taking part in proper as much as the top, when he succumbed to a mind tumour at 55. Luke advised me: “I used to be simply taking note of the final album he recorded with the Mechanics at Bodmin Football Club. It used to be the final gig he performed with all his friends and it will have to were round that point that he came upon he had a mind tumour. They operated on it, took up to they may out, he wanted a little of radiotherapy, however it used to be incurable. He fought it for 18 months however went on July 6, 2006.”

Luke, who’s a firefighter based totally in Bodmin, mentioned: “He used to be younger however that week, when I used to be at paintings, there used to be an 18-year-old lady we went to who used to be killed in a automobile twist of fate. There’s at all times any individual so much worse off. He lived his are living to the overall and he at all times mentioned he did not wish to get outdated the place he did not know what he used to be doing. I at all times smile once I speak about dad – his tune lives on. There’s the Al Hodge Appreciation Society on Facebook which helps to keep his reminiscence alive, his albums shall be there ceaselessly now, digitally, on Spotify and Apple, and Alstock’s been nice.”

The Al Hodge look music fans will long remember
The Al Hodge glance tune fanatics will lengthy have in mind

Luke began the once a year competition with Roger Butler, who wrote with Al and labored with him for years. “We had a little of a birthday party for dad’s wake at Bodmin soccer membership the place the speculation got here up. We did it in 2007 as a one-off as a party of his existence. It went down truly neatly and it is been going yearly since. It’s no longer an enormous competition, we have not were given the cash for that, however everybody does it free of charge, and each unmarried penny we make is going to native charities.

“Also, £500 is going to the Al Hodge Music Award at Bodmin College yearly to lend a hand a tune scholar development their profession. Dad liked instructing on the school and different faculties within the final couple of years of his existence, when he labored for the Cornwall tune provider. He could not gig on the time on account of the tumour so he did that as an alternative and he were given so much out of serving to the children.”

This yr’s tournament – on Saturday, July 30 at Priory Park in Bodmin – options Tankus The Henge, Joey The Lips, Colour TV, 50 Year Storm, DM Street and Rue. For extra main points see the tournament site. Go alongside and have in mind Cornwall’s personal rock’n’roll mercenary.

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