If you are looking for great quality wedding entertainment or a band or DJ for an event, university ball or function I would suggest you go straight to our main site www.lmmuk.com there’s probably nothing in this post that will interest you. However if you are a bloke of a certain age or a young indie whippersnapper with an interest in classic indie icons stick around . Here’s a story seldom, if ever, told (not even in the pub.)
I was reading in the NME about Lee Mavers (legendary lost indie star and the visionary behind the music of The LA’s) playing a gig at the Camden Crawl with Babyshambles as his backing band. This has met with some excitement from fans of indie and reminds me of the time when Lee Mavers was, briefly, the bass player in my first ever band.
I was sixteen and on my last ever family holiday. We were staying in Malta. My Dad , who is a musician , had a guitar with him and I spent the first few days bumming around the beach. With the confidence of youth I ended up playing guitar on the beach near our apartment with a bunch of lads my age. One was Gary Mavers who became Dr Andrew Attwood in Peak Practice (he didn’t actually become him….he is an actor) and another was his brother Lee Mavers who formed The Las and became a living legend (maybe it wouldn’t be overstating it to call him my generations Syd Barratt or Peter Green.) The lost boy of UK indie.
I became good friends with Gary and Lee during that holiday. There is a home movie of us somewhere sat on the beach singing Clash and Buddy Holly and Beatles songs and drinking beer and generally just being teenagers enjoying the attention of the girls sat with us.
I remember Lee teaching me to play Garageland by The Clash and I remember how he could pick up the guitar and without really knowing any chords play almost anything and make it sound interesting . He was naturally gifted.
After the holiday I went to stay with the Mavers Brothers over in Liverpool (The Wirrall??) a couple of times and they came over to Sheffield to stay with me.
Over in Liverpool they took me to Probe Records , mainly to see the weird guy who worked behind the counter who was unlike anyone I had seen before. That guy turned out to be Pete Burns who later became singer with Dead Or Alive and, later still ,the star of Celebrity Big Brother. We also went to (I think…it’s a hell of a long time ago) Eric’s which was the legendary Liverpool club where bands like OMD ,Echo And The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes and Wah Heat all started out. I certainly remember having an afternoon drink in The Grapes on Mathew Street and sitting there thinking “blimey The Beatles used to drink in here.”
It was on a night out with Lee and Gary that it sunk in just how cool Lee was. At the time he was rocking a James Dean look with tight Levis, T Shirt and Black motorcycle jacket. His hair was swept back in a blonde quiff. Gary and just about everyone else I met in Liverpool during those weekends was sporting a soccer casual look. Hair styles were wedges and clothes were smart casual tops and jumpers and (I think) Pepe Jeans. I know the jeans I was wearing were wrong. A Scouse girl spent about an hour telling me how wrong they were to the point when I said to Gary “what’s with these fashion fascists…..Lees not wearing Pepe Jeans.” I still remember exactly what Gary said about his own brother. He said “ Lees not like anyone else .He can wear what he likes and everyone just knows he’s cool.”
I also saw a glimpse of Lees Mavers single minded determination to do whatever he wanted to do when on the second night in Liverpool he changed his mind about going out with us at the very last minute and went somewhere else leaving Gary and I to go out on our own.
A few weeks later Gary, Lee and another guy hitched to Sheffield and Lee played bass for a band I was playing in. The band was terrible but that wasn’t Lees fault. He hadn’t heard any of the songs until the afternoon he arrived. He borrowed my Dads Bass guitar and jammed his way through an awful set that we had cobbled together which was full of indescribably bad songs. I don’t know how long he had been playing Bass at the time but I do know that he modelled himself on JJ Burnell the crab walking bass player from The Stranglers who Lee loved. A lifetime later I was doing a tour of Radio One Roadshows with my band and Hugh Cornwell joined us for a drink (we were so excited to be meeting a punk legend and pretty disappointed to find that he was a bit like a geography teacher) and I couldn’t help but remember how Lee had lined up album tracks from the first few Stranglers Album and strutted around his bedroom, fag hanging from his lips, mimicking JJ Burnel.
Lee Mavers only played the one gig with my (unnamed) band but I’ve still got a picture of us all sat looking miserable in the Sheffield Peace Gardens surrounded by the Hippies who hung out there in those days (Yetties as they were known in the Scouse language of the time.)
I lost touch with Lee and Gary Mavers shortly after that (but not before the very nice Mrs Mavers asked me if I thought Lee had any talent which, given that she had two sons who ended up achieving recognition in their chosen artistic careers, seems a bit strange.)
Almost ten years after last speaking to Lee and Gary I was playing in a band in Sheffield and working in HMV when a video clip came on the in store TV and I thought ”Hey that looks like Lee Mavers with a pudding bowl hair style”. The clip was of The Las singing “There She Goes” an absolute classic song which despite only getting to 13 in the UK charts remains a firm favourite of LMM cover bands (see www.lmmuk.com )
In 2007 the NME magazine placed “There She Goes” at number 45 in its list of the 50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever. The song has also been covered by, amongst others, Sixpence None the Richer , Robbie Williams , The Wombats and The Boo Radleys. You Am Iincluded the song in their set for their Let’s Be Dreadful Tour in 2008. It has appeared on several film soundtracks including The Parent Trap, Fever Pitch, Girl Interrupted and So I Married an Axe Murderer(where both the original and Boo Radleys version appear). “There She Goes” also appeared at the beginning of the Gilmore Girls pilot episode. The song has also been used by The Bay as part of their advertising campaign and in the UK by many holiday companies. I remember reading an article by Nick Hornby saying that he was asked to help with the soundtrack to the Fever Pitch movie and that his main choice was “There She Goes” It was an essential part of his vision when he was writing the book.
The Las were more than one song though and depite Lee Mavers protestations about the first (and only proper) Las album the record still holds up. Plus they were a good few years before the Britpop craze and an obvious influence on bands like Oasis both in the purity of their Beatles influenced indie sound and in their soccer casual look.
There is a clip of The Las on the 1990s French stylee TV pop show Rapido which I only saw the once when it was broadcast but I have always remembered Lee slagging off his own record on this influential programme (Postscript …I just found it on You Tube here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sqVAN0JqbM but just remember this was filmed as the band were meant to be promoting their record – it would be hilarious if it wasn’t sad that The La’s disappeared straight after this and never made another record.)
When I was playing in a Tribute Band during the mid to late 90s “There She Goes” often found itself into our sets. A band called Blameless sometimes used to come to our shows (they recorded a great grunge influenced album on Atlantic which is available on import from Amazon ) We played at a wedding during this period and the Blameless manager came with them. It turned out he was the third person who had come to Sheffield with Lee and Gary back in the days before The La’s. At the time he said Lee was ready to record new material and had some great songs up his sleeve.
That was about fifteen years ago. There’s been a La’s revival tour in the meantime on which the band seemed on great form and now there’s talk of Lee recording with Babyshambles.
I hope he does and I hope he continues to be the enigma and the semi legendary figure he always seemed to be back when he was a teenager.
Lee Mavers of The La’s-We salute you.