Laughing Sun

Simon, now more often known as Pok, was the main driving force behind Laughing Sun. It was September 1985 when Laughing Sun began to form out of the disintegrating Wud. Laughing Sun continued through numerous incarnations and line-up changes, with Simon being the constant heartbeat at its centre.

The first incarnation of Laughing Sun to actually perform live was Simon (vocals, guitar), George (guitar, vocals, bass, percussion), Marc (bass, percussion), Graham (percussion, bass), Senga (vocals) and Cliff (guitar). This line-up produced one performance, at Exeter College, which was memorable for many reasons.

Before the show, which was in December 1985, the band rehearsed at Cowick Lane, making various recordings and entertaining those passing by. Numerous visitors would hang out with the band, and feel them…

After this performance there were a great many forces pulling the band this way and that, resulting in a period where a couple of offshoot projects flourished briefly, such as the Masters of Drone and Atom Hat. Laughing Sun moved off in another direction. Leaner and slimmer, the band performed a few shows around Devon with Simon on guitar and vocals, Marc on bass and Graham on drums.

– . – . – . –

Pok wrote this:

“Once in the mists of my youth I went to a camp near Winchester to hear the venerable philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti speak. He spoke of nothing I can remember, but I felt he was nervous that humanity would not be able to survive much longer. This because we are too greedy and stupid I supposed. I acknowledged this but looked around at the gathered crew of listeners and felt more hope.

Young as I was then at nineteen, I still twenty five years later harbour these hopeful feelings. It was my life choice to convey these feelings through a music that I had begun to create as songs and stories. Naive perhaps, simple yes, but a hope offered with materials that would not corrode.

Whilst hanging out there around a large fire with the many gathered there, a minstrel played upon a guitar and sung most melodiously a long song of which the only phrase I can remember is ‘Golden Temple and the Laughing Sun.’ I liked the sound of that and the words entered into the vocabulary of my evolving storylines.

It could have been me and my girlfriend of the time, whose last name was Temple. It could have been some vast Kingdom of true wealth and joy long ago turned to dust. It could have been a shimmering vision of a direction we could all go to improve our lot and make it through the atomic madness.

I started a rather indulgent stream of consciousness booklet of the same title but this was marred somewhat by the end of my relationship and me getting a bit twisted by it.

Then as time moved on in 1985 I began to feel I wanted Laughing Sun to be an earth redeeming music making that could be a ‘clean up crew’ for our beleaguered planet. At least, I thought to turn my cog and do it wholly. By this self activation, I imagined that others would take up some of the hopeful feelings and get in line with the great muse, the Goddess of all Creation, the Mother of all Life. This would move us into a headset required to look after the earth and/or evolve in a manner befitting to life for us and all here present now and in the future.

Grand ideals indeed. I just got on with it. Can’t say I had much obvious success at the time, but many musics were made with many folk.

The first Laughing Sun was born at 62 Victoria Street, Exeter and as detailed above, featured Marc, Graham and me, Simon.

The first gig was at Exeter College and somewhere there exist photos of the band and of the audience. Of course it is quite a trip to see these as it is so long ago and we look so young and there are people there long absent from my life. We hired psychedelic lighting machines but lack of drum kit probably made it all rather less than a full blown music mania.
We did have fun though and we dressed up silly to this end, or at least I did.

An awful gig ensued at Ottery St Mary town hall but not bad photos of that are on this site.

The open air gig at a caravan site up from Ottery was good. By that time we were better rehearsed and were more in our element, that being outside and festivalish.

At this gig there were hints of black magic around us but I was not going to let anything get in the way of the Sun, and we shone bright. After the gig someone kicked my Westone guitar so it split completely in two across the body. Then that someone repaired it and I am sure it sounded even better than it had before. Shame that it was stolen along with several other guitars of mine and friends from a room of mine in 1988.

Then we all got up to Glastobury for the Pilton festival 1986. Laughing Sun, augmented by Jon on bongos and Zaphod on flute and cape, played the Travellers’ Field, at that time in what are now the Green Fields, under a large red tarpaulin just before the early Ozric Tentacles.

It was quite a gathering. We had made a banner bearing our name and logo, the flaming eye in a pyramid. It hung badly behind us and never was seen again, except on our photos.

Later that year this ensemble had run its course and another Sun was founded.

This was when I returned in September 1986 to college for a short drama course. Working with friends Andy on lead vocals, Sean on bass and Ben on drums I invited and added several other members I met in college for a larger sound. Nick Soss played superb guitar. We alternated solos and chords. His was a different and studied style of playing that he has a great touch in and he found no difficulty in cutting in with us.

Then there were three girl singers: Jo Keith, Nikki Markham-David and Anna Seng. They sang beautifully with us through songs like Suffragette City, Quicksand, (Bowie) Only You (?), Damnation Alley (Robert Calvert of Hawkwind)… that was Sean’s choice… some made up blues and long lost now songs of mine like ‘Bin Long and Ill Wind.

We played the college drama studio a couple of times and the Exeter Arts Centre (now Phoenix) as well. I remember these with fondness and wore green velvet flared trousers throughout. This band touched a chord that I was very happy with, though it lasted not all that long at all, that is, roughly from October 1986 till March 1987.

And that was the last to be heard of that.”