Nikki Sudden died this weekend. He was a founder member of legendary DIY punk group Swell Maps and he continued to make ragged, glorious solo LPs and collaborations with Dave Kusworth as the Jacobites right through the past three decades.
I came from the same town. I saw him play dozens of times. Hell, him and his brother Epic came and played alongside my school time rock'n'roll band one Boxing Day afternoon at the King's Head in the tiny Warwickshire village of Cubbington way back nearly 25 years ago now. It was one of the most raucous gigs I ever was involved in.
Sudden also featured in one of my favourite rock moments of all time - storming the stage to join Dave Kusworth's Rag Dolls playing Teenage Christmas at a club in Birmingham with the promoter and the bar staff holding on to the speaker stacks so they didn't topple over on to the tiny stage.
What Sudden did best was mix Englishness with rock'n'roll - it's something people often overlook in bands like the Rolling Stones. Take out the Englishness and you're left with identikit ROCK, like any of a hundred US guitar bands. Perhaps only the Libertines in recent years have tried to mix English themes with full on rock'n'roll in anything approaching the same way.
I still play the first Jacobites album with alarming regularity. There are probably only two or three other groups that I have listened to consistently for twenty years or more. And that's the fondest tribute I can give.
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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