Great stories, beautifully told
The Rise and Fall of Midnight Park
by Daniel Smyth
The following is a transcript of an unpublished interview for Rolling Stone Magazine with Digby Harper and Justin Grove, lead guitarist and bass player respectively with the band Midnight Park who, together with Terry Jackson (lead singer) and Cornish Holloway (drums) were unquestionably the biggest band in the world for a short time in the mid-nineties:
DIGBY HARPER: It all started with the Crossroads pub.
JUSTIN GROVE: Oh yeah. Little shithole dive off Carnaby Street. Gone now.
DH: So, Terry says there’s this A&R guy coming to see us. Won’t say where from.
JG: And this dude walks in, cool as you like. Got big horns and a pointy tail…
DH: Like fucking Halloween.
JG: And straight up he says, ‘So tell me, what do you guys want from your music? Money, respect, art? What?’
DH: So typically, Cornish he says, ‘Birds.’ But Terry leans over, shuts him up. Turns to this big red dude and says, ‘The adoration of strangers.’
JG: Fucking class.
DH: And old pointy-head he says, ‘Done,’ and disappears in a puff of smoke.
JG: Smelt like farts.
DH: We didn’t think too much of it. Lots of drugs in those days, shit like that weren’t uncommon.
JG: But then we done the best gig of our lives. Fucking blinding, it was. Place was packed, everyone cheering. Done three encores.
DH: And afterwards this other A&R bloke rocks up…
JG: … less pointy…
DH: … and signs us to Sony, just like that. Says he’s never seen anything like us. ‘Incendiary,’ he calls us.
ROLLING STONE: And from there you went on to record your debut album…
DH: ‘Warts and All’, yeah.
RS: From which came your first single, ‘Belinda Blue’.
JG: That’s right. Terry wrote it for his girlfriend. Very proud of it, he was. Said she cried first time she heard it.
DH: It goes straight in at number one. Album launches off the back of it. Straight in at number one.
JG: Couldn’t believe it.
RS: It was a stratospheric rise to stardom overnight, wasn’t it?
JG: Too right mate. Suddenly we’ve got it all. Limos. Drugs. Parties.
DH: Cornish has got more birds than he knows what to do with.
RS: But it didn’t take long to begin to go sour, did it?
DH: It was weird. Seemed like the bigger we got the more people close to us started keeping their distance.
JG: We just put it down to jealousy to begin with. Not everyone hits it big overnight. Can be hard for families to take.
DH: Terry took it worst.
RS: Because of Belinda?
DH: Yeah. Dumped him, didn’t she? Told him she never knew what she saw in him. I believe the word ‘loathe’ was used more than once.
RS: And the rest of your friends and families?
DH: Yeah, they started to use the word ‘loathe’ quite a lot and all.
JG: It was Cornish that put two and two together.
DH: Which is no mean feat for a drummer.
JG: ‘It was what Terry asked the red dude for,’ he says one day. ‘The adoration of strangers.’
DH: Which is what we got, innit? Only the more we were adored by strangers…
JG: … the more we were hated by people that knew us.
RS: So, what did you do?
JG: We put it to the test. With our second album.
RS: ‘Knee Socks and Knickers’.
JG: That’s right. We went into a studio for two months and just tried to make the biggest piece of crap we could come up with. Vocals recorded backwards, detuned instruments, ten-minute harpsichord solos…
RS: And what happened?
JG: Sold like fucking hot cakes.
RS: Wasn’t it around that time that tragedy first struck ‘Midnight Park’?
DH: That’s right. Cornish.
JG: He was a romantic soul, Cornish, despite his ravenous libido. Thing was, any time he started getting a bit serious with one of his birds she’d decide he was a wanker and bugger off. Got him right down, it did.
DH: So, he gets this idea in his head. Thinks the way you decide if someone’s a stranger is when you see them. If you recognise them or not, see?
JG: Drummer logic.
RS: So what did he do?
JG: He put both his eyes out with a tuning fork.
RS: And did it work?
JG: Nah, now they just thought he was a blind wanker.
DH: But it did start a rather unfortunate copycat craze amongst some of his fans. Nasty.
JG: Ended up joining a monastery, the whole vow of silence thing. Reckoned he’d have no idea how much they hated him, which worked to a certain extent...
DH: … but he does get tripped up a fair bit.
RS: And then of course there was Terry.
JG: Yeah, poor old Terry. Never got over Belinda, really.
DH: One day he says he wants to do this gig on the roof of the Sony studios.
JG: A ‘Let It Be’ sort of thing.
DH: Of course, we do it. Crowd of thousands there were, all in the streets below, live TV coverage in fifteen countries.
JG: And just before the closing number…
DH: … ‘Belinda Blue’…
JG: … he makes this weird speech. Says we made a deal with the devil, but if he thinks he’s gonna get his soul he’s out of luck, ‘cause he lost that already…
DH: … the day she stopped crying.
JG: And at the end of the song he jumps.
DH: Ten of the silly sods tried to catch him.
JG: Six storeys. What a mess.
RS: And what about you guys?
RS: Well Digby, aren’t you worried about your soul?
DH: Nah mate.
RS: Why not?
DH: ‘Cause this isn’t soul…
JG: … this is rock ‘n’ roll.
DH: So, this interview. When do you reckon it’ll be published?
RS: Published? You’re having a laugh. Who’d want to read about a bunch of tossers like you?
DH: Yeah. Had a feeling you might say that…
Copyright © 2019 Daniel Smyth