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Baker's Dozen

No Boundaries: Dennis Bovell's Baker's Dozen
Neil Kulkarni , October 20th, 2021 09:48

From his time working on classics like The Pop Group's Y, The Slits' Cut and Janet Kay's Silly Games, to the inspiration of Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, Dennis Bovell takes Neil Kulkarni through his thirteen favourite records


Booker T & The MGs – Green Onions

tQ: Am I right in thinking you played ‘Green Onions’ in a school assembly once?

Yeah! It was my first time ever playing the bass. I was only in the second year of secondary school but some older boys, from the fifth year had heard me play guitar but needed a bass player for this school-assembly gig. I didn’t even have a bass guitar - a white friend of mine, who we called ‘whitey’! - let me borrow his bass. Thing is - this guy was in the band Greyhound, who had had a hit and been on Top Of The Pops with ‘The Ink Is Black’ and he played this super cool bass - ice blue in colour which was striking at a time when nearly all guitars were just red or black. So, there I am at this school assembly playing covers like ‘Green Onions’ and these older boys tell me to stand on top of the piano so everyone can see the Top Of The Pops bass! Playing different types of music with these older guys I realised when one of them said to me ‘Dennis, there’s only one Jimi Hendrix’ that I wanted to play bass and push more into playing reggae. Booker T & The MGs were really important to me because it was so great to see a band with black and white people in. Multiracial bands really weren’t that common at that time so that was inspirational to see. That kind of racial unity.