In 1985 Sean-the-Duke Harris told the Woodley gazette that he would be bigger than John Lennon; an innocent, if not bold remark. Twenty five years later Sean was shot down in a Woodley precinct with a dirty look! Brian King, the keyboard maestro in the band Samurai was with him on the day. ‘We were on our way to score some twiglets for the album launch of ‘Prince and Kings’ when this loner came out from behind a grassy knoll.’ At first Brian assumed he was a fan but says, ‘we know all our fans and I didn’t recognise this guy.’ Brian noticed that the loner carried a copy of ‘Cage Writer’ and had an ‘inscrutable expression upon his face that developed quickly from wince to a full on sneer.’
‘When I realised that the look was coming I had little time to act, I tried to block it from the Duke’s field of vision. I felt it was important to protect his ego; lead singers are very sensitive creatures. I threw myself between the assailant and the Duke. I would have taken the hit but I tripped on the hem of Sean’s trench coat and went flying into the arms of a juggling midget. Despite my efforts it was too late, Sean caught the glance of revulsion full on, he was badly wounded and collapsed in the street. I dusted off the midget and then had to call a nearby Salvation Army drummer to assist.’
The Salvation Army drummer, 80 year old sister Madeleine Brown, said, ‘I recognised the singer immediately, there is no mistaking the Duke. I offered the kiss of life, as a precaution I took my teeth out, I think my tongue may have slipped in.’ Nevertheless Sean was grateful for her help and later, publically made a deposit in her box!
Caroline Hambleton, a groupie sexually obsessed with Sean’s brother Paul, says, ‘Sean was really cut up over that attack, he hit the Lockets big time.’
It’s true that, like many rock stars, addiction remained a constant battle for Sean but after years of therapy he’d reduced his Locket fix to a manageable amount. After the dirty look affair he was on a packet a day.
Wife and mother of at least two of his children, Beverley, a Gary Numan fan and collector of snow globes told me, ‘He just drew the curtains and locked himself in his recording studio, he wouldn’t come out; which in itself proved problematic as we only have one bathroom.’
Chris Locke, his fixer, neighbour and one time band member, would turn up with the drugs every day. Chris had contacts in the pharmaceutical industry, he knew someone that worked in Superdrug. Beverley continues ‘For days we could hear him in there, screaming and bashing about, he was like a wounded animal. We all tried to massage his ego, told him how awesome he was, what a great voice he had, all of that shit.’
It was only when fellow front man Robert Plant turned up that Sean began to calm down. Robert recalls, ‘I just began to sing one of his songs, finally Sean joined in, completely upstaging me, well it wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last.’
His worries unfortunately were not over, later that day the Woodley neighbourhood watch raided his semi detached mansion, ‘Couper towers’ and busted him for possession. His solicitor and friend Judith Locke, took charge of the situation as the Duke’s son Yan flushed the gear down the loo. Judith says, ‘someone close to him must have tipped off the pigs, I got him off on a caution, there is no way Sean would have survived prison, he’s way too pretty.’
Twenty five years earlier
Twenty five years earlier the Duke famously stepped off the number 47 bus and into the cold foggy November night. As he walked towards Cemetery Junction a figure came out of the fog carrying a guitar case, it was David Shingleton; that night history was made. David, several months earlier, had disappeared; everyone assumed he’d been swallowed up by the Winnersh triangle, a notorious black spot where, even now Sat Navs fail to work. Not quite the case, according to legend, David went down to the cross-keys pub and sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for ‘the gift’.
Former Tourniquet bass player Julian Hobbs reminisces, ‘David was a fumbling novice, an embarrassment, but within the space of a few days a fucking God on the guitar. No one knew where it came from at first, he was like David Brent one minute and Robert Johnson the next.’
When pressed for confirmation Lucifer begrudgingly admits, ‘Yeah I was on my way back from Georgia after being swindled by a fiddle player. I was looking for a soul to steal; I was ready to make a deal when this amateur fret fucker turns up. I’m like, ‘hey Dude how would you like to swap your soul for the gift? He’s like, no problemo Dude.’
David, who now lives as a recluse in his penthouse apartment above the ‘Tesco express’ with wife Angie, says, ‘There was no fucking Devil Ok, I’m just one badass motherfucking guitarist who happens to be the second coming. Yes I’m the Messiah; I’m the fucking Messiah Ok? Now piss off.’
Whatever the truth Loose Tourniquet went from oxymoron one day to serious rock band the next.
Sean remembers their first gig with a mixture of gratification, pride, smugness, conceit, self-importance and indulgence, ‘I was fucking awesome.’ He said. ‘I looked out over a sea of happy, semi inebriated fans, there must have been thirty, maybe forty people in the pub that night, and I thought to myself, I’m gonna rock you, and I did.’
Later that same evening, while sipping hot chocolate and watching, ‘last of the summer wine’ he confessed, ‘I was born to rock’ and he was.
Born the son of a Mississippi truck driver by the name of Elvis Presley and a whore house Madame called Trixie La Belle he was brought up in a Memphis knocking shop and had little contact with his estranged father. Elvis once booked a recording booth in Memphis but never turned up, ‘what was the point’ he says now, ‘it’s not as if I’d amount to much.’
How Sean ended up living in the Sonning border town of Woodley no one really knows but he says, ‘I’m lucky that I moved from a backwater town like Memphis to the epicentre of rock music, god knows what would have become of me otherwise.’
Loose Tourniquet went from strength to strength becoming legends in their own right. David Mills, roadie and DJ remembers one, now notorious night, in particular. ‘The pub was packed; the queue to get in reached the door. For some reason Tourniquet had decided to hire a couple of local heavy’s, John ‘iron balls’ Morganti and Andy ‘skulduggery’ Miles, to take care of the security. The band was three songs into their epic five song set, the Duke had just bitten the head off a jelly baby when all hell broke out. Someone in the crowd tried to storm the stage, iron balls Morganti waded in and wrestled the assailant to the ground, the band carried on playing as the ‘skull’ relieved the aggressor of a large saveloy sausage’
Later conjecture amongst the bands supporters led to rumours that the large saveloy was part of Sean’s stage outfit, belonging to the trouser department. Others say it was Drummer Adrian Ogdon’s mid gig snack. Lynne Watts, a groupie with an IQ say’s, ‘despite the rumours Sean never stuffed anything down his jeans, he is just freakishly big in the pants department, it’s a genetic thing he shares with his brother Paul’. David Mills was, at the time, more concerned with his friend Adrian’s iced tea addiction.
Dave had done tea in India, ‘I tried it once, everyone was doing it back then, it’s how we kept going. You know during the war they used to put it in the soldiers potassium bromide?’ Anyway when I found out that Adrian was cutting his tea with ice I knew he’d gone too far. Days later Adrian spontaneously combusted live on stage during a gig at Stonehenge, it was very messy, a lot of clearing up to do afterwards.’
Adrian’s impulsive, tea-fuelled departure from the band shocked fans and band mates alike. Days later the band decided to split up until science could rebuild Adrian from the traces of DNA found splattered on his cow bell. They never played together again for twenty years.
During the lost decades Sean enjoyed a flourishing solo career and later sang for many forgettable bands, until that is he found his soul mate in proggie key tickler Brian King. Sandra King, Brian’s crazy cat loving wife, told me, ‘Brian and the band were looking for a front man, someone with gravitas, personality and his own microphone, when the Duke turned up for an audition no one could believe it, somebody actually turned up!’
Samurai are now one of the greatest rock bands ever; to be the front man of one great band is an achievement in itself but two?
Wife Beverley says, ‘Sean needed that artistic outlet, that buzz that comes from creativity and performance; he also needed some friends.’
The Duke, with the support from his friends and family, made it through the dirty look episode and has recently installed three more mirrors in his mansion.
But the story doesn’t end there, twenty years after Adrian spontaneously combusted scientist were able to rebuild him. Hannah King, a groupie and one time official stalker of Aerosmith’s front man Steve Tyler, says, ‘it was amazing, one minute Adrian was just a pubic hair on a lab slide and the next a complete cock! Adrian was back!’
Unfortunately Adrian only had twenty four hours to live before melting, Sean got the band back together and Tourniquet played a stonking set at the Royal Albert village hall. Half way through the encore, ‘Whole lotta of Rosie’, Adrian began to melt. John Malone, bass player and all round good guy was there, ‘I grabbed a mop and bucket and later, during the after party, the Duke drank him!’ Which later became the inspiration for the hit song, ‘Drink your buddy’.
The last word should go to the Duke himself….’Greatness comes with immense responsibility, people need their icons, their legends, their idols and I deliver because I’m the Duke.’