Django Bates

Django was born in a New Beckenham Station house. The most interesting toy in the house was the semitone flat D’Almaine Piano. The hum of railway workers throughout the night was soothing to him, but he had nightmares about a Hippopotamus head moving slowly from one side to the other and fluttering moths between his toes. Django was three-and-a-half years old when his sister Paddy and Frances took him on a European tour with Ralf and Ralf. They traveled in a side-car and motorbike. As they traveled through France, Austria and Italy, Romania, Yugoslavia, the door kept opening as they went. They survived on stolen maize, which was then roasted over fires, as well as Icecreams that Django received in return for their blond hair. One time, Romanian Gypsies gifted the Bates family a wooden cup filled with warm frothy milk that they had just pulled out of a cow. Django, eleven years old, bought several paper-rounds. Django would get up at 6.0 am to hear an old radiogram. He would then be woken by the first person to crack it. After completing paper rounds, he would cycle to Sedgehill Comprehensive school and receive an all-inclusive education. He still remembers some of it: James the First had a big tongue and was one of the most wise people in Christendom. The hanging gardens of Babylon looked incredible, but that’s about it. Django would return to the homes he’d delivered papers after school and tell them, “I’m collecting unwanted newspaper for World Conservation.” Django would accumulate a large pile of paper, which he would weigh using bathroom scales. Django would get PS16 after the paper weighed in at one ton. His goal was to purchase a tape recorder that could produce ‘Sound on Sound’. He finally reached PS166 and purchased one. However, he never was able to use it. Django slept on the bed until he turned 15, and he still finds it difficult to act his age. Many different alarm bells, zinc-plated sheets, and bed angles were all tried, but to no avail. These tried cures may have given Django’s music an unusual tilt and an obsession for alarming surprises. Many friends and vagrants visited the family home, including many artists or musicians who taught Django music lessons. Some of them were not known to the Bates family and it was unclear what they were doing in their house. Django was encouraged by his mother to go to strange old people’s houses for lessons in trumpet, piano, violin, and guitar. His father, however, played all kinds of music at him starting in childhood. Django attended Morley College FTYM two years after he graduated from high school in 1977. Django was shy during this period and didn’t take off his coat in public for two-years. After two weeks at the Royal College of Music, Django left. The pianos were marked “Not to be used in the playing of Jazz music” and he quit the college. He had already done some teaching at a school for Catholics who were reluctant to learn music and a Friday night residency at Rotherhithe’s Waterside Theatre. It wasn’t a theatre, it was a disused wharf that overlooked the Thames. Jonny Edgecombe managed a jazz club in this beautiful building where Django and his friends provided support for John Stevens and Harry Beckett and John Taylor and Stan Tracey and many other great improvisers. Django recalls that the experience taught him how to make music personal and present it to drunk Dockland residents without getting lynched. Django was invited to tour for many years with Dudu Pukwana’s Zila as a result. It was a great start…In 1985, Loose Tubes performed at Ronnie Scott’s club. Django was a busy man, too busy to write a lengthy and detailed biography. from

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