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RockItt Biography - part 1: A meeting at the Blue Nun

Exclusively for online fans of RockItt, we are reproducing excerpts from the soon to be published unauthorised biography about the Shag Fury/Wayne Kranium songwriting partnership... 'Genius or Penis' by Pam Cacophone.

The Cornish city of Truro in the southwest of the United Kingdom seems an unlikely place for rock history to be made.  It was here though that, after an exhausting and painful labour, the Fury/Kranium phenomenon was born.

Wayne Kranium had a strong musical pedigree having formed his first band, Surgical Stockings, shortly after leaving school.  Working at his father’s stocking filler factory, Wayne had become fascinated with stockings and tights.  His obsession with hosiery combined with his innovative and flamboyant bass playing style had created the ‘Music and Tights’ concept and Surgical Stockings’ popularity grew.  Kranium was sure that a record deal was within reach when lead singer Lee John dealt him a hammer-blow.  John left to form hit eighties band Imagination but Kranium was not invited to the party and had to watch the success enjoyed by Imagination from afar.  Devastated and disillusioned Kranium decided to turn his back on the music industry.  He went to his local polytechnic; armoury was the first course on the list so Wayne enrolled.

In 1986 Shag Fury was an up-and-coming celebrity chef with a lucrative slot on the Richard and Judy Show.  Unfortunately one of his signature Moroccan barbeque dishes went tragically wrong.  Millions of Britons who followed his recipe for pork marinated in cockle and muscle sauce fell seriously ill as the UK was gripped by the worst outbreak of salmonella that the British Isles had ever seen.  The national health crisis and toilet roll shortage that followed resulted in a public outcry which in turn led to a House of Commons Select Committee inquiry.  The Select Committee report blamed Fury and a resolution was passed in parliament to ensure that he was sacked from the show “in the interests of the health of the nation”.

His culinary career in tatters, Fury moved to Truro to lie low and consider his future career prospects.  A keen environmentalist, Shag signed on for a course in marine biology at Truro Polytechnic under the assumed name of Skipper McFlange and took a part-time job helping out at the local whelk sanctuary where he helped to raise awareness of the plight of marine gastropods.  However, a fellow worker at the sanctuary recognised Shag and, because of the damage that the Richard and Judy debacle had caused to the reputation of the whelk, he was dismissed.

A classically trained pianist, Shag got an evening job three nights a week in local wine bar The Blue Nun playing jazz piano versions of German polka classics.

At the same time Wayne Kranium was close to finishing the final year of his degree in armoury.  After a hard day welding breastplates he decided to pop into The Blue Nun for a chilled glass of his favoured 1982 Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese.  Shag Fury had followed Wayne’s ‘Music and Tights’ innovation closely and instantly recognised Kranium from his days in Surgical Stockings.  The two hit it off immediately and, once they'd finished hitting it, spent the evening talking about music.  The night was only spoiled by a dreadful gaffe when Shag ordered a bottle of Niersteiner Olberg Eiswein dessert wine by mistake.  The episode provided the inspiration for the title of RockItt’s second album Nun Faux Pas.

There has been much academic analysis of, and speculation about, the Fury/Kranium song writing formula.  Professor Areolae Bump, Chair of Musical Technology at Harvard University, has studied the pair extensively and is generally accepted to be the world’s leading expert on their song writing partnership.  Bump explains his hypothesis: "It's quite simple really.  If you take the number of words in one of their songs, then times that number by the square root of the total number of notes in the song and divide that figure by the number of semiquavers in the piece to the power of 12 multiplied by a constant, K, and with the resulting inverse proportionality, I think the answer speaks for itself".

Of course their first attempts at song writing were difficult but after a few weeks the duo began to click.  They decided to showcase their new songs and under the name Milky Slipper used Shag’s connections to secure a week-long residency playing seven consecutive nights at The Blue Nun. "It's a shame that they didn't last the whole week really", said local baker Trudy 'Baps' McGee (no relation to Debbie).  She laughed: "I wasn't there on the first night, but I heard several people were physically sick during one particular song".Wayne and Shag before a Milky Slipper gig  Bootleg copies from those early gig's rarely surface and when they do sell for exorbitant prices on Internet auction cites.

By the second night, word had spread about the raw sex and evocative lyrics that characterised Milky Slipper.  The local press were there, as was a curious crowd eager to experience the new sound firsthand and to make up their own minds about the band.  The owner of The Blue Nun was also yet to make his mind up and, with a stroke of genius, had the forethought to install chicken wire in front of the stage.  Unfortunately his stroke of genius was followed by a full-on cerebrovascular stroke brought on by the stress of the crowd’s reaction Milky Slipper’s set.  Two tracks, 'Flap Dangle' and 'Visible Solids' were already dusted with a coating of Fury/Kranium musical magic and showed the direction they were to follow.  Others such as Kranium's solo penned effort 'Mind the Gap' - a tribute to London's Underground system - and the duos 'The Screams of Silence in H Minor', written in a previously undiscovered key and with never before used chords, are best forgotten.

It's amazing that the third evening’s gig happened at all.  The combination of throbbing music and risqué - at times verging on pornographic - delivery meant that press had had a field day and The Truro Enquirer incited an almost religious clamour of indignation amongst its readers and civil groups.  Truro’s infamous radical faction of the Women's Institute, buoyed by a successful beachside rumble with the local Hell's Angels Chapter, got involved and that's when the trouble really started.

The picketing of The Blue Nun started at midday and traffic was brought to a standstill shortly afterwards.  By 2pm that afternoon the police started cordoning off the street.  No one knows how Wayne and Shag gained entry to the bar that night but they started their gig on time to a packed and clearly excited crowd.  To this day, people still talk about the vibrant charge of electricity and tension in the air that night - the atmosphere was quite literally explosive.  At first, the crowd thought that the blast was part of the stage show but when the dust had settled to reveal the decimated bar it was clear that the detonation had a more sinister motive.  The Women’s Institute had used their networked committee structures and formidable organizational skills to orchestrate and execute a clinical plan.  In the ensuing chaos, and to the horror of all present, one of Wayne's bass strings was completely severed at the 6th fret.  Clearly it was time to move on.

Next chapter... The infamous Leigh Delamere service station concert

 

 

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Last modified: September 10, 2007