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Interview: Martin Hudson (Classic Rock Society)


Martin Hudson

Martin Hudson, founder of the Classic Rock Society. They have their own magazine, run a website plus put on concerts in the Rotherham area. Well worth checking out...

How did you become involved in the music business?

I became involved in the music business simply because I was a fan of 'classic rock' and was unable to listen to it anywhere - pubs and clubs played the same old pop pap day in and day out and radio (well enough said). So I formed the Classic Rock Society not knowing how big it would eventually become.

How did the CRS come about?

Well the above answers it really but I found a pub in Rotherham that was willing to let us have a night to play the music and from there we put on a gig (Steve Gibbons band) and have now done 180 gigs. We also put together a poorly produced fanzine which is now a full blown monthly magazine.

Which new bands would you recommend rock fans to check out?

New bands? There are so many that the older classic rock fans seem to shy away from. However, Mostly Autumn and Karnataka are two bands that we have sort of founded and pushed on to the bigger stage. Strangefish play here on the 1st Feb and are great, Gabriel are a good band too, and there are many foreign bands that are more than worthy, Ricocher, Nice Beaver (I kid you not) and Plackband from Holland and Armenia is surprisingly good for the classic rock style of music. But they don't have to be bands, we openly promote folk/rock, country/rock, blues, heavy rock, prog rock, singer songwriters. Gina Dootson is a superb singer songwriter.

How easy/hard is it to get people along to gigs that feature newer artists/bands as opposed to established names?

It is the most difficult thing in the world to get people along to see new and up and coming bands mainly because the general fan of classic rock is no youngster and some of them feel as if they are past it. Our youngest attendees are in their teens and the oldest are often in their late 60's so people have nothing to fear.

As I have mentioned Steve Gibbons was the first CRS gig back in 1992, or was it '91.? Then we had The Groundhogs and a new band to us at the time, Pendragon. Pendragon remain popular as do IQ in the prog rock line but thankfully we are winning the battle to promote other styles of classic rock. Mostly Autumn and Karnataka are now popular but the biggest crowds come out for Rick Wakeman (our Honorary President and great mate), Wishbone Ash, to name but two.

What state do you think the UK rock scene is in at the moment? Is it all nu-metal or are classic rock/prog metal etc growing on the back of the nu-metal genre?

The UK rock scene is in an amazingly healthy state if only the people could get to hear the stuff and if the fans of real music would get off their backsides and come out and enjoy themselves. There are tons of bands who struggle to get heard in the UK.

Any bands/artists that you would like to have appear at a CRS gig?

Steve Hackett actually jammed on stage along with ex-Yes guitarist Peter Banks a few years ago at the end of one of our annual CRS Best of the Year Awards nights but I am hoping Steve will come along this year with a band. I am still waiting for Fish (he's a good mate but is always busy). Asia know about us but still haven't got up here and I find that the Marillion PR machine is the worst in the land and a night with us would be great.

What has been the highlight of your career so far? Anything else you still want to achieve?

Highlights so far are too many. Getting to know Rick and getting that trust is a good feeling. Me and Sharon were even invited to his This Is Your Life which was great. Interviewing people like Alice Cooper (twice), Rick many times, and all the guys out of Yes has been special. Knowing people like John Wetton and getting them to come along on a regular basis to play is good. The gig highlights are many, Magnum played here and Bob Catley is a star. Other highlights are still to come with such an impressive gig list ahead of us that includes Rick and the English Rock Ensemble, Focus, Wishbone Ash, Bob Catley, John Wetton, Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, PFM, Saga. However, the biggest highlight is the way the magazine has evolved from a poor fanzine. It now rates with most of the national glosssies, although you can only get ours by mail. I am immensely proud of the magazine.

Any rock'n'roll tales to tell?

Tales are many but things that happen to you can be funny like when we were doing an Awards Night some time ago and Fish was on stage presenting an award to someone and all of a sudden the audience roared with laughing. Fish thought it was his story but in actual fact it was Rick Wakeman at the back of stage who had appeared and climbed up the ladder to clean the lights. Fish never knew. I've had Rick pour buckets of water on me on stage and all daft things like that.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

I keep mentioning him but Rick has been superb. In the early days I did my first interview with him and asked if he would be the CRS Honorary President and he said he'd be the honorary anything for us. Now he will turn up to events when I ask him if he's not busy but now he's back with Yes we won't see too much of him. My wife Sharon has been brill, even if she does moan a lot. It's a lot to put up with when something like this takes over your life.

What plans does the CRS have for the rest of 2003? Any personal highlights eg albums/tours you are looking forward to?

We have already recorded the first gig of the year. Dave Cousins of The Strawbs is one of our directors and the Acoustic Strawbs are to play for us on 20th Sept Karnataka, Sleeping Giant (formerly Mr So & So), the Miv Cameron Band (folk), Gina Dootson (CRS Solo Artist of 2002) and a local 20 year old singer songwriter, Tommy Binks, to perform at the CRS Acoustic Sessions. We recorded it and it has come out great. We released the CD in April as our second release on Hudrok records. The magazine has to break even this year and so we need lots of new readers but we are increasing the gigs and doing loads. Subscribers get their gig tickets cheaper and so save money across the year.

To subscribe contact 01709 702575 or email


Interview © 2003 Jason Ritchie

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